Curly hair can be very stressful when not cared for correctly. It twists, tangles, even knots itself even if you haven’t moved an inch. It’s probably the most temperamental of hair types, the kind that’ll only look nice when you’re not going out but looks like an awful, frizzy mess once you step outside. How rude!
Because it’s so moody (especially in this crazy Manila weather), us curlytops have to take care of our curls differently from those with straight hair. I don’t think I’m the only one who gets frustrated watching shampoo commercials where the comb slides right through the model’s luscious locks. Us curly-haired girls sneer at that.
In a world where products aren’t always geared towards us, we can only do battle on our own. So here I am, a fellow kulot, to impart some tips and tricks for your beautiful curls.
9. Co-washing is your best friend
Co-washing is short for conditioner-only washing and it’s been a godsend for curly girls all over the world for years. Curly hair is drier than most (crunchy curl days sound familiar?) so shampooing constantly can do more damage than good. It’ll strip your curls of their natural oils, leaving them even drier.
Conditioner-only washing can ensure your hair is still being cleaned while giving it that softness you need. It retains moisture, the kind that has a hard time traveling down curly hair because of the twists and turns. I would say that I shampoo only occasionally because it leaves my hair dry and limp but just so I can feel a little cleaner.
This isn’t for everyone, of course. If you have scalp conditions or anything, you’ll have to consult with a professional before trying it out. But if you don’t suffer from any, maybe give it a try and see how much nicer your curls fall!
8. When drying your hair, use a t-shirt and not a towel
This is another widely-known hack but one that people tend to skip. Let me tell you something: Towels have those tiny, tiny fibers that hair can get tangled in. And what’s more tangle-prone than straight hair? Curly hair. That stuff will rip your curls right off. T-shirts are smooth, will still absorb the water in your hair, and will be gentle.
I usually use those stretchy cotton shirts to make sure that nothing gets tangled or tugged in those cute hair turbans. It takes some getting used to (and having a shirt to be your designated hair shirt) but it’s worth it when you see how much it helps your hair and lessens hair fall.
After all, how can you care for your curls when you don’t have any left? I got you.
7. Know your curl type
Each hair type has its own nuances in maintenance and all. I’m somewhere between 3a and 3b with defined curls and twists that are still loose enough to fall individually. Because of that, my hair isn’t as dry as type 4 curls but needs a little more moisture than type 2. So I adjust with my conditioner amount and leave-in oils amount.
Same thing in terms of using shampoo. I use it sparingly, much less than type 2s would, for example, but a little more than type 4s. It’s all about balance and observing your hair for how it responds to your care.
6. Get some leave-in conditioner, hair oils, etc.
Products geared towards curly hair are kind of hit-or-miss for me. Sometimes they leave me with that dry, crunchy feeling. Other times they’re just so heavy that they weigh my curls down. It takes a lot of experimentation and getting to know your hair and curl pattern before you get it right.
The good part about it is that you get to see what really works for you. My hair type is 3a-3b and heavy gels tend to weigh my hair down. I go for lighter things, a touch of oil, mousse, hair milk. And I avoid hairsprays as they tend to make my hair very stiff rather than the flowing, soft curls I like.
I also love coconut oil and leaving it in my hair overnight (with a shower cap on) or while I work out as it naturally moisturizes my hair.
Less is more, too. When I put product in my hair, I tend to distribute a very small amount evenly through the hair rather than taking all my curls in one hand and smearing it on. It takes a little more patience but your curls will thank you for going through them individually.
5. Comb your hair when it’s still slightly damp
Curly hair is dry and is more prone to breaking. So trying to comb through it when it’s dry is like a deathwish. Not only will you break the hairs, you’ll also be left with a frizzy mess.
Instead, I comb it while it’s still damp or wet with a wide-toothed comb and very gently. Some other curly girls also like to comb while conditioning in the shower which also works so at least the product is distributed and the tangles are gone when you step out.
I would also highly discourage brushes as they’re not as gentle as combs. They’ll interrupt your curl pattern and leave it sort of weird, wavy, and frizzy. Wide-toothed combs don’t break into different tiered sections, it’s just one straight line with different slots. But brushes have different levels that your hair will pass through, tugging the curl in different directions, breaking up your pattern.
4. Hair masks once a week
Hair masks are specialized hair products that target breakage and damage all while nourishing your hair. They’re potent and rich enough to be able to use just once a week, giving you and your hair a treat day once you reach it.
Hair masks are supercharged with the love that your usual products have. It’s like your conditioner but multiplied by 100. When you feel your hair need a little more TLC, this is the stuff. And with curly hair, there will be days it’ll be moodier than normal. It’s all part of being a curly girl.
Your curly hair will do what it wants so even though you feel you’ve cared for it the entire week, it might retaliate anyway. Give it what it wants: Put on that luxurious hair mask.
3. Leave it alone for one day
What helps my hair is that I leave it completely alone for one day of the week. Sometimes I like to think this is me telling it to be at its messiest, most unflattering state. As if I’m cutting a deal with it so it looks pretty the rest of the week. But what this is doing is really allowing your curls to rest in between washes.
If you’re still the type to shampoo a lot, this helps so much. Because you’ve stopped stripping your hair of its natural oils, it can have a day to recuperate. Just chill. Watch some Netflix the whole day. Put your feet up. Caring for curly hair is exhausting–you deserve the rest.
2. Avoid hair elastics with metal bands
Curly hair gets caught in anything. This is a fact. Curly hair caught in metal? That’s some cry-worthy ripping right there.
That little sliver of metal in hair ties is a death trap for curly hair. It gets caught, tangled, and there’s no way to tease it out anymore. You will say goodbye to some of your curls that day. Avoid any hair ties with those things to save yourself from a world of heartbreak.
Get the smooth ones, the ones that lay flat on your wrist when you wear them. They don’t dent hair and they’re very, very gentle. And when hair gets tangled in it, they’re easier to maneuver around.
1. Don’t forget to get those ends trimmed
Like I’ve said maybe 100 times this entire article, curly hair is prone to breakage. So instead of letting those split ends climb up your locks, trim them off religiously. It helps with your hair growth in the long run because you’re only retaining the healthy parts of your curls and stopping the damage before it climbs up any farther.
Frayed ends can be because of heat damage or dryness. Get rid of them every now and then to make sure that your hair is as healthy as can be.
Do you have curly hair? Will you be using these tips? Let us know! Best of luck!