12 Tips for Awesome Naturally Curly Hair

curly hair

curly hair

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I have naturally curly hair.  My hair stylist says it’s off-the-charts curly.  She told me that after I asked her why all the “curly” hairstyles in the magazines were more wavy than curly.

When I was younger, I hated my hair.  I tried everything to make it straight instead of curly but I never succeeded.  It just looked dumb.  See what I mean:

curly hair

curly hair

curly hair

Then one day, I’m not sure how it happened, I figured out that if I left it alone, it curled really nicely and looked much better than when I tried to straighten it.  From then on I never looked back.  I let my curls have their freedom!

And the truth is, I’m one of the laziest people alive when it comes to hair.  I’ve always joked that God gave me curly hair because he knew I hated messing with my hair.

My son and daughter have naturally curly hair, too.  My son keeps his really short so it doesn’t have much opportunity to curl.  My daughter has long, gorgeous, spiral curls.  I taught her from an early age to love her curly hair and she always has.  It’s part of who she is.

curly hair

After dealing with curly hair my whole life, I’ve learned a few things that might help others who have naturally curly hair:

1.       Don’t brush it.  I don’t own a brush or comb.  For a while I had a pick but I don’t even have one of those anymore.  I just use my fingers.  They do a fine job.

2.       Don’t blow dry it.  If you must, you must.  But if you have a choice, don’t.  Curly hair lacks moisture and drying it with a dryer makes it drier and brittle.  After I get my hair trimmed in the winter, the stylist always wants to dry it but I never let her.  I’d rather go out with it wet than put it through that.

3.       Don’t touch it after it’s dry.  When it’s almost dry, you can give it a little fluff but after that, don’t touch it again.  Curly hair does not like to be messed with after it’s dry.  Just leave it alone.

4.       Get it trimmed regularly.  When I was younger, I made the mistake of not getting regular trims.  My hair looked pretty wild most of the time.  I think if I had gotten those trims it would have looked a lot better.

curly hair

5.       Use an appropriate styling product.  There are lots of products out there designed for curly hair.  Some of them work and some of them don’t.  It also depends on what type of curly hair you have.  My daughter uses gel.  I was using foam but now I’m trying a cream.  The gel doesn’t work well for me but the cream and foam don’t work well for her.  So try different things until you find something that works.  And don’t be surprised if it suddenly stops working.  They do that sometimes.  When that happens, look for something new.

curly hair
I’ve been using the suave whipped cream but it’s not working as well. I bought the Samy but haven’t tried it yet. I’ve been using the Umberto which is a cream. It’s working pretty well but it’s really expensive.

6.       Don’t wash your hair too often.  Again, everyone is different but I wash mine twice a week and that’s plenty.  Too much washing makes it even drier.

7.       Use conditioner.  I don’t do this but my daughter does.  If she had to choose between shampoo and conditioner, she would go for conditioner.  In fact, she tells me that she doesn’t use shampoo – only conditioner.

8.       Don’t be surprised when humid weather wrecks your hairstyle.  It does that.  But what I’ve noticed is that when I think my hair looks horrible, no one else even notices.  Curly hair is wild anyway so a little humidity doesn’t really change it all that much – at least in the eyes of others.

9.       Wet your hair daily.  This may not be necessary for everyone with curly hair, but I wet my hair every day.  I would never think of leaving the house without wetting it first.  Finger combing it doesn’t work when it’s dry.  And using a brush on it would make it look like a lion’s mane.  So I wet it every morning when I shower.  Then I towel dry it, put cream on it, and shape it with my fingers.  It’s like getting a fresh start every morning.

10.     Touch it up with a curling iron if you need to.  For a while, I had one section of curls that was misbehaving badly.  I think it was while it was growing out.  My daughter-in-law told me to touch-it up with the curling iron.  I tried.  I really did.  But remember – I’m lazy when it comes to working with my hair.  I don’t really know how to use a curling iron.  So I gave up.  But for other people, a touch-it might make the difference between feeling good about your hair and hating it.

11.     Don’t expect it to look the same every day.  You can do the exact same thing every day and it still won’t look the same.  It just doesn’t.

12.     And finally, be prepared for changes when your hair starts to gray.  I wasn’t prepared and it caught me by surprise.  I noticed that the strands of hair that are gray tend to be bendy instead of curly.  And the texture is different.  I’ve also noticed the side hair is a little straighter.  So far it hasn’t affected the overall look of my hair and I don’t think it will.  My mom has naturally curly hair, too, and hers is all gray now.  It looks very pretty so I’m expecting (and hoping) that mine will, too.

curly hair
See how it’s not quite as curly as it used to be. Parts of it are straighter. And the gray hair obviously doesn’t handle the color evenly either. I need to work on that!

So if you have naturally curly hair and you haven’t given it its freedom yet, maybe now’s the time.  Let it curl and you’ll be surprised at how much better it looks.

Do you have naturally curly hair?  Do you have any tips to add to the ones above?

Other style articles are available in the style index.

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Born in Kentucky, I am a wife and mom to 1 son and 2 daughters . I have an ink pen obsession, as well as a love for all things planner. I have been married for 10 years to my high school crush. I am a member of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

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8 thoughts on “12 Tips for Awesome Naturally Curly Hair

  1. I’ve got wavy or curly hair, and it’s really thick. It’s so thick that one time when I fell and hit my head, the doctor commented that he was surprised it hurt at all because of all the hair!

    Inexplicably, my mother used to take me to a local beautiful salon and get it permed. At one point, I decided to grow it longer and also let it run wild, and I always thought it looked like a mop or a shaggy dog. I really hated it. One of the problems was that my hair leans toward really dry, and the hair products of the time didn’t do much for it. The other was that the hair styles of the time also weren’t for hair like mine. I remember when the featured look came out. It didn’t hold in my hair, but the layered part of that new style really made my hair look different than before. I still have to get layered today, which keeps the thickness down and brings out some of the curl.

    Tip: During pollen season, wash your hair every day. The hair is a pollen magnet, and thick, curly hair is even worse. You also have to condition like crazy with all that washing. I’ve found that even a quick wetting doesn’t get rid of the pollen — has to be a wash.

    1. I tried the perm route but it didn’t work for me. I also tried over-the-counter straighteners but they didn’t work either. You’re right – the hairstyles of the day didn’t work for curly hair. They still don’t!

      I didn’t think about the pollen. Interesting. I’ll keep that in mind. I’m definitely having more allergy issues these days.

  2. I think an occasional brushing or combing is a must. Since yours is short, you can get away with it. But for someone with course long curls, they’ll end up with matts if they don’t comb through it on occasion.

    Also, I think an occasional good shampooing is REALLY important. Since curly heads tend to need a lot of product, it builds up on the scalp and dulls hair and deadens the luscious curls, making it flat at the roots and can cause breakage and dandruff. I recommend a deep cleaning shampoo once a week and a deep conditioning after.

    1. I do notice that the product builds up on my hair. When I do my twice weekly wash, I can feel a huge difference after I’ve used the shampoo.

  3. I have classic length, fine, 3a hair. I shampoo just my scalp, and condition the bottom half every three or four days. While the conditioner is in my hair, I either finger comb or use a very wide toothed comb to detangle my hair. I let it air dry and never really touch it again (usually it’s in a bun or braid unless going out somewhere nice) until the next wash. I found my hair looks and feels much better with no styling products at all.

    My daughter has 3c to 4a, super thick, super fine hair, that hangs to her tailbone. She has to condition her hair daily just to get a pic through it. She has tried many products and nothing tames the curls. She and I have noticed that the products leave a horrible film on her hair and scalp and started buying her clarifying shampoo which has helped some with that problem.

    As for the pollen, a doctor once told me that changing your pillowcase nightly helps with the allergies too.

    1. You’re lucky that you don’t need styling products. That photo of me sitting with my dog is without styling products and my hair was wild and frizzy. Once I started using them, it made all the difference. But they can do a number on my scalp. I’ve switched a couple of times because a product worked great but made my scalp itch.

      Isn’t amazing how everybody’s curly hair is different? You wouldn’t think that would be the case.

  4. Patty, I come to your site and get stuck here reading for hours. 🙂

    I wanted to say, the very top picture. That looks exactly like the back of my head! Same color and everything.

    I wash my hair every three or four days, depending on how it’s looking and feeling. And I use only natural shampoos. They’re expensive, but they’re very worth it to me. I generally lean toward tea tree oil shampoos and conditioners – and religiously use a shower comb in the shower (and sometimes out of it!), otherwise I’d never come untangled.

    I’ve cut my own hair now for going on six years. It’s made a huge difference. Huge. Although I do “touch” my hair after it dries. If I don’t run the comb through it at least once (above and below / inside and outside), then I end up with what my great-grandmother called “rats’ nests” all through my hair. Impossible to get out, even with peanut butter. 🙁

    1. That picture is my daughter’s hair.

      I haven’t tried any of the natural shampoos. I’ll have to look into them. My daughter and I neither one comb our hair or it gets really bushy and frizzy. I’m surprised yours doesn’t do that, too.

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