Problems & Solutions: Curl Pattern Enemies

Naturally curly hair has many textures running throughout and learning to work with these different textures have become second nature. But what happens when that texture variance is extreme? I am talking about the kind that comes from over processing of hair, tight ponytails, or straightening hair.

This is an email I got last week:
"I've been natural since 2001. For the last two years I've been getting my hair blown out at the Dominican salon. So much heat has left my hair piece-y and straight in many places. It's to the point where I can only wear it out "curly" if I set it on rods. Just washing and going isn't really an option anymore because of all the different textures. Continuing the vicious cycle, I just keep getting it pressed since it's the only way I can really wear my hair and look normal. I miss my curly look. I'm pretty sure there's no going back at this point and the only way to get back to my curls is to start all over. Ugh, I don't really want to do that because I've gotten significant length back. So, curly maven... what do you think?"

I've wanted to do a post about this for a while, because my niece (pic below) has this same problem and we've been trying to find solutions for a while, with no avail. As you can see in the photo, she has tight curls in the top of her head but at towards the ends, the curls become very loose and wavy. This is mostly a result of years of stretching the curls due to pulling into ponytails. Now that she is older, regular blowouts aren't helping either.

Although we love them, blowouts are the enemy for curly hair. Repeated heat can eventually permanently damage the curl pattern . This is why I caution against straightening the hair bone straight and too often. If wearing the hair straight is your preference, try turning down the heat if you want to be able to also rock the curly. If not, ultimately you will end up with an ill-defined curl pattern.

Another curl pattern destroyer comes from over processing the hair with texturizers and hair color. These can also alter the curl pattern if done incorrectly.

Sadly, there is no miracle cure for permanent damage to the curl patten. Nothing is going to bring back your natural pattern. However, if cutting the hair is not an option, you can temporarily alter the curl pattern through rollers sets, twist sets, etc.
8 Responses:

Thats true. The only way to get the original pattern is to start all over again.

Like the person in the email, I have been natural for a while but lacked basic knowledge on caring for it. heat was a daily step by step process... Now with my new found knowledge I did the BC (cutting off the straight-like ends and starting all over again.

I'm color happy.. where can i learn about coloring the right way?


That's why I only straighten my hair once a month...no retouching with the flat iron/hair dryer/etc. After maybe a week, two at the longest, I wash my hair to go back to the curls.


Koffeedyme, that's a good topic to research. I'll get right too it. I recently colored my hair and my stylist warned me that the color will alter the curl pattern. And although relatively small, I do see a difference-my hair is just a bit more curly. I admit, I am not crying about that. However, based on recommendation- Aveda coloring is supposed to be really good for the hair because the color is somewhere around 97% natural. I have yet to use it, but I hear it's really good.


Great post, I personally have never colored my natural hair, this is one of the main reason's why I wear a weave so that I can play with colour and use heat with out direct damage to my hair. The only section of my hair that has the altered curl pattern is one small section at the back and one small section at the top because when i do a weave i usually leave a small section of my hair out to blend over the track.


Thanks so much for this post. Since being at home all summer with a newborn, I have not been straightening my hair at all and I have noticed my texture being more even and less testy. I figured when I stopped putting heat to straighten it out on it, that it would be a good thing... I just wasn't sure it would be such a hair booster. Now, I'm concerned what I'm going to do in the winter, because I can't go out with my hair wet in 30 degree weather. Any tips on doing natural hair in the winter without applying heat?


I have the same issue but luckily for me it isn't that severe. On the left front side of my head, my curls are slightly looser than the right side. The crown and back is very tight and thick. It doesn't really bother me that much but sometimes when it dries, one side hangs longer than the other!! One tip that I've tried that actually works is to use some small metal clips (the ones that secure rollers) and just attach it to the ends of the "curlier" hair. This stretches the curl out a little so that when the hair dries it'll look even and not so much lopsided.


your neice's hair is beautiful! i swear she looks just like a friend of mine.


ahhh! this happened to my little sister. I've been natural for about 8 years and I only press my hair every few months to clip my ends and assess the growth.

SHE on the other hand, pretty much keeps her hair straight 90% of the time... and now when she tries to wear it CURLY, it doesn't curl up anymore... it's just wavy. we call it the ramen noodle look lol.

It's a cute look though... but she can't do ANYTHING to get her original curls back where as I have tight ringlets....

so LADIES BEWARE! too much high heat straightening and you WILL lose your curl... the only way to get back your original texture is to grow a new head of hair.


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