A curly-haired girl’s guide to curly hair

Illustration is by Karisah Brown

When it comes to someone’s identity, personality and even mood on any given day, their hair plays a major role. Most people have an inner (and physical) attachment to their hair, which can affect their confidence. Some of those who attribute their low self-confidence with their hair resort to always taking the easy route when it comes to styling it. Why try when it’ll just look bad anyways, right? As a curly-haired girl, I can only attest to the struggles of others with hair like mine, but growing up around women who have learned to embrace their voluminous locks has taught me a couple of secrets along the way. 

For reference, my hair type is classified as “curly,” as opposed to “wavy” or “kinky”, and between 3A and 3B on an average curl type chart. If you classify as a different hair type on the spectrum, don’t worry as some of these tips can still apply to you.

The first step in taking control of your hair is to establish a regimen that can be easily integrated into your daily routine. Much like a child, you will need to train your hair and guide it throughout its new journey. This will take patience and a lot of trial and error, but I promise it’ll be worth it in the end. 

Let’s talk about products. Do not go to your nearest drug store and peruse the hair care aisle. You will overwhelm yourself and probably end up wasting money on products you do not need and that is not our goal here. It may take a while to find products that work for you, and this may be a little costly at first, but start by doing some research into what products others with your hair type use and go from there. 

A very common misconception is that people need to spend a lot of money on high-end products with fancy ingredients. This could not be further from the truth. Sure, these fancy ingredients may be nice for your hair, but these products are also usually packed with harmful ingredients such as sulfates and parabens. Your best friends in this journey are going to be conditioner, leave-in conditioner and mousse. I always recommend applying a leave-in conditioner to your hair post-shower as this will help moisturize and reduce frizz. 

I would not worry too much about finding the perfect shampoo simply because shampoo plays a minor role in the conditioning and maintenance of curly hair. It is recommended to only shampoo a couple of times a month as to not strip your hair of its natural oils. Something to know about most curly hair types is that they tend to be drier, so ensuring you are not stripping your hair of its natural oils is very important. Although it is not ideal to wash your hair very often, I know I have to wet my hair if I ever want to style or brush it. So instead of shampooing every time I need to wet my hair when I shower, I condition my hair every time and only shampoo it once a week. 

Products that I believe every curly-haired girl needs to have in their stockpile:

Think about how you normally style your hair and try incorporating your hair routine into your post-shower routine. Brush out your curls while they are still wet and apply your leave-in conditioner as soon as you get out of the shower. Try not to run your fingers through your hair as this will separate your curls. Instead, section out your hair as it naturally lands and apply the conditioner liberally to each section. 

Next, add your mousse by scrunching it into your curls and add any other products you feel necessary. As your hair air dries, scrunch up the curls using an old T-shirt to absorb any water. This routine can (and should) be altered to fit your specific hair needs, but I like to use it as a basic template for a solid routine. Even if this routine is totally wrong for you, and this may be the case, do not be discouraged. As I said, you will experience trial and error along the way as everyone’s hair reacts differently to different products and routines. Be patient and trust the process and I promise you will be glad you did once you see the true potential of your gorgeous locks.

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