Curly hair can be a battle. I’ve written before about struggling to come to terms with my hair type, but even over a year after writing that post, I still found myself reaching for the blow dryer more often than not just because it seemed easier than dealing with my curly hair. In April of this year, though, I finally figured out a curly hair routine that worked for me and was actually less time-consuming than using a blow dryer.
A lovely Instagram follower recently reached out asking about the products I use in my hair, so I thought now was as good a time as any to share my newfound curly success with everyone. Read on to see how I nursed my curls back to life and keep them in good health!
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A Few Notes
Before I get into my personal routine, I want to share two key tips for taking care of curly hair.
First and foremost, I highly recommend that anyone transitioning to their natural hair texture check out Naturally Curly and/or the Curly Girl Method. I will note that the Curly Girl Method and its DevaCurl products are on the pricier side, which is why I’ve taken a bit longer to find a routine that works for me and my budget. However, these are all excellent resources and Naturally Curly even has an online texture quiz that will help you determine what type of hair you have. For example, I have 2C/3A curls that are high porosity, medium density, and coarse. Knowing your hair type can help you make better decisions on which products to use and how to care for your curls.
Second, don’t be afraid of your hairdresser! I very recently got a good curly cut after avoiding the hairdresser like the plague; my previous hair appointments tended to result in either a cut that only looked good straightened or one that was way too short. This time, however, I did my research and went to a stylist who knew how to take care of curly hair. She cut it just short enough to get rid of the scraggly ends and damage; it immediately looked so much better. I recommend doing research into what type of haircut you want and finding a stylist who knows what they’re doing when it comes to curls.
Okay, on to my curly hair routine! A full list of the products I use can be found at the bottom of the post.
I, like many curlies, don’t need to shampoo my hair every day. Because my hair is so porous and coarse, washing it frequently can actually make it even drier and frizzier. Because I also don’t brush my hair dry, I use a good wide-tooth comb to detangle it right before washing. I then finger comb to get out any additional tangles.
In the Shower
I wet my hair completely and use SheaMoisture Manuka Honey & Mafura Oil Intensive Hydration Shampoo mainly on my scalp. While this shampoo is sulfate-free, I still find that it can dry out the lengths of my hair more. So I stick to cleansing my scalp with it and letting the run-off from rinsing clean the lengths.
Next, I make sure my hair is sopping wet and apply SheaMoisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen & Restore Rinse-Out Conditioner from roots to ends (Note that this conditioner is not Curly Girl Method-approved since it does contain alcohol, but still works great with my hair). I apply enough that my hair feels slippery, almost like seaweed. Then, I flip my hair upside down and use just a little water to start to rinse. I use a method called squish-to-condish (S2C), whereby you gather the pools of water/conditioner coming out of your hair in your hands and squish it back into your curls. This method helps with hydration, since it “forces” the water and conditioner into the hair. I rinse using S2C until my hair is still wet, but not dripping water.
I do all of the following while my hair is still soaking wet and flipped upside down.
First, I take a little bit of SheaMoisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen & Restore Leave-In Conditioner and gently rake it through my hair starting about halfway down the lengths. I’m very careful not to separate big clumps of curls while doing this to avoid frizz. I then gently squish the ends up to my scalp to help the moisture penetrate my hair.
Then, I use EcoStyler Moroccan Argan Oil Styling Gel. I take a scoop of that and use “prayer hands” to evenly coat my curls. This means that I distribute the gel between the palms of my hands and glide down, while the hair is sandwiched between flat hands. I love this gel because it provides just enough hold that my curls can dry in shape without being weighed down.
Next, I plop. Plopping is when you wrap your hair in a 100% cotton t-shirt or microfiber towel and allow it to start drying. You do this by placing the shirt or towel on a flat surface and lowering your hair into the middle. Then, you wrap it up using the sleeves or ends of the towel. I usually use a t-shirt and leave it in for 20-30 minutes before taking my hair down. Here’s a great guide demonstrating plopping.
Finally, I clip my roots. This means I take a few jaw clips and gently lift my hair from the roots to add more volume. I leave the clips in for 20 minutes or so. Here’s a great guide demonstrating root clipping.
After taking out the clips, I let my hair finish air drying and gently scrunch out any gel cast for soft, bouncy curls.
Protecting My Curls at Night
Going to sleep can be a nightmare for curly hair. If you aren’t careful, the curls you so carefully styled will get all kinds of messed up overnight. To avoid that, I use the pineapple method to protect my curls. This means I flip my hair upside down and gather all of my hair into a loose ponytail toward the middle/top of my scalp. I then use a big scrunchie to gently secure the ponytail. Finally, I use a claw clip to secure the end of the ponytail at the base.
Sleeping on a silk pillowcase can also be great for your hair; the fabric has enough slip that your curls won’t frizz while you sleep and can also help with moisture retention. Wrapping your hair in a silk scarf can offer the same benefits.
On days where I don’t wash my hair, I still need a little bit of styling help. To refresh my curls, I dampen them with a little bit of water from the sink or a spray bottle. Then, I apply a tiny amount of my leave-in conditioner, followed by a tiny amount of my gel. I don’t bother plopping or clipping on these days.
Since transitioning to being a full-time curly girl, I’ve fallen in love with my curls and wish I’d embraced them sooner. I hope these suggestions help you find your best curly hair routine and love your curls, too!