The Ultimate Curly Hair Care Routine

black woman with curly hair and freckles

Those with curls, ringlets, or waves—or a combination of the three, plus a random section of hair that seems to do whatever it wants—know the struggle of finding a routine that their curls seem to be happy with. One lineup may work one day, but fall flat the next. What gives? 

Establishing a great hair routine that works for your curl type is a matter of trial and error. With a few curly hair tips from our hair experts and the right curly hair products, you can create the best curly hair care routine that works for you—consistently. Slowly but surely, you will learn how to restore curly hair or maintain it.

The Science of Curly Hair

Before we jump into what works in a hair care routine for curly hair, let’s go under the microscope and take a closer look at curls, because we know this wasn’t covered in science class. When you understand why your hair acts the way it does, you’ll be better able to care for it and establish a routine it responds to.

Hair follicles are made up of sulfur proteins and cuticles that protect those proteins. 

  • In straight hair, sulfur proteins are evenly distributed throughout the hair. These proteins create the bonds that are key to hair’s strength. 
  • In curly hair, however, sulfur proteins are unevenly distributed. This makes it easier for the cuticle to stretch and bend over the curves of curls, but it also means much lower strength. Plus, it means the cuticles on curly hair are much more likely to be lifted, which leaves the follicle exposed and prone to moisture loss. 

So, the shape of curly hair follicles makes them more fragile and more difficult to retain moisture and nutrients. This can not only contribute to a dry, frizzy, and dull appearance, but also to weaker, more damage-prone strands, which is why curly hair requires special care.

woman pulling curl ringlet from hair

The Secrets to a Curly Hair Care Routine 

Everyone has a unique hair type, curl pattern or lack thereof, and history, so everyone’s hair care routines will differ a bit. That being said, girls with curly or wavy hair can benefit from following a few tips that older and wiser curly girls and hair experts have discovered work wonders on a range of curl types

Wash Less

Washing is an essential step in anyone’s hair care routine, curly or not. It rids the scalp and hair of dirt, excess oil, buildup, and more, which could otherwise make hair feel heavy and look dull. However, too much washing can cause hair to become dry and brittle. This is something curly girls have to be more aware of because of their curls’ predisposition toward dryness and damage.  

Learning how to wash curly hair is a matter of choosing the right products, such as a gentle shampoo that won’t strip your curls’ natural oils that they so desperately need. It’s also important to wash your hair less frequently than you may have thought. Those with curls can get away with washing their hair once a week—permission to skip wash day. 

Less washing means less time spent getting ready for you and less damage from friction and heat for your hair—it’s a win-win. Plus, you can always reach for a dry shampoo in-between washes.  

When You Do Wash, Use a Curl Formula

Of course, using a shampoo that is formulated for your curls is key to both getting a proper cleanse and keeping curls soft and moisturized. Insert our Curl Shampoo. The creamy, low-lather shampoo is formulated for every curl pattern and powered by our Healthy Curl Complex to gently cleanse, without stripping hair. 

If you ever experience a greasy or cakey feeling after you wash your hair, you may be dealing with buildup from hair product or pollution that requires a deeper cleanse. You can cleanse hair more thoroughly every so often (think 1-2 times a month) by using a clarifying shampoo that targets buildup such as our Triple Detox Shampoo

Condition More 

A good conditioner should be a part of every great natural hair regimen. It’s the hero of hair products for dry, tangled curls, and when used appropriately can ensure soft, manageable, and defined waves or ringlets, or anything in-between. 

Just take a look at our Curl Conditioner. The formula offers a superior slip for weightless and easy detangling to help prevent delicate curls from breaking and encourages the formation of natural curl groupings for improved definition. 

When your curls are saturated with conditioner, they can be a lot easier to work with, so you can (and should) begin detangling and styling right in the shower. When you condition your hair, these are some simple steps to follow:

  1. Apply conditioner throughout wet hair and work the product from root to tip, detangling as you go. 
  2. If you have strong textured hair, you can work in sections, using a wide-tooth comb or detangling brush. 
  3. Begin forming curl groupings. 
  4. After forming any type of in-shower curl styling with a rinse-out product such as conditioner, follow with a soft, low-pressure, cool rinse to not disturb your hard work.
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Embrace Air Drying 

If you’re an avid blow dryer or love giving your head a good towel rub, please reconsider for the sake of your curls. You’re probably well aware of the damage heat can do, but did you know towel drying can cause damage to your strands too? Curls are fragile and even more so when they’re wet. So, we’ve got to ditch the regular drying techniques in favor of a gentler routine. 

Before stepping out of the shower, gently ring the excess water out of your hair with your hands. Then, use a microfiber towel to softly scrunch your curls so they keep their shape and don’t get tangled or frizzy. You can also skip blotting hair altogether and just drape your shoulders with a towel or robe to keep your hair from dripping.  

Air-drying can take time, and while the wet-hair look might be in right now, it’s not for everyone. On those days, use a diffuser to blow dry your hair. It helps limit the amount of heat each strand is blasted with and keeps your curl shape intact. Don’t forget to always use a heat protectant, too.  

Skip the Brush 

Brushing out curls can not only cause them to lose their shape, but may also cause friction (which then leads to frizz). Instead of brushing, use a wide-tooth comb or your fingers to detangle hair. With the use of an oil, like our Curl Moisturizing Shine Oil, figuring out how to detangle curly hair is made easy. 

Plus, if you followed the correct wash and condition routine and detangled your curls in the shower, a gentle post-shower detangling routine will be all you need. 

Styling Product is Your Friend

Curls can sometimes have a mind of their own, which is why your curly hair routine can benefit greatly from having a styling sidekick. With the right styling product, your curls can have more definition, more shine, and more hold. 

  • If you have wavy hair, the Curl Enhancer will enhance your waves without the weight and provide control and protection from frizz. 
  • If you have curly hair, your curls will benefit from the Curl Definer, a conditioning cream that leaves curls bouncy and soft. 
  • If you have tightly coiled hair, the Curl Elongator will help you form consistent, elongated curl groupings from root to tip. 

Add even more hold to your style with the Curl Defining Gel, which is formulated to highlight your natural hair texture without weight or crunch.

How To Create Your Best Curly Hair Routine

If you’re dealing with frizz, dryness, or breakage, certain factors may be at play, such as the way you’re washing, conditioning, styling, or even how you sleep with curly hair. But more often than not, the root of the problem is a lack of strength. When you focus on supporting and maintaining the strength of your hair, every part of your routine becomes more beneficial and less detrimental to how your hair looks, feels, and functions. 

In addition to following the tips above, pick the right curly hair products. 

Choose the Right Products 

Implementing the right products into your curly hair routine is essential, but the right products that fulfill all your hopes and dreams for your curls—shine, definition, manageability, strength, and more—can be hard to come by. After surveying hundreds of curly-haired people, we learned that it’s not only difficult for many to find products that meet their needs, but that those products are often not even available, leading them to seek out DIY solutions. 

What you need is a versatile solution that puts strength first, because when your strands are strong, they function better in every regard. 

This is why we created the Healthy Curl Complexour first biomimetic blend that forms a strengthening shield around every curl. It reduces cuticle lift to increase strength and prevent breakage, replenishes emolliency levels to increase hydration, encourages curl groupings to enhance definition, boosts alignment for added shine, and even controls frizz.

The result? Smooth, defined curls from root to tip. The Healthy Curl Complex is a foundational ingredient in every product in our curl collection so you can fortify your curls with every wash, condition, and style, enabling you to create your best curly hair care routine yet.