How To Wash Curly Hair: A Step-by-Step Guide

woman washing curly hair and smiling

In the market for stronger, healthier-looking curls? Step one to achieving the gorgeous bouncy benefits you’re going for is washing them correctly. Washing curly hair is no easy feat. From the hair products you use to the way you rinse hair, every little thing you do can affect curls.

With a shampoo that lacks the moisture your natural hair needs or too rough a towel dry, your curls can become more prone to dry hair and damage, frizz, and tangles. However, when you learn how to wash curly hair properly with curly hair products, you can achieve soft, hydrated strands that coil or wave beautifully and smoothly. We’ll walk you through how to restore curly hair and maintain it with helpful tips on washing curly hair from top to bottom. Soon your hair will look and feel its best. 

Read on for our guide to washing curly hair.

Step 1: Detangle 

All those twists and turns can lead to tangles—and figuring out how to detangle curly hair properly can be grueling, as rough detangling can cause breakage and frizz. Before even stepping foot in the shower, begin the detangling process so you can more easily and gently comb through your hair post-shower. 

To start, run your fingers through your curls to get out any knots and follow with a wide-tooth comb or a detangling brush. This is also an opportunity to supply your strands with more moisture, which will help strengthen them; simply add a pre-poo (i.e. a hair oil such as our Curl Moisturizing Shine Oil) to dry hair and leave it on for five minutes before jumping under the water. 

peach bottle of living proof shampoo and conditioner

Step 2: Cleanse

Next up in your curly hair routine is the actual wash part. Reach for a shampoo that will cleanse your roots without damaging your curls. The key is selecting a nourishing, low-lather formula—typically, the more suds a shampoo has, the more cleansing agents it contains, which strip your hair of its naturally moisturizing oils. Our creamy Curl Shampoo is a low-lather shampoo that gently cleanses with a hint of cleansing conditioner.

When cleansing your curls, follow these steps:

  1. Start by wetting your dry hair with warm water so the shampoo can actually penetrate your strands and do its job. 
  2. Then, apply the shampoo, doing your best to concentrate the product on your scalp and not bunch up your hair, which causes more tangles, while you wash. 
  3. Rinse with warm water.

Step 3: Condition 

After cleansing, restore moisture to your strands with a rich conditioner. Ideally, the formula will be rich enough to easily detangle your hair and lightweight enough to encourage bouncy and defined curl groupings, like our Curl Conditioner. This conditioner is made to moisturize and detangle any hair type or texture while encouraging uniform curl patterns.    

Conditioner should only be applied to the mid-to-end lengths of your hair. This way, you won’t have to wash as often and you’ll supply the weakest parts of your hair with the most moisture. 

Incorporating a deep conditioner into your routine is also a good idea. Alternate between a regular conditioner and deep conditioning treatment or hair mask when you wash. Lather your locks with the treatment and slap on a shower cap to let your strands soak up all the good hair products, going about the rest of your shower routine while you let it sit. 

Whether you condition or deep condition, rinse with cool water to seal your hair cuticle, which helps lock in moisture and prevent frizz. 

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Step 4: Detangle Again

That’s it! You’ve thoroughly cleansed and conditioned your hair, but a routine that cares for your curl pattern doesn’t stop there. Detangling your hair is an important part of making your curls manageable and soft. 

Apply a product with all the conditioning, strengthening, and detangling benefits you need with some styling benefits to boot. 

  • For bouncy, shiny, frizz-free curls, try our Curl Definer, a conditioning styler that defines and hydrates while it detangles. 
  • For soft, shiny wavy hair, reach for our Curl Enhancer, a lightweight conditioning styler that enhances natural hair texture and protects against frizz. 
  • To detangle even the tightest coils, opt for the Curl Elongator to achieve soft, shiny, frizz-free curls without shrinkage.

With a wide-tooth comb, gently distribute the product through your coils or waves and watch your strands easily detangle as your style takes shape.

Common Questions about Washing Curly Hair 

Curly hair can be complicated, and when it comes to washing and styling your unique curls, you may have to embark on a bit of trial and error to find what works best for you. To help experiment more efficiently, we answered a couple of the most frequently asked questions concerning washing curly hair? 

How Often Should Curly Hair Be Washed?

The natural oils your hair produces are a good thing, and your curls need those oils to function at their best. When you wash, some of those natural oils go down the drain with the suds. So if you’re wondering how often to wash curly hair, we recommend one to two times a week. 

Is it Better to Let Curly Hair Air Dry?

A great blowout can put pep into anyone’s step, but it can also be quite damaging. For drying curly hair, which is already more fragile than straight hair, air drying is not only healthier but can also keep frizz at bay. However, when you do need a quick dry, reach for a diffuser attachment over a classic blow dryer. A diffuser blow dryer is not only made to help curls retain their shape and volume, but also diffuses the heat, spreading it out so you don’t blast your strands with too much. Never tried it? Consider learning how to diffuse curly hair should you choose to dry with a blow dryer.

If you’re ready to overhaul your wash routine, explore our curl collection and pick up a starter pack created uniquely for your curl type

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