Whether you’re in the early stages of wearing your hair curly (welcome!) or are a natural-hair veteran, it always helps to know what works for other curly girls. Here are four curly hair routines that work for four NaturallyCurly editors, each with their own unique curl patterns and hair issues.
I have a mix of fine Type 3a/3b curls that are color-treated, so I like to give them a little bit more TLC. This means that on wash days, I need to set aside an ample amount of time to do my hair.
First things first, I always use coconut oil and my fingers to detangle my hair when it's dry. I typically shampoo my hair once a week, with one or two co-washes throughout the week, depending on my hair’s moisture and frizz quotient. Once my hair is knot-free, I begin to wash it, and switch between Trader Joe’s Tea Tree Tingle Shampoo and Devacurl Low-Poo Mild Cleanser.
As for a conditioner, I swear by Aussie Moist Conditioner. Sometimes, I’ll mix that with SheaMoisture Yucca & Plantain Anti-Breakage Strengthening Conditioner for extra benefits. Once applied, I leave the conditioner on my hair for about 5-10 minutes for a quick deep condition.
I love soft curls, and I use leave-in conditioner to achieve this look.
After I thoroughly rinse out my conditioner, I like to apply an additional hair mask, at least once a week. I use different masks each week depending on my hair’s needs at the time, but my particular favorites are Camille Rose Naturals Algae Renew because of its amazing smell and natural ingredients. Also, I use Curl Junkie Repair Me specifically for my color-treated hair needs. Once I apply my hair mask, I cover my hair with a plastic bag, and sit with my Hot Head Thermal Hair Care Heat Cap on for about 30 minutes to an hour for extra conditioning.
Finally, it’s time to style! I love soft curls, and I use leave-in conditioner to achieve this look. My go-to and favorite is Kinky-Curly Knot Today. I both rake and smooth the product through my hair, and then scrunch it at the end. To seal in the moisture, I lightly apply a grape seed/almond oil mixture.
Since I wash my hair at night (about 98% of the time), I let it air dry overnight. For best results, I usually rest my hair on top of my pillow, and sometimes clip it at the roots for added volume. If all goes as planned, I wake up to perfect, voluminous curls every time. To maintain my curls for the next 2-3 days, I make sure to sleep with my hair on top of a satin pillow, and spritz hair as needed with a refresher mixture of leave-in conditioner and water mixture.
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I have Type 4b coils, so I cleanse my hair once a week to retain as much moisture as I possibly can. The cleansing process begins by applying SheaMoisture SuperFruit Complex 10-in-1 Renewal System Shampoo at the beginning of my shower, with special attention to my scalp and ends.
Often, I'll leave it in while I complete my shower, and rinse it just before I get out. I apply Kinky-Curly Stellar Strands to my wet hair when I'm done with my shower, and then detangle it in front of the sink with a wide-tooth comb, after the product has fully saturated my hair. I hang out for 30 minutes, and then rinse it out in the shower.
At night, I often sleep in my Curly Tee Towel so that my style is still intact in the morning.
Once I'm out of the shower again, I use my Curly Tee Towel to dry my hair. When it's finally damp, I put a few drops of Ann Carol's Peppermint Chamomile Hair Oil on my fingertips and massage into my scalp. Then, I cocktail the Macadamia Activating Curl Cream, Ann Carol's Peppermint Chamomile Hair Oil, and Aunt Jackie's Don't Shrink Flaxseed Elongating Curl Gel in my hand, and shingle the mixture evenly through my hair.
During this process, I make sure to finger detangle and catch any snags I might have missed the first time around. Also, I use this as an opportunity to form that day's style with my fingers. I let my hair air dry and I fluff it throughout the day as needed. At night, I often sleep in my Curly Tee Towel so that my style is still intact in the morning — all I need is a little water and oil, and my curls are ready to go again.
I have Type 2c wavy hair that has undergone a fair amount of damage — from bleaching it platinum blonde, to going purple, and then finally returning back to brown. I take extra care to moisturize my hair and avoid anything that might cause further damage.
I shampoo my hair as little as possible, typically only twice a week, as cleansing can leave my hair feeling straw-like, and can also cause my dye to fade. If I’m working out or feel like it needs a wash, I’ll use a co-wash like Ouidad’s Cleansing Conditioner. Then, I saturate my hair with DevaCurl One Condition and use a wide-tooth comb to detangle my hair. A wide-tooth comb is essential to getting loose waves to clump into curls. Once a month, or whenever my hair starts to feel dry, I use a protein treatment or a deep conditioner like the Curl Junkie Deep Fix, which makes my hair feel nice and soft.
The next step is the most important one in my routine, and has a far greater impact than any product ever could: I use a diffuser.
When I get out of the shower, I wring the water out of my hair, and spray a leave-in conditioner like Obia’s Curl Hydration Spray. Without disturbing my curls, I scrunch a cream-gel like TIGI Curls Rock Amplifier throughout my hair, and plop it with a microfiber towel.
The next step is the most important one in my routine, and has a far greater impact than any product ever could: I use a diffuser. If I don’t diffuse, my waves do not have any spiral or bounce to them — my hair just looks straight and frizzy. But when I diffuse, I get ringlet curls, body, and great curl definition without fail. It takes a little extra time, so I don't do it daily, but when I do, my curls receive endless compliments. The difference is night and day!
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I typically cleanse and style my hair a few times a week. I work out frequently, and my biggest concern with my Type 3b curls is frizz, frizz, frizz.
I absolutely love the L'oreal EverCurl Co-Wash. I use it about once a week, especially on days I work out. It's super affordable, easy to find, and leaves my hair clean and moisturized. For a deeper cleanse, I use the Ouidad Cleansing Oil. I never would have imagined that an oil would cleanse my dry hair, but it works well and doesn't leave an oily residue. It is pricey, but worth every penny.
I always follow up with a moisturizing conditioner — Curls Sublime Conditioner and the SheaMoisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl & Shine Conditioner are two of my favorites right now. I like formulas that are creamy, smell wonderful, and spread through my hair easily. I also prefer conditioners that don't take forever to give me my desired effect, since I'm always on the go.
I find that my best results happen when I do a wash-and-go in the morning and let my hair air dry.
Out of the shower, I immediately apply a conditioning leave-in and styling treatment to my wet hair. I love Briogeo Curl Charisma Rice Amino + Avocado Leave-In Defining Creme, especially when I'm moving quickly in the morning, since it's the only product I need to add to wet hair. No additional styling product required! If I have a bit of extra time, I’ll apply a finishing product. Oribe Curl Gloss is amazing — it feels like a mix of silk and water in your hands and glides easily onto your curls.
Then, I blot my wet hair with a microfiber towel out of the shower since it dries my hair faster, but doesn't cause friction on my curls. I find that my best results happen when I do a wash-and-go in the morning and let my hair air dry. If I put too much styling product, I like to wait until it dries, and then lightly rub my hands together with the hair in between to avoid stiffness.
To combat the short frizz near the front of my hair, I usually go with a twist back or braid my front strands. An added plus: It also keeps my hair out of my face.
When it comes down to it, there will always be a new product, technique, or sleeping method that I'll want to try for my curls. Curly hair is beautiful, but it does require patience, and the occasional bad hair day happens.
Amidst all of the well-known curly hair struggles, it helps to have a routine that will yield selfie-worthy results most of the time.
Have you found a routine that works for you?
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