Navigating curly hair care can be really complicated and confusing. There are so many different products available to us, as well as tips and tricks being spread around on the internet, such as the “Curly Girl Method,” which involves using *a ton* of gel and conditioner.
As a busy college student, I personally don’t have the patience (or the bravery) to try out these unfamiliar routines— I need a tried-and-true, simple routine that won’t let me down. If you relate and you’re not sure where to start, make sure you follow these bare minimum, basic tips to maintain healthy curls.
avoid washing every single day
This is a basic tip that can apply to any hair type. If you’re an athlete or in a position where your hair gets dirty often, this may be unavoidable. But to the rest of you, refrain from washing every single day if you can. This will strip your hair of its natural oils and softness.
This isn’t to say that you should write off showering entirely for days at a time. Please do not do that. Please shower. But, perhaps invest in a shower cap or put your hair up on non-wash days.
Scrunch your hair after washing
Scrunching might not seem like it would make a noticeable difference in your hair’s appearance, but it does.
After you’ve showered and combed your hair, bend over and toss your damp locks in front of your face. Gently cup your wet strands in your palms and scrunch them toward your scalp, reinforcing their natural pattern. Do this for all of your strands and work in some moisturizer, like a cream or leave-in conditioner, as you go. This should only take a couple of minutes, but you’ll see all the difference as your hair dries. Your strands will be more defined and less frizzy.
Want a guide to help you? YouTube videos like this one can help you out.
SHOp for curly-specific products
I’m going to be totally honest, I used to think that curl-defining products were unnecessary. Would using a different shampoo really change my hair’s appearance? Don’t all shampoos have similar ingredients? I was skeptical and thought I’d be just fine using generic products meant for straight hair. Don’t be like old me.
In the past, I went through so many generic, non-curly products in search of the right shampoos and conditioners — but I was searching in the wrong places. This led to my hair becoming either really dry and brittle or my scalp feeling super oily. It is so important to look for curl-specific products. Curly hair can dry up, weaken and suffer damage much easier than straight hair can. Our hair is needy! And while lots of products might work for straight-haired folks, they simply cannot nourish ours.
Don’t fret — buying curly products won’t break your piggy bank. My current curly shampoo from Garnier Fructis is only $4.49 a pop, it works wonders and it’s available at grocery and drug stores. Other affordable brands include Pacifica, SheaMoisture and Not Your Mother’s.
Go beyond conditioner to moisturize
Repeat after me: Conditioner should not be my only moisturizing product.
Detanglers, curl creams and other leave-in products like oils are super helpful and you don’t need to buy out the whole aisle for them to work. Just picking one or two of these products and using them as needed can prevent dryness and split ends. Extra moisture means softer hair and an easier time combing out tangles.
I personally love Pacifica’s Pineapple Swirl Defining Curl Cream. I use a quarter-size amount on my damp hair when I’m scrunching it. It’s lightweight, non-greasy and prevents frizz really well. The scent isn’t overpowering and the bottle will last you a long time.
comb from the bottom up
brushing *ahem* combing your hair, please do not start at the scalp. I hope this is self-explanatory, but if you have curls that get tangled easily, this really hurts and you’ll literally rip your hair out. Brushing and combing from the top down “causes more knots and creates unnecessary damage and breakage,” according to HealthyWomen.org.
Start combing with small sections from the bottom of your hair and add sections as you go. Slowly work your way up towards your scalp. And as mentioned before, scrunch with the product afterward if your hair is damp.