Curly Hair: Care for Curly Hair Naturally

How to Care for Curly Hair

How to care for Fine Curly Hair

How to care for Thick Curly Hair

How to Care for Coily or Afro-Textured Hair

About the Author

Whether you love your curls and want to learn how to enhance them. Maybe you are yet to fall in love with your curls or just want advice on how to take care of curly hair. Whatever your reason for searching out how to care for curly hair, you’ve come to the right place. I’ve been working with curly hair for over 35 years.

In this blog, I’ll share my expert advice on how to take care of curly hair naturally. My mantra is keep it simple. You don’t need multiple curly hair products. I advocate taking a simple approach for maximum impact.

Female with coily hair


Curls come in many shapes, sizes and textures but there is one thing they all have in common; curls give hair natural body, volume and movement. Getting volume and movement in hair is the holy grail of hair styling and if you have curls I congratulate you, because you’ve got it naturally.

As you may have guessed, I love curls. However, I do understand that learning how to look after curly hair can be a challenge. So following on from my guide on treatments for dry hair, here’s my Ultimate Guide on How to Care for Curly Hair. Based on years of salon experience I share advice on how to take care of curly hair naturally.

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Smiling female with red curly hair


How to care for Curly Hair: What’s my Type?

Understanding how to look after curly hair starts with understanding your curl type.

Curl type is particularly important for cutting the hair. Getting the right shape and cut for your curl type is the difference between hair that looks ordinary and hair that looks wow! I think of the curl type as the personality of your hair and letting it shine through is what a good hair cut is all about.

  1. Wavy: Flatter near the scalp with movement and waves at the mid-lengths and ends of the hair. Waves tend to be looser and have an ‘S’ shape.smiling female model, long brown dyed hair with highlights
  2. Curly: Hair may have more ringlets and corkscrew shapes but not necessarily all the way through the hair. Curls can give hair the appearance of being thicker even if the hair is fine. Female with full curly hair
  3. Coils: Hair has tight, small, corkscrew curls from the scalp to the ends of the hair. This mainly describes afro-textured hair. Whilst the curls tend to be smaller in size, the hair is much denser.Female with curly afro hair

How to care for Curly Hair: By Hair Type

Curl type has it’s part to play in determining how to care for curly hair but its also important to think about the texture of your hair.

So, for example, is your hair thick and coarse or fine?  To keep things simple, I’ve split my advice into 3 sections; How to care for Fine Curly Hair, How to care for Thick Curly Hair and How to Care for Coily or Afro-Textured Hair.

For more in-depth reading I’ve written a section on the Porosity of Hair. This is useful as a way of understanding how your curls absorb moisture and the best techniques for building moisture. You can discover more about hair porosity below.

How to care for Fine Curly Hair

Frizzy Hair: Close up of female with auburn curls smooth and frizz free

If you have fine curly hair your hair may be prone to product build-up. You may find that your hair can’t absorb a lot of product so I recommend building moisture into fine curls a little at a time.

Good hair care starts with the right shampoo and conditioner for your hair type.

Choose shampoos that add volume to your hair. Curls need hydration but it’s vital not to overload the hair when it’s fine. Fine hair is more prone to tangles so choose lightweight, detangling, conditioners. If you find your hair is very dry due to colour treatments or heated styling, you can choose a more hydrating conditioner to complement your volume-boosting shampoo.

Make sure you focus on the ends and mid-lengths and avoid the root area when applying conditioner. I recommend warming conditioners up in your palms before you apply to the hair. That will give you a better spread of product on the hair and prevent build-up in any single area. And don’t forget the importance of a deep hair conditioner to give your curls that essential moisture boost.

Use a deep conditioning hair mask once a week to define your curls and waves.

Avoid products that contain silicone as they weigh heavily on fine curly hair.  They coat the hair to give it the appearance of a smooth shiny finish but they can make your hair drier over time. Your curls and waves are your secret weapon for body and volume and the last thing you want to do is leave them flat.

Look out for deep conditioning hair treatments such as Restore and Shine Hair Masque. It contains emollients; glycerin, avocado and tocopherol (vitamin E) are all great for smoothing frizz and improving curl definition. Building the moisture in your hair with a weekly hair mask will help maintain definition and make hair easier to style to boot! I recommend little and often for fine curls and waves.

When it comes to styling Fine Curly Hair… Focus on getting body at the roots when styling fine curly or wavy hair.

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Once hair is prepped with the right shampoo and conditioner, its time to put those curls and waves to work! Work with your natural curls and waves to give hair more body and movement. When drying hair with a hairdryer focus on the roots where hair may be flatter. I encourage my curly haired clients to ditch the brush and use fingers to gently lift the roots as they dry the hair.

Choose lightweight styling products for volume to give your hair some help. You can use short blasts of heat as you gently lift the roots. Turn your head upside down for extra lift and volume. The key is not to over dry the hair as this can leave it flat. Switch the hairdryer off when hair is around 80% dry and leave the hair to dry naturally.

Styling Mist for Natural Hold and Volume


Styling Mist Volumiser used to create volume in the fringe

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Use a diffuser when using a hair dryer or let your hair air dry.

If you are using a hairdryer to dry your fine curls I recommend a diffuser. A diffuser attachment on your hairdryer disperses the air and prevents the heat from roughing up the cuticle. It reduces frizz and keeps your curls intact. Alternatively, you can air dry your hair or dry your hair with the hairdryer on it’s coolest setting. If you want to know how to air dry your hair for volume, follow my Salon Know How Tips below.

Sleep on a silk or satin pillow or wear a satin bonnet to care for curly hair overnight.

Pink Satin pillow to protect curly hair


Choosing a silk or satin pillow is the best way of caring for your hair overnight. They reduce the friction on hair as you move your head overnight, helping to protect against split ends. For those of us with curls and waves, they also help to retain the definition of hair. If you are frustrated with flat hair in the mornings you can also try a satin bonnet to prevent tangles and frizz.

Opt for mid-length and shorter styles to maximise volume in fine curly or wavy hair.

Female with blonde mid-length curly hair

Mid-length and shorter styles will give fine hair more volume. However, when it comes to cutting hair the shape and balance of your curls are key. So what do I mean by shape and balance? I’m talking about how you maximise the haircut to get weight in the right places to leave hair as full and thick as possible. A haircut should be versatile enough for you to be able to change the parting or try different styling options when you style it at home.

Curly hair is one of the most challenging hair types to cut but get it right and it can look incredible. I recommend getting a consultation with your stylist to discuss what shape would best suit your and hair. Don’t just talk to your stylist about the length, ask them about where they would recommend more weight in the hair and what changes they can make to give you more movement.

How to Air Dry Fine hair and Add Volume Naturally

Learning how to air dry hair is a quick and easy way of styling hair. You can add volume to fine hair using this method without the damaging effects of heat. I’ve broken it down into 3 stages.

Female with mid-length fine hair

The Wet Stage 

  1. Shampoo, condition and rinse hair.
  2. Wrap a microfibre towel around the hair to soak up excess water and remove, using it to gently squeeze out any dripping water.
  3. Hair should be damp, not dripping wet. Spritz the hair with a styling product for fine hair.
  4. Now relax and leave to dry.

The Semi-Dry Stage

  1. Once your hair is starting to dry you can give it another spritz of styling mist to give you more control.
  2.  Start working with the hair using your hands. Yes, your hands! No other tools required. Use your fingers to gently lift the roots. Turn your head upside down if you want to create extra lift and volume. Alternatively, imagine you are working with a hairdryer, lifting the hair and moving your fingers in circular movements to gently ease and shape the hair.
  3. Hair is easy to manipulate at this stage and a styling product will give you the control you need to create volume.

The Dry Stage

  1. Once the hair is dry you can start to play with it a bit more. But not too much! You don’t want to lose definition.
  2. Lift the hair gently and use your fingers to mimic the brush and give the hair plenty of natural movement.
  3. If you want, you can spritz styling mist on your fingers and push into the hair.

Three stages may sound a bit onerous but at each of the steps, you don’t need to do much to get hair in shape. This is a great way of drying your hair on holiday in a hotter climate. Whilst you apply your make-up and decide what you are going to wear, your hair can be getting on with the job!

How to care for Thick Curly Hair

Female with thick curly hair

If you have thick curly hair you may well be the envy of your fine-haired friends. However, I’ve worked with many clients over the years who just wanted to contain their curls and waves; some would keep their hair tied back, others were attached to their straighteners.

The thing they had in common was that they’d never been taught how to work with their curls. By tackling the things they didn’t like about their hair (dryness, frizz, tangles and lack of shine) I helped them to embrace their natural hair.  So if you find yourself longing for straight locks or you feel that your hair is out of control, I can help. Put down your straighteners, follow my 6 steps to frizz-free, shiny curls.

Six Steps to Frizz-Free, Shiny Curls 1 Choose a hydrating shampoo and conditioner to moisturise thick wavy or curly hair.

Female with mid-length thick curly hair

2 Use a deep conditioning hair mask once a week to give your curls a moisture boost. Jar of Restore and Shine Hair Masque open

* This article was originally published here


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