Curls are not merely a hairstyle—they are a distinct attribute shining with uniqueness, a distinctive appearance that stands out in any gathering. However, for those fortunate enough to possess these desirable locks, there is often a tale of both adoration and struggle within the equation.
Many individuals with curly hair can confirm that managing these stunning locks can leave one with mixed emotions. Some days, they flow down like the ripples of a waterfall, while on other days, they may resemble a challenging bird’s nest that you prefer not to deal with. This duality—the beauty and challenge of managing curly hair—underscores the significance of having the right hair care routine (and knowledge).
Navigating the intricate realm of curly hair can seem intimidating, but you are not alone on this journey. With the guidance of experienced professionals who truly comprehend the complexities of curly locks, our objective is clear—to transform those troublesome days into rare occurrences, giving you more days to admire your beautiful ringlets. Continue reading to discover everything you need to know about caring for your curly hair and enhancing your relationship with your mane once and for all.
Understanding Your Curl Type
Before delving into styling curly hair, it is essential to comprehend your curl type in order to better understand your hair’s needs. Los Angeles-based celebrity hair stylist, a YouTuber specializing in natural hair, and the founder of Deeper Than Hair, Annagjid “Kee” Taylor explains, “The optimal way to identify your curl type and pattern is easily determined when your hair is wet.”
When attempting to determine your true hair type, it is best to start with wet hair since this is when textured hair achieves its most authentic definition.
In general, hair types are traditionally described as follows:
- Type 1: Naturally straight with no curl pattern
- Type 2: Wavy, forming an S-pattern and ranging from a slight wave to more defined loops
- Type 3: Curly, with spiraled curls that can vary from loose coils to tighter corkscrews
- Type 4: Coil-like curls, extremely tight, often exhibiting a zig-zag pattern.
Each person’s hair is a blend of characteristics, creating a unique curl fingerprint. However, Sabrina Ahmed, a hairstylist trained at the Aveda Institute and a curl enthusiast in her own right, emphasizes that curl type is just one aspect to consider—it is also important to take into account factors such as porosity. “To maintain the health of your curly hair, be sure to keep it moisturized and trim any split ends.”
Establishing a Curly Hair Care Routine
Just as you possess a skincare routine, wavy hair necessitates a ceremony. Fashioning a regimen for your curls guarantees that they stay moisturized, well-defined, and, most importantly, healthy. According to our specialists, here are the fundamentals of constructing a manageable curly hair care regimen.
Purify: Commence by eliminating product accumulation, grime, and oil from your hair. While numerous individuals believe that curly hair should not be washed frequently, it is not a matter of how often but rather the quality of products utilized. Taylor explains that most types of curly hair will experience success with moisturizing or hydrating sulfate-free shampoos that do not dehydrate the hair. However, occasionally, it is beneficial to utilize a clarifying shampoo to penetrate through product buildup and residue.
Moisturize: Deep conditioning is the foundation of curly hair care—regard it as a spa day for your curls. While shampooing grants curls a fresh start by removing all the dirt, oil, and styling/maintenance products, a conditioner (particularly a hydrating conditioner) nourishes the hair and replenishes curls with much-needed moisture—a necessity for definition and overall curl health.
Allow to Dry Naturally: Massaging your hair with a standard towel is strongly discouraged. Taylor suggests allowing your hair to air dry and utilizing a cotton t-shirt or a microfiber towel to gently scrunch and absorb excess moisture. This technique minimizes friction, thus reducing breakage and frizz.
Utilize Heat Protectant: If you must dry your hair, Ahmed and Taylor always recommend starting with a heat protectant (whether blow drying or otherwise). Ahmed adds that preparing with a protein mask and deep conditioning can also aid in mitigating any potential heat damage. To complete the process, Taylor suggests using a small amount of oil (such as First Class to Jamaica Castor Oil) to enhance shine throughout your locks, assist in smoothing frizzy hair, and define your ends.
Guard: Nighttime care is crucial. Curls are delicate and require protection from the friction caused by your cherished bedding. Taylor suggests using a silk pillowcase or securing your hair in a protective style like a pineapple or a loose braid before bed—a bonnet is also an excellent option. Note that both pillowcases and bonnets can be found in silk, satin, or bamboo materials, all of which are safe for safeguarding your hair while you sleep.
Ahmed and Taylor both emphasize the significance of hydration at every stage. Like flowers, curls necessitate consistent hydration in order to flourish fully. Additionally, it is important to acknowledge that not all products that promise hydration, moisturization, or curl-friendliness are created equally—make it a habit to briefly examine the ingredient label before making a purchase. Ahmed also cautions against products filled with parabens, sulfates, and alcohol, as they can strip your hair of its natural oils.
Tackling Common Wavy Hair Challenges
Every individual with wavy hair has stories of combating frizz or awakening to undefined curls.
Taylor is of the opinion that these obstacles frequently occur due to a fusion of the goods employed and simply requiring to be kinder to your ringlets. Ahmed agrees, supplementing that the accumulation of products and unsuitable hair techniques can worsen these problems.
Styling and Celebrating Your Curly Hair
Both professionals swear by regular deep conditioning sessions to provide the hydration that thirsty curls desire. Ahmed also advocates for techniques like the “praying hands” method, which involves smoothing products over your hair as if you’re praying and gently scrunching to enhance curl definition.
One common misconception about curly hair is that it’s difficult or almost impossible to style. Both professionals agree that this is a myth and recommend connecting with your curls by experimenting with different styles.
“With curls, my preferred thing to do is to give yourself a tease,” says Taylor. “Not only will teasing your hair give you more volume and definition of the curls, but it’s also an effortlessly stunning look for any occasion. I also enjoy adding accessories and braids to the mix to alter the appearance from day to night; simply find what works best for you and your requirements.”
Embracing curls also involves exploring various styles. Below are some other suggestions that Ahmed cites as go-to styles for people with curly hair to try occasionally.
- Timeless updo: Elevate your look with an elegant bun, twist, or braid. It’s sophisticated and keeps the hair off your neck.
- Half-up, half-down: This style offers a relaxed yet stylish vibe, perfect for both daytime and evenings.
- Side-swept curls: Opt for a deep side part. Sweeping your curls to one side adds flair and is perfect for special occasions.
- Well-defined curls with accessories: For added style, use a curling wand or flexi rods and decorate your hair with hairpins, clips, or bands.
Recommended Products for Curly Hair
Both professionals emphasize the significance of the right products and ingredients. Taylor suggests looking for hydrating ingredients like aloe, shea butter, and suitable hair oils for your hair type and concerns. Below are some favorites from our professionals:
NatureLab. Tokyo Perfect 2-in-1 Scalp Scrub and Clarifying Shampoo (Purchase It, $19)
As mentioned, starting with clean curls is crucial to help your ringlets thrive. Taylor is a fan of NatureLab Tokyo Perfect 2-in-1 Scalp Scrub and Clarifying Shampoo. Its gentle formulation detoxifies your scalp and hair without removing the natural, protective oils.
Andrew Fitzsimons Fantasy Curls Conditioner (Purchase It, $16)
Infused with a blend of jojoba and castor oil, Taylor recommends this conditioner for its ability to nourish and moisturize, transforming each curl into a soft, bouncy masterpiece. Unlock the magic of perfectly defined curls with this curl-friendly conditioner.
Garnier Fructis Triple Nutrition Curl Nourish Butter Cream Leave-In Treatment (Purchase It, $7)
If there are two aspects that professionals and individuals with curly hair worldwide can agree on, it’s the significance of a quality leave-in product for styling and definition—and that establishing a routine for curly hair doesn’t have to incur a hefty expense. Ahmed strongly recommends the Garnier Fructis Triple Nutrition Curl Nourish Butter Cream Leave-In Treatment because it offers an affordable solution for frizz-free curls when air drying. Including ingredients such as vegetable protein and coconut oil, this leave-in product will act as your ally in nourishing and styling your curls.
Salwa Curly Hair Chebe Ritual (Purchase Now, $85)
Discovering the ideal routine for curly hair requires time, patience, and inevitably, some trial and error. Nonetheless, Taylor reassures us that it doesn’t have to be excessively expensive. Opting for a curly hair kit, like her personal favorite from Salwa Curly Hair Chebe Ritual, is an excellent way to test out a curly hair routine without committing to full-sized containers of products. Developed by Salwa Peterson, this haircare line utilizes Chébé seed—a historical ingredient with a rich background associated with promoting healthy hair (and is exclusively cultivated in Chad in Central Africa).
Although it may appear daunting, the pursuit of flawless curls brings great rewards. Ahmed’s concluding advice is to “Exercise patience with your curls, delight in the process, and embrace every stage.” Equipped with these expert insights, you can now navigate the world of curly hair more effectively. Remember, each curl is a form of art; collectively, they create a masterpiece.
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