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Photo of my hair
Photo of my hair
Original photo by Rebecca Karlous
Style > Beauty

My Curly Hair Routine: How To Keep Your Curls And Waves Fresh And Defined Every Day Of The Week

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCLA chapter.

A curly and wavy hair routine is simply not just a routine, but a lifestyle. I’ll be honest, through my own personal journey of embracing my curly hair, the beginning was not fun. I was frustrated because products were working for the curly hair YouTubers I was watching, but not for me. Then with a frustrated yet determined mindset (the former competitive gymnast in me), I would start over and figure out what products worked and didn’t work for me. It was a process and a continuous cycle of trial and error. However, the well-worth ride has led me to now enjoy the hair care routine that works for me. And mind you, I’m still learning myself! Though these exact products may not be the ingredients for your hair type, I hope this helps and encourages anyone who may be finding difficulty on where to begin with a curly hair routine. 


Shampoo and Conditioner

Over the quarantine, I’ve learned the importance of scalp care. Not only does prioritizing your scalp affect your hair growth, but it also impacts the shape of your curls! I found that I have a dry scalp that certainly needs some extra love and attention called “hydration.” I make sure to use a hydrating shampoo that lathers well, leaving my hair moisturized and squeaky clean. A few times a month, I incorporate a clarifying shampoo into my routine that specifically eliminates all the buildup that’s accumulated on my scalp. Thanks to Tik Tok, I compliment my shampoo with a special gadget called a “scalp massager” that makes sure that your dry-shampoo and other hair product residue is kicked out the door. Trust me, you need this one.

Lastly, I use a moisturizing conditioner wash that not only locks in hydration but softly cleanses the scalp. Free of sulfates and other harsh detergents, I apply this all over from my scalp to the ends, leaving it in for three to five minutes. Similar to the clarifying shampoo, I use a deep hydration mask once every few weeks for extra care.

Brush and Wrap

As soon as I’m out of the shower I immediately brush my hair. Following this, I wrap my hair in a microfiber towel to get rid of excess water. This technique is more gentle to your hair in comparison to a regular towel. For me, this made the most difference in my hair when it came to added shine, volume and less breakage. As I am taking care of my skincare, I let my hair dry, but not dry too much, in the microfiber towel (around five minutes).

Styling Products

After releasing my hair from the microfiber hair wrap, I gently part my hair to the desired side I want. After, I generously apply leave-in-conditioner and a curling custard to help encourage the curls to form their pattern. The most effective way to do this is by using a “scrunching” action while applying the products to your hair. However, rather than simply scrunching with my fingers, I use the same microfiber towel to scrunch. I’ve found that this eliminates frizz and allows the curls to form their shape in a more consistent pattern rather than using my hands.

Next, I use a curl gel to lock my pattern and shape into the desired curl pattern I want. However, don’t be alarmed! Your hair will feel crunchy after using the product. The “cast” created allows the curls to hold their formation. Believe me, crunch is good. Only needing to use a dime-size amount, this is a key step that will discourage frizz and help seal the deal. Lastly, I glaze over a frizz controlling serum, because as you can see, I like to do everything I can to not welcome any frizz to this hair.


Funny to think that for the longest time I thought it was impossible to dry curls with a blow-drying tool. I think it’s much more of a relaxing process than a regular hairdryer. It looks complicated at first, but I promise you, it’s great if you need that extra definition. Thanks to Tik Tok (again), the diffuser trend taught me how to properly diffuse my hair.

When the process is complete, I flip my head upside down and lightly shake my hair with my fingers to release some of the tight curls.

Sleeping with Your Curls

I’m still learning the most effective ways to sleep with my curls. As you can see, all this work that goes into my hair makes me insistent on not letting anything affect my curl shape or volume overnight. After doing some research, I’ve found that putting my hair in a high, loose ponytail (called a “pineapple”) with a silk scrunchie works wonders. Want extra protection? I use a silk bonnet to make sure that my hair goes nowhere overnight. A silk pillowcase also works impressively if a bonnet may not be your thing.

Day(s) After

One of the best things about curly hair is that whether it’s the second day, the third day or even the fourth day (depending on your wash routine), your curls can still be brought back to life. To maintain my curls, I dampen with water and reactivate my curls with a bit of the custard and firming gel. Lastly, I scrunch light with my hands and finish by smoothing over argan oil.

Don’t I wish that it didn’t take me 20 years to figure out my curl routine. If that’s you too, know you’re not alone. The long journey that it took actually made the process surprisingly enjoyable and exciting. Every video I watched and new product I tried out was a step closer to me wanting to love and be confident in my natural hair. So though it may be discouraging and frustrating, it’s quite a beautiful process once it’s all figured out.

It wasn’t just a routine passed down to me. I’m truly thankful that I had to figure this out on my own, as it made me dig deep and face the insecurity I had had with my natural hair. To all the curly and wavy-haired readers out there, know that I am rooting for you on this journey! It’s an incredibly rewarding one.

Rebecca (also goes by Bec and Becca) is an English major at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and an Assistant Editorial Director and writer for HC at UCLA. In her free time, she loves a strong oat milk latte at a local LA coffee shop, catching the sunset at the beach and hunting for the perfect breakfast burrito.
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