What is clumping?
Clumping occurs when your hair strands bind together. The thicker the clumping, the bigger your curl; Therefore a person with say type 3A hair will have more clumping than a person with 3C hair type, etc.
Clumped strands are genetic, although your hair practices can enhance or decrease the amount of clumping you get.
What are the benefits of clumping?
-little to no single strand knots ( didn’t even know what a single strand knot was until I researched it).
-ability to wear hair in loose, unprotected styles more because strands are binded together, therefore less vulnerable to damage.
-a bit more “hangtime”
Braid outs, twist-outs, coil outs, roller sets, straw-sets, etc. Basically any manual styling that mimics a clumped curl.
As stated above natural clumping is genetic but we all get it regardless of texture. However, obviously the bigger your curls/ coils, the more clumping you’ll have
Below are a few tips on how to enhance natural clumping for all hair textures.
Tip 1: Finger Detangling
Quick story: When I first went natural, for a year I was terrified to use tools on my hair such as combs/brushes, because I thought it was going to comb out my curls forever.
I now use a wide tooth comb or denman brush sometimes, but for the most part, finger detangling will give you the most clumping. II finger detangle 75% of the time, and going to start doing it more often.
It will feel as though you’re not getting out every single knot, which is totally fine. You don’t have to. Your hair is not straight. You do not need to detangle it in it’s curly/coily state to the point where you can run a fine tooth comb through it; once your hair dries, you won’t be able to tell anyway.
I watched a YouTube video of a lady detangling her natural type 4 hair with a narrow toothed comb, then complained about her lack of curl pattern, after she had basically combed out any chance of a curl/coil.
Remember the more packed together your strands, the more clumping you’ll get. If you use combs and brushes to comb through your curls constantly, you’re ripping them apart from each other.
Fingers (well manicured/short nails) are safe because they don’t have sharp edges, they won’t tear your bonded strands apart, and they give you the ability to carefully feel and identify tangles.
Tip 2: Smoothing/wringing:
Smoothing and wringing hair encourages clumping because you are manually binding the strands together. When applying product to hair, smooth and rub it down the shaft using your hands.
Wring as much water out off your hair, before drying. Wringing will not only bind the strands together more, but also help prevent frizzing caused by friction from towels, and even tshirts.
Tip 3: When doing your final rinse, use really cold water
Cold water closes the hair’s cuticles. It is similar to closing the pores on skin. When the hair’s cuticles are sealed, it binds the strands together.
Tip 4: Air Drying
Air drying takes forever. I know. It can also make you sick in the winter, but it is the safest way to dry your hair. Air drying dries the hair exactly as is, unless you constantly touch it. I definitely have “hand in my hair syndrome”, but even then I am still able to get better curls when I air dry than when I diffuse (post about how much I hate diffusing coming soon). The hooded dryer gives me nice , clumped curls, but I do wash and go’s often, and sitting under the hooded dryer each time can be damaging to hair.
The reason air drying and hooded dryers enhance natural clumps, is because the air is blowing down your hair shaft, causing the hair to dry almost exactly as is, with minimal frizz/ manipulation.Using a diffuser can affect clumping because the air is blowing on your strands in different directions. I ALWAYS get a ton of frizz with a diffuser, even when I “diffuse downward”. Frizz disrupts clumping.
Tip 5: Gel/Gelos/hair puddings
Gels/gelos/puddings help keep strands binded together and prevent frizz, but I use them minimally, and more-so on special occasions. I like my hair fluffly on an everyday basis, as i’ve stated a million times, and these products tend to create a bit of a hold, preventing that fluffiness. Fluffiness is not frizz by the way. When I say fluffy, I mean pillow soft. I use leave in conditioner only most day, but for days I want the extra definition and clumping, I use a hair gelo. Gelos have a soft- medium hold, while puddings have a soft hold, and gels have the strongest hold. Always look for alcohol free. Organic is also always better.
So there you have it; five tips to encourage natural clumping:
3) cold water rinses
5) stylers like gels, gelos and puddings