The super interesting thing about curly hair is that one good thing done the wrong way can completely kill your wash day. In contrast, if you tweak a few simple things during your routine, it can make all the difference in having soft bouncing curls, or a stringy frizzy mess.
Today, We’re talking about 17 brilliant curly hair tips that you probably didn’t know. By the end of this post, you will be able to implement these tips and see better results when styling and caring for curly hair.
Hello! My name is Colleen, and I am a Curly Hair Enthusiast! You can read my complete bio here!
Before we get started with today’s brilliant curly hair tips, I have a special gift for you! Because curly hair care can be a little confusing, I put together a “cheat sheet” to guide you every step of the way.
This simple guide will walk you through curly hair care step by step.
17 Brilliant Curly Hair Tips You Probably Didn’t Know
Use a clarifying wash
This is one of the most underutilized methods for curly hair care. Whether you are following a strict hair care regime that only allows “clean products” or trying the no-wash challenge and going days without washing, you should always incorporate a clarifying wash into your routine.
Why? Because even the purest and clean products can cause build-up. Not to mention all the sweat and grime from going about your day that settle on your hair and scalp.
Contrary to many popular trends, you need to incorporate a clarifying wash from time to time to strip your hair down to a clean slate.
Think of it as a deep cleaning for your hair.
Pretty much any time my hair is consistently acting funny, I clarify. It’s the super-easy way to strip your hair down to the basics and makes it easier to troubleshoot problems like excessive frizz, inconsistent results, or wonky curls. When in doubt, clarify.
My favorite clarifying washes are:
Stretch your wash day
This is a good habit to make with any hair type but especially curly hair. Washing your hair every day can cause curly hair to dry out and even breakage.
When you stretch your wash day it allows your scalp to produce natural oils that nourish your scalp and hair strand.
Note: It’s important not to get caught up in the “who can stretch their washday longer” bit. I recommend never stretch your wash day at the expense of a healthy scalp.
While it can be a good thing to skip a few washdays, some people are not able to do that and it’s perfectly ok.
It’s important to test and experiment to find out what works best for your hair. A general rule of thumb is that if your scalp is itchy, flakey, or excessively oily, it’s probably time to wash. You can get the custom curl tracker here!
Identify your hair type
Curly hair is complex. There is no “one type fits all” approach and even if there is a similar “type”, they typically have many differences.
That being said, it’s important to determine what category your natural curl pattern falls into. You can get all technical when it comes to determining your curl pattern but for the sake of keeping it simple, you can categorize your hair into three types. Wavy, curly, or coily.
If you would like a more in-depth definition, you can visit this post. Just don’t get hung up on this step.
Understand your hair’s porosity
Oftentimes people get super hung up on finding their “curl type” that they miss a completely different (yet arguably more important) factor of their curls. Which is the porosity of your hair.
Understanding the porosity of your hair refers to the hair’s ability to absorb products.
If you have high porosity, you probably have a hard time retaining moisture while those with low porosity don’t find it as much of a struggle.
Once you’ve identified the porosity of your hair, it makes it much easier to understand how to choose and troubleshoot products.
You can read an in-depth post about understanding the porosity of your hair here.
Incorporate a scalp treatment a few days per week
Healthy, shiny, voluptuous curls begin with your scalp. It is super important that you are giving it the nourishment it needs.
Depending on your scalp needs, you should incorporate a scalp treatment/message 3-5 times per week.
By using a quality oil, a scalp treatment has many benefits including:
- Unclogs hair follicles
- Stimulates blood flow
- Helps eliminate dandruff
- Prevents thinning and hair loss
I’ve found that when I am incorporating consistent scalp treatments, my hair grows much quicker.
My Favorite oils to promote hair growth are:
Protect your hair while you sleep
I still can’t believe that I’ve had curly hair my whole life and didn’t discover sleep protection until recently.
Protecting your hair while you sleep by using a silk cap or pillowcase will do wonders in reducing frizz, retaining moisture, and protecting your hair from breakage.
Traditional fabrics like cotton, flannel, and polyester pull moisture from the hair while you sleep and can also cause breakage due to friction.
In contrast, because silk and satin are smooth in nature, they reduce friction between your hair and pillowcase meaning less breakage. They also help to retain moisture keeping your hair hydrated.
My favorite pillowcase/nightcap are:
Deep condition consistently
Incorporating a consistent deep conditioning treatment into your routine is one of the most crucial things you can do when it comes to long term health.
Deep conditioning treatments help to keep your hair hydrated which in turn makes it healthy, shiny, and bouncing. When you reduce dryness, you reduce breakage.
Deep conditioning treatment can actually cause your hair to be more curly because it gives your hair the hydration it needs to take shape.
Here are just a few benefits of deep conditioning:
- Promotes shine
- Adds moisture
- Promotes elasticity
- Repairs damage to color-treated and damaged hair
- Can add protein (if it is a protein-heavy deep conditioner)
It can feel like a pain to try to fit deep conditioning into your routine. I put it in my schedule for a day off so I have plenty of time to give my hair all the love it needs.
There is a weekly schedule included in the daily tracker that helps you stay on track with treatments.
Dilute your styling products with water
One of the most underutilized products when it comes to styling hair is water. Water serves as a great way to help gather curl clumps together but also give your products an avenue to fully distribute throughout your hair strand.
Simply add a sprinkle of water to your palms with your styling products and apply as usual.
Add more water to any area that seems to be stringy until curls clump together.
You’ll be surprised what a difference adding a bit of water makes to your styling routine.
Add in protein from time to time
One common misconception about curly hair is that it needs all the moisture. While that is true, oftentimes the need for moisture is confused by the need for protein.
Your hair is made up of 95% of a protein called keratin. Protein is what gives your hair the structure it needs to form and hold its curl pattern.
Typically when people start embracing their natural curl pattern, they reach for moisturizing products. Which can cause your hair to become over moisturized.
I know, the whole idea is very confusing which is why I wrote a complete post on understanding the protein/moisture balance in curly hair.
You can read the complete post here.
Use non-damaging hair ties
One reason curly hair can be hard to manage is that it is prone to breakage. That is why it is super important to be vigilant in protecting your hair from damage.
Hair ties can play a huge role in causing damage to curly hair. You should only use non-damaging hair ties.
My favorites are:
Get connected to a curl community
For years I felt alone about my curls because no one around seemed to have or understand them.
It wasn’t until I immersed myself into a curl community that I realized the power of influence.
I strongly recommend following multiple curly accounts to help learn about and better understand your curls.
Some of my favorite curly/wavy accounts are:
Swap out traditionally shampoo for a gentle cleanser
Traditional shampoos are formulated with sulfates which are too harsh for curly hair, tend to dry them out and can even damage your curls.
If you want to ditch the stringy curls, then toss out your traditional shampoo and opt for a cleanser designed for curly hair. This usually includes a co-wash or low poo shampoo.
These cleansers are designed to clean your hair in a delicate way that doesn’t compromise the natural oils necessary for your curl pattern to thrive.
Apply gel to wet hair (rather than damp or dry)
There is a huge misconception about gel and curly hair. I suspect it has to do with the old LA Looks “crunchy curl” days. People think that gel causes curls to be stringy and crunchy.
It’s not gel that causes stringy curls, rather how you apply the gel.
The best way to get great results when using gel is to apply it on super wet hair. This allows the products to distribute evenly and to set on your hair before the drying process.
The best way to get soft bouncing curls using gel is to style on wet hair. I even add water to my product to help better distribution. Don’t be worried about watering your products down. Trust me, this works.
You can read an in-depth post on this topic by visiting this post.
Let your hair dry completely before you touch it
Once you’ve styled your hair wet, SET IT AND FORGET IT. Each time you touch your hair after styling, you run the risk of causing frizz and breaking up your curl clumps.
I typically plop my hair for 15 minutes after I style to help all the products settle. Then I take it out of the plop and let it air dry for 15 minutes, then finish off diffusing.
Note: When you diffuse, be sure to touch your hair as little as possible. Avoid scrunching your hair and use a “cupping” method if you need to.
The goal is to add stylers to curl clumps you’ve created during the conditioning process to preserve them. Then let them dry completely before you scrunch out the crunch.
Protect your hair from heat
Heat from many different sources can be super damaging to curly hair since curls are prone to dryness.
You should use a heat protectant product any time you are exposing your hair to a blow dryer, heat tools, or even the sun.
A good rule of thumb is that if you need sunscreen, then you should be protecting your hair as well.
Understand how the environment affects your hair
When it comes to caring for curly hair, it’s much more complex than simply the products you are using.
Humidity, glycerin, and even dew points can be a factor in the outcome you get from styling your hair.
No, you’re not crazy, you can do the exact washday and get different outcomes because of the weather. It can be helpful to understand a bit more about how the environment affects your hair so you know how to handle the challenges they present.
You can read this post on glycerin and dew points.
Invest in a diffuser
As previously mentioned, heat can cause damage and breakage to curly hair. Using a diffuser to blow dry your hair will cut down on the amount of damage.
Diffusers were designed to redistribute airflow in a way that is less harsh on your hair. This also helps preserve your curl pattern during the drying process.
When it comes to caring for curly hair the right way, there are many different things you can do during your routine to promote healthier curls.
By creating a healthy haircare routine, treating your hair correctly, and being mindful about damage caused by heat, harsh ingredients, and the environment, you will notice healthier, happier curls in no time.