Curly hair can be a little hard to handle at times, but you can keep your curls healthy and looking great with the right know-how.
From finding the right products to easy hair care tips, we'll take you through everything you need to know to keep your curly hair healthy and help you to fall back in love with those bouncy tresses.
Figuring out your curl type
One of the most important things to keep in mind when it comes to your curly hair is understanding the texture of your curls.
Whether you have an afro or wavy curly hair, each curl type is different, and there are some essential steps you should follow to ensure that your curls stay bouncy and manageable.
Everyone's curls are different, and it can be challenging to determine what type of curly hair you have. Your curl type can be determined using the Andre Walker Hair Typing System, which categorises curls into different kinds.1
Curly hair types
And these are then further categorised by the curl diameter from A (which is loose) to C (which is tighter).
Curly hair types and how to look after them
Want to learn more about the different curly hair types and what they look like?
Curly hair types and how to look after them
How to tell if your curly hair is healthy
Once you've figured out what kind of curls you have, you can see whether your hair is healthy or not.
Not sure what the signs of healthy curly hair are? If you notice any of the following, there's a good chance your hair is happy and healthy.
While this can be frustrating if you're trying to grow your hair, shrinkage after washing is sometimes a sign that your hair has everything it needs and has reverted to its natural state.2
If you gently pull a curl, does it bounce back in a spring-like way? If so, this could signify that your hair has good elasticity. If it is slow to bounce back or doesn't, it may signal that it needs more moisture.3
Everyone sheds hair; shedding up to 100 strands a day is normal. But if you're noticing excess shedding, this could indicate increased stress levels.4
However, if you inspect your hair further, you may realise that you have hair breakage rather than shedding, which may signify dryness.
5 easy ways to look after your curly hair
Less (shampoo) is more
Most of us wash our hair too often, putting its natural oil production into turmoil and leaving some of us with excessively greasy hair and some with hair so dry it could start a bush fire.
Curly hair is not exempt either. In fact, overuse of shampoo can be even more damaging for curly queens.
Why? Curly hair tends to be more porous than straight hair, which absorbs more of what we put onto it.5
Most shampoo products in shops contain ingredients like surfactants that can steal moisture from our hair. And curly hair with less moisture = frizzy and sometimes out-of-control hair.
What should I do instead? First, gradually reduce the frequency of your hair washing and choose a shampoo formulated without surfactants and ingredients known to dry out your hair.
If you're feeling ambitious, another option is trying to cut out shampoo altogether with the 'No Poo' method – read more about that here.
Turn down the heat
We get it. The temptation to try and tame your curls with hair straighteners is strong.
However, using heat too often can cause permanent damage to your hair, destroying your natural curl patterns and causing your hair to break excessively.
Using too much heat can be destructive for all hair types but especially damaging to curly hair types.
Hair is built up of a protein called keratin that has a natural twist called an alpha helix, present in both straight and curly hair. If you heat keratin to 215°C -235°C, the alpha helix starts to melt, and this physical change is irreversible.6
This damage means that your hair will keep the shape of the melted keratin at a molecular level – and you may have to say goodbye to your curls until new hair grows.
Does that mean I have to stop using heat altogether? Not necessarily. You just need to be smart about it.
Here are some tips:
- Don't let your heat tools reach a temperature higher than 200°C
- Use a heat-protection spray or serum
- Condition your hair regularly, using an intensive treatment every few washes
Arm yourself with curl-friendly combs and brushes
You need the right tools to succeed in any task, and this goes for looking after your curly hair.
Its detangling capability should be first on the list when choosing a brush.
Denman brushes are one of the most popular choices for curly hair as they remove tangles efficiently and help style curls without harming them.
Go for a wide-toothed comb or a wet brush to minimise snagging when your hair is damp. However, if you leave your hair to dry naturally, a wide-toothed comb is advisable as it can mimic finger combing – just a more efficient way.
It will gently detangle your hair while keeping the shape of your curls intact.
Please note while these tips may be practical for informing some people how to look after their curly hair, everyone's hair is unique, so you need to find what works for you.
Condition your curls
Keep your curls bouncy and beautiful by introducing a deep conditioning treatment to your hair care routine.
Daily wear and tear, heat styling and even air pollution can influence the health of your curls. 7 When using a deep conditioning treatment, you are helping to support your hair's health, strength, and hydration.
The Curly Girl Method is a process of swapping damaging curl habits for curl-friendly methods of caring for your curls. 8 One step is investing in an excellent conditioner and leaving it on for a minimum of 15 minutes for the ultimate moisture boost.
Even more effective? Wrapping your hair in a microfibre towel or cotton t-shirt to trap even more moisture.
Deep conditioning treatments for curly hair have four main benefits, including: 9
If you feel that your curls have been a little lacklustre lately, using a conditioning treatment will help restore your natural shine by smoothing the hair shaft and remedying any dryness.
Deep conditioning your curls will help protect your hair from split ends and breakages, aiding in the health of your locks. Even if your hair doesn't seem damaged, using a conditioning treatment will help to maintain your hair's overall health.
Dry curls can become brittle, broken and dull over time. Packed with essential nutrients, deep conditioning treatments will increase the moisture of your locks, reducing the chance of breakage and frizz.
A lack of elasticity in your hair can cause snapping and breakage when under tension, which is not what you want for healthy curls! Instead, nourish and strengthen your curls with an easy deep conditioning treatment.
Pat, don't rub
When curly hair is wet, it is incredibly fragile and needs some extra TLC.
After washing your curls, pay attention to how you dry your hair. For example, if you hop out of the shower and vigorously rub your hair with a towel, you may be causing frizz and breakage.
Instead, pat your curls gently with a micro-fibre towel or a cotton t-shirt before allowing your hair to air dry or using a diffuser on a low heat setting. 10
By making this simple change to your routine, you can save your curls from damage and keep them hydrated and healthy.
Choosing the right products for your curls
It’s crucial to choose the right styling products for curly hair types.
Generally, this means avoiding heavy or greasy products that will weigh down your curls and make them appear limp and lifeless.
But there are also certain ingredients you may want to avoid when it comes to keeping your curls healthy.
These include chemicals like sulphates, parabens and silicone, but there are more you may wish to avoid.
We've listed some of our favourite hair care products to keep your curls looking luscious.
Used throughout history for the skin and hair by the likes of Cleopatra, there's a reason castor oil for curly hair has remained a staple. 4
It can increase the lustre of hair, making it so great for enhancing curls. 5 So, this could be one to try if you're after natural curly hair products.
What our customers say:
Simy – 5/5 stars – Best oil for hair
“I use this oil for my hair and is the best leaves your hair very soft.”
Are you looking for a vegan, cruelty-free product to keep your curls in tip-top condition?
Packed with coconut oil and shea butter, both said to help with hair health, simply apply the mask to wet hair after shampooing, leave for 3-20 minutes depending on your preference and then rinse with warm water. 6,7
What our customers say:
MamaDi – 5/5 stars – Leaves my hair so soft
"I've been using this mask and another twice a week to rescue my curls, I've straightened for years and wanted to get my natural curls back, this mask has definitely helped towards bringing my damaged hair back to thicker and softer hair."
Honey is known to have various benefits, but people with curly hair might be interested to know that it has hair conditioning properties.8
So why not add that to a conditioner? Adding this conditioner to your hair care routine may help keep your curls feeling super soft and shiny – and easy to add to your routine too!
What our customers say:
Isabella Rose – 5/5 stars – Great for frizzy hair
"I recently bought this conditioner along with the Manuka Honey Shampoo. I can't believe how soft and shiny it has made my frizzy/curly hair feel and look. I have sensitive skin and have tried many conditioners over the years, but this is by far the best. I will definitely continue to use this lovely product."
Are your curls not looking their best? It could be that they need a little extra help.
With copper, zinc and biotin in, these supplements may help to give your hair the boost it needs to get you feeling fabulous again.
What our customers say:
Leah – 5/5 stars – Less breakage on 4c hair
“I’ve used Hairburst gummies previously and I have no idea why I stopped! I’ve quickly started to see a lot less breakage and I’m regaining my thickness. This is coming from someone with 4c hair - highly recommend it”
Advice when picking products for curly hair
We've listed some of the best products for curly hair, from detangling combs to curl-defining creams. But our advice doesn't end there.
There are also a few key things to consider when choosing products for curly hair in the future.
- Avoid surfactants. While surfactants in shampoos are great cleaners, some argue that they may be a little too good, which may cause an increase of opposing electrical charges on the surface of your hair and cause frizziness and friction.9 And to keep your curls looking their best, use curly hair shampoos that don't contain ingredients that may lead to extra frizz.
- Use products with long-chain lipids. Otherwise known as oils, products containing long-chain lipids are essential for reducing friction (and damage) after cleansing shampoos or brushing. 11
- Use products with humectants. The main aim of humectants in hair care products is to moisturise and minimise frizz.12 They do so by attracting water molecules from the environment and binding them to specific sites along their structure.13
- There are many great products for keeping your curls in excellent condition, from styling products and cleansers to conditioners and combs.
- Some key ingredients to look out for when choosing products are surfactants (which are best to avoid), oils and humectants.
The final say
Keeping your curls happy can seem like a complex task, but by choosing the right products, avoiding certain ingredients and looking out for signs of damage – you can feel confident in your curls all year round.
The advice in this article is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please check with your GP or healthcare professional before trying any supplements, treatments or remedies. Food supplements must not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle.
Last updated: 9 August 2022