Beauty Science, celebrity hairstyles, curls, hair products, how to, no-poo, waves

How To: Care For Curls

Hair On The Brain reader Jill requested that I do a post on tips for curly haired girls based on Anne Hathaway‘s inspirational natural curls in Love & Other Drugs. Jill wrote that while she loves her own curls, sometimes they’re hard to manage. She thinks that a lot of curly girls out there end up straightening their hair because they just don’t know how to properly care for  their gorgeous curls. I totally agree that there’s a lack of good information out there for girls with curls. The majority of today’s hair information & inspiration is skewed toward straight hair. So thanks to Jill for reminding me to cover this topic more frequently on HOTB!

First up, let’s discuss the famous “Curly Girl Method”, made popular by Lorraine Massey, author of Curly Girl. This technique is also known as the “no-poo” method. (Maybe that’s how Taylor gets her curls so spirally?) This method helps curly girls dealing with dry, damaged, frizzy, hair by repairing moisture and working with your natural hair texture. There is an adjustment period while your hair gets over the shock that you’re no longer using sulfates to cleanse, but the end result can be soft, shiny, beautiful hair. (Take note wavy & straight haired girls: Many of these tips can be incorporated into all hair routines to improve hairs’ health.)

Cut & Clarify – Before you embark on the curly girl method, get your hair trimmed to remove split ends. Find an experienced stylist who knows about curly hair. Also, before you start, clarify with a non-sulfate shampoo to remove any silicones.

Ditch Your Brush – For untangling hair use ONLY your fingers or a wide-tooth comb. And untangle your hair when it is wet, never dry. Toss your brush and any small-toothed comb–they will just create frizz.

Condition Only: Step 1 – Most shampoos contain sulfates, which are harsh and damaging for curly hair. Toss your shampoo and do COC (conditioner only cleanse) instead. Here’s how: Wet your hair and apply a large amount of conditioner to your entire scalp (only at this point). Massage conditioner in with the tips of your fingers. Rub conditioner into your scalp using the pads (not nails) of your fingers. This rubbing action is what breaks up the dirt and oil, so take your time with this step. Then thoroughly rinse your scalp, still massaging with your fingertips.

How often you COC your scalp depends on how oily or dry it is. Some do it once a week, some everyday, but be careful about build-up. Also, be sure to avoid silicones in your hair products, because this will counteract your efforts. If your hair is not digging the COC, try gentle shampoos that contain mild cleansers instead of sulfates, (i.e. cocamidopropyl betaine or coco betaine), which can be used occasionally or more often for wavier hair types.

Condition Only: Step 2After you have cleansed the scalp area, you can distribute conditioner throughout all of your hair and untangle. To untangle, use your hands or a wide-toothed comb. Start with the bottom

sections and gradually move upwards. Once it is untangled, let the conditioner sit in your hair for five minutes or more for extra moisture. At this point you can also part your hair. Then do a final rinse with cool/cold water to decrease frizz and add shine. You don’t have to rinse every bit of conditioner out, leave a bit on to make untangling easier, especially at dry sections, like the ends. At this point you can gently run your fingers though your hair, but do not comb after this point.

COC Product Recommendations: Wen is the most famous line of cleansing conditioner. I’ve tried Wen Pomegranate Cleansing Conditioner and it was my favorite, but Wen Sweet Almond Mint is also really awesome. The Wen Cleansing Conditioners smell amazing and really get the cleansing job done without leaving buildup. My hair is smooth and shiny afterward. The only downside is that when I do this method, I go through a lot of product because and Wen products are pricey. A lot of people who do COC use cheap (but effective) drugstore conditioners, especially Suave or VO5.

Styling Products – For curlier hair girls, it is best to apply product when your hair is soaking wet. Wait five minutes or so if you have medium to wavy curly hair. A typical curly girl method for product application is to first apply a leave-in cream styling aid or conditioner to decrease frizz and then follow with a gel for hold and definition. Emulsify the product between your hands and then rake it into your hair by sections. Finger shape your curls by cupping your hair in the palm of your hands and scrunch in an upward motion and/or twisting individual curls around a finger. Gently scrunch dry your hair with a regular t-shirt or a micro-fiber towel to remove excess moisture. Don’t use terrycloth towel because it will actually make your hair frizzier. Wait a few minutes so your hair can take shape.

Plopping – You can decrease the time it takes to dry your hair by “plopping”. Here’s how: Spread an old t-shirt or micro-fiber towel onto a flat surface, bend over at the waist and position your hair in the middle. With your head touching the cloth, drape the back section of cloth over your head. Twist the sides until they form “sausage rolls” and clip or tie them at the base of your neck. After 15-30 minutes remove the cloth. If your hair is frizzy after plopping lightly graze with gel. Plopping works best for medium to long length curly hair.

Drying – Air drying is the easiest and gentlest way to dry your hair. If you must blow dry, use a diffuser to avoid frizz. Only dry your hair partially (about 80%) and air-dry the rest. This is the most difficult rule! Don’t touch your hair while it’s drying or it will make it frizzy.

Adjustment Period – It takes two to six weeks for your hair to adjust to the no shampoo method, so give your hair some time to adjust.

Believe it or not, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to curly hair routines and recommendations. Check out some of these other great resources for my curly girl tips:, and–the hair board is full of great advice.

Curly Girls: Do you use the no-poo or conditioner only method? And what are your other tips & tricks? Favorite products? Share all you hair secrets in the comments!