If you were born with naturally curly hair, odds are that you’ve spent a lot of time trying to spritz it, comb it, or straighten it into submission. Many people wrestle with their curly locks for years until they figure out a curly hair styling method that works for them.
The good news? Once you figure out how to properly style your natural hair, you’ll emerge with a beautiful, natural look that is unique to only you. If you’re ready to embrace your natural hair and let your curls shine through, read on.
Step 1: Wash And Condition With The Right Products
Curly hair care success starts with the right wash. You’ll typically want to find a sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner specifically made for curly hair. For many people, their curly hair is dry.1 If this is the case for you, look for a hydrating shampoo and conditioner that can help your hair retain moisture.
Note: Using a deep conditioner, applied once a week, may also help bring moisture to dry strands of hair.2
Products To Avoid Washing With
If your curly hair tends to get frizzy, you may be tempted to reach for a smoothing shampoo. Resist. Smoothing shampoos tend to add a silky finish. Curly and wavy hair actually looks better when products add a bit of grip or hold. This brings out the natural texture, helps hold curls in place, and prevents them from falling flat over the course of the day.3
Step-By-Step Curly Hair Care
- Prep your hair. Before you step into the shower, apply hair oil, pre-shampoo, or deep conditioner. Ask your stylist if this step is necessary for you.
- Detangle. Using your fingers, grab a small section of hair and separate tangles. Work from the bottom up, section by section.
- Detangle finer knots. After you go over your hair with your fingers, you may want to use a wide-toothed comb to get out stubborn knots. Again, work in small sections, and comb from the bottom up. Don’t use a brush in the shower or on wet hair; this may break or damage your hair.
- Then, step into the shower. It’s time to wash.
- Apply your shampoo. Massage it onto your scalp, work it through to the ends, and rinse.
- Apply your conditioner. Gently squeeze your hair to wring out excess water. Apply your conditioner all over your hair, but avoiding the roots. If you have time, let the conditioner sit for 10 minutes before rinsing.
- Leave in a bit of conditioner. Depending on your hair texture, you may want to leave in a little conditioner to add an extra boost of moisture. Ask your stylist for personalized advice.4
Step 2: Blot Your Hair Dry When You First Get Out Of The Shower
When you first step out of the shower, you may be tempted to grab a regular towel and rub the moisture out of your hair. Resist doing this. Rubbing your hair dry may lead to frizzy hair and breakage. It can also mess with your hair’s natural curl definition.
To avoid this, blot your hair gently with a microfiber towel, making sure to leave your curls intact. You can also use a t-shirt to dry your hair. This will help absorb excess water and prepare your hair for styling.5
Step 3: Using The Right Styling Products
Do you have fine, wispy curls? Do you have kinkier, coarser, dry curls? Do you have well-defined curls that are susceptible to frizz?
To figure it out for yourself, examine your curl shape and pattern while your hair is sopping wet.6 If you’re not sure, ask your stylist. It’s worth a trip to the salon to figure out your hair type so you can use the right products in your hair care routine.
The purpose of hair products is to give your hair some grip so your natural curls become more defined. Depending on your hair type, you may reach for different products.
If you have…
- Fine, wispy curls: Use a curling mousse that won’t weigh hair down.
- Kinky, coarse hair: Apply a moisturizing, defining cream while the hair is soaking wet.7
- Frizzy hair: Apply a moisturizing serum while your hair is still soaking wet.8
Step 4: Style Your Curls Using One Of These Methods
After you’ve showered and applied the appropriate products, it’s time to style your hair. There are two main methods for styling curly hair:
- The Diffusing Method
- The Heatless Curls Method
The Diffusing Method: Using Heat Styling On Your Natural Hair
Ask any hair stylist, and they will likely recommend that you use a diffuser (not a conventional hair dryer) to dry curly hair. Diffusers are made to work with the texture of curly hair and keep curls intact. Here’s how you create a curly hair style with a diffuser:
- Squeeze excess water out of your hair.
- Apply your product of choice, scrunching it into your hair.
- Gently place curls on the claw area of the diffuser.
- Move the diffuser close to your scalp and gently lift hair at the root to add volume.
- Dry your hair 80% of the way, and then allow it to air dry the rest of the way. This may help prevent frizz or excess drying.
- To finish, gently scrunch your hair to form your style.9
The Heatless Curl Method: Heat Free Styling To Help Retain Moisture and Prevent Breakage
If heat styling tends to damage your hair, you may want to try styling without a diffuser or curling iron. If you naturally have defined curls, you may only need to apply a curling product and let your hair dry on its own. If your curls need a little coaxing, here is a heat-free method that may work for you.
- Pull damp hair into a loose ponytail (use a soft scrunchie to avoid breakage).
- Wrap a 1-inch section of hair around your finger.
- Clip to secure it against your scalp.
- Repeat with all of your hair.
- Wait until your hair is completely dry.
- Unpin your hair to release bouncy curls.10
Keep It Curly
Once you settle on a winning combination of products, tools, and styling methods, your curly hair should become much easier to manage. If you’re unsure of the best process for you, go to your favorite salon and ask a stylist for a product and styling tutorial.
And if you have a bad hair day once in a while, you can always pull your hair back into a low bun and call it a day.
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