In middle school, my curly hair made my head look like a triangle. Nowadays, my curls are hydrated and bouncy, thanks to argan oil, strategic scrunching, and a few other tricks.
In sixth grade I got a haircut that was so bad, I didn’t get another for eight years. It was right before Tim’s party. Tim played soccer and cello, and he was cute. His shindig was the middle-school equivalent of Diddy’s White Party. I couldn’t wait.
But I couldn’t go because I was too busy crying. My stylist had cut my curly hair into a blunt bob, leaving me looking like a triangle with legs. I spent that evening at home, trying not to walk past any mirrors, and I didn’t work up the courage to return to a salon again until I was in college.
The whole ordeal was definitely an adventure. A bad one. Taking care of my curly hair is still an adventure today—but now that I’ve experimented with different cuts, styling techniques, and products, it’s a much more manageable one. Below, I break down the process that works best for me.
STEP 1: CONDITION
I only wash my hair once every two weeks or so, but I condition every day. Once I’ve rinsed most of the conditioner out (but left enough that my hair still feels, for lack of a better word, slimy), I wrap my hair in a towel and leave it for five minutes. Leaving the towel on too long tamps down body—your hair can’t start to curl when it’s suffocated in the towel.
STEP 2: BRUSH
When my hair is medium-dry, I brush it straight back. Experts often warn that brushing causes breakage, but finger-combing (the gentlest route) takes me forever. I’d rather brush and be on time for work.
STEP 3: APPLY PRODUCTS
My everyday products:
* Moroccanoil Treatment ($43 for 100 ml at moroccanoil.com): an argan-oil product that neutralizes frizz and smells like a tropical vacation.
* Moroccanoil Curl Defining Cream ($33.60 for 250 ml at moroccanoil.com): this cream defines curls without causing crunch.
* TIGI Catwalk Curls Rock Amplifier ($16.95 at Ulta): my favorite product of all. It hydrates my curls and adds bounce.
* SheaMoisture Curl and Style Milk ($9.99 for 236 ml at Target): a lightweight, ultra-hydrating product that smells like coconut and hibiscus.
I start by working a mix of the Moroccanoil Treatment and SheaMoisture Milk through my hair from root to tip (note: experts often recommend avoiding your roots, since your scalp produces oil naturally, but I wear my hair in high, tight ponytails a lot, so need to battle breakage at my roots). This cocktail works moisturizing wonders, but it only looks good if it’s evenly applied, so I brush it through a couple times.
Next, I blend the Moroccanoil Defining Cream and TIGI Amplifier and run the mixture through my hair in a sweeping motion. Again, I distribute it from root to tip, but this time I concentrate on the ends. To enhance the curl, I finish by scrunching the ends toward my scalp.
I personally use a generous quarter-sized dollop of each product for my below-shoulder-length hair—use more or less based on your hair’s length and texture.
STEP 4: AIR DRY
At this point, any extra fussing will turn my hair into a frizzy puffball, so I just let it air dry. It takes longer than using a diffuser, but it’s worth planning my morning around—the results look so much more natural to me.
For more thoughts on the care and keeping of curls, check out Groupon Guide’s advice column on curly hair.
Photo: Mahreen Younus, Groupon