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Girl’s Guide to Mastering Healthy, Bouncy Curls

Are you dealing with a wave or curl that never seems to cooperate? Instead of going with the flow (ahem curl!) you’re probably fighting it, which will eventually result in damage. Stop fighting and instead embrace a few curly hair care tips that will make life a bit easier and a lot less stressful.

Properly Shampoo

First off let’s get that hair prepped. Curly hair care all starts with a good shampoo. You definitely want to use a sulfate-free shampoo — this will help cleanse the hair without removing the natural oils. Try to avoid shampooing daily as this will dry out your hair. If you must wash daily, try the co-wash method — simply rinse with hot water and condition only.

Hydrate

This is definitely one of the most important steps. Curly hair is always the most dehydrated, because it’s harder for the natural oils to reach the ends. Think of it like walking through a jungle vs. walking through an open field.

Curly Hair Care

If you have finer hair it is still super important to condition; using the right product for your hair type will not weigh down those luscious curls. Hydrated curls will stay shiny and less tangled without frizzing — especially in the winter months when the environment is already dry. I would also recommend using a mask once every 4-6 shampoos. This deep conditioning will penetrate a little deeper than a daily conditioner.

Styling products

Depending on how thick/coarse your hair is you’ll want to apply a leave-in conditioner before combing out. You can use your fingers or a wide-tooth comb. This helps to detangle without disturbing the wave/curl pattern. It also helps reduce split ends! Towel dry. Leaving too much water in the hair will prevent your styling product from doing its job. Choosing your weapon of choice is going to be based on what you want to achieve stylistically. For example, if you need shine and definition look for a product that has hydration with a medium hold. Avoid products that contain a high alcohol content (this can cause that crunchy wet look and feel). For wavy curls/finer hair you need a little more support that will help define without weighing the hair down. A product containing a curl booster with a medium to firm hold will be your best bet!

Curly Hair Care

Setting the curl

Grab your blow dryer and diffuser (the piece that came with your dryer and looks like a small bowl, it may also have little fingers on it) and let’s get to drying. It’s best to set curls before drying. With wavy hair you can twist the hair to create shape. Leaving it in the twist will help form a more lasting style. You can break it up after it’s completely dry. With curly hair decide where you want lift or volume and leave the rest in a smoother position. The hair will naturally expand as it drys. This will help to avoid that puffy, cotton ball look. Choosing the right temperature and fan setting is key. This is based on hair type not curl pattern. For fine/silky soft hair I would recommend low to medium heat with no more than a medium fan setting. For coarser/rougher hair I would recommend a medium heat, medium to high fan setting. This will help to drive the product into the hair shaft giving you a softer more hydrated curl. Try to avoid using your fingers while drying as this alone can also result in high frizz and unwanted puff. Dry completely for a style that will last. Thirsty curls finish well with your favorite shine spray. My curlfriends looking for a little umph can try a light hairspray with a little texture!

Bonus tips!

Get one of those nice silk pillowcases or some hair wraps. Yep, the ones you probably heard your grandma talk about! Cotton will suck the moisture right out of the hair and can also create friction, causing frizz and breakage. Grab a good curl re-styler spray for that second and third day style. Simply spray those curls to refresh and you can either air dry or diffuse.

Now that you have some basic curly hair care knowledge, get out there my CURLfriends and rock it! Be you and stay beautiful!

This article originally appeared in the Winter 2018 print issue of Sass Magazine. 

by Tammy Brandenburg, senior stylist at New York New York Salon in Frederick, MD

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