Style & Beauty

Curly Hair 101

These tips and tricks can help keep your curls content

 By Katrina Caruso

I grew up in a home in which no one else had hair like mine and so my curly, “difficult” hair was often a ball of frizz. Fortunately for me and for others with natural curls, curly hair has been getting more attention lately from the beauty world.

Coarse Curls
Thicker hair requires special treatment—notably, less washing. Washing tends to make the hair more coarse, fuller, and less manageable. Most experts on curly hair say you need to wash only once a week—or even once every two weeks, depending on your hair. (You’ll need to experiment a bit before finding what works best for you.)

Coarser hair calls for light shampoos or what are known as co-washes—using conditioner as (and instead of) shampoo. Products such as DevaCurl No-Poo conditioning cleansers will moisturize the hair without adding volume. Shampooing can be reserved for when the scalp really needs to be washed.

As for products, coarse curls need moisture, so the best products are oil-based (coconut oil can work very well). A light amount of oil will add a bit of weight to help manage any frizz.

Fine Curls
If your hair is thinner, the no-poo approach may not work for you, and neither will too many oils or heavy conditioners: fine curls get weighed down too much when the hair is too oily. Instead of defrizzing and moisturizing, you’ll just create flat hair. As someone with fine curls, I wash my hair about three times a week, and that’s proven to be the best routine for me.

For fine hair, the best way to control frizz is with a little bit of serum or with gels or lighter creams, such as Biosilk’s Silk Therapy Serum and Tigi’s Catwalk Curlesque Curls Rock Amplifier.

General Curly-Hair Care
– A satin or silk pillowcase can help with frizz and breakage.

– Use cotton T-shirts instead of towels to dry your hair—towels absorb too much needed moisture. “Plopping” is a super technique for keeping the curl—essentially, it’s tightly wrapping the hair when it’s wet. You can find videos here and here that show you how to do it.

– At nighttime, tie your hair up, either with a scrunchie on the top of your head (called the pineapple technique) or with a silk scarf in a headwrap; this helps with controlling frizz and keeping the curls bouncy.

– Put down the hair dryer and other heat tools such as curling and straightening irons. As often as possible, let your hair air dry.

– Stop combing and brushing your hair unless it’s necessary: otherwise, you’re just breaking the curls. Instead, run your fingers through your hair when you need to (prepare your hair with a detangling spray or moisturizer beforehand).

Photo: iStock/Wavebreakmedia.