How to Fix Limp Curls: Why Are My Curls Limp and Stringy

A lovely white female fixed her natural curl pattern by using the Curly Girl Method to revive bouncy curls.

Limp curls are a problem for many, even those well into their natural hair journey. If you’re dealing with this issue, we’re sure you’ll do anything you can to fix it.

The truth is that finding the solution to your limp curls will require careful consideration of what might be causing the issue, and we aim to help you with this discovery process in this article.

Once you find out what’s causing the problem, you’ll be in an excellent position to banish your lifeless curls once and for all. Let’s get right into it!

What Causes Limp Curls?

Limp curls may be caused by several factors, including overuse of hair products, using the wrong products for your hair type, over-moisturizing your hair, not having a haircut in a while, product buildup, getting the wrong haircut, and having too little protein in your hair.

Using too much product can put weight on your hair, causing it to go limp, and using heavy products on fine hair can also cause limpness. Over-moisturizing can lead to over-moisturization and lifeless hair.

A lack of haircut or the wrong haircut can cause limp curls, and product buildup and a lack of protein in your hair can also cause the same problem.

How to Improve Curl Retention & Restore Bouncy Curls

Overuse of Hair Products

One of the most common causes of limp curls is using too much product. In pursuit of curl definition, many folks pile on the products. In some cases, your hair might take on a white hue after product application.

So, what about product makes your hair limp?

It’s the weight that the product puts on your hair.

Since strands of hair are thin and light, they are responsible for bearing any weight put on them. Being a little overzealous with your product application can be the cause of your limp hair.

Note: Some have coarser strands (or hair types) that don’t react as much to the amount of product applied to them.

How to Fix It

This cause comes with an easy fix. If you think you’ve been applying too much product to your hair, all you need to do is wash your hair and don’t apply as much next time.

If you notice a dramatic difference in limpness afterward, you’ve found your solution.

A good rule of thumb when applying product is to start with a little bit (a nickel or dime-sized amount) and then add more as necessary. You may not need as much product as you think you do.

You may also want to limit how much product layering you do.

If you notice that your hair goes limp whenever you layer a certain amount of product, consider cutting out one of the layers. Be sure to look at your hair to observe how it reacts.

A cheerful young female with dry hair has a type 2 wavy hair texture that's styled with natural oils and curl cream.

Using the Wrong Products for Your Hair Type

Curls can be fine, coarse, and everything in between! If your hair is on the finer side, you could experience hair limpness with heavy products.

How to Fix It

There are many brands and products out there that are formulated for those with finer strands. All you need to do is research your options and purchase lightweight products.

Some keywords to be on the lookout for when you’re searching include “light,” “lightweight,” or “for fine hair.”

But let us be clear, just because a product label or online description mentions these things doesn’t mean that they will automatically work on fine hair.

So, you’ll need to try out a given product for a little while before deciding whether it’s going to work for your hair.

A Caucasian woman with voluminous curls keeps her hair hydrated with hair creams and water-based styling products.

Over-Moisturizing Your Hair

When it comes to moisture, you can have too much of a good thing. Using some products on hair that’s already adequately moisturized pushes you into the over-moisturized territory.

In addition, putting leave-in conditioner, a daily moisturizer, and moisturizing serum on one after another can produce that same problem. Why this problem comes up is a no-brainer.

Curly hair is prone to dryness, prompting us to pile on the moisture.

After doing so for a while, your hair’s moisture levels will reach optimal levels. Continuing with your radical moisturizing routine will lead to over-moisturization, which often results in limp, lifeless hair.

How to Fix It

Fixing lifeless hair due to over-moisturization is relatively easy. All you’ll need to do is let up on your moisturizing sessions in either intensity or frequency.

If you’re currently moisturizing your hair daily, cut it down to every other day and see how it reacts. If changing the frequency of your moisturizing sessions doesn’t fix your limp hair issue, change the intensity.

Whenever you moisturize your hair, hold back a bit. Instead of using a deep conditioner, maybe opt for a regular rinse-out conditioner.

If you’re afraid that holding back on the moisture will ruin your hair, we don’t blame you. To prevent that, simply watch your hair. If your hair gets crunchy and loses its shine, that’s a cue to up your moisturizing routine once again. You’re in control.

A young white female with semi-textured hair feels limp after using too much protein leading to tangly hair strands.

You Haven’t Had a Haircut in a While

Haircuts aren’t only good for helping you achieve a given style; they’re also good for keeping your light, airy, and bouncy. If you’re in need of a haircut, your hair will have grown out, and even if you had layers before, they might not be as prominent.

The longer your hair is, the lower it will hang and the less body it tends to have.

This could give the hair a limpness impossible to ignore. Without layers, your hair will have little variation in length, which can give the illusion of limpness.

How to Fix It

To bring your limp hair back to life, you’ll need an appointment with your local stylist. Ask for some voluminous layers and bring a picture for reference.

With a few well-placed layers, you’ll notice an instant lift in your hair. If you have fine hair, you don’t want to go overboard with the layers. Over-layering this hair type can add limpness rather than fix it.

Product Buildup

We alluded to this issue a bit earlier, but it deserves its own section. Product buildup is an issue that occurs when product residue sits on your hair for a prolonged time.

The issue sneaks up on people because it may seem like you’ve washed all the product out of your hair each time. That’s not always the case.

Product buildup acts as a weight, pulling down your strands and making them unable to stand independently. That’s where the limpness comes in.

How to Fix It

Fixing this problem requires a special product. Clarifying shampoo is designed to remove even the worst product buildup from the hair in as little as one wash.

The product has strong surfactants in its formula that are much stronger than your typical shampoo.

Here are the steps to clarifying your hair and removing product buildup:

  1. Rinse your hair thoroughly in the shower.
  2. Allow some of the water to run off of your hair.
  3. Dispense some clarifying shampoo into your hands and rub them together.
  4. Apply some clarifying shampoo to your hair, focusing on your scalp. Then, move the shampoo down the length of your hair with your fingers. You should be mushing the product into your strands.
  5. Wait up to 3 minutes, and then rinse the shampoo from your hair.
  6. Proceed with your normal styling routine.
A white female with a wonderful smile experienced hair shaft damage after a DIY haircut on soaking wet hair.

Wrong Haircut

Though you should get your hair at least trimmed regularly, not every haircut is a good one. An uneven, amateur trim could leave you with volume-challenged tresses. If you’re experiencing limp curls right after getting a new haircut, the cut could definitely be to blame.

How to Fix It

You’ll need a new haircut to fix this issue. We recommend going with someone with ample experience cutting curly hair, as not everyone is knowledgeable in curly cuts.

Too Little Protein in the Hair

After an aggressive chemical process, your hair could be thirsty for protein. Protein is a building block of healthy hair, and if you don’t have enough of it, your hair could look sad and droopy.

How to Fix It

Get your hands on a protein treatment. There are DIY options out there, or you can get a pre-made protein treatment from the store (online or in-person). For commercial protein treatments, follow the instructions on the product label.

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So, there you have it – everything you need to know to put your limp hair in the past. We hope you found all the information you needed, and we wish you the best of luck on your healthy hair journey!

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