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Guide to Men’s Curly Hair Care

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Image of curly haired-man in denim jacket with blue background.

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Amidst the high demand for men’s grooming products, there’s a growing interest in personalized hair care solutions tailored to meet the distinct needs of male consumers. Motivated by this trend, hair care scientists are diligently exploring the unique features of men’s hair and scalp, highlighting the subtle differences from women.

When it comes to caring for men’s curly hair, a thoughtful and tailored approach is essential. The key pillars of this approach encompass cleansing, regular conditioning, style and hold, and maintaining a clean scalp.

In collaboration with my hair scientist friend, who holds a PhD in Chemistry, this blog strives to provide authoritative insights into the specialized care required for men’s curly hair. Bringing a wealth of scientific expertise, our collaborator contributes valuable knowledge to enhance your understanding of the unique needs and effective solutions for men’s hair care.

How to Care For Men’s Curly Hair

Straight hair differs significantly from curly and wavy hair, with the natural oils of curly hair often taking a long time to navigate through the twists and bends.

Despite men sharing similar hair fiber chemistry and genetic patterns as women, variations in ceramide levels and scalp barriers necessitate specialized care. Men’s scalps exhibit a 60% higher sebum production compared to women’s,1,2 emphasizing the need for specialized cleansing and conditioning for men with curly hair.

This increased sebum production renders men’s scalps oily, greasy, and waxy, creating an ideal environment for the Malassezia fungus to thrive.2,3 Consequently, male consumers require personalized scalp cleansing and conditioning to eliminate excess sebum deposits and maintain optimal hydration levels on the scalp surface.

Cleansing

Men with curly hair are prone to greasiness due to high sebum levels, especially those with active outdoor lifestyles, making them susceptible to carbon particulate deposits. When these particles combine with sebum, they create a greasy substance that imparts a sticky texture to the hair fibers.

To address this issue, a gentle cleansing formulation is essential, capable of emulsifying sebum waxes and effectively rinsing them off during washing.

  • Optimal hair cleansing for men’s curly hair is achieved through the use of shampoos based on green and natural surfactants.
  • Amino acid-based surfactants, including sodium lauroyl sarcosinate and sodium lauroyl glutamate, are notable for their gentle and mild cleansing properties.
  • Sugar-derived surfactants, such as decyl glucoside and lauryl glucoside, provide a mild and gentle cleansing experience, producing a rich creamy lather.
  • These cleansing agents effectively emulsify sebum and suspend pollution particles, making removing them with water easier.4

For effective care, men with curly hair are advised to shampoo their hair two to three times a week and complement this routine with a light, hydrating rinse-off conditioner. This regimen helps manage greasiness, promotes a clean scalp, and ensures the health and vibrancy of curly hair.

Regular Conditioning

For men with curly hair, using a rinse-off conditioner is essential and should be applied immediately after cleansing. Men’s curly hair tends to be short and in its natural state, without chemical treatments, and generally has low-porosity hair fibers.

To cater to the specific needs of these curls, a light and hydrating conditioner is recommended. This type of conditioner helps untangle curl knots, aligns them into a defined curl shape, provides a natural body to the curls, and helps moisturize dry hair.

  • An ideal conditioner or leave-in conditioner for men’s curly hair should consist of a blend of cationic hair-softening agents, such as cetrimonium chloride or behentrimonium chloride, combined with emollients like shea butter and coconut oil.
  • To maintain a natural appearance and prevent hair from being weighed down, it’s crucial for the conditioner formulation to steer clear of high molecular weight quaternized polymers, silicone, or petroleum-derived wax. This ensures that the conditioner contributes to enhancing the hair without compromising its light and natural look.

Keep a Clean, Healthy Scalp

Maintaining scalp health is paramount for ensuring the well-being of hair fibers, particularly for men with curly hair. Establishing a dedicated scalp care routine is crucial in grooming men’s curly hair daily. Excessive sebum production on men’s scalps necessitates regular cleansing and subsequent hydration to preserve scalp quality.

The accumulation of sebum, debris, and product residues poses a risk to the scalp surface barrier, potentially blocking pores and hindering the penetration of active cosmetic ingredients, such as water molecules. This disruption can impact the scalp’s cellular turnover and follicle activity, eventually reducing hair density on the scalp surface and potential hair fall. To counteract these issues, it is vital to regularly clean and condition the scalp surface.

Style & Hold

Achieving a distinct curl pattern, body, and volume is essential for males with curly hair. The recommended approach involves using a curl volumizing and style retention formulation, which can take the form of a styling cream or a light-hold hair gel.

The key ingredients in these formulations are styling polymers, with synthetic polymers featuring the polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP) backbone being particularly sought after. These polymers create a delicate water-resistant film on the hair shaft, providing a gentle hold to the style. This film acts as a barrier against humidity, ensuring the longevity of the style retention.5

Curly Hair Styling Guide for Every Length

Mastering the art of styling various curly hair types, including short, medium-length, and long curls, begins with selecting the right products. Regardless of the specific hair type, a fundamental tip is to use leave-in conditioners post-shower for optimal moisture. Opt for light-hold styling products, and enhance them with a touch of gel, mousse, hairspray, or pomade for added hold. Regular trims are essential to prevent frizziness and maintain a polished look.

Short Curly Hair

Image of man with short curly hair.
Photo credit: Pinterest

a. Preparation: Begin with damp hair and a wide-toothed comb to remove tangles. Choose a suitable leave-in conditioner or curl cream with natural ingredients. Apply it evenly to your damp hair.

b. Styling: Scrunch each section of your hair from front to back to achieve tight curls. Keep the style in place with a mist of hairspray or light-hold gel.

c. Drying Techniques: Use a diffuser attachment while blow drying with your hair to reduce frizz or opt to air dry.

Medium Length Hair

Image of my son, Manny, with medium-length hair.
This is an image of my son with medium-length hair.

a. Preparation: Begin with damp hair and a wide-toothed comb or detangling brush to remove tangles. Choose a leave-in conditioner or curl cream and apply it evenly to your damp hair.

b. Styling: Adjust the amount of product based on your hair texture. For those aiming to maintain loose waves, use a small amount, avoiding excessive application. Curlier or tighter textures can get away with applying more product for the desired effect.

c. Drying: Use a blow dryer with a diffuser attachment when blow-drying your curls. This technique enhances your curls’ natural shape and texture while maintaining a voluminous look. Opt for low heat during the blow-drying process. Complete the styling with a gentle spray of hairspray or gel to uphold the cohesion of each curl.

Long Curly Hair

Image of Giovanni Ferrer long curly hair.
Photo credit: Giovanni Ferrer

a. Preparation: Use a microfiber towel or old cotton T-shirt to gently remove excess water. Start with damp hair and ensure tangles are removed using a wide-toothed comb.

b. Styling: Choose products specifically designed for curly hair, such as a leave-in conditioner or leave-in cream. Opt for mousses or gels if you aim for a firmer hold and controlled volume. For additional hold, incorporate an extreme hold pomade. Use a curly hair brush for enhanced definition, or use your fingers to distribute the product evenly. To accentuate the definition, scrunch your curls upward.

c. Drying: Use a hair dryer with a diffuser attachment. Blow-dry on low heat, ensuring the length is evenly styled for a natural look. Complete your styling routine with a refreshing blast of cold air. Enhance the final look with a small amount of hair oil, like argan oil, to achieve added shine and vibrancy.

Summary

Men’s curly hair is characterized by being virgin, non-chemically treated, and possessing low-porosity hair fibers. The scalp environment of men differs from that of female consumers, necessitating a tailored hair care regimen. Additionally, the grooming techniques for men’s hair vary from those for women. This recognition has prompted the creation of a specialized Men’s Hair Care market segment, offering specially formulated products designed specifically for the unique needs of men’s hair.


References

  1. Green, S. C.; Stewart, M. E.; Downing, D. T., Variation in sebum fatty acid composition among adult humans. J. Invest. Dermatol. 1984, 83 (2), 114-117. ↩︎
  2. Pochi, P. E.; Strauss, J. S.; Downing, D. T., Age-related changes in sebaceous gland activity. J. Invest. Dermatol. 1979, 73 (1), 108-111. ↩︎
  3. Jacobsen, E.; Billings, J. K.; Frantz, R. A.; Kinney, C. K.; Stewart, M. E.; Downing, D. T., Age-related changes in sebaceous wax ester secretion rates in men and women. J. Invest. Dermatol. 1985, 85 (5), 483-485. ↩︎
  4. Trüeb, R. M., Shampoos: Ingredients, efficacy, and adverse effects. JDDG: Journal der Deutschen Dermatologischen Gesellschaft 2007, 5 (5), 356-365. ↩︎
  5. Corbett, J. F., The Chemistry of Hair-care Products. Journal of the Society of Dyers and Colourists 1976, 92 (8), 285-303. ↩︎

HI,I'M VERNA

I’m just a girl who transformed her severely damaged hair into healthy hair. I adore the simplicity of a simple hair care routine, the richness of diverse textures, and the joy of sharing my journey from the comfort of my space.

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