If you were blessed with a head of curly hair, then you know just how challenging it can be to take care of it properly. Not only does it require specific products, such as leave-in conditioner, curl-defining cream, and gel, but it also calls for a special routine—from your shower to your styling process. This is why it's important to make sure you're following all of the right steps. Read on to discover what you should never do in the shower if you have curly hair.
Never overwash your hair if it's curly.
Overwashing your hair—as in, washing it too many times per week—can have a damaging effect on curly hair. Janine Jarman, an L.A.-based celebrity hairstylist, notes this is because curls tend to be drier than other hair types. "It is more challenging to disperse nutrient-rich natural scalp oil through the mid-shaft and ends when hair is curly, as there is less frequent brushing with textured hair," Jarman says.
Washing curly hair too frequently can dry it even further, causing frizz and general unmanageability. "[Dryness] means your precious curls will become susceptible to breakage," says Allyson Carter, professional hairstylist and founder of Hair Spies. "There is also a chance you will lose your curl pattern from constantly overwashing your hair with shampoo."
Overwashing curls that are looser in texture will mostly lead to dry ends; overwashing tighter curls will lead to dry ends and a dry scalp, as people with this hair type don't produce as much oil, explains Aric Congdon, a traveling celebrity hairstylist who specializes in curly hair.
On the flipside, overwashing can unexpectedly also lead to increased oiliness. "If you are constantly removing [oil from your scalp], your scalp and hair will become dry," says Carter. "The scalp will produce even more oil to compensate. Then, it's a vicious cycle of overproduction of hair oil and washing, which, you can imagine, is horrible for the hair."
Choose the proper shampoo for curly hair.
No matter your hair type, you'll want to choose a shampoo that's personalized to your needs. This is especially true for those with waves and ringlets. "Curly-haired people will want to look for shampoos that are sulfate-free and have ingredients to help balance pH, protect from breakage, and moisturize to reduce frizz," says Casey Simmons, owner of haircare brand Royal Locks Curl Care.
Here's the download on why. "Sulfates, or surfactants, are cleansers of dirt and oil in the hair," says Simmons. "This may sound like a good thing. However, sulfates can over-wash curly hair by stripping away the natural oils it needs to bounce and shine without frizz."
A pH-balancing formula can help manage frizz, breakage, and an itchy scalp. "Curly hair naturally has a higher level pH than straight hair, another factor for dryness," says Simmons. "It's important for curly-haired people to use a pH-balanced shampoo, one with a level between 4.5 to 5.5." That's because this is the natural pH of hair. Fortunately, most quality shampoos are pH balanced. As always, you'll want to consult your stylist to decide the best formula for your needs.
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Use your fingers to distribute shampoo while washing your hair.
When you do wash your hair, you'll want to make sure you're cleansing it properly. Gokhan Vayni, a hair specialist at Vera Clinic suggests using your fingers to distribute shampoo through the lengths of your hair (as opposed to a brush or comb, which can cause breakage). He also recommends detangling as you go. "You want to start the detangling process while you have the product in your hair, so that even if it's not all the way knot-free before rinsing, you can at least run your fingers through larger sections," he says.
After washing out your shampoo, apply a conditioner for curly hair that has moisturizing and hydrating properties. (Vayni suggests using one that is paired with your shampoo.) Focus the formula on your mid-lengths to ends. Let the conditioner sit for around two to five minutes and rinse.
Find a wash schedule that works for you.
Jarman, Congdon, and Carter agree that many people with curly hair only need to wash their hair one to three times a week. For curly, natural hair, you can space your washes every one to two weeks, as this hair type does not produce as much oil.
If you're not sure how to handle those in-between days, try this. "I recommend just wetting and conditioning hair other days if your hair needs to be wet for a restyle," says Jarman. That way, you'll have healthy, clean hair that looks as good as it feels.