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How To Tighten Curl Pattern, According to Expert

Finally, the time has come when natural curls are trending in a major way. Everyone from major celebrities to friends and family are rocking gorgeous curls the way that they should be. But can you change your curl pattern and tighten it? What happens when you look down at your own locks and realize that you straightened and stretched them beyond recognition?

Have no fear, damaged curls are not only common, but they are about to quickly become a thing of the past. Embracing your ringlets means understanding that redefining hair is a process, not a one-time fix, and one that should be embraced with patience. 

How To Tighten Curl Pattern

tips to tighten curl pattern
Instagram/Gena Marie

To tighten the curl pattern after years of heat damage and stress on your hair, read on and discover only the best in curly hair care secrets. Each part of the hair care process matters, from before you step in the shower, to cleansing, hydrating and styling. 

Before You Shower

Use a Pre Poo

Pre Poo Hair Treatment

It may sound funny, but a pre-poo just may be the thing that saves your curls. It’s not a product, it’s a process, and it involves moisturizing your natural hair before you wash, protecting curls and priming them to absorb the most out of your conditioner.

Typically, hair oils are used on dampened hair, but you can also use aloe vera, a natural product that has quietly become a holy grail for curly hair. We love it because it has a naturally occurring pH of 4, which is very close to the pH of hair. Aloe vera does everything: it promotes growth, detangles, moisturizes, and relieves a dry scalp.

Get a Good Trim

trimming hair

Well, the best thing to do would be to get a great trim and remove all of the dead and damaged hair. So, ask your stylist to take off as much hair as you can muster to begin the restoration process.

Hair at your ends is no longer alive and thus cannot be rejuvenated, only the damage can be concealed. So, if your curls have seriously suffered, your best bet would be to start fresh and get a haircut and healthy trims every three months following. 

Sleep with Silk

Silk Bonnet for Hair

Slippage is perfect for curls, so sleeping with a silk bonnet or pillowcase is one of the best things you can do for your ringlets. Unlike cotton sheets that absorb oils and create frizz, silk is ultra-friendly to your hair and promotes a tight curl pattern.

In The Shower

Use a Bonder

using hair bonder

If you’re not using Olaplex no 3, then you’re not doing your hair justice! This product may come with a hefty price tag, but a little goes a long way in restoring your curls.

It needs only to be applied to wet hair and for 10 minutes at a minimum, though the longer, the better. It works to strengthen and restore all aspects of the hair, bonding it together to repair and prevent future damage.

As someone who uses this product religiously, it has been the #1 thing to thicken my hair. It takes at least a couple of weeks to start noticing a difference, so be patient. It’s absolutely worth it. 


One of the main reasons why you’re experiencing lank curls is likely a lack of moisture. Dry, brittle hair doesn’t have that healthy bounce it deserves, so invest in hydrating shampoos and conditioners specifically designed to return moisture to your locks. 

Restore Protein and Moisture Balance

protein and moisture for curly hair

The fine dance between protein and moisture is one of the most important aspects of curl health and doesn’t work when there is too much or too little of either.

Together, they make up your hair’s elasticity, aka, how springy your hair is when wet, and determine whether your hair bounces back or snaps. 

Focus on conditioners or deep conditioning masks with keratin protein and use them once a week to restore those curls. 


using clarifying shampoo on curly hair

Just shampooing your hair often isn’t enough to remove serious product build-up and sweat from your curls and scalp. These things only weigh hair down.

If you’re wondering how to get tight curls without heat, using a clarifying shampoo once a week is ideal. Any more frequently will likely strip your hair of its protective oils, something you definitely don’t want.

Avoid Conditioning Your Roots

If you’re noticing that your curls fall flat, especially at the top of your head, ask yourself where you’re applying your conditioner in the shower. Chances are, you’re applying everywhere.

This can be ultra-flattening for curly hair. Moving forward, apply to the lower ends of hair exclusively to let your curls spring to life at the root. 


Use a T-Shirt

plopping hair with t-shirt
Instagram/Stephanie B.

Much like cotton sheets, terry cloth towels have fibers that suck far too much moisture out of the hair while also promoting frizz. A soft t-shirt, however, is perfect for drying off hair post-shower and enhancing your curl pattern. Wrap your hair up and see the difference for yourself.

Use a Wide Tooth Comb

using wide tooth comb for curly hair

The teeth on a fine-tooth comb will only destroy the curls you’re working hard to rebuild. A wide-tooth comb for curls, on the other hand, will glide easily through hair and won’t tear any ringlets

Apply a Leave-In 

One of the best things you can do for your curls after you’ve washed is to boost their moisture content. Apply a specifically designed leave-in conditioner for curly hair, looking for indicators on the label like ‘curl enhancer.’

Leave-in conditioners makes combing hair easier, they promote the integrity of your curls, and they can act as a heat protectant, whether that be from a hair-dryer or UV light from the sun as you move about your day.

Avoid Heat

It’s okay to diffuse your hair, which we will get to in the next section, but excessive heat styling will only further damage the curls that you’re looking to restore. So, ditch the straighteners and curling tools and let your natural locks do the talking.


hair dryer diffuser for curly hair

A diffuser is a handy little tool that is perfect for bringing out the best of your curls. Attach it to the end of your hairdryer and scrunch the hair as you dry, cupping the hair into your hands and lightly placing it on the diffuser.

How to tighten curls at the root, you might ask? Well, it’s as easy as carefully bringing the curly hair diffuser to your hair’s root, lifting the hair, and scrunching as you dry. 


Not too keen on using heat on your newly preserved curls? No problem. The twisting method is just as easy and can be done while applying the product.

Divide hair into sections and as you apply, delicately twist each ringlet from root to tip and scrunch slightly when you’re done. This is a great heat-free way to enhance or change your curl pattern. 

Avoid a Part

hairstyle to tighten curls

Instead of drawing a straight line down the center or side of your scalp to make a part, leave the lines behind. Let your hair fall where it may or create a zigzag part.

This will encourage the hair at your root to spring to life instead of fall flat. Don’t forget, you can always give your hair a quick flip throughout the day for a major lift. 

There are so many things to consider when tightening those curls back up to their bouncy glory. It’s essential that you hydrate hair, cut off any dead weight, and promote curl pattern, whether that be through twisting or diffusing.

Your curls are a precious gift, so it’s time you start treating them that way!