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What Curly Hair Needs Most

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

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One of the hardest things I’ve ever done was figure out how to properly care for my curly hair. When I was younger, no mentor, book, or salon taught me how to care for my curls. I always felt like I needed someone to answer this question – What does curly hair need most?  

Curly hair needs products that are typically sulfate-free and highly moisturizing, specifically formulated to help curly hair. Curly hair also needs unique accessories to help maintain the curl pattern and prevent tugging. Special scalp care and understanding your curl type are also essential.

Many online blogs and videos are dedicated to teaching you how to care for your curls, making it challenging for someone new to the process to figure out your curls’ basic requirements. Don’t worry; I am here to help and will provide all the information you need.  

Does Curly Hair Need Special Care?  

Pinterest pin titled, "What Curly Hair needs most"

It is easy to overlook curl requirements and follow everyone else’s basic hair care routine. That typically includes regular shampooing and conditioning in the shower and maybe the occasional hair oil (or pre-poo) treatment.

But your curly hair begs for more. It requires specific care. It requires the right products. 

From the type of shampoo to how often you should condition or what styling products you should use and which accessories are best, curly hair needs that extra consideration and attention. Proper curly hair care can help enhance and define your curls.  

What Curly Hair Needs  

Below are some guides, tips, and ideas on the best products, methods, and items to ensure you give your curly hair everything it needs.  

Understand Your Curly Hair Type

A visual presentation of the various curly hair types from 2a - 4c

Before you use any method or product on your hair, one of the first things you should look into is your hair type.

Curly hair is not a one-size-fits-all category. There are different types of curly hair and hair texture, each requiring unique care.

The best way to give your curly hair precisely what it needs is to understand your specific hair type and the best way to care for it. 

Understanding Your Hair’s Porosity

One crucial aspect to consider when selecting hair products is understanding your hair’s porosity, as this will ensure effective product absorption. Hair porosity refers to how well your hair can absorb water. It is categorized into three levels: low, medium, and high.

Hair with low porosity has a tendency to struggle with absorbing products due to the flatly laid hair cuticles. Opting for the right lightweight products, such as curl creams, gels, and mousses, is recommended for this hair type.

On the other hand, hair with high porosity faces challenges in retaining moisture because its hair cuticles remain lifted. While it can absorb water, retaining that moisture becomes an issue.

To tackle this, high porosity hair benefits from heavier products like creams, gels, oils, and deep conditioners/hair mask, which work to seal in the moisture once it’s been absorbed. This way, your hair can maintain its moisture levels more effectively.

Additionally, incorporating protein treatments into your routine can further strengthen the hair structure and enhance its ability to retain moisture effectively.

Know Your Shampoo Ingredients  

Image of shampoo ingredients label of Jessicurl Gentle Shampoo.

Curls need moisture, and dry hair is often associated with curly hair due to the natural oils (sebum) facing challenges in navigating the natural bends and twists in the hair strands of curly locks. To combat this, it’s essential to prioritize moisture-rich shampoos for optimal hair health. Most shampoos are formulated with roughly 10 to 30 different ingredients.

To sufficiently remove oil, dirt, sebum build-up, and odor from the scalp, all shampoos should include a detergent or cleaning solution, which works by lifting impurities from the scalp to be washed away by water.  

Ammonium lauryl or laureth and sodium lauryl or laureth sulfate (SLS/SLES) are shampoos’ most common cleaning ingredients. These sulfates are known to strip hair of its natural oils and can dry your curls and cause skin irritation and inflammation. These surfactants work in conjunction with co-surfactants, such as cocamidopropyl betaine, which is a gentler ingredient.

Look for natural ingredients in shampoos to help prevent drying and damage. Silicone and sulfate-free shampoos are also fantastic options for curly hair needs.  

If you have build-up, a clarifying shampoo can help. Remember that over-washing your curly hair will cause dryness and further damage. Only shampoo 1-3 times a week, depending on your build-up and sebum production.  

Moisturize Effectively  

Image of curly hair conditioners.

Moisturizing curly hair is of utmost importance since curly hair tends to run dryer than straight hair.

Conditioners can do wonders for dry, frizzy curls, and because curly hair is more prone to breakage, a good conditioner will help keep your hair healthy, strong, and moisturized.  

As discussed for shampoos, try to look for a conditioner free of harsh sulfates. You may also want to look for a silicone-free conditioner. Silicones can weigh certain hair types down and make them greasy, so they are best to avoid if you have fine or curly hair.  

The topic of silicones is complex. They are large molecules that coat the hair shaft and provide slip and shine. Poorly manufactured formulations can leave build-up. They may be used effectively with tiny molecules readily absorbing into the hair shaft.  

Conditioning should be done as often as your curly hair needs it. Your curly hair routine may include conditioning every other day or once a week.

Curly hair tends to dry very quickly, so pay attention to how your hair looks and feels.  

Take Care of Your Scalp  

Image of Black woman scratching her scalp.

Hair care is incomplete without attention to the scalp. If you have curly hair, a clean, healthy scalp is crucial to maintaining your curls and preventing damage.

Avoid products that contain harsh chemical treatments (such as relaxers with lye or bleach with ammonia) and cause damage to the hair shaft and scalp skin.  

If the scalp is healthy and the follicles have everything they need to function, then there’s a great chance your hair will grow healthy.

Follow a Healthy Lifestyle  

It may seem cliché, but a healthy, well-balanced diet, plenty of water, exercise, and reduced stress can do wonders for your curly hair from the inside, nourishing your hair follicles and promoting overall hair health. As important as it is to care for your hair externally, you will be unlikely to see sustainable results if your body isn’t doing well internally.

Use Quality Styling Products  

Image of curly hair products.

Styling products for curly hair should also have moisturizing properties. The trick with curly hair is to use less product, or it will look greasy and weighed down. Look for a lightweight leave-in conditioner to add natural shine to your curls.  

A curl cream or gel can do the trick if you want more definition. But avoid any products with heavy ingredients, like petrolatum or mineral oil, since these can weigh down your curls. Don’t be afraid of shea butter, often seen as “heavy” by some curlies, as it contains stearic and oleic acids crucial for moisturizing and conditioning hair. Its high fatty acid content acts as a sealant, locking in moisture and preventing dryness.

Other great moisturizing ingredients you might want to look for are penetrating lightweight oils. These readily absorb into the hair and seal in moisture, reduce flyaways, and calm down frizzy hair.

Some examples are jojoba oil, argan oil, coconut oil, sunflower oil, grapeseed oil, safflower oil, etc.  

Humectants, such as glycerin, aloe vera, and honey, are also great for moisturizing hair. Humectants attract moisture from the air and transport it to the hair and skin. Including humectants is a great way to enhance your curls’ hydration, resulting in healthier, shinier, and more defined curls.

Before using a humectant-based product, you must understand your climate and curls.  

Invest in Curly Hair Accessories  

Image of curly hair accessories (satin scrunchies, satin pillowcase, microfiber towel, claw clip, hair tie).

There are many curly hair accessories available. Not all regular hair accessories work well for curls.

Many items like traditional cotton towels and hair elastics tug on your wet hair, causing frizz and hair fall. They can also significantly dry out your hair and cause unnecessary breakage.

Curly hair needs accessories that are gentle on the hair strands. You can check out my post on the best curly hair accessories, such as satin scrunchies and silk pillowcases.  

Conclusion  

What curly hair needs most is a little more care while paying attention to curl-specific requirements in product ingredients and accessories. Your curly hair can be manageable now that you have all the above information to ensure the best curly hair care. 

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.

My mission? To empower others with the tools to restore, and maintain healthy hair, and celebrate the hair they were born with!

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