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 already 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's certainly possible — and the results are worth it.
For super defined curls, you'll need a good co-wash cleanser, a deep conditioner, a 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 can take about 20 minutes or more, depending on your hair length and density; you'll want to start with freshly co-washed and deep-conditioned hair.
Natural hair blogger Natasha Lee-Duhaney tells us that her number-one tip for curl definition is to never underestimate the importance of moisture and hydration. "Our hair craves moisture, and for that reason I'm very diligent with deep-conditioning," she says. "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 a week, and I maximize 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. Distribute the product evenly by finger-raking it through 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.
Next, apply a curling cream or gel to each individual strand. 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 strands.
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 to break up 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.