Why Is My Hair Curly When Wet But Dries Straight?

Years ago, the exact same question popped into my head, as a 13-year-old teenage girl. But well, I never bothered to dig down further. Like, who cares? Just let it be! 

Not until I went on a beach vacation with my girls days ago and one of my besties asked me ‘Hey girl, ever wonder why your hair looks stunning with pretty curls when it is wet but somehow goes flat dry?’

So here I am, writing this blog post as I know a lot of you have the same question, don’t you? 😉

Okay, let’s cut to the chase!

Why Is My Hair Curly When Wet But Dries Straight? 

If your hair is curly when wet but straight when it dries, high chances are that you have curly or wavy hair by nature but it is weighed down by the water. 

Or, it is the way you mishandle your combing process as your hair dries out. Well, or it could be due to the wrong hair care products that you’ve been using. 

Ever ask yourself why your hair is curly when wet but dries straight?
Ever ask yourself why your hair is curly when wet but dries straight?

There might be other tons of reasons why your hair cannot hold a curl once it’s dry. So whatever reason you figure out that can affect your wavy look, please comment, I’d honestly appreciate your sharing!

Shampoos Hub
Shampoos Hub

In my experience, here are the 4 most common reasons your hair is curly when wet but turns straight when it’s dry!

Reason 1: You are having naturally curly hair

First thing first, if your hair turns curly when it gets wet then high chances are that you simply possess naturally wavy hair.

Indeed, the shape of your hair reflects the shape of the molecules of which it is constituted. They are long keratin molecules that resemble a long spring with many springs wrapped around each other. 

While the strands are held together by strong chemical bonds called ‘disulfide bonds’, the twisting bonds of individual molecules are formed by much weaker bonds called ‘hydrogen bonds’. 

As the disulfide bonds are strong, they can only be broken with heat treatment. Hydrogen bonds that make curls, by contrast, are much weaker and thus can change their shape temporarily when getting exposed to water. And that might explain why your hair curls when it gets wet and straight as it dries out.

Reason 2: Improper towel-drying

When your hair is wet, it is at its weakest state, so rubbing your soaking wet hair vigorously will cause long-term damage to your hair, turning it into a huge frizz or even making it fall off. 

So the trick here is simply not rubbing your hair. Instead, divide your hair into small sections then gently squeeze them from the scalp to the end and wrap. Afterward, wrap your hair all the way up with a big, soft microfiber towel and leave your hair in the wrap for about 20 minutes.  

Reason 3: You are having too much product on your hair

As the saying goes “too much of a good thing’ can be bad. It’s cool that you care to apply gel and moisturizer to enhance your hair’s condition. 

But you better watch out! Perhaps you are applying too much products onto your hair and it’s these excessive products that are certainly weighing your curls down.

So make sure you only use a decent amount of hair gel or hair moisturizer or else, it’s going to be counterproductive (sadly!).

Reason 4: Your hair needs formation gel

Remember that curly hair isn’t self-supporting, so if you’re only using shampoo and air conditioner, then consider adding a hair gel or mousse to form your curl pattern. 

Reason #5: Your hair lacks protein

One of the most common reasons for flattened out hair is protein shortage. This is because protein is known to strengthen and help recover damaged hair. So adding extra protein to your hair care routine might do the work and enable your hair to hold its curl pattern.

Reason 6: It could be the brushing

Brushing or combing is perfectly fine for people with straight hair. However, brushing is not recommended for those with naturally curly hair.

So I’d highly suggest you use your fingers instead. If you still want to use a comb anyway, make sure you use a wide-tooth comb and you have to comb your hair when it is still wet.

If you wait until your hair is fully dry, the brushing would mess up your curls, make them look frizzy, or even flattened out.

5 Tips To Preserve Your Wet Hair Curl Patter

Now that you know why your hair is curly when wet but straight once dry, let me show you my self-learning tricks to achieve my fabulous curly look when my hair is wet or, some of you might be saying, half-dried!

Want to have gorgeous curls like this as your hair dies? Scroll down for my handy tips!
Want to have gorgeous curls like this as your hair dies? Scroll down for my handy tips!

Tip #1: Use products specifically made for curly hair

To maintain the pretty curls when your hair dries out, make sure you use the hair care products that are particularly made for curly hair.

This is because curly or wavy hair is drier, and hence, more vulnerable than straight hair. So instead of picking random shampoo or conditioner, make sure you choose the items that will help enhance moisturizing and hold your waves. 

But how though? Well, a hair care product that best suits naturally curly hair should be cream-based instead of water-based and it should be free of sulfates, silicons, and parabens. 

Tip 2: Start with warm water & end with cold water

First, you should get started by making your hair wet with warm water. This will help open up your hair cuticle, allowing shampoo’s nourishing ingredients to penetrate through more easily.

However, be noted that you shouldn’t use too hot water since it will damage your curls’ moisture, leaving them dry and frizzy. 

Your hair washing routine should end up with rinsing off the air conditioner by using cold water. This will help lock the hair cuticle’s moisture, protecting your hair from losing its natural moisture and turning frizzy. 

Tip 3: Dry-blow your hair properly

As I said, if you have naturally curly or wavy hair then your hair will get curly as it is wet. But if you just walk out of the bathroom door and do nothing, your hair is likely to be flattened out due to water weighing it down.

So before you dry out your hair with a diffuser, plop your hair all the way up to preserve your natural curl pattern being dragged down by gravity.

If you want to maintain the curl pattern for your hair when it dries, a diffuser is absolutely a must-have item.

Why is that? Well, the air force from the air dryer is so strong that it could easily ruin your waves and leave your hair frizzy after it dries. 

With a diffuser, the air that comes out of the hair drier is reduced in speed, letting you dry your hair without disrupting your curls.

Right when you walk out of the bathroom door, instantly apply a handful of formation gel onto your hair and spread it evenly. Then use the diffuser to blow-dry your hair at low temperature and low speed.

Tip 4: Choose the right size iron

One of the key factors that could possibly ruin your curls is using a curling iron barrel that is too big. It’s simple, the bigger the barrel is, the looser your curl gets. So if your curls vanish in under an hour, perhaps you’d love to try an iron with a smaller barrel. 

Tip 5: Never comb your hair when it’s dry

If you have been combing your hair when it’s dry, stop it! This action could easily break your curls’ structure when you’re done.

So if you notice a hair gets out of place, gently use a finger or two to untangle it.


Can curly hair look straight wet?

Hair can be curly when wet and straight once dry, and vice versa! Yes, your curly hair can be straight when it is wet as well. This is probably because your hair is wavy but rather soft so when it’s wet, the water immediately weighs it down, making it straight.

Does cold water make your hair curlier? 

Yes, cold water helps seal in the hair’s moisture and clump your curls together for better definition.

Is it okay to curl damp hair?

No, curling irons are supposed to be used when your hair is dry. So if you iron your hair when it’s not fully dried yet, your hair is at risk of damage. 

Should I apply mousse before or after my hair gets dried?

As mentioned, do it before you air-blow your hair. Though it will feel a bit sticky, once your hair dries out, the greasy feeling will go away.

Wrapping up

So that’s pretty much everything about this blog post. I hope at this point, you already sort out why your hair is curly when getting wet and straight once it’s dry as well as tricks to keep your hair wavy when it dries out.

Share this to someone you know getting stuck with the same question. By the way, if you have any other tips or experiences you want to share, leave your comments!

Edna Feber

I’m Edna. I'm here to guide you about hair products and maintenance tips. You'll fine here product reviews regarding hair tools, hair color, hair care and more along with tips to keep your hair healthy!

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