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7 Simple Steps to Handling Curly Hair

women's brown long-sleeved blouse

When I was thirteen years old, I woke up one morning to face a big change. My hair, which until this point had been long and straight, had decided to go unashamedly and undeniably… curly! So curly that it now seemed to sit at half the length it was the night before. And, not just plain old curly, it went ringlet-curly!

I now faced the terrifying fact that I had no idea how to handle this change. I didn’t know how to care for it, what to do with it and what to avoid. How was I going to style it? I did a lot of research with my Mum, who was just as shocked as I was with this new development, and we experimented (and listened to my hairdresser of course) until we got it right.

I wish I had access to a guide like this with all these answers when I first faced my curls, but using these 7 simple steps has helped me embrace them! You may also find other strategies that help you along your journey, but this is an easy (and essential) place to start!

1. Do not over-wash it

Forget what you may have done previously, or have been told to do your whole life, curly hair does not benefit from being over-washed. Curly hair needs your naturally produced oils in order to thrive. Over-washing strips away these oils and can make your hair dry, and even damage the precious curls!

2. Conditioner is your best friend

I have heard a lot of people ranting on about using dry shampoos and avoiding conditioners, but trust me, with curly hair this is the complete opposite. Over-shampooing will dry out your hair and make it tough for curls to, you know, curl. Conditioner is your best friend in this scenario. It will also benefit you to research shampoos and conditioners that nurture curls. I use the product Curl Please, and it has worked wonders for me.

black and brown hair

3. Brush it in the shower

Curly hair, surprise surprise, tangles easily. But this doesn’t mean that you take to it with a brush every twenty minutes. Some of the best advice I was given was to brush my hair while washing it. Specifically, when you have conditioner sitting in it. If you brush your hair when dry, you may be stuck with a huge, afro-like, frizzy disaster, and trust me, it’s a pain to get back to normal. It also eliminates the risk of damaging the curls.

4. Use a wide-toothed comb

If you are someone that cannot cope with tangles and knots in their hair, and you don’t particularly want to wait until you wash it to brush it, then this is the best product I can suggest for you. Use a wide-toothed comb. This allows the curls to be less ‘ripped at’, and more nurtured, while you rid it of knots and tangles. Also, brush from the bottom up, definitely not the other way around!

5. Use curl creams, curl balms and de-frizz products

Besides conditioners, these will become a necessity to your morning routine. Make sure to do your research before investing in these products, so they suit your hair and your needs. Try to avoid heavily chemical-based products, and look for things that will nurture curls, calm frizziness and encourage curls to keep their shape. Put in the creams and balms while your hair is drying for the best results, and use the hair scrunching technique while applying it.

6. Avoid hair straighteners and hair dryers

The most frequently asked question I have received over the years is “can I please straighten your hair?” And as tempting as it can sometimes seem, I have never done it. Hair straighteners are extremely damaging to curly hair, you are forcing it to sit in a way that it’s not supposed to. Hair dryers are similar, air drying is a much better strategy for curly hair. Try your best to avoid heat-conducting products is the moral of the story! However, if this doesn’t work for you, you have a special event to go to for example, and you just must straighten your curls, invest in heat-protecting creams and balms to minimise your risk of heat-damaged hair. I wouldn’t recommend making this a frequent habit.

woman's face on focus photo

7. Styling is easy, you just need to find what works

I usually wear my hair out when possible, but if I just need it out of my face for a bit, I generally; tie it half up and half down (but not tightly), softly braid or plait (but be prepared for the consequences) or loosely put it in a bun. Basically, if you are tying back curly hair, make sure you do it loosely and without the use of a brush or comb. This avoids the kinking from a hair tie (which does not go away until you wash it next), and the pulling of curls. Don’t get frustrated by the process, take your time and figure out what works best for you and your hair!

These are the best tips and tricks I used while trying to figure out how to handle my curly hair. Treat it nicely, and it will do the same. But mostly, just embrace your curls, a lot of people wish they had them too!

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