About the Expert:
If you have curly hair and you're looking to step up your hair care game, it can't be hard to know where to start. Those beautiful, bouncy, natural curls are a blessing, but to keep them looking hydrated and fresh, it's going to take some extra knowledge, the right supply of hair products, and some expert-approved techniques.
Below are a few best practice tips on how to take care of curly hair. Follow some or all of these tips and believe us, those ringlets will thank you.
Sodium lauryl sulfate, a harsh detergent and common ingredient in many shampoo formulas, is too strong for most curl patterns. Sulfate shampoos can dehydrate curly hair, making it appear frizzy and dry. Curly hair types will always want to use sulfate-free shampoos, but even those should be used sparingly. You might even consider ditching them entirely and switching to co-washing instead–a hair-washing technique which uses only conditioner or specially formulated "co-washes" to cleanse the hair. Most conditioners actually contain small traces of cleansing agents that can still work to gently cleanse without stripping the hair of its natural oils, which are vital for great curls. If the hair starts to look greasy between washes, a spritz of dry shampoo should do the trick.
This is perhaps the most important part of your hair care routine. “Conditioner is great for curly hair because it moisturizes curls, which helps to reduce frizz and flyaways,” says Boswell. “It also helps to preserve the curl shape.”
How often you use conditioner depends on your curl type. Loose to semi-tight curls can aim for somewhere between two to four times a week whereas kinkier curls may want to aim for a weekly wash with a deep cleansing treatment once a month.
Again, always make sure you use a sulfate-free conditioner and consider switching to co-washing to hydrate your hair as much as you can.
If you're on the hunt for a great conditioner for curly hair, consider the BRIOGEO HAIR CARE Curl Charisma™ Rice Amino + Shea Curl Defining Conditioner, which is sulfate-free and uses rice amino acids and shea butter to infuse moisture into every hair strand.
Rinsing out conditioner with cool or cold water may help to seal the hair cuticle and lock in all the moisture that has just been added to it. Additionally, cold water is also said to help to increase shine. While hair experts are decidedly split on how much water temperature affects the hair, many curly hair types have seen noticeable results using this method. If you can bear the colder temps, give it a try and see if you notice a difference.
Curly hair is sensitive. You're probably getting that by now. When drying curls, they need to be handled with care. “Terry cloth towels can absorb too much moisture from hair and the rough texture of the towel will create more frizz and can disturb your natural curl pattern,” says Boswell.
Instead, she says using a t-shirt is a great hack you can do at home to help dry curly hair. “Gently squeeze your hair with a cotton t-shirt to keep your curls intact and help your hair retain moisture. Microfiber towels are also gentle on curls and great for preventing frizz,” says Boswell.
Air drying is always going to be the best way to go for curly hair. This hair type is naturally dry and has an uneven hair fiber shape, meaning it tends to be more fragile and prone to breakage than naturally straight hair. Pair those sensitive strands with heat damage and you could be in trouble.
If you need to dry your hair using a blow dryer, make sure to use a diffuser attachment. “Diffusers are best for textured and curly hair because the attachment disperses the airflow so as not to disturb your natural curl pattern–it also prevents frizz,” says Boswell.
For fine-textured hair, Boswell recommends using a low speed and low heat setting. For thicker coarser curly hair, she suggests a medium setting and medium heat. “I always alternate using the heat and the cool settings to help set the curls and close the hair cuticle,” says Boswell.
In addition to using sulfate-free conditioners, you will also want to invest in a great leave-in conditioner like the MARC ANTHONY TRUE PROFESSIONAL 100% Extra Virgin Coconut Oil & Shea Butter Leave-In Conditioner. Leave-in conditioners add that much more hydration to the hair and help to detangle, add shine, and some can even help to protect against heat damage.
Whether you're applying a leave-in conditioner or styling products like the BRIOGEO Curl Charisma™ Rice Amino + Quinoa Frizz Control Gel, you should make sure you apply it to damp hair. The more porous your curls, the drier your hair can be when you apply the product. Remember: scrunch hair products into damp curly hair, try not to comb through your curls too much otherwise you could disrupt your curl pattern.
“Silk or poly satin pillowcases are both great for curly hair because the smooth texture of the fabric prevents frizz by causing less friction than a cotton fabric would,” Boswell says. Less friction means less breakage and ultimately less frizz. “Silk or poly satin pillowcases also absorb less moisture than a typical cotton pillowcase, preventing your hair from drying out.”
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