How to care for curly hair. Whether you love your curls and want to learn how to enhance them, you haven’t yet fallen in love with your curls or just want some good advice on how to take care of curly hair, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve been working with curly hair for over 35 years.
Curls come in many shapes, sizes and textures but there is one thing they all have in common; curls give hair natural body, volume and movement. Getting volume and movement in hair is the holy grail of hair styling and if you have curls, you’ve got it naturally.
As you may have guessed already, we love curls. But we understand that learning how to look after curly hair can be a challenge. So we’ve put together our Ultimate Guide on How to Care for Curly Hair. Based on years of salon experience we share our know-how on how to take care of curly hair naturally.
How to care for Curly Hair: What’s my Type?
Understanding how to look after curly hair starts with understanding your curl type.
Curl type is particularly important for cutting the hair. Getting the right shape and cut for your curl type is the difference between hair that looks ordinary and hair that looks wow! We think of the curl type as the personality of your hair and letting it shine through is what a good hair cut is all about.
- Wavy: Flatter near the scalp with movement and waves at the mid-lengths and ends of the hair. Waves tend to be looser and have an ‘S’ shape.
- Curly: Hair may have more ringlets and corkscrew shapes but not necessarily all the way through the hair. Curls can give hair the appearance of being thicker even if the hair is fine.
- Coils: Hair has tight, small, corkscrew curls from the scalp to the ends of the hair. This mainly describes afro-textured hair. Whilst the curls tend to be smaller in size, the hair is much denser.
How to care for Curly Hair: By Hair Type
Curl type has it’s part to play in determining how to care for curly hair but its also important to think about the texture of your hair. So, for example, is it thick and coarse or fine? To keep things simple, we’ve split our advice into 3 sections; How to care for Fine Wavy or Curly Hair, How to care for Thick Wavy or Curly Hair and How to Care for Coily or Afro-Textured Hair.
For more in-depth reading we’ve also written a section on the Porosity of Hair. This is useful as a way of understanding how your curls absorb moisture and the best techniques for building moisture. More of which below.
How to care for Fine Wavy or Curly Hair
If you have fine wavy or curly hair your hair may be prone to product build-up. You may find that your hair can’t absorb a lot of product so we recommend building moisture into fine curls and waves over time.
Good hair care starts with the right shampoo and conditioner for your hair type.
Think about natural shampoos that give the hair volume. Curls need plenty of hydration but it’s important not to overload the hair when it’s fine. Fine hair is more prone to tangles so choose lightweight, detangling, natural conditioners. If you find your hair is very dry due to colour treatments or heated styling, you can choose a more hydrating conditioner to complement your volume-boosting shampoo.
Make sure you focus on the ends and mid-lengths and avoid the root area when applying conditioner. We recommend warming conditioners up in your palms before you apply to the hair. That will give you a better spread of product on the hair and prevent build-up in any single area.
Use a deep conditioning hair mask once a week to define your curls and waves.
The thing that we love about natural hair masks is that they don’t contain silicones. Silicones can weigh heavily on hair and because they coat the hair they can make the hair drier over time. Your curls and waves are your secret weapon for body and volume and the last thing you want to do is leave them flat.
Look out for deep conditioning hair treatments that contain emollients; glycerin, avocado and tocopherol (vitamin E) are all great for smoothing frizz and improving curl definition. Building the moisture in your hair with a weekly hair mask will help maintain definition and make hair easier to style to boot! We recommend little and often for fine curls and waves.
Focus on getting body at the roots when styling fine curly or wavy hair
Once hair is prepped with the right shampoo and conditioner, its time to put those curls and waves to work! Work with your natural curls and waves to give hair more body and movement. Focus on the roots where hair may be flatter. We encourage our curly and wavy haired clients to ditch the brush and use fingers to gently lift the roots as they dry the hair.
Choose lightweight styling products for volume to give your hair some help. You can use short blasts of heat as you gently lift the roots. Turn your head upside down for extra lift and volume. The key is not to over dry the hair as this can leave it flat. Switch the hairdryer off when hair is around 80% dry and leave the hair to dry naturally.
Use a diffuser when using a hair dryer or let your hair air dry.
If you are using a hairdryer to dry your fine curls and waves then we recommend a diffuser. A diffuser attachment on your hairdryer disperses the air and prevents the heat from roughing up the cuticle. It reduces frizz and keeps your curls intact. Alternatively, you can air dry your hair. If you want to know how to air dry your hair for volume, follow our Salon Know How Tips below.
Sleep on a silk or satin pillow or wear a satin bonnet to care for curly hair overnight
Choosing a silk or satin pillow is the best way of caring for your hair overnight. They reduce the friction on hair as you move your head overnight, helping to protect against split ends. For those of us with curls and waves, they also help to retain the definition of hair. If you are frustrated with flat hair in the mornings you can also try a satin bonnet to prevent tangles and frizz.
Opt for mid-length and shorter styles to maximise volume in fine curly or wavy hair.
Mid-length and shorter styles are better for fine hair. However, when it comes to cutting hair the shape and balance of your curls are key. So what do we mean by shape and balance? What we are really talking about is how you maximise the haircut to get weight in the right places to leave hair as full and thick as possible. A haircut should be versatile enough for you to be able to change the parting or try different styling options when you style it at home.
Curly hair is one of the most challenging hair types to cut but get it right and it can look incredible. We recommend getting a consultation with your stylist to discuss what shape would best suit your and hair. Don’t just talk to your stylist about the length, ask them about where they would recommend more weight in the hair and what changes they can make to give you more movement.
Salon Know How: How to air dry fine hair and add volume naturally
Learning how to air dry hair is a quick and easy way of styling hair. You can add volume to fine hair using this method without the damaging effects of heat. We’ve broken it down into 3 stages.
The Wet Stage
- Shampoo, condition and rinse hair.
- Wrap a microfibre towel around the hair to soak up excess water and remove, using it to gently squeeze out any dripping water.
- Hair should be damp, not dripping wet. Spritz the hair with a volumising mist.
- Now relax and leave to dry.
The Semi-Dry Stage
- Once your hair is starting to dry you can give it another spritz of styling mist to give you more control.
- Start working with the hair using your hands. Yes, your hands! No other tools required. You can use your fingers to gently lift the roots. Turn your head upside down if you want to create extra lift and volume. Alternatively, imagine you are working with a hairdryer, lifting the hair and moving your fingers in circular movements to gently ease and shape the hair.
- Hair is easy to manipulate at this stage and a styling product will give you the control you need to create volume.
The Dry Stage
- Once the hair is dry you can start to play with it a bit more. But not too much! You don’t want to lose definition.
- Lift the hair gently and use your fingers to mimic the brush and give the hair plenty of natural movement.
- If you want, you can spritz styling mist on your fingers and push into the hair.
Three stages may sound a bit onerous but at each of the steps, you don’t need to do much to get hair in shape. This is a great way of drying your hair on holiday in a hotter climate. Whilst you apply your make-up and decide what you are going to wear, your hair can be getting on with the job!
How to care for Thick Wavy or Curly Hair
If you have thick, wavy or curly hair you may well be the envy of your friends. And rightly so. This is the hair that everybody wants. However, we’ve worked with many clients over the years who just wanted to contain their curls and waves; some would keep their hair tied back, others were attached to their straighteners.
The thing they had in common was that they’d never been taught how to work with their curls. By tackling the things they didn’t like about their hair (dryness, frizz, tangles and lack of shine) we helped them to embrace their natural hair. So if you find yourself longing for straight locks or you feel that your hair is out of control, we can help. Put down your straighteners and come with us on the journey to hydrated, frizz-free, shiny curls.
Choose a hydrating shampoo and conditioner to moisturise thick wavy or curly hair
It’s worth taking some time to think about the structure of curly hair. Each strand of hair has a cuticle made of keratin and is wrapped around the cortex. The cuticle sits on the cortex protecting it like tiles protecting a roof.
The cuticle, a protective layer, naturally breaks and lifts over time. It can be lifted by sunlight and oxygen but also colour-treatments or heated styling.
The cortex is protein and holds water at the centre of the follicle. If the protective cuticles lift the cortex loses moisture. Because curly hair has an uneven shape, its more fragile and the cuticle is more prone to lifting. This leaves curly and wavy hair prone to dehydration.
When you layer on top of that everything we do to our hair; brushing, combing, styling, even simple things like pulling it back into a ponytail, you can start to see how those things might lift the cuticle and exacerbate the dryness.
Salon Know How: Shampoo and condition your hair 2 to 3 times a week to build a foundation of moisture and smooth the cuticle.
Use a deep conditioning hair mask once a week to give your curls and waves a moisture boost.
Regular shampooing and conditioning should be supported by a weekly deep conditioning treatment. Curly hair tends to be more porous than other hair types. In simple terms, porosity refers to your hair’s ability to absorb and retain moisture so that brings us back to hydration. Curly hair needs more moisture.
Salon Know How: The answer to most problems facing curly hair is hydration. Whether your concern is frizz, dryness, tangles, lack of shine, lack of curl definition, getting into a good routine of a weekly hair mask treatments will improve the texture and performance of your curls.
Reduce or avoid heat when drying wavy or curly hair.
Heat leaves hair feeling parched. We understand that its not always possible to air dry your hair but, if you are using a hairdryer, try to use a diffuser which helps with curl definition and creates less frizz. Always use the hairdryer on a cooler setting and look at options such as partially drying your hair with the hairdryer and then leaving to air dry. We recommend experimenting and seeing what works best for your hair.
Use a microfibre towel for wavy or curly hair.
If you’ve yet to discover the microfibre towel, you are in for a treat. It’s gentle on the hair and doesn’t rough up the cuticle like a standard towel. Remember, when you are drying your hair with a towel, be gentle. Your hair is like a delicate fabric and its at it most fragile when wet so use the towel to gently squeeze out the excess water to prep for styling. Hair that’s prepped for styling should be damp not soaking wet.
Sleep on a silk or satin pillow or wear a satin bonnet to care for curly hair overnight
A silk or satin pillow is a great way of protecting the cuticle. Cotton pillows tend to rough up the cuticle and by avoiding this you can prevent tangles and breakage.
Find the right stylist for you and your hair.
Cutting curly hair is a labour of love. With its kinks and waves, it can have many challenges. Find a stylist who loves curls and understands not only how to work with them but how to get the best from them. Getting the right shape for curly hair is essential for getting the right movement and body in the hair. We recommend a consultation with your stylist before you go for the chop.
Salon Know How: How to Style Curly Hair Naturally
Often, the job of curly hair products is to constrain the hair with heavy ingredients that flatten and smooth, rather than encourage the bounce and body that comes naturally with curls. We take a different approach.
Hydrate Curls from Within; Pro-vitamin B5 can get moisture to the core of the hair.
We believe that the way to combat frizz is to hydrate the hair from within. Think about it in terms of giving your hair a drink of water. Except, the water, in this case, is pro-vitamin B5. Pro-vitamin B5 is one of the few ingredients that can penetrate the hair cuticle with moisture. It helps the hair retain moisture and, by penetrating the cuticle, helps the other moisturising ingredients to do their job. We think of this level of moisture as the foundation for curly hair.
Get this right and there’s no need to spend time smoothing and pulling your curls, whilst layering on serums and oils.
Get the Right Foundation with a hydrating shampoo.
Start with a hydrating shampoo. Often an ingredient used primarily for conditioners, our shampoos are formulated with a generous amount of pro-vitamin B5. Why? Because we believe it’s important to add moisture to the hair when you cleanse. Adding moisture at this stage when the hair is wet helps to kick-start the process.
Leave your conditioner in for longer and let your hair soak up those ingredients.
Choose a hydrating conditioner and don’t forget to squeeze the excess water out of your hair before you apply conditioner. We recommend leaving the conditioner in the hair for at least a couple of minutes if you can. Plenty of time for your hair to soak up all those nourishing ingredients. If you feel like your hair just eats up conditioner, it’s probably dry. Build a regular routine of cleansing and conditioning and you should find your hair builds moisture and needs less product over time.
Avoid silicones that leave the hair dry.
Now your hair is washed and conditioned, the next steps are crucial. Choose a drying styling product with synthetic ingredients, such as silicone, and it will dry your hair. It will feel heavy under the weight of it all. Choose heavy oils and your hair can become oily at the roots, attracting dirt and start to look dull very quickly.
You can use a conditioner like a curl cream.
We recommend a very simple approach. Instead of applying styling products at this stage, use some conditioner. We love a multi-tasking product. When your hair is damp but not dripping wet, apply a small amount of Hydrate and Shine Conditioner through the ends and mid-lengths. Twist your hair and leave to dry.
Define Curls with natural styling products.
Once hair is semi-dry, spritz with Styling Mist for Natural Hold and Glossy Finish. Another multi-tasking product, this lightweight mist will give your hair definition and hold the curls. Once completely dry, shake your head and let those curls loose! No constraints, no more smoothing, just beautiful curls with body.
How to care for Coily or Afro-Textured Hair
Afro-textured hair is the most common coily hair type. Because of their structure afro-textured, coily curls are the most fragile. They can be prone to breakage and tangling. The way to prevent breakage and tangling is to keep hair hydrated. Coily hair is often, but not always, dense which makes it prone to losing moisture. This curly hair type is thirsty and building a regular routine of moisture is the answer to achieving beautiful natural coily hair.
Take care of afro-textured hair with a hydrating shampoo and conditioner
If you are keeping your afro-textured hair natural, we recommend washing hair once a week. Choosing a gentle, moisturising shampoo and conditioner is your priority. Look out for ingredients such as Glycerin and Panthenol (pro-vitamin B5) in both shampoos and conditioners.
You want to get as much moisture into your hair as possible to help with detangling and to prevent breakage. Pro-vitamin is one of the few ingredients that can penetrate the cuticle to get moisture right to the core of the hair. Plus it’s a great ingredient for moisturising the scalp. Glycerin helps to prevent moisture loss in hair by smoothing and sealing the cuticle.
Take care when detangling coily hair as its most fragile after washing.
Your hair is at its most fragile after washing. Treat it like a delicate fabric. A microfibre towel is a great investment for drying the hair without roughing up the cuticle. Wrap your hair in a towel for a few minutes and then gently squeeze the hair with the towel to soak up any excess water. Your hair should be damp but not dripping wet. You can detangle hair at this stage but be careful not to pull at the roots.
- Use products that can help you detangle the hair. Our Restore and Shine Hair Masque is great for this. With emollients such as glycerin, avocado oil and tocopherol (vitamin E) you can feed it into the ends of your hair to detangle and soften.
- Take sections of hair and gently hold them at the mid-lengths so that you don’t put any tension on the roots.
- Use a wide tooth comb or afro comb to tease out any tangles at the ends of the hair.
- For extra moisture, use a spritz of Styling Mist for Natural Hold and Glossy Finish. It contains Sugar Beet which helps the hair retain extra moisture. 2 to 3 spritzes is enough and style as normal.
Treat your coily, afro-textured hair to moisture every day.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate your hair every day. We recommend feeding hair with a little of our Restore and Shine Hair Masque in the evenings before bed. You can do this on dry hair. Take a small amount of hair mask, mix with a little water, work up in your hands and feed into your hair like a curl cream. Be careful not to overload the hair. How much product your hair can take depends on your hair’s porosity. You can find out more about hair porosity and how to test your own hair below.
Avoid heat when drying coily, afro-textured hair.
Heat exacerbates dryness and we recommend letting your hair air dry. It may take time but it’s much less damaging for the hair and will help to promote good condition. Washing your hair in warm, not hot, water will help to maintain condition. Gently squeezing as much excess water out of your hair with a microfibre towel will help to speed up drying time.
Sleep on a silk or satin pillow or wear a satin bonnet to care for curly hair overnight.
Choosing a silk or satin pillow is the best way of caring for afro-textured hair overnight. They reduce the friction as you move your head overnight, helping to protect against split ends. They also help to retain the curl definition of hair and prevent breakage and tangles. If you are frustrated with flat hair in the mornings you can also try a satin bonnet. This is particularly good if you are using a hair treatment to hydrate your hair overnight. The bonnet will stop the product from marking your pillowcase.
Wrapping hair in a stylish scarf will help protect your hair from drying out.
This is more than just a style statement. Environmental factors play their part in drying out hair; sun, wind, pollution, air conditioning and central heating can all have an impact. If you want to give your hair a break from styling, a scarf is a great option to save time and protect your hair from the elements.
How to care for Curly Hair: Find out how to Hydrate your Curls by testing the Porosity.
Porosity is important as it helps you to understand how your hair absorbs moisture. Curly hair tends to be more porous but that’s not always the case. Some things such as chemical treatments can damage the hair and affect the porosity, making it more porous. It’s worth checking your porosity as it makes a difference in how you care for curls.
You can categorise hair into 3 types of porosity.
- Low Porosity: Hair doesn’t absorb moisture well and you may find that product easily builds up on your hair.
- Normal Porosity: Easily absorbs and retains moisture. It requires little maintenance.
- High Porosity: This hair is thirsty! It easily absorbs moisture but it always wants more and can become frizzy.
Your stylist will be able to tell which category your hair falls into. There’s also a test you can do at home. We call it the Hair Hydration Test.
- Simply take a strand of hair, from your comb or hairbrush and pop it into a glass of water.
- Leave it for a couple of minutes and see what happens.
- Hair that floats has low porosity.
- If it sinks slowly it has normal porosity.
- If hair sinks quickly it has high porosity.
In a humid environment, porous hair will soak up the moisture in the atmosphere and become frizzy. Using a weekly hair mask treatment will help the hair retain moisture and seal the cuticle to prevent it from soaking up the water in the atmosphere and reduce frizz. The more porous your hair, the more hydration it needs.
Once you’ve established your Hair Hydration Type, you can start to think about your own routine to improve condition and manageability.
Low Porosity Wavy, Curly or Coily Hair
- Avoid heavy oils and for this hair type, less is definitely more.
- Little and often works for this hair type. Don’t overload your hair with a lot of product at once. Give it time to absorb products. Its also important to make sure that hair is damp, not dripping wet when you apply conditioner.
- Because it doesn’t absorb moisture easily it may look and feel dry so it’s essential to build a weekly mask treatment into your hair care routine. Make sure you warm the product up in your hands before application. This will help you get an even spread on the hair. Gentle heat helps hair absorb moisture so once your mask is on, put on a plastic shower cap, leave for a couple of hours and rinse.
- Stay clear of heavy styling products. Our styling range contains pro-vitamin b5 so it’s good for helping the hair to absorb moisture. It also has a pump that creates a super-fine mist. Perfect for ensuring an even spread on the hair.
Normal Porosity Wavy, Curly or Coily Hair
Its all about maintenance. Regular shampooing and conditioning. We recommend 2 to 3 times a week but just go with what works for your hair, maintain the routine and don’t forget a weekly mask to keep your hair in tip-top condition!
High Porosity Wavy, Curly or Coily Hair
It can feel like a full-time job to keep these thirsty locks hydrated and sometimes you might feel like giving up. But if you persist and establish a good routine it will be worth it.
- Keep heat to a minimum. Air dry where you can and when you are using the hair dryer keep it on a low heat.
- A weekly mask treatment is essential and perhaps even twice a week. Try leaving the Ogario London Restore and Shine Masque on for a few hours or even overnight.
- Avoid styling products with alcohol-denat and silicone as they can make the hair dry.
- Keep products in your handbag. If your hair needs a boost during the day spritz it with the styling mist for a refresh. Or you can even use a little conditioner. Put a small amount in the palm of your hands, mix with a little water and apply to the hair.
How to care for Curly Hair: Check the density of your Curls
This is all about how much hair you’ve got. This makes a difference in the amount of volume your hair has and the type of product it might need. Low-Density hair needs less moisture than High-Density hair.
- Low Density Hair: You can easily see your scalp when parting dry hair.
- Medium Density Hair: You can only partially see your scalp when parting dry hair.
- High Density Hair: It’s difficult to see the scalp and partings don’t hold easily.
On a final note, we’d like to say that taking care of curly hair shouldn’t be complicated.
Follow our guide above to develop a routine of looking after your own unique curls. We’ve summarised the key points below.
- Curls come in different shapes; wavy, curly, coily. When thinking about cutting hair this is an important factor in getting the right shape and balance for your curls.
- Choose the right shampoo and conditioner for your hair type. For fine curls and waves choose products to add volume. For thick curls, waves and coils choose shampoos and conditioners for moisture.
- A weekly deep conditioning hair mask is essential for maintaining moisture and sealing the cuticle to fight frizz, dryness, tangles and leave hair shiny. Opt a good quality natural hair mask.
- Use a diffuser to dry waves and curls but try to minimise the heat. Learn how to air dry your hair. For afro-textured hair avoid heat altogether.
- Reduce dryness and breakage of curly hair by sleeping on a silk or satin pillow, turn down the heat on your hairdryer and wash hair in warm, not hot water.
- Invest in a microfibre towel to avoid breakage and damage to hair when it’s most fragile after washing.
- Find a stylist who knows how to work with curly hair. Always have a consultation to agree on the best style for you and your curls.
- Wapping afro-textured hair in a scarf can prevent the elements from drying out your hair.
- Check your hair Porosity to understand how it absorbs moisture and follow our tips for your porosity hair type. And don’t forget, the density of your hair has an impact on how much moisture your hair needs.
Our final piece of advice?
Love your curls. Like us, curls respond to love and attention. Treat them right and they will feel and look beautiful.
Ogario London is a salon developed, natural hair care range. As a niche brand, we are passionate about our products and delivering the best results is at the heart of what we do. If you have any questions about our products, would like advice on the best products for your hair type, or have another question about how to look after grey hair, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
How to Care for Curly Hair Naturally: We recommend the best products for your curls.
Fine Wavy or Curly Hair
The best shampoo for fine wavy and curly hair adds volume, whilst conditioner should be lightweight and detangle hair that’s prone to knots and tangles. Regular deep conditioning treatments with a good quality hair mask are the best way to boost moisture and leave hair easier to style. Choose volumising products to style fine waves and curls.
Thick Wavy or Curly Hair
The best shampoo for thick wavy and curly hair adds moisture as it gently cleanses the hair and scalp. Conditioner should get moisture to the core of the hair and smooth the cuticle for maximum shine and hydration. Regular deep conditioning treatments are essential and choose styling products that add moisture and curl definition.
Coily or Afro-Textured Hair
Hydrate coily, afro-textured hair with a moisturising shampoo and conditioner once a week. Feed moisture into the hair every day and choose a styling product that helps hair to retain moisture.