Curly hair is both a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing because it can look absolutely gorgeous when it looks good, but it’s a curse because it’s so hard to make it look good sometimes. It can be frizzy; it can curl differently in different spots, it can dry out, and so many other things. Sometimes taking care of curly hair can feel more like trying to put out fires that keep relighting. Plus, hair care mistakes do happen, right?
There are a few things that you can do that may not make your curly hair perfect, but will go a long way toward giving you that sumptuous, beautiful curly look you want. Let’s look at four mistakes you may currently be making and how to fix them.
Hair Care Mistakes – 1: Using hair products full of chemicals
The thing about curly hair is that it’s rather delicate. Doing anything wrong can make it freak out and not behave itself. Sodium lauryl sulfate (also known as SLS), the key ingredient in many traditional shampoos, is a very effective cleanser.
It’s made of salt and detergent, which is why it’s such a good cleanser. Unfortunately, that quality is also what makes it too harsh for your delicate curls. You need to use a sulfate-free shampoo. There are plenty of sulfate-free options that will cleanse your hair just as effectively, without drying it out and making it frizz. Read more about sulfate-free shampoos and leave-in conditioners.
Other chemicals you should try to exclude from your haircare routine are:
- Isopropyl – it’s used on anti-freezing products but may lead to hair breakage;
- Propylene Glycol – you shouldn’t buy shampoos or conditioners which contain this ingredient if you have sensitive skin or irritable scalp;
- Polyethylene Glycol – usually tends to be too harsh on curly hair, which is usually more dehydrated.
The best alternative is to use products which include jojoba, shea, or argan oils as ingredients. These are highly hydrating and knock out extremely dry scalps. You can also use the same hair oils (before washing) or their hydrating properties (after washing).
You should also make sure, even after you switch to more natural options, that you don’t wash your hair too often. You may need to do some trial-and-error to find out exactly how much is too much and how little is too little, but some curlies find that they can wash just once a week.
Hair Care Mistakes – 2: Using your bath towel to dry your hair
It means more laundry for you, but it will also mean more beautiful curls if you use a different material to dry your curls. Traditional bath towels are made of a terry cloth, cotton material that is very rough on your hair. Scrub that over your curls, and you’re going to look like you stuck your fingers in an electrical socket.
Instead, consider buying a microfiber towel or two just for your hair. This material is smoother, softer, and much gentler on your curls.
It’s still absorbent enough to soak up the water, although you should take a few moments to squeeze your hair and remove as much excess water as possible before you dry.
You should squeeze the towel around your curls, rather than rubbing it to decrease frizz further and shape your curls.
In a pinch, you can also try using an old, soft t-shirt. The cotton material may be slightly rougher on your curls than a microfiber towel, but less so than a traditional towel. And as long as you squeeze your hair dry rather than rub, it shouldn’t be too bad.
Hair Care Mistakes – 3: Drying your hair before you style it
You’ve probably heard the insistence that you shouldn’t comb wet hair, and read instructions on most styling products that say you should apply them to “damp or slightly damp” hair.
Curly hair is the exception to both of these rules, however.
Combing your hair when it’s anything less than sopping wet is an exercise in pain and futility. The best time to comb your hair is in the shower when it’s dripping wet. This is also the best time to style it – with products.
One of the keys to gorgeous curls is not messing with them too much after they dry. And once your hair reaches the “damp” or “slightly damp” stage, you risk creating frizz or otherwise unhappy curls. The water gives you more support and control as you tweak your curls to look exactly the way you want them to look.
Hair Care Mistakes – 4: Use the wrong styling tools
Hair dryers, straighteners, hair steamers, combs, brushes, scalp massagers – there are so many tools with which to style your hair. Some are cheaper, some more expensive, and some look cool, and you think they’d be fun to use. But curly hair is a lot like sensitive skin. If you use the wrong tools, you’re going to have a bad reaction.
Hair dryers should never be used without a diffuser to spread the heat out. Ideally, you should avoid using a hair dryer at all on your curls. Air drying is best. But if you’re going to use a hairdryer, it must have a diffuser, and you should also consider spending a bit more money on an ionic, ceramic or tourmaline dryer.
Brushes are not friends with curly hair. Brushes will create frizz, damage and destroy curls. Always use a comb on your curly hair. Look for a detangling comb for the best results, and always use it on wet hair. Fine-tooth combs may break apart your curls too much, but a detangling comb has widely-spaced teeth so that you can not only detangle your hair easily but also keep your curls nicely together.
Heat-styling tools, such as straighteners and curling irons, will damage your curls if used too often. If you can’t give them up, make sure that you add products to your routine that will repair the damage done. Look into hot oil treatments, hair masks, and leave-in conditioners to re-hydrate your hair and fix the damage done by heat styling.
Curly hair requires some special handling, but when done right, the outcome is more than worth it. Whenever you’re not sure what to do, whether it’s choosing which hair treatment product to use or how to style your curls, ask your hairstylist.
Make sure your stylist is experienced and knowledgeable about curly hair (if she cuts your hair wet, she’s not), and if she is, you can rely on her guidance. The extra time and effort it takes to make your curls look stunning will leave you feeling amazing, beautiful, and confident. Now you never have to worry about making these hair care mistakes again.