All the brilliant info you really need to know.
If you’ve got curly hair, you already know how freaking ~moody~ it is. You can kiss it and hug it and load it with all of the best creams, gels, and conditioners, and yet it can still poof out, frizz up, deflate, or look like you’ve neglected it for the last five years (is this what having kids feels like?).
And though you’ve probably got a good handle on what your curls and coils do and don’t like, that doesn’t mean you can’t play around with a few new tricks to live your best curl life. Which is where we come in. We rounded up the 15 tips, hacks, and products you really, truly need to know (or, realistically, be reminded of, because you keep ignoring them). Give ’em a skim, learn something, and get ready for really, really excellent hair.
How to Detangle Curly Hair
The Trick: Use a curl-specific detangling brush
In the most ideal of worlds, you wouldn’t detangle your curly hair when it’s wet. Why? Because hair—especially fine or damaged hair—is extra fragile when it’s wet, leading to breakage, split ends, and even more tangles. Instead, before hopping in the shower, gently brush through your dry curls with a detangling brush specifically meant for your coils (they usually have longer teeth at varied lengths).
While in the shower (or after towel-drying your hair and adding your curl products), gently detangle your wet hair again with a wide-tooth comb to distribute the products without breaking up your curl pattern.
How to Prevent Breakage on Curly Hair
The Trick: Brush from the bottom like you know you should.
No, this isn’t exactly a secret, but I’m willing to bet you never actually follow the rules, so, hey, I’m repeating it again. And again. Don’t start brushing your hair from your roots, or even from the middle of your hair, or you’re basically begging for breakage and split ends.
Each time you start brushing from your roots, you push tiny knots lower and lower, until you create a big ol’ snarled mess. Instead, brush from the ends, gradually and gently moving upward. Your curls will thank you.
How to Deep-Condition Curly Hair
The Trick: Apply your conditioner to dry hair, not wet.
It sounds insane, but the key to keeping your curls really, really moisturized is to use your deep conditioner on dry hair to help maximize its potency. “You don’t want your conditioner to compete with water for space in your hair cuticle,”says Mona Gohara, M.D., dermatologist at Yale University.
Basically, if your strands are already saturated with water, they won’t be able to absorb as much conditioner. So before stepping into the shower, rake giant blobs of deep conditioner through your hair, twist and clip it up, slide on a shower cap, and wait 20 mins. Then, hop in the shower, wash your body, do your shaving (if you’re into that), and let the steam from the shower help the conditioner penetrate your strands. Finish by washing your hair as usual.
How to Keep Curls Clumped and Defined
The Trick: Comb your curls when they’re sopping wet.
Instead of combing your hair after you’ve dried it and applied all of your products, do your whole curl routine on sopping-wet hair while you’re still in the shower. Why? Because you want to encourage your curls to clump together and dry in their natural pattern, which can’t happen if you comb through them when they’re partially dry and already starting to clump.
How to Prevent Frizz on Curly Hair
The Trick: Plop your curls with a T-shirt.
If you’ve never plopped your curls, I feel like you’ve never experienced really, really, really good hair. Because plopping—i.e. a technique that uses a T-shirt to dry your curls in a self-contained mound on top of your head to help them stay springy and defined—is the key to smooth, defined, frizz-free curls, while your regular terry-cloth towel is the enemy (its nubby, rough texture causes frizz, while the twisting motion ruins your curl pattern). Convinced? Check out this tutorial on plopping and give it a try.
The Trick: Soften the crunch with a dab of oil.
Ah, yes, the crunch—happens to the best of us, especially if your goal is defined curls. If you wake up with crunchy, ramen-looking sections, rub a bit of hair oil between your fingers and smooth it over the stiff pieces to break down the mousse/gel and give them bounce again.