Let’s see, I left off with shampoos in my last post, so I’m going to pick up with co-washes, conditioners, and styling products in this post.
As I mentioned the Curly Girl book in my last post, I’m going to be pulling from that as an example of what to do when washing your hair and what products to use. One of the things Lorraine Massey recommends is using strictly co-wash products and only washing your curls once or less a week. While this may work for thicker and much tighter coiled curls, for my hair particularly, I have to get rid of product build up and I wash my hair roughly two times a week. I had gotten this co-wash a year ago, but decided I didn’t like it. I picked it up again a few months ago when I was running out of my other shampoo and found out it was amazing and wish I had used it before.
Devacurl No Poo – $13.66 Amazon
I came to love the refreshing peppermint scent and I really liked how soft it made my hair. But I found I could only use this for 1 out of every three washes or else my hair got limp and slightly greasy. So while for some curly girls, co-washes are the bee’s knees, for others of us, co-washes are not for us to use every time we wash our hair. I do recommend getting a co-wash and using it somewhat frequently, but keep in mind, it takes a bit of time to find the right combination of hair products that work for your specific hair. I have a list of a few other (cheap) co-washes that I’ve heard good things about but haven’t tried yet. Such as this one from Pantene.
Pantene Co-wash – $4.99 at Target
I personally don’t like to switch up shampoos/conditioners all that often, however, I do use multiple types of shampoos as I do like to mix that up depending on how my hair feels. Like I said before, I need an actual shampoo to get rid of build up, and a co-wash helps maintain the condition of my hair between shampoos. I consider co-washes and shampoos basically the same especially if they’re all those chemicals free.
Okay, now, moving on to Conditioners.
The thing to keep in mind about conditioners is that the more moisture and less parabans and sulfates (and silicone and phthalates) there are in them, the better they will work. I prefer using this conditioner right now.
Shea Moisture Sea Kelp & Pearl Protein – $8.99 at Target
This conditioner is good for colored hair and I love the scent. This is one of the few conditioners that I’ve used that is curling hair friendly that actually makes my hair feel moisturized. One bottle lasts me about a month and a half. I apply a [literal] palm full of the conditioner to my hair, coating my hair from the ends up to about my ears. Once my hair is all coated, I’ll gently run a wide toothed comb through my hair. This is the ONLY time I actually comb or brush my hair. It helps to coat the ends of your hair before spreading the conditioner further up your locks. I always let my conditioner sit in my hair for up to 5+ minutes. This helps my hair absorb the conditioner as much as it can. Another tip is to squeeze out as much water as you can before applying your conditioner as this also helps the conditioner grip onto your hair.
Now, once my conditioner has soaked in after 5 minutes (during which I will wash my body and/or shave) I will rinse the conditioner out with cool to almost cold water. This closes the cuticles of your hair, and while a hot shower relaxes you, a cold or cool shower wakes you up. I find it’s a nice perk in the mornings I’m not moving very fast. Some curly girl articles and even the Curly Girl Handbook recommends applying a leave in conditioner and as in the name, NOT rinsing it out. I have tried about 5 (?) different leave in conditioners and the only thing those ever did for my hair was make it SUPER yucky greasy. So I always rinse pretty much all of my conditioner out. If there’s a tiny teensy bit left, it doesn’t bother my hair, but I generally get it all. Okay, now comes the super important part of washing your curly hair. Turn off the shower and squeeze the water from your hair…GENTLY! And before getting out of the shower, flip your head upside and run your fingers [AGAIN, GENTLY!] through your hair and shake your curls out. This will carry on to the styling step and will help your curls start to naturally form. I usually take about 30 seconds to do this and then lightly scrunch my hair up before flipping my head upright.
So there are several “Curly Girl Commandments” anyone who has curly hair needs to follow. I never really considered these important and my curls greatly suffered for it. Thus, I am speaking from personal experience when I highly recommend these commandments.
- NEVER use a regular towel on your curls. Regular terry cloth towels disturb and roughen the delicate cuticles of your curly hair. Curly hair is some of the most delicate hair types, so please, please be gentle, and take care of your hair! My favorite option for drying my hair is using an old soft t-shirt I have cut open on one of the seams. I NEVER rub my hair dry, but simply continue the scrunching I started in the shower, and squeeze the water out.
- Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. Find an oil that works for your hair and make that your best friend. This requires an unfortunately large amount of experimentation, but curly hair is not only the most delicate of hair types, it’s also the driest. So this could mean avoiding products with alcohol in them, or avoiding additives in shampoo and conditioner, or not. You need to take the time to figure out how to respect your own curls and what works the best for them. Curly hair is a lot of work, but when you learn how to take care of it in the way it needs, it is so rewarding to have more good days than bad.
- Do NOT BRUSH your curls. If you absolutely must detangle your curls, then use a wide toothed comb. I keep my comb in the shower and only comb my hair when it’s wet and has conditioner in it. Try to avoid disturbing your curls as much as possible. I know the pull of touching your curls when you’re having a good curl day, but really do try to not touch your hair.
- Use a satin pillowcase. So this is the one thing I scoffed at for a long time and refused to put money (we’re talking maybe $7?) into a satin pillowcase. I recently purchased this one from Amazon (click on the picture to go to the amazon page), and while it’s not as soft as I’d like, I have noticed a difference with my second and third day curls. I do highly recommend you find or make your own satin or even silk pillowcase. Just be aware that whatever products you put in your hair to sit overnight will show up on the pillowcase so I wash mine just about and sometimes more than once a week.
I’m sure there are other things any other curly girl could add to this list, but these are the 4 “commandments” I would consider to be at the top of the list. Comment and let me know if you’d add anything else!!
Now, on to my favorite topic – styling products. Trust me when I’ve said that I’ve tried many, many kinds of styling products over the years and I feel like I now have a favorite and a reliable product that gives me consistent results. I have two curl cream recommendations and my favorite oil that I also use in combination with my other styling products. I used to think that I had to only use a single styling product and couldn’t mix and match. Ha, nope! Do not hesitate to use a cocktail of products so you can get the right combination of hold and softness for your curls.
To start my styling routine, I always apply this oil first thing after I get out of the shower and when my hair’s still partially dripping wet. I have been experimenting recently and found that I can get more curls and even less frizz if I apply all of my styling products while my hair is still mostly dripping wet.
Marc Anthony Nourishing Argan Oil of Morocco Treatment – currently $12.14 on Amazon. The only two places I have ever found this oil is on Amazon and Walgreens.com. Stores do not sell this and last I checked, this oil wasn’t even on the Marc Anthony website. I blame Ipsy for introducing me to this oil, I absolutely ADORE it. It is the only oil I have EVER tried that doesn’t make my hair greasy. And, big bonus, it smells amazing! I typically apply 4-5 pumps of this oil and run through my hair completely before applying any other styling product.
My all time favorite product is this cream/gel from Tigi Catwalk
Tigi Catwalk Curls Rock Amplifier – $10 on Amazon. I recommend getting it from Amazon instead of Target or Ulta or your local grocery store. It is almost always $14.99 at that stores. This product consistently ranks close to the top if not the top of most Top 10 Curly Hair products. It is a cream and a gel, so the consistency, while still creamy, has a gel like finish. I always apply 4 pumps (keep in mind I have waist length hair, so I need that much product). If you get this product, figure out how much your hair needs. This almost never gets crunchy in my hair, and I really like that in a curl product.
My second favorite curl cream/gel, is this stuff from Garnier Fructis.
Garnier Fructis Style Curl Sculpting Cream Gel – $2.99 on Amazon. This does not have as nice as a hold at the Catwalk Curls stuff above, but is it very comparable with how it holds and forms curls. It has a nice smell and for this price, I’d say it’s a steal!
Like I said, I’ve been experimenting and recently started add in a mousse to my styling routine. I have had bad experiences with mousses in the past and was hesitant to try this, but as I have never tried a mousse and then diffused dried my hair, I figured it couldn’t hurt. This is the only mousse I have on hand right now, and I’ll have to admit I rather like this combo!
John Frieda Frizz Ease Curl Reviver Mousse – This double pack of travel sized containers is currently $3.78 on Amazon. I don’t remember where I picked this up, I think Target, but I do know it’s pretty cheap. I only use one squirt of this mousse and run it through my hair AFTER my other styling products.
And now, the finishing touches. I almost always use my blow dryer and a diffuser when drying my hair. This helps eliminate most of the frizz and helps my curls form and hold. I use this hair dryer,
Conair 1875 Watt Tourmaline Ceramic Hair Dryer – $25 on Amazon. I like this diffuser, and have had good luck with it. I usually start on a medium speed and high heat. Any Curly Girl will say not to use high heat, but my hair doesn’t react to the high heat any more than it does to medium heat. Besides, I don’t always have a lot of time and with the high heat, I am not actually using heat on my hair for all that long. I start on the sides of my head, piling handfuls of wet hair into the diffuser and pushing up towards the crown of my head. After I do both sides and they’re starting to hold the curl, I’ll flip my head upside and diffuse up and try to get most of the underside and back of my head hair. Before I flip my head back up, I’ll switch to cold air and use that to start getting volume.
Another alternative to a diffuser is this one from the Curly Co. I have heard very good things about this diffuser and plan on getting it myself in a month or two.
Collapsible Hair Diffuser by The Curly Co. for Hair Dryers. $14.99 on Amazon. I hear that this fits most hair dryers and because it’s flexible, it actually diffuses your curls a lot better than a stiff diffuser.
Alright, so those are my favorite products, and recommended products! My next post will have my second day hair recommendations as well as a bunch of links for articles and references for product lists that are good for curly hair!