How to Scrunch Hair

Long scrunched hair
Q: Hi, I am African-American and Honduran and I was wondering what is the best way to scrunch my hair? I have fine, thin, relaxed hair, which reaches to my armpits, so would it still come out right? Also, which one is better for scrunching: gel or mousse?
A: Generally speaking, scrunching is a technique used on hair that has some natural wave and curl to maximize the curl without having to wait for it to air dry naturally. It also allows the wearer to give his/her hair more volume by building up the curl.
My concern for your situation is that since you state that your hair is relaxed, there may not be enough natural curl left for you to get the kind of look you are after. However, you would know better than I exactly what look you want, and I can tell you how to properly scrunch, so the results will be up to your application of these techniques and the level of curl possible from your relaxed hair.
To scrunch the hair properly, you should start with towel-dried hair and apply a styling product and work it through the hair carefully from scalp to ends. In your case, with fine-textured hair, you want to use a light product such as a mousse or spray-gel. Once the product is applied, use your hair dryer and a diffuser attachment to dry the hair carefully.
Use your fingers to lift and "fluff" the hair as you dry it. By slipping your fingers into the curls while slightly open and then pinching them all together and "bunching up" the hair in sections you can allow the hair to dry without the airflow pulling out the natural wave pattern.
As with any technique you haven't done before, scrunching will take a bit of practice. The good news is that if you keep a sprayer bottle of water handy, you can usually re-mist the hair and re-do a section that got too blown-out.
For women who have very curly hair, they generally want to avoid drying the hair fully in the scrunching process. You simply dry and scrunch until you have as much wave/curl/volume as you want (or think you will achieve) and allow the hair to finish drying naturally.
Photo: Samuel Borges Photography/Shutterstock
See also:
How to use rollers to scrunch hair
Can I scrunch straightened hair?