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Your Guide To Shingling: The Latest Curly Hair Technique

Of the many curly hair techniques that result in smooth, frizz-free, defined, and, most importantly, hydrated curls, shingling hair is one of the easiest and most definition-inducing techniques to master. The method, which involves separating and smoothing very small pieces of hair at a time, requires some patience. However, the hardest part of the process is gathering up the right lineup of curly hair products to shingle for your specific hair type.
Chances are if you wear a wash-and-go style with any bit of regularity, you’re probably already shingling to some degree. Before your next wash day, read on to find out the proper steps to separate, define, and take your textured tresses to a new level of greatness.

What Is The Shingling Method?

Shingling is a styling technique where you apply a curly hair product, like a curl cream, hair gel, or a leave-in conditioner, through each curl to separate and smooth it into a bouncy coil. When working products through your hair, shingling requires attention to detail. Unlike traditional methods, where you may just rub your curly hair products over the top of your curls, shingling hair requires you to separate, stretch, and smooth the product onto every curl.

Who Should Try Shingling Hair?

When done properly, the shingling technique works on every curly hair type and texture. However, it’s most ideal for curly hair that experiences a lot of shrinkage and is packed tighter and closer together. More compacted curls patterns, like 4A to 4C hair, can benefit most from shingling hair since the method involves separating curls that naturally interlock. Shingling hair also helps smooth the cuticle itself, which ultimately helps cut down on frizz and helps your style last longer. Another good thing about shingling is that hair length doesn’t matter. You can achieve the same level of definition on short curly hairstyles as you do on longer hair.

What Are The Best Products For Shingling Your Hair?

Much like other curly hairstyles, shingling 4C hair requires a lot of moisture and layering of products. The curly cocktail that you choose should vary based on your texture needs, but generally speaking, to shingle your products need slip—meaning that the leave-in conditioner or curl cream that you apply easily glides through with a slick, but not greasy feel. You can get this from a leave-in conditioner like Monoi (Repair + Protect) Multi-Styling Milk, which will also make for easier detangling and separating as you work it through your hair. Plus, a leave-in will impart moisture into the hair and act as a primer for the styling products you add on top.

You also need a product that has a bit of hold or one that will create some curl memory once your style sets, but you certainly don’t want to create any crunch in your curls with sticky gels. As an alternative, try the coconut oil-infused Coco Creme Curl Shaping Creme Gel or the Pracaxi Nectar Style & Hold Foam. You can also add a lightweight oil to your shingling cocktail; this is an especially good choice if you have highly porous hair or a denser texture in the 4A to 4C range. The oil will help fill in any gaps where moisture might normally escape. Oils also help smooth the cuticle and add shine.

How To Use The Shingling Method For Curly Hair

Shingling natural hair takes time, but that isn’t the same thing as being hard. So, is shingling difficult to do? Good news: Once you have the right natural hair care products on hand, the process is easy. Gather up a few sturdy hair clips to keep your strands corralled into sections, along with a detangling brush or comb. Once you have those on hand, you’re ready to hit the shower.

Step 1. Start fresh
Clear away any old product buildup and excess oil by shampooing with a sulfate-free shampoo. You don’t want your hair to be completely stripped of its natural oils, so choose a hair cleanser like the micellar-powered Wash Day Delight Sulfate-Free Shampoo with Rosewater, which gently grabs dirt without drying your hair out.

Step 2. Detangle thoroughly
The key to getting your curls to peak crispness when shingling natural hair is to start the separation process with a proper detangle. Separate hair into sections, by applying ample amounts of Coco Creme Creamy Conditioner or Hair Milk 4-in-1 Combing Creme, and gently work a wide-tooth comb through from your ends upward until all knots are removed. Even at this stage, you may start to see a little boost in how smooth your curly hair looks.

Step 3. Leave hair wet
Before stepping out of the shower, gently wring any excess water out of your hair with your hands. Skip using a hair towel. Wet—but not dripping—hair is ideal for working the product into each curl.

Step 4. Work in sections
It’s best to start from the back of your head and work your way forward. Part hair from ear to ear, and to make sure that you’re properly working the product through. Keep each section of hair around two inches thick.

Step 5. L.O.C. to shingle
You can try any product layering cocktail that works for your texture, but the L.O.C. method of stacking a leave-in conditioner, oil, and then cream is ideal for shingling. Coat one section of hair with a leave-in conditioner like Black Vanilla Moisture & Shine Leave-In Conditioner, and then rake the product through with your fingers, making sure to stretch each curl as you go. Do the same thing with the oil and cream layers before moving on to the next section.

Step 6. Don’t touch
Once your products have been applied throughout your head, and your curls look defined, try your best to not touch a single curl. Touching will only lead to frizz and may cause curls to overlap, disrupting the definition you just created.

Step 7. Gently dry
You can either air-dry your hair or, if you have time, hit curls with a blow dryer with a diffuser attachment. The latter will set your style faster and help prevent any potential curl disturbances as the hair dries.

How Long Does Shingling Last?
How long shingled hair will hold up is based entirely on how you care for your hair in between washes. The gel or curl cream used will give it a bit more hold than just adding a leave-in and letting it air dry. However, you’ll need to pull your curly hair into a pineapple at night or put on a bonnet to prevent any rubbing or frizz-causing friction as you sleep. Depending on your care routine, expect to get a week to a week and a half out of your style.

Next: The Best Curl-Defining Product for Natural Hair

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