Calling all you beautiful curly-haired creatures, your hair may be a little hard to handle at times, but we have some top tips to help.
One of the most important aspects of curly hair care is choosing the right products, which is why we’ve listed some of the best products out there.
As well as that, we’ve listed some easy-to-follow advice on how to look after curly hair and fall back in love with those bouncy tresses.
In this article, we’ll explore
- What makes hair curly
- The different types of curly hair
- 8 of the best products for curly hair
- Top tips for looking after curly hair
- Advice for picking products
- Signs that your curly hair is healthy
What makes hair curly?
Before we dive into the best products for curly hair, what is it that makes hair curly?
There are two determining factors here, the shape of our hair follicles and the keratin in the hair shaft.
When it comes to the follicles, people with curly hair tend to have oval shaped follicles whereas people with straight hair have circular ones.1
Another thing that causes curly hair is the way that the follicle tunnels into your scalp.
The follicles of people with straight hair tunnel vertically downwards, whereas the follicles of people with curly hair is slightly angled into the dermis causing a curl as it grows.2
What are the different types of curly hair?
Whether you have curly hair or not, you may not know that there are actually different types of curly hair.
- Type 2 - wavy
- Type 3 - curly
- Type 4 - coily3
And these are then further categorised by the diameter of the curl from A (which is loose) to C (which is tighter).
Want to find out more about the different curly hair types and what they look like? Check out our blog on the 10 different curly hair types and how to look after them
- Curly hair is determined by the shape of the follicle and the way it tunnels into the scalp.
- There are ten different types of curly hair.
6 best products for curly hair
Read on for our best products for curly hair...
Everyone’s hair gets knotty from time to time. But people with straight hair can simply give it a brush and the knots tend fall out without too much of a fight.
However, those with curly hair will understand that they can’t do the same – unless they want to embrace the frizz.
That’s where a detangling comb comes in, perfect for getting those knots out without losing curl definition.
“Comfortable handle to hold. Did not snag or pull on my hair. Glided through my hair smoothly.” - JT53
“As I have curly hair, this spray makes the curl look like curls & not frizz, smells lovely too.” - Biggely
Used throughout history for the skin and hair by the likes of Cleopatra4, there’s a reason castor oil for curly hair has remained a staple.
It has been said to increase the lustre of hair5 which is what makes it so great for enhancing curls. So if you’re after natural curly hair products, this could be one to try.
“I bought this a month ago, mainly to condition and thicken my eyebrows. While I can't say yet if it has improved the growth of the eyebrows, it has conditioned them and made them appear fuller.
Also have used this on my naturally thick curly hair - it has really made it softer and helped to combat frizz! It is very thick in substance, so a little goes a long way. Great price and natural product.” - Ali1
Looking for a vegan, cruelty-free product to keep your curls in tip top condition?
Packed with coconut oil and shea butter6,7 which are 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.
“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.” - MamaDi
Honey is known to have a variety of benefits, but people with curly hair might be interested to know that it has hair conditioning properties too.8
So why not add that to a conditioner? The addition of this conditioner to your haircare routine may help to keep your curls feeling super soft and shiny – and easy to add to your routine too!
“I recently bought this conditioner along with the Maunka 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.” – Isabella Rose
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.
“I bought these about 10 days ago and have been taking the recommended 2 a day since they arrived. So far, I’m really pleased.
Although my hair isn’t obviously growing yet, it is stronger and there are fewer split ends and generally less frizz, which has someone transitioning back to their natural curls is a big plus!
They taste nice and are easy to take, unlike some I’ve tried where you have to swallow down large tablets that make you nauseous. It’s still early days but so far I’d definitely recommend these!
As a student, I do think they’re on the expensive side but I’m hoping the investment will be worth it.” - Mollymop_ruth
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 sulphates. While sulphates in shampoos are great cleaners, some argue that they may be a little too good, which may cause an increase of electrical negative 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 that contain long chain lipids are important for reducing friction10 (and damage) after using cleansing shampoos or brushing.
- Use products with humectants. The main aim of humectants in hair care products is to moisturise and minimise frizz.11 They do so by attracting water molecules from the environment and then bind them to specific sites along their structure.12
- There are a wide range of products that are great for keeping your curls in great condition, from styling products and cleansers to conditioners and combs.
- Some of the key ingredients to look out for when choosing products are sulphates (which are best to avoid), oils and humectants.
How 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 of us 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 you curly queens out there.
Why? Curly hair tends to be more porous than straight hair, meaning it absorbs more of what we put onto it.13
Most shampoo you find in shops will contain surfactants and sulphates 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? Try to gradually reduce the frequency of your hair washing and choose a shampoo that is free from sulphates, silicones and other nasties.
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 it can completely destroy your beautiful and natural curls. This is because hair is made of a protein called keratin.
Keratin has a natural twist in it called an alpha helix, present in both straight and curly hair. If you heat keratin to 215°C -235°C the alpha helix stats to melt and this physical change is irreversible.14
This 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, boo!
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 too.
When choosing a brush, its detangling capability should be first on the list.
Denman brushes are one of the most popular choices for curly hair as they have been seen to remove tangles efficiently and help style those curls without harming them.
Go for a wide-toothed comb or a wet brush when your hair is wet to minimise snagging. If you’re going to leave your hair to dry naturally, using 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 effective 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.
How to tell if your curly hair is healthy
Not sure what the signs of healthy curly hair are? If you notice any of the following, there’s a good chance you’re 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 back to its natural state.15
If you gently pull a curl, does it bounce back in a spring-like way? If so, this could be a sign that your hair has good elasticity, if it is slow to bounce back or it doesn’t at all, it may be a sign that it needs more moisture.16
Everyone sheds hair, in fact shedding up to 100 strands a day is considered normal. But if you’re noticing excess shedding, this could indicate that you have increased stress levels.17
However, if you inspect your hair further, you may realise that you have hair breakage rather than shedding, which may be a sign of dryness.
The final say
Keeping your curls happy can seem like a hard task to manage, 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.
Last updated: 15 February 2022