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Don’t try this at home: Curly hair habits to break

When it comes to curly hair, you sometimes have to play by a different set of rules. It can be tough to retrain yourself when most hair care advice is geared toward the straighter-haired set. The truth is, the tighter and coarser your curls are, the less effective conventional advice may be for you.

Abandon conventional wisdom
Woman with curly hair

Every woman will probably hate her hair for one reason or another at some point. It’s too thick or it has no body at all. It’s too dark or too pale. This goes double if you feel like you are constantly working against your hair. If all the hair care advice suggests a certain method, how come it’s not working for you?

There are a few habits that just don’t cut it for curls, and you can do yourself a favor by abandoning certain methods that just don’t work for your texture. Never mind the expert tips in your favorite magazine from a celebrity stylist. Take charge of your own hair destiny.

Pantene-girl syndrome

If the girl in the shampoo commercial is doing it, it must be right. She works her hair into a foaming lather while flowers and rainbows swirl around her head. She scrubs and scrubs. Cut to the scene where she stops traffic with her shiny, bouncing locks.

There is no virtue in creating bubbles. All that lather is the result of harsh detergents stripping your hair of its natural oils. Scrubbing your hair with shampoo and piling it on top of your head roughs up the cuticle and can cause a mess of tangles and breakage. It works on straight hair because the cuticle is so tight and flat that a bit of roughing up is a good thing. Not so much with tight curls.

Opt for a sulfate-free cleanser, or even wash your hair with conditioner. What you want is “slip,” the feeling that all the tangles are being coaxed out of your hair. If you have product build-up and need a more thorough cleansing, you may want a gentle shampoo. Still, do not scrub your hair. Work the product only at the roots with your fingertips, and let the rinse cleanse it through to the ends. Follow immediately with a hydrating conditioner.

Dry detangling

If you have to yank the comb through your hair, your curls are telling you something. They have made up their mind, and they don’t like you fooling with them. Wet hair is hair at its most vulnerable. It will respond to whatever is done to it. If your hair is frizzy and big, you are going to have to get it under running water to get some control; a few spritzes from a spray bottle aren’t going to cut it. If you don’t have time for that, combing is not going to help you. In fact, your hair will just become more rebellious. The best you can do is to pin it, band it and work it with your fingers using a bit of pomade or oil.

Suggested product amounts

Don’t you just love it when the bottle suggests using a “dime size” or “pea size” amount? What is that supposed to do? Curly hair is typically dry. It is greedy when it comes to product. It loves conditioner. Especially when you have tighter curls, don’t be afraid to be generous. Even if you go a bit overboard, your hair will probably absorb the excess quickly.

Related reading

Curly hair survival tips
Caring for your dry and damaged hair

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