A Professional Stylist Explains How Much Product to Use on Natural Curls

Sometimes, less is more.

Natural Curly Hair Products Correct Amount

@nicollelovescurls/Design by Cristina Cianci

I’m sure we’ve all heard the phrase "less is more." However, when it comes to applying hair products to my natural hair, I thought it was more was certainly the merrier.

Styling my 4B/4C curly coils has always meant mixing my favorite curl creams, gels, and serums to find the right combination. Because my hair is a mix of texture types, it means different sections need more product, moisture, and hydration than others.

Recently, when I visited my stylist for my curl-maintenance appointment, she noticed my scalp appeared drier in certain parts, and after cleansing my hair the first time around, she realized there was a product buildup. I had no choice but to tell her I’ve been scooping chunks of styling gel and stretch cream and applying generous amounts to my curls. This led me to ask: How much product is too much product and how has using too much affected my curls?

We chatted with Devachan stylist, colorist, and curl aficionado Nicolle Lemonds for the ins and outs of product usage. Keep reading for her expert advice on how to reset if you accidentally go overboard.

Meet the Expert

  • Nicolle Lemonds is a curl and color specialist with over 10 years of experience. She is currently a professional stylist at Devachan in SoHo, New York City.

Signs You've Used Too Much Product

If and when you’ve used too much product on your natural hair, some visible signs will tip you off. Whether you apply your product in the shower or not, one of the first signs is crunchy or stiff curls once they’ve dried. According to Lemonds, you may see this due to “product buildup in your hair from constant overuse, which can also cause dullness and decrease your natural shine.” If your hair seems drier than usual or lacking its usual luster, you may want to try reducing the amount of product you’re using on your hair.

The Correct Amount of Product for Your Hair

Some products, if not most, come with instructions to use a dime-sized amount of product or more depending on the texture and length of your hair. “It definitely depends on the desired results and texture of your hair," Lemonds explains. "If you have fine curls, you will need a very lightweight product so you won’t overload your curls and weigh your hair down. Thicker and tighter curl patterns will need more product if you desire length and definition. If you want more volume and height, with thicker hair, you will need to use less product as well."

When figuring out how much product to use on your hair, take note of the length and thickness of your hair, then use your judgment to decide how much product you’ll need. Lighter hold gels like spray gels or DevaCurl's Light Defining Gel work great for looser patterns. If you’re looking for a tighter hold, try using a thick curl cream like Pattern Beauty's Styling Cream. “Spray gels, which tend to be lighter than your typical gel, are great to minimize product usage. [Use] this or spritz, mists, creams, mousses, and spray leave-ins.,” adds Lemonds.

How to Rejuvenate Your Curls After Using Too Much Product

Noticing the signs early can help, but if they go overlooked, it’s good to know what can happen to your natural hair after consistent overuse of curl products. “Using too much product and improper methods of rinsing can lead to product buildup and lackluster curls," Lemonds explains. "Product buildup creates a film on the hair and prevents moisture and even water from getting into your hair follicles. Curls need water and moisture to remain soft and bouncy. The most obvious signs are dullness and a sticky feel."

If you feel like you’ve used too much product in your styling routine and can’t get the extra product out of your hair by using a spray bottle or light scrunching with a towel, Lemonds suggests rinsing your hair and starting over. If there is excessive buildup, then you’ll need to use a clarifying shampoo to remove it. 

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