How to Get Finger Coils, According to Top Hairstylists

The how-to guide every curly girl needs.

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(Image credit: Getty Images)

The ultimate dream for any curly girl is to have manageable, frizz-free, perfect ringlets all the time. It's like the Narnia of hair goals—so mystical only a few have seen it in person, yet everyone wishes for it. I mean, having a good hair day is amazing, but the idea of spending hours in front of a mirror styling your strands to perfection is...discouraging. Enter: Finger coils.

Finger coils is an at-home hairstyle that requires no hot tools nor professional skills to achieve. Just patience, your fingers, a whole lot of styling cream and ta-da, curls so bouncy and full of life you'll be the belle of the curly hair ball. In order to achieve #hairgoalsI asked two curly hair experts: Lorraine Massey, owner of salon Spiral (x,y,z), and founder of CurlyWorld, and Stasha Harris, owner of Magic Fingers Studio for tips—and did they deliver! Read on for a finger coils guide that'll take you no time.

Step One: Wash Your Hair Well

In order to get the finger coil curls of your dreams, you're going to need to start with freshly washed hair. Massey recommends using a shampoo that's sulfate-free since sulfates are known to dry out curls. "You would not drink salt water if you are thirsty—shampoo is the hair equivalent," says Massey. "Since birth, we have been geared up to think that bubbles clean, but they hold no cleaning power. Mechanical agitation from your own fingertips does all the housekeeping on your head and everywhere else."

This goes for your conditioner, too! Swapping out your current one for a water-soluble, silicone-free product makes all the difference for the freshest of curls. "Conditioner for the hair is also the body's equivalent to water," explains Massey. She likes to use the shampoo and conditioner from CurlyWorld. See below for additional options.

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Step Two: Detangle and Style Your Hair

Perhaps the worst part about having curly hair is the constant cycle of necessary detangling. But you've got to do it. Harris recommends starting from the tips of your wet hair, working your way up to the roots, and then applying a silicone-free styling product of choice all your head. Harris' go-to for finger coiling is the Shine n' Jam Black Castor Flaxseed Oil Styler. To add shine and moisture, she likes to finish with Ampro Vitamin E Oil.

Once your hair is fully saturated with product, Harris suggests to begin twirling small sections of hair strands, starting at the nape of the head, in a spiral-like motion for maximum style volume. Use a comb to distinguish parts and to keep every section the same size. Repeat this spiral twirl motion until your entire head is finished. Don't forget to allow your hair to completely dry if you're going to sleep on it, and then wrap it a satin or silk head wrap. If you're not getting beauty sleep, Massey recommends letting your hair air-dry, and then gently use your hands to scrunch upwards to break the gel cast. Use your hands or a pick to fluff a little at your roots to reveal Instagram-worthy finger coils.

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Step Three: Make the Curls Last

You didn't spend all that time for those finger coils to only last a day or two. To keep your curls full of life, Massey recommends doing a "spot cleanse" on your scalp the second or third day of wear with a curl refresher. "Think of your hair like a dress; if you spill something on it, you don't have to take the whole dress off to clean it, you'll just clean that one area," she explains. "The same goes for your hair. Observe the landscape and just direct the spray on those areas that need a little reboot."

There are a ton of great options listed below, but if you want to make one at home, Massey says to mix some of your favorite water-soluble, silicone-free conditioner and lavender or distilled water in a spritz bottle. Shake and then spray on frayed curls to breathe life back into your curls.

Other tips to remember: 1) don't comb your coils once their dry 2) don't use any cream-based products once your hair is set, and 3) embrace the trial and error in the curl world. "Remember hair is art, so just have fun with it," says Harris. I couldn't agree more.

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Bianca Rodriguez

Bianca Rodriguez is the Fashion & Luxury Commerce Manager at Hearst Magazines, covering fashion, beauty, and more for Cosmopolitan, Elle, Esquire, Harper’s BAZAAR, and Town & Country. She likes lounging about with a good book and thinks a closet without platform sneakers is a travesty.