I HATED my curly hair growing up.
We read the book Ramona the Pest when I was in the third grade, which features a character named Susan who would grow to be the antagonist of the series. Ramona was so enamored of Susan’s curls that she would gently pull on one and yell sproing! upon release, and to her bemusement the curl would pop back into place. Because I was the only person in my class with curly hair, naturally other kids were testing this trick nonstop, much to my chagrin. I felt my hair had become a spectacle. I grew to despise it so much that I furiously tried to brush out my curls for my sixth grade class photo (I learned the hard way that doesn’t work, as evidenced by the yearbook released later that year…sorry, mom). After years of using relaxers and heat-styling tools in an effort to tame my mane, I decided to start wearing my hair naturally.
Funnily enough, what used to be a source of frustration has now morphed into my signature look! I’ve had repeated requests for a post about curly hair, so I thought I’d provide some insight into my everyday curly hair care routine. Keep reading for my tried and true techniques and a list of my favorite products.
1. Determine your hair type
This is, arguably, the most important step in the process. There is a process called hair typing, which ranks hair on scale of 1 to 4, with 3 being the “curly” hair type. My curl type is 3A, which is a looser, more defined ringlet. The reason this step is vital is because if you have type 2C wavy hair but you’re using products that are best suited for 3A locks, then you’re not using the most effective styling methods! If you’d like to determine your hair type, Andre Walker is a known authority on the subject. This Refinery29 article is also super helpful. For the sake of this post, I’m going to be focusing on type 3 curls since that’s my area of expertise.
2. Embrace the LOC method
The LOC method–the trifecta of leave in conditioner, oil, cream–is a tried and true approach that works for most curly hair types. After getting out of the shower, gently squeeze dry your hair with a towel and add in leave in conditioner (I prefer the spray versions, like Ojon’s Revitalizing Mist which also works as a detangler) and brush with a wide tooth comb or your fingers; then, add a lightweight oil (coconut oil and argan oil are two popular choices) and/or an anti-frizz serum; and finally, add in the styling cream (I use Devacurl’s Supercream Coconut Curl Styler) prior to blow dry/air dry. It’s a great way to loc(k) in moisture and keep curls fresh all day.
3. Invest in a diffuser for curl definition
Getting a diffuser was a life-changing purchase Diffusers attach to any hair dryer and reduce airflow to evenly distribute air between the strands, working in tandem with the natural curl pattern. When using a diffuser, make sure to use it on lowest heat setting to avoid any damage to the hair. This is a great guide on the proper way to use a diffuser. To help shape those curls that don’t want to…well, curl, invest in a low-heat small curling iron.
4. Don’t wash your hair every day…really
You don’t wash your hair everyday?! is the reaction I usually get when I tell people I only shampoo a few times a week. Shampooing can cause intense frizz and a dry scalp, which is an ultimate no no, especially for thick hair like mine. When you feel your hair starts to get a little greasy, I recommend co-washing, short for washing with conditioner only (otherwise known as the “no poo” method) and rinsing with cold water to retain moisture. For the days you do need to wash your hair, make sure you are using sulfate-free products to avoid stripping your hair of natural oils (I like the Bb.Curl line from Bumble & bumble). After rinsing, squeeze out your hair in the way you would a tube of toothpaste so as not to mess up the curl pattern. Then, finish by gently squeezing your hair with a microfiber towel, focusing on the ends (do NOT aggressively rub the towel against your hair, this will cause extra frizz and tangling).
5. Arm yourself with the correct products to protect your curls
I have a tendency to lose curl definition thanks to Charleston’s humidity, so aside from the LOC and no poo methods, I have a whole arsenal of products I use for stubborn hair days. I like using a light spritz throughout the day for flyaways or a few drops of coconut oil. If my hair is being extra difficult, I may use a spray gel or flexible hold hair spray. For those with fine or medium hair, mousse or hair foam is more effective than creams or gels. The key when applying any touch-up product is to shape the curls with your fingers to ensure the best results.
For my curly girls out there, what are some products or techniques you recommend for fighting frizz? Leave your suggestions in the comments!