6 Potential Reasons Why Your Naturally Curly Hair has Gone Straight (and What to do)

Megan Dominion

Isn’t it just Sod’s law? It took years to accept the blessing and curse that is curly hair and just as many years perfecting your haircare routine. (And let’s be honest, some of us are still in search of that hair custard, cream, gel or mousse to give us the perfect curls.) Suddenly, your hair isn’t curling anymore. And you have no idea why.

Here are six possible reasons why your curl pattern might have changed – and what you can do to regain your natural curls.

woman-holding-her-messy-brown-hair

1. Your Hair is Damaged

We all have those days when it’s easier to just haul our unruly hair into a tight updo than wrangle it into obedience, or the temptation to use the hair iron a little more often than is strictly recommended. But these are some of the main culprits behind hair damage, with heat the worst offender. Curly hair is delicate, and continuous thermal styling or too-tight ponytails will affect your hair pattern and texture.

What to try: Less hair buns, more scrunching

Now that hybridised work options are available to most of us, it’s a good idea to keep severe hairstyles for only those days when you’re not working from home. Putting your hair up in a bun everyday can stretch out your curl pattern. Styling and scrunching your hair will encourage your curl pattern to return, and leaving your hair down will avoid excessive pulling and stretching out of your natural curl. This relaxed attitude of letting your hair down more often should even extend to when you’re asleep. There are ways to protect your hair as you sleep, which could help repair and restore your hair’s natural pattern.

 

2. Your hair is experiencing product build-up

If you wash your hair regularly (at least every second day), your hair and scalp might be suffering the effects of too much residual product. This happens when your styling products (like sprays, serums, waxes and creams) leave by-products such as silicone, mineral oils, polymers, and other chemicals. Initially, these are the secret ingredients that give your hair its gloss, but over time they will leave behind sticky residue that isn’t soluble without a clarifying shampoo. Tell-tale signs of product build-up include hair that is:

  • dry
  • limp
  • lifeless
  • lacking in volume
  • frizzy
  • impossible to style

What to try: Review your hair products – and your water

As someone with curly hair, your bathroom shelf is likely littered with various tried-and-tested products. It’s time to review your shampoos, conditioners, and stylers. Should any of your favourite and much-loved products contain waxes, butters, mineral oils, petroleum or silicones (such as dimethicone or amodimethicone) that are not water-soluble, you need to be clarifying your hair to remove product build-up.

Aside from your hair products, if you’re a dedicated swimmer or you regularly wash your hair in hard water, these might also contribute to your hair losing its curl:

  • Pool/ocean water: loaded with chlorine or salt (if you swim in the ocean)
  • Hard water: signs include limescale on your kettle, taps and showerhead, as well as leaving your skin dry after taking a shower or bath

If this is you, a good counter-measure is to clarify and deep condition your hair at least once a month or to use a chelating shampoo (if you swim or live in a hrad-water area).

Read: Get Crystal Clear on Clarifying Shampoos to find out what they are and how to use them

Hair Trim

3. Your hair has grown

Has your hair grown in the last few months? The longer your hair, the heavier it is, and the more weight pulls on your roots. This could change the pattern of your curls, as the weight pulls your curls and lengthens them, changing their texture.

What to try: Invest in regular hair trims

One of the best ways to restore your natural curl pattern is to trim damaged parts of your hair. This might require a fairly dramatic haircut to start, but your hair will grow back. And it will grow back faster, healthier – and curlier.

 

4. Your Hormones are changing

Hormones – and their effect on our bodies – extends to every part of us, including our hair. Hormonal changes that take place during pregnancy, puberty and menopause can alter your curl pattern dramatically. Your hair follicles’ shape is what determines your curl pattern and texture. When your body experiences a significant hormonal shift, it can also change the shape of your follicles, and therefore your curl pattern.

What to try: Be Kind to Yourself

There’s only so much we can control in this life. Hormone changes are experienced by all to some extent. Have a think about any other signs your body may be showing of hormonal changes, they may be obvious such as pregnancy or menopause, or more subtle. Chat to your doctor about any concerning changes, assess your general health and read up on what your hair may be telling you about your hormones.

 

silkup-model-short-curly-hair-mirror-luna

5. Your overall health needs a check-up

It’s been a stressful few years for all of us. And the strain from the pandemic didn’t remove the stress that affected us before – in fact, in some cases, it aggravated it.

How are your iron levels? Are you still carrying an enormous amount of stress with you day to day? Internal factors can lead to hair texture changes, such as your health, stress, or your diet. Ageing is also always an issue. Each of these can affect your curls, which means you should do whatever you can to maintain and monitor your overall health. This includes eating a balanced diet, getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, and trying to manage your stress.

Ultimately, self-care is key to restoring your body – and your hair’s – health.

What to try: Adapt your diet

Although you can’t change some factors, such as your age and genetics, you do have more control over your diet. Vitamins and minerals play an important part in the hair follicle’s growth cycle and in cellular turnover. If your diet lacks the right nutrients, this can lead to hair loss. Studies show that if your diet is deficient in vitamins B12 and D, biotin, riboflavin, iron, and other nutrients, you might experience hair loss.

Depending on your food preferences and choices, consider adding or increasing the following to/in your diet: eggs; berries; spinach; fatty fish; sweet potatoes; avocados; nuts; seeds; sweet peppers; oysters; beans; soybeans, and meat.

Mother Daughter Curly Hair

6. It’s all in the family

Sometimes, it’s all about your genetics, and there’s nothing you can do.

What to try: Chat to your family

If you’re from a family of people with curly hair, talk to them to find out if they’ve ever experienced a similar change in their curls. They might have some valuable advice to offer.

 

Additional tips to get those curls curling again

Sometimes your curl pattern needs a little extra coaxing out. You can try these tips to encourage your natural curl pattern to return.

  • Use your fingers to detangle your curls rather than a brush or comb.
  • If you must use a comb, opt for one that is wide-toothed, and only use it sparingly as you work your way from the ends up.
  • When drying your hair, ditch the fluffy towels, and scrunch out excess moisture with a microfibre towel or a cotton t-shirt. If you must dry your hair, switch to a dryer with a diffuser that has a cool setting.
  • Start sleeping on satin or silk pillowcases.
  • Experiment with different updos or protective styles that work with your curl pattern.

Here are some additional tips on caring for type 2 wavy hair. Wishing you luscious curls and healthy hair!

Megan Dominion

Megan Dominion is SILKUP's Editor. She's been down both the curly hair and skincare rabbit holes many times and loves that there's always something new to learn; a new science, method, product or personal experience.