How to Take Care of Naturally Curly Hair

Updated on May 15, 2017

It took me years to learn how to care for and make the most of my naturally curly hair. In the past, women’s hairstyles tended to be a lot more conformist, with most woman trying to follow the latest trends. Nowadays, hairstyle differences are more acceptable, and curly hair has risen to a place of honor. While some women do choose to straighten their curls, many now celebrate their ringlets. However, at the same time, there is a kind of ignorance for many, even for some hair stylists, as to how to best care for curly hair. There seems to be a secret club with only certain stylists willing and able to become members.

...her only ornament was her chestnut tresses, which waved over her shoulders with all the wild grace of natural curls.

— Charlotte Brontë - "Jane Eyre"

If you have curly hair, you have come to the right place. I am going to share with you the best tips for caring for your curly hair, so you too can honor the crown of glory that you were born with. Beginning with getting a great cut to knowing what products to use, after you read this article you will be on the road to ‘gorgeous curls.’ And by the way, welcome to the curly hair club, we are happy to have you!

Cut

Get the best cut you can get!

When you have curly hair, it is vital that you have a cut that takes your curls into account. There is a big difference between straight hair and curly hair because curly hair will take a different shape when dry, while straight hair will be similar from wet to dry. A good cut will allow the curls to take their best shape and not get weighed down. There are a number of ways to locate a great curly hair stylist.

See how a Ouidad carve and slice cut is done.

  • Locate a Ouidad salon or stylist that is Ouidad certified. Ouidad is a salon who cuts hair wet, taking into account the fact that too much weight will prevent the best curl. They have a innovative method for cutting hair called "Carving & Slicing." This takes some of the weight out of the curls and effectually layers the hair from the inside, the layering is invisible when dry.

See how a Deva Curl cut is done

  • You can also opt for a DevaCurl cut; this is a dry cut that takes the individual's overall hair shape into account. A DevaCurl cut considers that when the hair is wet there is no way to see how it will lay when dry, therefore the hair is cut as it lays while dry. Click here to find a DevaCurl stylist.

  • Keep an eye out for a stylist that has naturally curly hair. You can call around to your local salons with this very question.
  • When you see someone in your neighborhood with a head of curly hair that looks great, ask them where they get their hair done.

With a great cut as your foundation to gorgeous curls, now it is time to think about daily maintenance. One of the greatest things about ‘owning’ your curls is that once you get the method of maintenance down pat, care is easier, far easier than other hair types. You are nearly looking at a wash and go style.

Washing

Guess what? Curly hair requires very little shampoo. If you are accustomed to washing your hair daily, you need to realize that this is stripping the natural oils from your hair. Curly hair is dryer than its cousin, straight hair. And frankly, humans don’t need so much shampooing in general. Realizing that you can do more good by skipping the shampoo on most days, once you get over the surprise of this, it is a relief. Less work in the way of shampoo, means more beautiful hair. Yeah!

Wash your hair once or twice a week; this is mainly to keep your scalp clean. However, if you bathe or shower daily go ahead and rinse your hair with water.

Conditioning

Have you gotten over the shock of less shampoo yet?

Well, in some ways all of that shampooing will be getting replaced with conditioning. Curly hair needs lots of conditioner. Moisture is the best friend of curly hair and conditioner locks in that precious moisture. There are a number of ways to go about this.

Method 1: Rinse hair with water (during daily shower) apply conditioner, rinse. After shower, squeeze excess water out and apply conditioner again, combing through (using fingers or wide tooth comb) this time leaving it in.

Method 2 (takes less time than method 1): After shower, squeeze excess water out with hands and apply conditioner, combing through and leave in.

Please note: Look for a natural conditioner that doesn't include sulfates and silicone.

Applying Product

Now is the time to apply whatever finishing product that you like. There is a seemingly endless supply of products to use. I use Marc Anthony Strictly Curls Lotion, I recommend this product as it:

  • Doesn't contain alcohol
  • Is reasonably priced
  • Can be found at most drug stores
  • Is non-sticky
  • Does a great job of maintaining defined soft, frizz-free curls

Styling

‘Rake & Shake’ is a term coined by the Ouidad people. It may sound like you are involved in a fall gardening project, but it is far easier than that. This method uses only your hands. You simply, using your fingers as a comb, starting close to the scalp, comb your fingers through your hair and when you get almost to the ends you shake the hair to give the curls some ‘breathing room.’ You do this all throughout your head.

You can stop here and call yourself a ‘diva’ and go or continue to the next step for some more curl definition and body.

Scrunching

I am so glad you continued on to scrunching, which by the way, helps to dry the hair. Experts suggest using a cotton t-shirt for this step. You can do this with your hands in a pinch. Realize that a towel will create some frizz, so it is not the best choice.

To scrunch, you will create an open and close motion with your hand, while at the same time lifting the hair upward. This helps because as the hair is drying, water can weigh down the hair preventing all but the most circular curls, scrunching puts the hair closer to creating the ideal curl shape as the hair is drying.

You can stop here or continue onto ‘clips’.

Duckbill Clips

Clips help hold the hair in certain places as the hair is drying, these are most often used to create a little volume or lift on the top of the head. Many women with curls find the top of their head appears flat in comparison to the rest of their hair. Clips help to give a more uniform appearance to the hair and frame the face in a more flattering way. These clips are available in most drug stores and are simple place close to the root of the hair on the top of the head.

You are done if you will be allowing your hair to air dry.

Diffuser

If you need your hair to dry quicker then use a diffuser attachment on your hair dryer. You can continue scrunching at this time with your hand as well. While a hair dryer will disturb the curl and perhaps cause some frizzing, a diffuser allows the heat to dry the hair without moving the hair around. Diffusers can be purchased at most drug stores.

By following the methods explained here, not only will you discover the most beautiful head of curls that you have ever had but you will be creating a healthier head of hair. If you have been shampooing daily, you have been drying out your hair. Switching to more conditioning, and ideally air drying, you will, over time, begin to see an even more beautiful head of curls since the health of the hair will be increasing.

Happy Curling!

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