Jay is an aerospace engineer, fashionista, technical writer, aspiring fiction author, girly-girl, and fashion blogger.
Like many curly-haired girls, I have a love-hate relationship with my loopy locks.
When my hair behaves, it falls to my shoulders in lovely, loose spirals—the type that begs to be tugged gently just to watch them spring up. It's shiny, pretty and bounces when I walk.
But when my hair karma is off, my head's a frizzy mess. Finger-in-a-light-socket frizzy. Surprised-by-an-evil-leering-clown frizzy. Cover-it-with-a-bandana-or-just-shave-it-all-off frizzy.
For years, I resorted to aggressive straightening, investing all sorts of money into expensive flat irons. Although I managed to knock out the frizz, I lost the curls, too. And I lost a lot of time—with the amount of curl in my shoulder-length hair, it could easily take me 30 minutes or more to achieve my frizz-free utopia.
Luckily, after years of hit-or-miss hair battles, I've hit upon a hair regime that combats frizz while preserving my curls, and doesn't require a huge time commitment. Using a combination of lightweight products and minimal styling techniques, my frizz-free curls now bounce every day.
Will it change the world as we know it? Probably not in itself, but making every day a "good hair day" is a great way to start.
Best Products for Frizzy, Curly Hair
- Volumizing shampoo and conditioner
- A microfiber towel
- A lightweight leave-in oil and finger-comb
- A blowdryer
- A leave-in conditioner
- A lightweight finishing spray
Step 1: Volumizing Shampoo and Conditioner
While it might seem somewhat counterintuitive, the first step toward beautiful frizz-free locks is to wash and condition with volumizing products. Volumizers tend to be lighter weight than standard or moisturizing formulations, so they won't weight down your curls.
I've tried several different brands during my quest, and while all worked well to some extent, there were two standouts. One is the Rainforest Volume line by The Body Shop. I discovered these during a recent hotel stay where they were in the complimentary toiletries kit, and was completely blown away! According to The Body Shop website, the Rainforest Volume shampoo and conditioner are made for fine hair, but they work amazingly on my semi-coarse curls. The products are lightweight, smell terrific, and free from parabens and sulfates.
The other line that I love is Mineral Fusion. Their organic volumizing shampoo and conditioner are infused with minerals and vitamins that leave my hair feeling light and airy. The products are safe for color-treated hair, too, and are paraben free, gluten free, and vegetarian/vegan-friendly.
Step 2: A Microfiber Towel
Resist the urge for a vigorous rubdown! One of the tricks for frizz-free curls is to handle your hair as little as possible. After rinsing out the conditioner, gently squeeze out the water. Start from the top of your hair and move down to the root, trying not to rub the hairs against one another or against your hands.
When you've stopped dripping for the most part, wrap your hair turban-style in a microfiber hair towel. Why microfiber? With more fibers per square inch, microfiber towels absorb much more water in a shorter amount of time than standard bath towels. So whether you air dry or blow dry (see Step 4), you'll cut down the drying time tremendously.
Step 3: A Lightweight Leave-in Oil and Finger-Comb
Your towel-dry hair is now ready for the first secret ingredient: a lightweight leave-in oil. In order for your curls to bounce without frizz, look for a very light formula. From my experience, pure oils—such as argan, macadamia, olive, etc.—are by themselves too heavy for curly hair. They weigh down the curls and can actually make the frizz worse.
Use instead a blended serum, a frizz-control product with a touch of oil. My absolutely favorite serum is Tresemmé Salon Silk serum with argan oil. For shoulder-length hair use about 4 pumps—add or subtract if your hair is longer or shorter. To apply, first pump the oil into your hands and warm up by rubbing your palms together. Gently "paint" it onto the outside of your hair, starting a few inches down from the top and working towards the bottom.
After all of the product's been applied, use your fingers to comb it through your hair, again working top to bottom. Don't rub! Just gently glide your fingers though your hair. Not only does this distribute the oil nicely without frizzing the air shafts, but it will eliminate the need to comb or brush most days.
Yep, that's right! I only run a comb through my hair about once or twice a week. The conditioner (see Step 1) eliminates most of the tangles, and finger-combing the oil takes care of the rest. Although it took some getting used to, breaking the combing habit has worked wonders—the less you handle your hair the better it looks!
What Causes Frizzy Hair?
The outer layer of the hair shaft (called the cuticle) has a shingle-like texture. Over-handling can lift up the shingles, making the hair look frizzy.
Similarly, moisture from the air also raises the cuticle, causing the shaft to frizz.
Curly hair is easily weighed down by heavy formulas. They suppress the curls, making the frizzies more noticeable.
Similar to over-handling, blow drying can make the cuticle go every-which-way.
Step 4: A Blowdryer
A blow dryer is a curly-haired girl's frenemy. In the long run, it does more harm than good, but some days you just don't have a choice.
I try to leave time in my morning schedule for my hair to air dry as much as possible. But since I just can't stand the feeling of wet hair against my scalp, there are days when blow drying is an absolute necessity.
To minimize the frizziness from drying, I use a ceramic ionic blow dryer with a concentrator attachment. I don't use the diffuser as it seems to increase the frizziness dramatically. Instead, I bend at the waist and aim the airstream at my roots, using only my fingers to move the hair around. The hair shafts absorb some residual heat, so by the time my roots are dry, the strands are sufficiently dry as well.
Keep the dryer set at high heat with low airflow to keep the cuticles as smooth as possible while drying. Your hair should not be blowing around! Avoid over-handling and simply move sections gently with your fingers to dry the roots.
Step 5: A Leave-in Conditioner
Now for the second secret ingredient: the name says it all! It's a 10 Miracle Leave-in Product is an absolute must for frizz-free curly hair. While some people recommend applying it to wet hair, I've had the best results by spritzing it after air- or blow-drying.
For best results, use the spray-and-scrunch technique. Pump one spray over the lower few inches of one section of hair, then gather that section into your fist and squeeze while lifting. Lift all the way to the root, but be careful not to twist or rub. Just gather the air into your fist and squeeze. Continue on the rest of your hair—I generally use about 6 sections, treating each section with a single pump. Your hair will be slightly damp but this product is so lightweight that it will dry in just a few minute, leaving gorgeous, shiny, and frizz-free curls.
Step 6: Lightweight Finishing Spray
Generally speaking, hairspray doesn't work well for curly hair. Most products are too wet and too heavy—they weigh down the hair and frizz up as it dries. But if you absolutely must spray to set the curls, look for a product with very fine droplets, more like a mist than a spray. My favorite is another Tresemmé product, the Tres Two Ultra Fine Mist Aerosol Hairspray. It has no water and dries very quickly, so the frizz effect is minimal. It's also very light, so your curls won't be weighed down or sticky.
To use, bend at the waist and spray the roots lightly, just 2-3 sprays for your entire head. Wait a few seconds then flip your hair back. Add a couple of light sprays to your curls, and you're set!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Roxanne Rios on July 09, 2017:
Wow! Your recommendations sound reasonable and smart. I will try your method asap. Thank you very much for taking the time to share your experience with others:)
stephanieb27 from United States on August 13, 2013:
Super article!! I, too, have a love-hate relationship with my curly hair!! Thanks for the tips! :)