If the Hair Gods have blessed you with naturally curly hair, you know how unique this hair type can be. It bends and coils and curves, and oftentimes there is a thin line between untamable curly locks and good curly hair days. One thing that can make all the difference in the world: a solid hair care routine. Here are some smart hair care tips for caring for all kinds of natural curls.
Understand your curl type.
Discovering your hair type is the first step to crafting the perfect hair care routine for you. Your curl type is determined by the shape of the follicle that your hair grows from. The flatter or more oval-shaped the follicle, the curlier your hair is. The more circular the follicle, the straighter your hair is. Your curl pattern is also identified by the shape that your individual strands make, whether they spiral, curve, wave, or kink.
Those with textured hair might find that they have more than one type of curl pattern on their head. It's best to identify your curl shape and pattern(s) while your hair is soaking wet. There are types 2-4 with subclassifications of A-C. Type 1s are straight, 2s are wavy, 3s are curly, and 4s are coily. The subclassifications of A to C are based on the diameter of your wave, curl, or coil pattern. As are wider diameter, Bs are medium, and Cs have the smallest diameter.
Typically, the tighter the curl, the more prone to breakage, dryness, and frizz. So, once you understand your curl type, you will better understand what your unique, beautiful locks need!
Don't shampoo daily.
Shampooing too often can strip the hair of natural oils that are crucial for overall hair health. When looking for a shampoo, choose a sulfate-free formula free of silicones if possible. Products that are heavy in sulfates can dehydrate curls, making your hair appear frizzy and dry. When shampooing, focus on the scalp where buildup tends to settle and gently massage your cleanser from roots to ends. Textured hair needs its natural moisture to prevent damage, so it's best to limit shampooing to once or twice per week. Rinsing hair with cold water instead of hot may also help close cuticles to prevent unruly, dry hair.
You may also want to consider a pre-shampoo treatment. These are great at detangling and removing frizz from the hair as they can help protect the hair strands from losing natural oils during the shampoo process.
Do condition (and deep condition) regularly.
Wavy, curly, and kinky hair often lands on the dry, dull, and frizzy spectrum, so keeping your tresses well hydrated is crucial! Don't skip out on a high-quality conditioner designed for curly hair. How often you condition will depend on your specific curl type, and it will be a delicate balance between protein and moisture. Too much moisture will make your hair limp, whereas too much protein can leave your hair brittle. So, be sure to monitor the state of your hair and adjust your conditioner frequency as needed.
You also want to invest in a deep hair conditioner that is rich in moisturizing, humectants like glycerin, raw honey, glycol, coconut oil, and shea butter. Work the product into your hair in sections, so it is thoroughly applied. With deep conditioners, you'll want to avoid the scalp so that you do not weigh your hair down. Use a wide-tooth comb and distribute evenly. Let it sit for 20 - 30 minutes before rinsing out.
Apply products to wet hair.
Conditioners and serums are beneficial to curly hair. It's best to apply these products while the hair is still wet to ensure they can penetrate your strands before frizz sets in. The more porous your curls, the dryer your hair can be, so scrunch products into wet hair with closed hands and try not to rake your fingers through your fragile curls.
A lightweight leave-in conditioner can provide your hair with long-lasting moisture and nutrition while also creating a protective barrier around your strands to block out curl-destroying things like breakage, UV damage, and frizz. You'll be surprised at how much your hair will transform when you use the right products!
Go easy when drying.
After you wash your hair, don't rough up the hair cuticle by drying your locks with a scratchy towel. To keep your curls frizz-free and healthy, reach for a microfiber towel or cotton t-shirt to blot the excess water out of the hair. Then tilt your head forward and gently squeeze upwards to scrunch out the remaining moisture. If you have time, you may want to use the microfiber towel to create towel twists. When your curls are secured, pull the twists back and clip them together; wait 30 minutes (or overnight) before removing the towel. This technique is perfect for keeping curls bouncy and healthy.
Choose the right comb.
Brushing, especially when hair is dry, will wreak havoc on your curl pattern by breaking up the strands, so resist the urge to brush your hair. Instead, use a very wide-toothed, snag-free comb and carefully detangle after shampooing. Never pull or tug on tangles when combing; alternatively, section the hair and remove any knots when the hair is protected in a conditioner coating.
Be mindful of heat tools.
Drying should be gentle and minimal. Whenever possible, air-dry your hair versus using heat tools. If you must blow-dry your hair, apply a high-quality heat protectant before styling, always use a diffuser, and never over-dry. A diffuser will limit the amount of direct heat applied to your hair, and it will prevent your hair from being tossed around too much during the drying process. When the hair is just about dry, switch your hairdryer to cool to help lock in shine.
Protect your hair while you sleep.
Textured hair needs a lot of extra love… even while you sleep. Cotton sheets can be harsh on delicate hair. Cotton soaks up hair's natural oils while you sleep, depleting your curls of their much-needed hydration. Poly satin or silk pillowcases will also cause less friction, meaning less breakage and less unruly flyaways. Another option is to purchase a satin scarf or bonnet to keep your curls intact throughout the night. "Pineapple" your hair by piling it onto a loose bun or ponytail on top of your head and cover it up before slipping off to sleep.