Naturally curly and wavy hair. What does that really mean? How to know if your hair is naturally curly? Or maybe you’ve always known you had naturally curly hair, but did you really know, what potential it has?
This post is dedicated to naturally curly or wavy hair. I have gathered some tips on how to treat it and how to get the best out of your curls, without any heat. I also shared my curly hair routine.
More often or not, you hear about this one particular problem: your hair is both curly and straight. It’s like a weird mixture of these two. Or it gets more curly around your face – you call them your baby hairs and they have a will of their own. Or maybe you’ve noticed, that on a holiday, say, on a tropical island, your hair is more curly than usual – no use in straightening it.
I’m here to tell you, that your hair is naturally curly and you are just treating it all wrong!
I’m here to tell you, that your hair is not necessarily just randomly curly at some points – it is actually curly, once you give it what it needs!
How to know, if your hair is naturally curly?
Well, you probably do know. You know deep down, that your hair is and has always been curly. You just haven’t really given it a much thought. But once you do – I’m telling you – there’s no going back.
One of the things, that give curly hair away in a second, is getting it wet. You notice it almost instantly, when it’s wet. The wetter your hair is, the curlier it gets. Right? You come out of the shower, squeeze the excess water out, and see it. Curls.
Another thing, that’s a bit annoying, but in a way a relief, is that curly hair hates hair brushes. Once you brush a curly hair, it doubles in size. No, actually it triples. It gets huge and frizzy and just awful. It loses all of it’s definition. But don’t worry, I have a better solution to a brush.
Also, curly hair is dry. It’s dry by default. But don’t worry, it doesn’t need to look dry.
Curly hair is dry, it doesn’t like to be brushed, and it loves water.
These things can sometimes be a bit tricky to pick up, because if your hair is full of products not suitable for curly hair – silicone in particular – your hair might lose some of it’s curls and behave, well, not like a curly hair. Or if your hair is super damaged, the curls can be a bit damaged too.
But by following these tips, your curls will recover and you’ll find that your natural curls are beautiful just the way they are.
Treat your curly hair the right way!
Be gentle on your hair – skip the heat
As I said, curly hair is dry by default. So be gentle with it! Stop with the straightening and curling irons. They will damage your hair and your curl patterns, at least in the long run.
Remove sulfates and silicones from your routine
I hate to go into ingredients, but I have to. I was a bit hesitant to try a sulfate and silicone free routine at first, and to recommend it to you guys, but now that I have, I have to say it’s made a big difference. The reason why this is recommended is simple.
Why go silicone free?
Silicones aren’t necessarily a bad thing, but there is a reason they are not recommended for curly hair. Most silicones are not water-soluble, so if you’re using a mild shampoo, it might not wash away all the silicones. And silicones can build up. Once they build up, they can weigh down your curls, diminish definition and straighten out the curls. So it’s just easier to go silicone-free.
But, if you do use products with silicones, maybe choose ones that contain less them. And if you’re using products with silicones, you need a shampoo that gets rid of the silicones too, which then needs to be, well, not that mild. Which gets us to the next guestion:
Why go sulfate free – and why should you choose mild shampoos?
Sulfates are detergents and they are used a lot in cosmetics as cleaning and foaming agents.
It is recommended to treat curly hair with sulfate-free products. Why? Because sulfates are considered quite harsh, and they can strip your scalp and hair from it’s natural oils. And those oils are actually useful and they protect your scalp while giving moisture to your hair.
The same goes basically to any ingredients used: your shampoo should be mild and moisturizing. With curly hair it’s all about moisture. I could also add, on a personal note, that I have found organic, mild shampoos to be the best for my difficult scalp. I used to suffer from dandruff, dryness and oiliness, but once I switched my shampoo to a milder one, it’s been all good.
TIP! The easiest way to get sulfate and silicone-free products is to choose organic products. The easiest way to check, if your product is suitable for curly hair (and is silicone & sulfate free), is this website, where you just copy the ingredient list and the site tells you if it’s CG (=curly girl) approved.
Okay – so there were some basic things. Now I bet that you’re eager to start your curly girl journey and try the simple routine. But first, you need to get rid of buildup from products you have been using before.
To get the best results and the best curls, you need to wash your hair with a clarifying shampoo once – to get rid of buildup, such as silicones, waxes and petrolatum in your hair. Then you can start the curly hair routine. Note: Even if you’re using products with silicones and are not gonna change them, go for a clarifying shampoo still every once in a while. It gets rid of build-up.
Simple curly & wavy hair routine
- Shampoo your hair with a shampoo, that contains no silicones or sulfates. Your shampoo should be mild and nourishing, since curly hair is dry and you don’t want to strip your scalp from all of it’s natural oils – those oils also help your curls.
- Apply a generous amount of preferably silicone-free conditioner on your hair. You are not gonna brush your hair at all, so this is the part where you untangle your hair using your fingers and the conditioner. You can take your time. Then rinse off the conditioner. Cold water is recommended, but if you already live on the north pole and are not a fan of the cold vibe, go ahead and use warm water (me, always).
- When you come out of the shower, gently squeeze or scrunch the water out of your hair. Then use the towel and do the same thing. The key here is NOT to dry your hair completely – you just take the excess water out of your hair, but you still leave it damp, or actually damp+.
- If your hair is very dry and conditioner is not enough for it (with curly hair the chances are that it’s not) – you can add leave-in-conditioners or oils after shower. The right way to apply these products to your hair is – you guessed it! – by squeezing/scrunching the products gently all over the lengths – never drag them through the hair as it can ruin the curls. Again, the products should be lightweight and preferably silicone-free. I have noticed that applying my curl cream to almost wet hair works the best, since it also locks the water in the hair a bit.
- And then… you let your hair air dry and don’t touch it! And if your hair is naturally curly, it will get naturally curly and dry in perfect (well, maybe not perfect) curls. For a super simple beginner routine, that is it.
TIP! If you have extra time and want to get even more defined curls, you can try the squish-to-condish curly hair method. That means soaking out the conditioner instead of rinsing it all off under water. So instead of rinsing your hair, you take water to your palms and soak out the conditioner in little sections and squish it out of your hair.
My routine & products
I follow the curly hair routine and I wash my hair abut 2 or 3 times per week. I sometimes do the squish-to-condish method. I never brush my hair and I sleep with my hair in a pineapple (high loose ponytail), so that my curls don’t get ruined, when I sleep.
SHAMPOO Unique Hair Care Mild Shampoo or some other sulfate free shampoo
CONDITIONER SheaMoisture Coconut & Hibiscus Conditioner or some other silicone-free conditioner
CURL CREAM/GEL – Cantu Coconut Curl Cream or aloe vera gel
The products mentioned are the products I started my curly hair routine with. I must say, that switching up my conditioner and leave-in-conditioner to products made especially for curly hair has made a big difference. I am still experimenting with different products and techniques, but currently I’m trying the sulfate & silicone-free way. My shampoo is from a Danish brand, so I’m not sure about it’s availability. I’ve been using Unique Hair Care products for a few years now. I love their Moisturizing shampoo as well and I use their Deep Cleansing shampoo every once in a while.
Amazon is a good place to look for curly hair products, and I have bought both the conditioner and curl cream from there. Besides the products I picked, Devacurl products and that particular conditioner from Tresemme seem to be quite popular in the curly hair community.
Some other products I’ve tried:
Shiny hair with just two products
Evolve Beauty Shine Shampoo & Conditioner – they are organic, so sulfate & silicone free
Perfect products for wavy curls
Schwarzkopft Mad About Waves line – the conditioner is silicone free, other products contain silicones
Natural curl styler – aloe vera gel
Lately I’ve been using just organic aloe vera for my curls. It gives some hold to the curls and isn’t as heavy as the curl cream I started with.
Last but not least: embrace your curls! I wish I had realized this a long time ago – I would have super healthy hair and curls then. My new love for my curls also goes hand in hand with the promise of growing out my own hair color. Obviously my natural hair is healthier and it will hopefully produce even better curls. I’m also eager to see, if just following this routine and not using heat on my hair will change my hair and my curls for the better. It is said that it takes time for the hair to recover and there is a transition time, which you just need to push through. Personally I am fine with this. I know that my hair is damaged and that’s why there are some straighter curls amongst the perfect corkscrew ones, but I was never about perfection anyway.