Inside: Starting a curly hair routine is the first step in embracing the natural beauty of your curls, guiding you towards understanding and caring for your unique hair type for healthier, more vibrant locks.
Ok, so you’ve read through the Curly Hair Beginner Series; now what.
Here is my simplified step-by-step routine for those of you who are just beginning. The goal is just to get started, not perfect your curls overnight. (Wouldn’t that be awesome, though?)
Start with these steps and tweak them for your personal hair type as you go. As you experiment, you’ll start to really get to know what your hair loves and what it doesn’t.
Starting Your Own Curly Hair Routine
Step 1: Get a Good Haircut
I showed you some photos from my curly hair journey here. It wasn’t until I got a great haircut that my curls really started to take shape and improve.
There are a few ways you can go about finding a stylist:
- Visit DevaCurl’s stylist finder for someone near you that has been trained to cut curly hair.
- Word of mouth – ask your friends and family who live in the same area as you if they have any recommendations
- Start calling salons and ask if anyone there knows how to cut curly hair.
A good haircut will give you the foundation for embracing those curls.
Step 2: Use a Clarifying Shampoo
A clarifying shampoo does several things for your hair and starts you off on the right foot:
- It gives you a deep clean
- It removes build-up from products that have dulled and dried your hair out
- It loosens and removes things like dead skin cells and dandruff
- It helps keep your scalp hydrated and healthy
Here are a few I and my curly-haired friends recommend:
Step 3: Condition
Follow up with a leave-in conditioner if you feel like your hair needs it. I have very dry hair, so I use a leave-in every wash day.
Step 4: Wet or Damp?
You might be used to immediately wrapping your hair up in a towel after you wash it, but you might want to consider applying the product first.
Some curly-haired gals like to leave their hair almost soaking wet when they apply products. While others like the results of applying product to damp hair.
Those who apply it to soaking wet hair, usually apply products while still in the shower since their hair is dripping.
This is where your experimenting will come in. Try both methods and see what works better for you.
Here are some advantages to your hair being really wet and not damp before applying the product:
- Your curl clumps will hold together better and give you more definition
- Hair is less prone to frizz and dryness
- Depending on your curl type, wet hair absorbs product better; generally, if you have tighter curls, this method gets better results.
Melissa Guido, who is a curl expert, told Glamour, “If you apply your product to hair that is the slightest bit dry, your product will not evenly saturate, and you will be left with frizzy, undefined curls.“
Here’s what she does: “A great rule of thumb to follow is if it looks frizzy when it’s wet, it’s going to be frizzy when it’s dry,” she says. “I personally like to comb through a leave-in conditioner, then rake in a curl cream with my fingers, and last, scrunch with a liquid gel. This provides moisture, enhances curl definition, and holds the style so your curls stay defined for days.”
Here are some advantages to your hair being damp when applying product:
- You can feel the product in your hair easier, so you’ll have a better idea of the coverage
- Damp styling will give some curls more volume; this is mainly true for wavy hair
My hair falls into the wavy category, so I apply product not when my hair is soaking wet but not when it’s damp. It’s kind of somewhere in between. 🙂
After conditioning, I squeeze a little water out and immediately wrap a mico-fiber towel around my head.
Then, right after getting out of the shower, I take off the towel and apply product. If my hair isn’t as wet as I’d like, I use my favorite mister bottle and wet it some more.
Phew! Step 4 was a long one…
Step 5: Apply Two Products
At the beginning of your curly hair journey, I believe that less is more. This is where I went wrong personally when I first started. I think I applied four different products, but it didn’t go so well.
So I recommend you start with two and add more later if you think you need it or want to experiment.
Product One: With your hair still wet or damp, rake a curl cream through your hair with your fingers and then scrunch upwards toward your roots.
Now there are dozens and dozens of curl creams out there. I can only vouch for what works for me. I really like LUS curl cream. It’s lightweight, not super sticky, and leaves my hair soft.
I also love the results it gives me on days I don’t wash my hair. I just wet it with the mister, apply a small amount of curl cream and I’m good to go.
Product Two: Use the praying hands method to apply a gel. There’s a really good video from LUS here that shows what that method is. She also gives some good info that might help you.
Side note: One thing I started doing after I applied products to my hair was taking my micro-fiber towel and scrunching a little of the product out. I noticed my hair has more volume when I do this. If you have wavy hair, you might want to give this a try!
Step 6: Air Dry or Diffuse
When I first started the curly hair journey, I refused to let heat touch my hair. I wanted to give it a break mainly because it was so fried and damaged from hair tools.
But, I now diffuse it and am so much happier with the results. Air drying doesn’t give me the volume I crave, while others swear by it. Again, experiment and see what works best for you! (Sick of me saying that yet? 😉 )
A tip if you air dry: For some added volume while air drying, flip your hair from one side and let it dry for a bit, and then switch it up and flip it to the other side.
A tip if you use a diffuser: Here’s a very detailed video about the different ways to diffuse your hair. I use the pixie diffusing method and sometimes add some claw clips for more volume.
As far as diffuser recommendations, use what you have or can afford.
I bit the bullet and purchased this one I’ve been drooling over for quite some time. I love it so much. My hair has so much volume but without the frizz. It’s easy to hold. I also travel quite a bit and it’s not as bulky as my previous one.
Step 7: Scrunch Out the Crunch
Most likely, after applying products and drying your hair, you’ll feel a little bit of a crunchy cast on your strands. That’s ok! It’s supposed to be there. (Although some products claim not to leave a cast which they think is better for your hair. It’s one of those debates in the curly hair world.)
If you read through the beginner series, then you know all about the Scrunch out the Crunch method.
I think this just might be my favorite part of the curly girl method because 1) it means I’m done styling my hair 😮💨 and 2) it’s so satisfying to feel the crunch leave and soft, shiny, and bouncy curls appear.
If this is your first time washing and styling your curly hair this way, I’m sure you’re overwhelmed with all these steps and information. I know I was! But soon, it’ll become second nature.
Also, remember, you only need to do this whole routine about once a week. We’ll get into what to do on the other days soon.
Good luck, and let me know if you have any questions!