The natural hair movement welcomes your curls, coils and kinks in all their unpredictable glory. Shingling is just one way to make your fro look its best.
If you aren't familiar, shingling means using a leave-in conditioner, curling cream or gel to separate and define each individual curl. This results in maximum curl definition, minimum frizz and bouncy, elongated curls. Shingling works best on textures that naturally clump together, so thicker 4c textures will require more effort, but it is certainly possible.
For super defined curls, you will need a good co-wash cleanser, deep conditioner, leave-in conditioner and curling cream or gel. A detangling brush, spray bottle (to keep your hair damp while shingling), diffuser and afro pick are handy tools for a professional end result. Shingling takes about 20 minutes and upwards, depending on your hair length and density.
Start with freshly co-washed and deep-conditioned hair. We recommend Palmer's Olive Oil Formula Co-Wash Cleansing Conditioner and Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strength & Restore Treatment Masque.
Natural hair blogger Natasha Lee-Duhaney shared her number one tip for curl definition with R29: "Moisture and hydration. Our hair craves moisture and for that reason I am very diligent with deep-conditioning my tresses. This is something that has remained consistent in my hair routine ever since my Big Chop back in 2014. I religiously deep-condition my hair once-weekly and I maximise these moisture treatments with my hair steamer to ensure the deep conditioner penetrates my hair strands."
After your damp hair is soft and hydrated, separate into four sections and begin applying leave-in conditioner to each. We recommend Crème of Nature Argan Oil Leave-In Conditioner or Shea Moisture Black Castor Oil Leave-In Conditioner. Distribute the leave-in conditioner evenly by finger raking the product from root to tip. You could also go back in with a detangling or Denman brush to eliminate all micro knots that your fingers didn’t catch, starting from the ends of your hair and slowly working your way up to the root. By smoothing your strands, you are minimising frizz for a great finished look.
Next, apply a curling cream or gel to each individual curl. Try As I Am Twist Defining Cream or Coil Defining Jelly. Use your thumb and index finger to smooth each curl from root to tip, twisting around your index finger for maximum definition. For 4b to 4c hair, you can finger rake a curling cream through your hair and then use gel to separate your coils.
Finally, allow your hair to air dry or speed up the process with a diffuser. If you want your curls to be lifted, diffuse with your head upside down on warm, then remove the nozzle and blast cool air all over your head to break the stiffness of gel or extra product. Use an afro pick to lift the roots (but only the roots) for extra volume and shake your hair from side to side to encourage movement and bounce. Below, we've included a great tutorial for 4c hair on how to define your curls.