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Ways You’re Unintentionally Ruining Your Curly Hair

Living with naturally curly hair can be a blessing and a curse. Everyone loves your hair, everyone wants to touch your hair, everyone wishes they had your hair. (Psh, they only wish they had it until they actually have to DEAL with it, amirite?) If everyone with curly hair had a dollar for every time they heard the phrase, “People pay lots of money to have hair like yours!” we’d probably have enough money to buy… well… anything we could ever want.

My hair didn’t turn into the curly mess it was until I hit puberty. I went from having board-straight hair to dealing with tight ringlet curls, and quite frankly, it was a bit of a shock. I’m the only one in my family with curly hair, so no one knew how to help me manage my mane.

(Me, an 8th grader, circa 2012)

(Me, a freshman in college, circa 2016)

As I’ve gotten older, my hair has tamed itself from the spirals to beachy waves with the occasional ringlet. Either way, I know the struggles of curls. With lots of personal experience, trial-and-error, and a little research, I discovered how to take care of curly hair and ways I was actually ruining my hair.

1. Using the wrong products (or using your products wrong). The biggest struggle of curly hair texture is that it’s naturally dry, meaning that it requires extra moisture to keep curls bouncy and healthy. Sadly, this usually means that drugstore shampoos are out of the question; the parabens and sulfates tend to strip hair of moisture. Most shampoos contain sodium laureth sulfate, a common detergent found in hygiene products, such as soap and shampoo. Although this cleaner is highly effective, it’s too harsh for most people’s curls and can leave hair dry and frizzy. The best way to wash curly hair is with a 100% sulfate-free shampoo. You should only be washing your hair a couple of times a week, and when you do, remember this sage piece of advice: don’t shampoo your ends, and don’t condition your roots

Our Recommendation: DevaCurl No-Poo Zero Lather Conditioning Cleanser ($22, Ulta or DevaCurl.com)

2. Wrapping your hair in a towel after you shower. Honestly, what girl isn’t guilty of this one? I know, it’s super tempting and convenient to put your sopping wet hair into the ever-reliable towel turban after a shower. The weight of the already wet towel on your hair causes major breakage at the roots and tips, and who wants those annoying flyaway baby hairs? This doesn’t mean that you need to run out and buy a special hair towel; the experts recommend gently squeezing excess water out of your hair and letting it air dry.

3. Styling your hair wrong before you sleep. The way you sleep with your hair styled can greatly affect the way your hair looks in the morning and in the long run. Along with towel turbans, sleeping with your hair in a ponytail can cause major breakage to your hair. This, too, is incredibly tempting; however, there are no hair ties that are gentle enough on your hair to keep it from breaking at the band and your scalp. Too much breakage and stress on your hair can mean lots of frizz and flyaways.

Our Recommendation: There are a lot of ways to sleep safely with curls, but the easiest ways would be braids or a topknot bun.

4. Using too much heat on your hair. Did you know that using too much heat on your hair can actually alter the proteins in your hair, making your hair lose its curl? Expert stylists suggest limiting heat to just three times a week. Only blow-dry about two times a week, and always use a diffuser and the coolest setting. When you use a straightener, don’t go above 400 degrees. If you feel like your hair is losing its curl, quit heat altogether and use a conditioning mask in the shower to help the hydrogen bonds in your hair restore the curl pattern.

5. Brushing your hair. Period. If you’ve ever tried to dry-brush your hair, you know that you go from looking like a human to looking like a lion in a matter of seconds. You should never dry-brush your hair because it will disturb your curl pattern and turn your hair into a frizzy mess. If you have to untangle your hair, use a wide-tooth pick comb. Pick combs are more gentle and less likely to leave you frazzled and frizzy.

6. Touching it constantly. The more you mess with your curls, the more you mess with the cuticle, creating frizz for yourself. Cut down on the friction, whether that be with your hands, towels, or clothes.

(Us too, Harry.)

Cameren is a first-year journalism student at the University of Georgia. Her hobbies include photography, writing, eating ice cream, and generally fangirling.