Girls blessed with naturally curly hair are lucky. They get pretty ringlets that frame their face and a naturally tousled look. But the truth is you don’t wake up with perfect, shiny curls – they actually need plenty of TLC. Read this guide to find out how to take care of curly hair properly.
The secret to having perfect curls is by committing to a solid routine. The right products, habits, and styling tools will keep your hair hydrated and healthy, which helps maintain the natural pattern of your curls.
We put together this guide about everything you need to know about curly hair care, so you can enjoy only great hair days ahead.
First, let’s dive into what makes curly hair care different from managing straight hair.
What makes curly hair different?
Curly hair is known for being damage-prone because of its natural tendency for dryness. This is because it’s difficult for your scalp’s natural oils to travel down a curly strand compared to a straight one.
All the problems common to curly hair are results of dryness. Your curls become breakable when they’re not properly moisturized. This results in frizz, breakage, split ends, and damaged hair. Dry hair also appears coarse and dull, putting a damper on your hairdo.
The secret to having healthy curls is to keep them hydrated. This means avoiding products, habits, and tools that strip moisture from your hair.
Build your everyday hair routine around hydration to protect your hair from dryness and breakage. Hydrated curls are bouncier, shinier, and healthier, making them easier to manage and style.
Daily Curly Hair Care Routine
Here’s what a basic care routine for curly hair should look like:
The first thing you should know about curly hair care is this: do NOT wash your hair every day. Washing your curls daily strips your scalp of its natural oils, drying out your hair. When you skip the shower, you give those oils more time to coat your hair from root to tip.
The problem with not washing your hair every day is that it can get very tangled. This is where pre-shampoo comes in. Pre-shampoo or “pre-poo treatments” help detangle your hair, making your curls easier to wash.
Separate your hair into sections then lather on some leave-in conditioner, hair oil or hair mask. Be sure to coat the strands from root to tip. Distribute the product evenly by running a comb or your fingers through your hair. You can wear a shower cap to open up the cuticles on your scalp. This method lets your hair absorb the product better.
Rinse after 20 to 30 minutes then wash your hair as you normally would.
Choose a shampoo that’s specifically formulated for curly hair. We recommend getting one that’s free from toxic chemicals like parabens, alcohol, and sulfates. Look for a sulfate- and fragrance-free shampoo to avoid drying out your scalp.
You can wash your hair 2 to 3 times a week, depending on your curl type and how oily your hair gets.
Conditioner is a non-negotiable for curly-haired girls. It brings back the moisture in your hair after shampooing, so make sure to condition your curls after every wash.
Focus the product on the strands and the tips of your hair. Avoid putting conditioner on your scalp to keep your hair from looking greasy. However, conditioning from root to tip is a big help if you have extremely dry hair or tightly coiled curls.
Curl creams or gels are designed to tackle dryness, frizz, flyaway, and tangles by providing maximum hydration. These products give the structure and definition of your curls so that your hair doesn't lose volume throughout the day. After-shower curl treatments also add shine to your hair, making it look healthy and bouncy.
After showering, lightly comb through your hair to get rid of the tangles. Then, apply a quarter-sized amount of your chosen curl cream through your hair. Rub the product between your palms, cup your curls, then scrunch them upwards to encourage curl definition.
Hair Mask or Hair Oil
Use a hair mask or hair oil once a week. This brings back moisture to your curls after a week’s worth of using products and styling tools.
We recommend using hair oils to improve the blood circulation on your scalp. Massage the oil onto your scalp to nourish the roots and promote healthy hair growth.
If you don’t like the feeling of oil on your scalp, you can use a deep-conditioning mask instead. Choose one that’s specially formulated for curly hair. A mask infused with argan oil, glycerin, or coconut oil will bring back hydration into your strands.
Proper Curly Hair Habits
After building a hair care routine, you need to supplement these products with proper hair habits. Otherwise, you might be doing things that damage your hair, hindering the benefits of your care products.
We’ve listed common habits that are hurting your curls that you need to break, and what you can do instead.
The best way to dry curly hair is by air drying it halfway. After your shower, apply your curl cream while your hair’s still wet. Wait until it’s 50 to 80 percent dry then you can blow-dry your hair the rest of the way.
Do NOT dry your curls with a towel, especially with a cotton one. Cotton towels are rough and can damage your hair if you rub them too vigorously. Use a microfiber towel instead to squeeze out the water from your hair.
One alternative to towel drying is hair plopping. Get a microfiber towel or a big, long-sleeve soft cotton shirt. After applying your curl cream, flip your wet hair onto the center of the shirt. Grab the bottom of the shirt and lift it so that it covers your head. While holding the bottom edge of the shirt, grab the sleeves then twist them around your head. Tie the sleeves together to hold the shirt in place.
The result should look like a hair wrap. This will keep your curls nestled on top of your head, allowing them to dry in their natural pattern.
Yes, you should have a curly hair sleep routine. You want to reduce the friction your hair gets when you’re asleep. This way, your curls retain their structure and avoid getting tangled.
Consider applying some leave-in conditioner or hair oil before heading to bed to tame your curls. Then, pile all your hair on top of your head so that you’re not lying on them. Swap your cotton pillowcases for silk or satin ones to further reduce the friction.
Excessive heat is bad for your curls. It can fry your hair, making your curls look dull and lifeless. Prevent damage by using a heat protectant spray before styling your hair. This product acts as a protective layer for your hair, reducing the damage caused by heat. Make sure you choose one that’s alcohol-free.
Also, you want to be picky with the styling tools you use. Avoid using poor quality hot tools with inconsistent heat. These are hard to control and can burn your curls. As much as possible, use fast-styling tools that minimize heat exposure.
We’ve listed several tools that will achieve any hairstyle you want without damaging your curls.
Styling Tools for Curly Hair
Ionic Hair Dryer
Natural curls aren’t compatible with blow-dryers, but ionic hairdryers are game-changers. These produce negatively charged ions, which cancel out the positively charged water molecules on wet hair.
In short, ionic dryers dry your hair much quicker, exposing your curls to less heat. Your hair also retains moisture and volume better because of the minimal heat exposure.
When blow-drying curly hair, we recommend using a diffuser. This is an attachment specifically designed for tight curls or coils. It disperses the air from the hair dryer to keep from disrupting your curl’s natural pattern.
Try InStyler’s TURBO MAX Ionic Hair Dryer and diffuser bundle. TURBO MAX dries hair up to 35 percent faster than a regular blow dryer, lowering the risk of damage and making your hair routine much easier.
Many curly-haired girls are wary of straightening their hair, especially those who have tight curls. Most styling irons get extremely hot, which can cause significant damage to your hair.
If you have naturally curly hair, you can still use a flat iron for straightening. But choose one that’s designed for your hair type. Also, follow the proper techniques on how to straighten curly hair to make sure you’re not damaging your tresses.
InStyler offers the CERASILK Styling Iron, which gives you sleek, frizz-free hair minus the damage. It comes with a removable comb to keep your hair from looking flat and stiff as you straighten it.
If you’d rather not use a flat iron, you can use a brush straightener instead. Hair straightening brushes are perfect for styling wet hair fast. The bristles emit heat, straightening your curls as you brush them. The best part is that straightening brushes don’t flatten your hair. You’ll get sleek, straight hair without losing its bounce.
Check out InStyler’s GLOSSIE Ceramic Styling Brush. It has a big bristle, allowing you to straighten bigger sections of your hair compared to traditional flat irons. This brush straightener works on thick, curly, and wavy hair types.
Healthy Curls Inside and Out
The key to keeping your curls healthy is by taking care of them from the inside out. Use this article to build a hair care routine and find products that work for you. But don't forget that your lifestyle habits also affect your hair health. Give your curly hair care regimen adequate sleep and a balanced diet so you can achieve your #hairgoals and enjoy only great hair days ahead!
If you’d like to learn more about styling curly hair, visit our blog for easy-to-follow tips and tricks, or check out our curly hair styling tools collection.