I’ve had curly hair my entire life and didn’t fully realise it until I turned 24. Before I figured it out, my hair was constantly uncooperative and super frizzy, which I had just chalked up to years of colour treatment and heat damage. Turns out, though, that it’s possible for natural curls to fly completely under the radar if the hair isn’t being treated the way it needs to be.
Once I learned to stop dry-brushing my hair and picked up all the proper scrunching and plopping methods, my hair sprung to life. And I’m not the one this has happened to — thanks to TikTok, lots of people are realising for the first time that they’ve actually had curly hair this whole time.
TikTok was already rife with curly-hair tutorials and tips, and I guess that piqued some people’s curiosity. Most notably, a user named Danielle (@danielllebellle), who accidentally started a movement of sorts when she shared her own curl discovery. “So my whole life I’ve been brushing through my hair like this,” she says in her video, which has more than 10 million views. “And TikTok is making me realise that I think I actually have curly hair.” To test her theory, she washed her hair, applied a curl serum, and dried her hair with a T-shirt. The result was a full head of blonde waves, and it appears she’s stuck with her new curl-friendly routine since making the video.
Now, other people who suspect their natural hair texture might not be what it seems are taking the audio from Danielle’s video and using it to share their own newly discovered curls. Currently, there are more than 680 videos using the original “sound” from her video, all of which show people right before and right after adopting a new hair routine (one without excessive brushing). Imagine how many people could’ve spent their lives wondering why their hair is so uncooperative without TikTok’s help.
If you yourself are contemplating your own natural hair texture, there are few key signs that it could be naturally curly. Hairstylist Takisha Sturdivant-Drew explains that if your hair doesn’t dry totally straight on its own, you likely have some sort of natural curl or wave to your hair. “You will also have volume in certain areas of your hair that will tend to frizz,” she says. Hairstylist Erickson Arruntegui adds that it’s way easier to determine your natural hair texture if you stay away from heat tools for a while. “I think allowing your hair to breath from any heat tools and applying a little mouse or curl cream and scrunching and letting it air dry will allow you to see how much wave or curl your hair actually has,” he explains.
If it turns out you do have natural curls and you want to embrace them a little more, a few tweaks to your hair habits can go a long way. “I would try to use less heat and be more mindful of using hair colour, especially when it comes to bleach,” Arruntegui advises. “Brushing your hair in the shower and not touching it once you add products will help to keep the curl pattern intact.” Sturdivant-Drew adds that using a silk pillowcase or hair scarf at night can help retain shine.
The most important thing to keep in mind when caring for natural curls is moisture, moisture, moisture. “You want to use products that have moisture in them,” Sturdivant-Drew says. “Use a spray-in conditioner to keep your hair strong, hydrated, and moisturised; start to use a serum every day or every other day.”
The way you take care of your hair will ultimately depend on your specific curl or wave type, though. You can read about curl patterns here, and once you’ve pinned down your specific curl type, you can research it online. Don’t be afraid to lean on the internet’s many curly-haired communities — especially TikTok, where curl newbies are popping up left and right.