Consider this your ultimate guide to getting healthy, bouncy spirals.
Anyone with curly hair has heard it: "Your hair is so pretty, I wish I had curly hair!" It's meant to be a compliment, but curly girls know that having a good curly hair day is so much harder than it looks. Curls can be unpredictable, unruly, and difficult to control, and there are days when your wild curls probably feel less than enviable.
The difference between fighting with your curls and loving your curls really lies within your hair care routine. Finding the right products and hairstyles makes managing curly hair so much easier, and treating your curls right makes your hair so much healthier, in turn. Below, you'll find simple tips that will keep your waves and curls looking shiny and strong. Then, advance to seven easy curly hairstyle ideas you can tackle before the morning coffee's ready.
Best hair tips for styling curly hair
Curly hair is different from other hair textures. It requires more hydration, less washing, and, if we're being honest, more patience than straighter hair types. But curly hair doesn't have to feel like a curse! These tips, products, and pointers will help you find the best curls of your life with minimal effort — some will even give you better hair while you get your beauty sleep.
Always comb your hair from the bottom up.
"Curly hair is the most fragile type on the block, and each curl is a potential breaking point," explains Renee. "Using a wide-tooth comb is the gentlest way to detangle curls and it doesn't disrupt the natural curl pattern as much as a brush would." That means you should save brushes for straight styles, or just taming flyaways.
Get regular trims to avoid split ends.
Damaged hair is never a good look (not to mention split ends can make your hair frizzy!). If you want healthy curls that look bouncy and fresh, head to the hairstylist every six to eight weeks for a quick trim.
Use product "cocktailing" to define and hydrate curls.
"Product cocktailing is simply mixing two or more products together to meet your specific styling needs," explains hairstylist Andrita Renee. Her two favorite cocktails: smoothing serum plus mousse, and coconut oil plus styling gel. Together, these products allow for supreme hold without leaving your hair dry or crunchy.
If you don't have the patience for cocktailing, your best bet for a one-step solution is a serum, which helps to not only smooth your curls but gives them definition and separation. "Use three or four pumps at a time. Emulsify the product in your hands and gently take it through your curls," advises New York City-based hairstylist and colorist Patrick Kyle, who recommends Nexxus Humectress Encapsulate Serum to hydrate curls and add shine.
Alternatively, you can apply styling cream to hair with wet hands: the combination of the product plus the water ensures that curls stay frizz-free while refreshing the curl pattern, and styling cream is great because it helps curls hold their form without giving any crunch.
Incorporate a conditioning treatment into your regimen.
When your hair goes through a dry or dull phase, what you don't want to do is weigh it down with a ton of product. Simply use your fingertips to apply a dime-size blob of styling cream or oil to your ends (wet or dry hair is fine!), giving them extra moisture and bounce.
If you — like most curly girls! — find that your curls are routinely looking dried-out or frizzy toward the ends, you should probably incorporate a leave-in conditioner into your product cocktail. If your hair is thinner or you're looking for a lightweight hydration, spritz an easy-to-use conditioning spray (like Good Housekeeping Seal-holder Garnier Whole Blends Gentle Detangling Hair Milk) all over the hair, focusing on the ends. For more hydration and definition, smooth a cream-based leave-in conditioner onto soaking wet hair, being careful to use the "praying hands" method as not to disrupt the curl pattern.
Try the "pineapple trick" to keep curls defined overnight.
"Pineappling" is a technique in which the hair is loosely gathered at the highest point of the head, usually before sleep. This protects the curl pattern while helping your hair maintain natural volume while also preventing excessive bedhead. Simply take the pony out and give hair a shake when you're ready to wear it down.
To keep hair looking even more pristine between wash days, our experts recommend using a scrunchie for this technique to prevent hair breakage and ponytail creasing. And if you're not sleeping on a silk pillowcase already, it's time to make the switch: These super-smooth pillowcases are proven to reduce bedhead by reducing friction on the hair overnight, which makes hair look sleek and hydrated day after day.
Use a diffuser to even out your curl pattern and add more body.
If you're not using the attachments that come with your hair dryer, you're missing out. By dispersing your hair dryer's stream of hot air into a larger space, a hair diffuser can "minimize a lot of the frizz that comes when curly hair is naturally air dried," explains stylist Britt White. Plus, it can help even out your curl pattern and boost the volume of heavy curls, giving more body to your hair.
How to use your diffuser: First squeeze out the extra moisture in your hair after showering using a microfiber towel in scrunching motions. Don't use a traditional towel, and don't turban your hair: While these popular techniques may work for your straight-haired friends, it will disrupt your curl pattern and cause frizz for you.
Apply your favorite hair products and thermal hair protectant — you should be using a heat protectant any time you use heat tools on your delicate curls to protect hair from damage. Plop your strands into the diffuser, cupping the tool around your hair. Repeat until you've got defined curls all over. It's OK if your hair isn't 100% dry: Letting curls air dry a bit can prevent frizz, too.
Refresh curls with a curling iron or wand.
It may sound silly to curl already-curly hair, but when they've gotten saggy or unruly, it's a great way to perk them up. "Pick a curling iron that's about the same diameter as your curls," says Sabina Yannone, a Los Angeles-based hairstylist who specializes in curly hair. "If you think your curls are too tight, go up one size to stretch." If you want tighter curls, choose a smaller-sized barrel.
A curling wand is a great tool to fine-tune naturally curly hair: It allows you to reshape curls exactly where they need some TLC, whether it be at mid-strand, the root, or the end, without having to roll the entire strand up in the iron. The result is perfectly defined curls in just a few minutes' time.
By Sam Escobar and Jessica Teich for goodhousekeeping