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Ribbon Curls 101
If you’re looking to achieve smooth, frizz-free, bouncy and defined curls, you NEED to try my Ribbon Curl Technique. This specific style of brush styling, including the sections and the way the brush is used was coined by me and inspired by the effect that scissors have on a ribbon to achieve bouncy, clumped, high-definition curls on ALL curl patterns!!
What is Brush Styling?
Brush Styling is a method of setting/shaping your curls into your desired result. Similar to how someone might want to use a round brush for a bouncy blowout, someone with curly hair may want to use a styling brush to define the look of their curls, add bounce, and smooth frizz. But just like any technique, it takes practice and skill to nail the look, so follow the below steps for best results.
What Brush Do I Use?
When To Brush Style?
Brush styling is done in your routine when you have applied your Prep and Style products. Click here for my Blog on Styling 101
Depending on how much hold you prefer, you can apply your gel before you Ribbon Curl, or after.
Benefit of adding gel before: The stronger hold you like, and the more frizz and flyaways you have, I recommend adding gel before brush styling. The curl results are high definition, more separation. Apply it to your hair and style with the Ribbon Curls Technique for extra curl definition and hold.
Benefit of adding gel after: The gel creates a shell around the curl that protects without creating too much crunch. The curl results are chunky, soft and fluffy. Apply it by gently glazing it over your wet, defined curls to give hold and scrunch to finish.
*If using a mousse, I recommend scrunching it in after you Ribbon Curl Style.*
HOW-TO RIBBON CURLS:
The most important rules of brush styling using this method is
- Always elevating our subsections of hair 90* or higher from the head, and I’m taking vertical panels of hair.
- Tension is key and we can create this 2 ways; by curving your brush, and by sandwiching the hair between the brush and your hand. The hand sandwich helps with tension and smoothing, but also curving the brush will help create ribbons.
- The size of your subsections should mimic the diameter of your curl. Essentially, the bigger the curls you have – the bigger section you want to take. If you have less wide curls you might want to take smaller sections that way you can treat every section.
- Wavy Hair: The section should be about 1.5-2.5 inches thick
- Curly Hair: The section should be about 1 inch thick
- Coily Hair: The section should be about .5 inch thick
STEP 1 - PREP
Prep the hair first by applying a leave-in conditioner/cream product and detangling using a detangling hairbrush. It is important to note that Styling Brushes that we may reach for to execute this look are great for defining curls but not for detangling hair. See my blog on different hair brushes to understand the difference!
Make sure the hair is evenly saturated with water. The hair does not have to be soaking wet to style, but you want to make sure water is evenly distributed from root to tip. Keep a spray bottle of water handy and use as needed!
STEP 2 - SECTIONING
This technique is best achieved by splitting your hair into 2 sections. I like to use alligator clips to keep my sections clean.
Clip up half of your hair, sectioning the top (hair above your temples and your crown) from the bottom (back and sides)
This is important so we can style the top of our hair separately from the back and sides since this area grows out of our heads at a different angle. For the best volume, movement and definition, we want to style by elevating our subsections of hair 90* off your head.
TIP: To easily part your hair, slide your finger along your scalp. This is especially easy if you have long nails. Alternatively, you can use a tail comb.
Clean sections will keep everything neat and prevent you from grabbing the wrong hair so you’re not going over the same sections multiple times.
STEP 3 - BACK AND SIDES
Take vertical sections parallel to your face hairline to style. The reason for this is because the curls will be able to stack on top of one another better (as opposed to styling horizontal partings/brushing downward), helping you achieve more volume and movement.
It’s also faster and easier to do this than take horizontal sections as you do not have to clip up your next piece of hair.
WHICH DIRECTION DO YOU BRUSH?
Towards your face or away from your face? Amanda @itsamandaguido did an experiment, testing this:
STEP 4 - STYLING THE TOP
There are different ways you can break up this horseshoe section, and you can decide that based on where you want your hair to fall; ie. side part, middle part, no part/ flip side-to-side.
THE KEY! Is to break through your parting on a diagonal, like so:
The following hair goals will help you determine which technique is right for you:
NO PART / SOFT PART
The first thing is to confuse the parts by brushing the hair in every direction. I like to work from the crown (back) to the hairline (front).
Then, the flow of sections should look like this:
Working in this herringbone type of flow will allow you to flip your curls wherever you want them to go once the hair is dry for a more organic look.
Inspired by the foiling pattern, diagonal sectioning is the king when it comes to diffusing lines whether that is when highlighting or parting your hair.
On larger heads, this bricklay pattern also works very well.
STRONG PART – SIDE PART
If you like a precise parting, make sure you set that in place while the hair is wet and imagine you (side/middle), you should still style up and off the head to allow the roots to curl well.
See this video for advice on how to style your bangs!
Scrunch! This will help the curls spring back into place – but don’t scrunch too much. The more and more you touch the hair while it is drying, the greater the potential for frizz.
I hope you found this helpful! Thanks for reading and watching. You can find more useful tips in this video here:
Current Routine Products The world and my curls are constantly evolving. Occasionally, as the seasons change and new products come about, I will welcome different things into my routine. If you want to know what’s in my hair currently, this is where you can check regularly for updates! Aveda –
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