“Is that natural?”
“Do you hate it?”
“Can I touch it?’
And the less unsettling––
“What products do you use?”
“What’s your routine?”
Only a fraction of the questions I very regularly get asked about my hair. Gratefully, I am extroverted and consider an encounter with a stranger to be a blessing, so I roll with it. But I’ve picked up some interesting stories along the way.
Curly hair in general is a journey––please hear that in particular if you are here trying to tame your own curls. Mine has gotten only wilder as I’ve gotten older, and there have been many not-cute, rough years of not fully knowing what to do with it. I’ve tried lots of products and methods, even got it *lightly* chemically straightened for a period of time (I wasn’t trying to fully straighten it; it was just the 2010s and I wanted an effortless wave to fit in more with the cool girls… HA).
BUT. I feel so confident and content with my routine at this point, and am so happy to swap stories and tips with anyone who feels so led. Please don’t be discouraged if you’ve tried some of these methods and products and they don’t work for you––there’s something out there that will! For this reason I do not adhere to very intense routines like the Curly Girl Method; I’ve picked up pieces that work well for me, but there’s plenty that don’t.
So as a big disclaimer, please remember everyone’s curls are different! The ultimate goal, I’ve found, is not to tame them to what you want them to be, but to embrace whatever they are more fully.
THE MANE ROUTINE
All products mentioned are available at Ulta, and many Shea Moisture can be found at most grocery or convenience stores.
1. With Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl & Shine Shampoo, I first work shampoo in only at my roots, and rinse it out from there.
This Shea Moisture collection is made to hydrate and protect!
I do not try to detangle much at this stage
2. With Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl & Shine Conditioner, I work LOTS of conditioner into my hair, putting emphasis toward the end, but still doing some at the root. With the conditioner in, I take my Pattern Beauty Shower Brush and get out all my tangles. After it’s tangle-free, I may go in again with a bit of conditioner and scrunch to emphasize curl formation.
This Shea Moisture collection is made to hydrate and protect!
I detangle here because with the conditioner, it’s much easier and safer to get out tangles without breakage.
This brush is made to detangle while helping curls clump back together! Love it so much. Similar concept to a Denman brush.
If I have time, I will let the conditioner sit for a couple minutes for deeper hydration.
I rinse and end the shower with cold water. I’m sure not to ring water out of my hair or tightly wrap; just put it up lightly in a TurbieTwist microfiber towel.
I read the cold water trick years ago and truly have no idea if it does anything, but I do find that it helps my hair lock in moisture? Do not come for me with the science.
Tightly twisting your hair not only can remove moisture and cause frizz, but also can cause breakage or weaken your roots.
3. As quickly as possible (I will usually do skincare routine and moisturize), I take my hair out of the towel and, once again, hydrate with Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl Enhancing Smoothie. I comb a generous amount into my hair with my fingers, all throughout.
This Shea Moisture collection is made to hydrate and protect! Are you catching a trend? Hydration is the biggest priority with my curly hair!
I find this is one of the most versatile products I use––I know many different curl patterns that use the Curl Smoothie and find that it works well for them. It’s quite thick, so maybe they don’t use as much as I do, but it is a helpful product.
Combing this product and others through minimizes frizz and forms the most defined curls!
4. Time to style. I find my bangs (by far my least favorite part of this whole process), and clip back pieces I’m not working with with a claw clip (extremely glad these are back in style). I work in Pattern Beauty Curl Gel in small sections, combing it through and helping form the curls as I go. For my bangs and other more frizz-prone pieces, I will finger-curl with the gel. For the rest, I keep it in larger sections and simply comb in the gel and twist the section together.
I was truly terrified to use a gel again (high school horror stories) but this one is so great, and so soft. No crunch, promise.
Pattern Beauty tends to be for those with tighter textures, but I think this gel works well for a large audience as well.
This is really where the magic happens and really where routines will differ. I do these techniques because I’ve found they emphasize my curl pattern the absolute best. For a while I tried finger-curling as much as possible, but I found it to be super time consuming and not accentuating to my natural curl pattern.
5. To finish, I take a small amount more of my curl gel, flip my head over, shake up my roots with my lightly gelled hands, and then scrunch––especially those bangs! This breaks up big, unnatural-looking clumps. And then I… go to bed. 90% of the time, my wash routine is at night, and I like sleeping on my wet hair so it has time to dry and the curls aren’t super “perfect.”
I know someone is going to come for me with sleeping on wet hair, but it’s really just the best method for me because of how long it takes my hair to dry.
To confirm: I do not use a hair dryer. Air-dry only. It still takes forever and more patience than I have, and it usually frizzes or dries weird.
Silk pillowcases are notoriously great for curly hair; I ditched them because I have acne-prone skin and those pillowcases hold oils a little too well and I can’t imagine washing or switching my pillowcase every two days. More on solutions for that in a minute.
6. I will go 4-5 days before I wash my hair again. I touch it up in between with a very small-barrel curling wand––especially my bangs––and occasionally use a (non-aerosol!) hairspray to polish curls or styles. Toward the end of my wash routine, I will sometimes wet and restyle my bangs or stubborn pieces that are just drying out. I also sleep with my hair in a very, very loose bun in a Kitsch Satin Sleep Pillow Scrunchie.
For the love of all that is good, do not use aerosol hairspray on your curls! It’s insanely drying, not to mention usually crunchy.
I have tried many sleep techniques, including sleeping with braids, but found this is not only the easiest, but the one that best preserves my curl pattern and results in the least frizz.
If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading! I hope it’s helpful in your journey, and I hope you’ll share your experiences with me and we can learn together.
My ultimate advice––just get curly bangs. It’s perhaps the best hair thing I’ve ever done.