How to Get Multi-Textured Hair to (Mostly) Obey Your Style Rules

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

Multi-textured hair, folks, you probably know this! It’s the unpredictable kind of problem that has you out the door with a beanie that’s hiding your hair that’s curly on one side and flat on the other.

If you’re feeling at a loss with handling your hair’s personality, don’t worry — there’s hope. All you have do is speak the same language. Like a hair date, if you will.

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So, here’s how to address that unbalanced look, so you don’t go out the door feeling mismatched against your best self.

What causes your hair to “disobey” like that?

Expectations vs. genetics

We all must acknowledge the things we cannot change, hair included. For people with multi-textured hair, the most common reason is your genetics.

“What your parents gave you naturally is a determining factor,” says Miko Branch CEO of Miss Jessie’s. (Thanks mom and dad!) If you’re eyeing a hair style that’s coming from a completely different DNA spectrum, you’re bound to get frustrated.

Plus, chances are your hair style is not unique. Candice Witherspoon, stylist and educator at Devachan Salon in SoHo and the Upper West Side of New York City, regularly sees clients with a mixture of hair textures.

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“I’ve had client with two to three different textures, which is quite normal,” she says. So you’re not alone — which means your hair dilemma? There’s an answer.

Admittedly, change in hair texture isn’t the most intuitive place to look for vitamin deficiencies or medication. Then again, if you’re Mx. Consistency and notice a change in hair texture along with a recent change in diet, it might be a reason to check in with your healthcare provider.

Environment vs. personal style

Granted, as a grown-ass adult, genetics may not be the main factor to your hair instability anymore. Either the new city you’ve decided to move to frizzed your strands with humidity, or maybe you’ve bleached, heated, and treated it beyond recognizability.

“When you color your hair, the chemical process may alter the curl pattern, making your curls a looser texture,” Branch says.

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If you also part or style your hair with photos in mind, note that hair in the front of your head can also be a lot looser. Don’t treat the front of your hair like you would the rest! It probably doesn’t need as many products or heat.

For immediate fixing, here’s what you can do:

1. Make an appointment with your stylist

Real talk. By the time you’ve noticed what’s going on around at the ends, it’s likely been months. And if you’re up and about, bothered by the way your hair won’t answer to you, Witherspoon suggests going back to the basics.

“[Get] a haircut to take away unwanted ends,” she says. Maybe you won’t have to change much at all! Or, if you’ve been waiting for drastic change, this is your sign.

A proper, good haircut, Branch emphasizes, can also completely change the way you feel about your hair. “[Proper] hair cutting technique can address weight, density, loose, or tight textures,” completely shifting the way your hair feels, dries, and even grows.

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Witherspoon’s go-to haircuts that get rid of destroyed ends — depending on your hair texture — are “a pixie cut, big chop (cutting off your hair so it will grow in its natural state without chemicals), cornrows, and twist outs.”

But don’t leave it all in the hands of your hair stylist!

No matter your hair type, communication is key. Share your hair goals. Witherspoon reminds us that a good hair stylist “should listen to your needs and be honest and realistic about the best option for your hair.”

2. Pull out the tools

It might also be time to choose a side and not rely on your hair to naturally course-correct anymore.

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“It all depends on your hair goals. If your hair is curly and you want to wear it straight, you can use a chemical treatment or heat styling tools to make the change,” says Branch.

For those who want their curls to have an even look, Witherspoon recommends using flexirods, “for someone who is transitioning and/or wants a consistent curl pattern.”

Other items you can use to keep your curls defined are:

  • pin curls
  • perm rods
  • foam or magnetic rollers

Speaking from experience, Branch shares that she and her sister, Titi Branch, created a lightweight hair lotion for people with different hair textures. Miss Jessie’s Multicultural Curls keeps frizz reduced and hair moisturized.

3. Spot treat your hair
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“If you’re experiencing straighter pieces on certain areas of your head, you may need to treat those areas differently. When using a leave-in conditioner, use less of it in the straighter area. In the curlier areas leave the conditioner there,” says Mia Emilio, Devachan stylist.

“The straighter area may even need a stronger styling product to help keep hold of your looser curl pattern.”

And regardless of the season, constant hydration is essential, especially if you want to maintain those curls.

“In the summer, we experience warmer and much more humid weather. Leaving in extra conditioner or cream based products helps balance the moisture in your hair,” says Emilio. “For the hot humid days, extra hold from gel or moose is a must have.”

In contrast, winter leaves the air, and our hair, super dry.

“With the lack of humidity, our curls can fall flat and lifeless. Conditioning is important, but you’ll also want to use less styling and conditioning products so you don’t weigh down the hair. Switching to lighter weight products, such as mousse and spray gels, can help one get maximum curl potential in cold winter weather.”

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