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Living a natural lifestyle means being intentional about several different aspects of your life, including your diet, physical fitness and even clothes. But have you given much thought to the ways you take care of your hair? Specifically, curly hair can be a challenge for anyone to maintain, and turning towards natural options eliminates plenty of products that you might otherwise rely on.

The good news is that naturally curly hair looks best when styled without synthetic chemicals. If you’ve been blessed with beautiful bouncing ringlets, this article will help you get the most out of your mane, all without putting your body or the environment at risk.

afro american woman with natural hair

Why is Naturally Curly Hair Different Than Other Types?

Hair is hair, right? Wrong. In truth, naturally curly hair is structurally different than straight varieties. The human scalp produces natural oils called sebum that are designed to spread down the shaft of the hair in order to keep it soft and hydrated. Brushing your hair aids the spread of these oils and keeps both your scalp and hair healthy. However, curly hair tends to get tangled and twisted, making it harder for oils to naturally distribute themselves down each shaft. For this reason, people with naturally curly hair often struggle with chronically dry strands and an exceptionally greasy scalp. Therefore, the key to managing curly hair is balancing these two concerns of dry hair and a greasy scalp for the maximum benefits.

Secrets to Keeping Curls Healthy

If your hair is naturally curly there’s no reason to reach for that straightener. The secret to coping with curls comes down to following these main tips.

Keep Away From the Hair Brush

Though curly hair tends to miss out on the beneficial oils from your scalp, brushing your strands is NOT the answer for hydration. Hairbrushes on dry curls are a disaster, both for your appearance and your hair. Not only do hair brushes create frizz by breaking up curl patterns, they also tend to snap strands when they get caught on tangles, which results in unsightly split ends and even more frizz. If you need to work through some tangles, re-wet your strands before touching them with a gentle tool like a wide tooth comb.

Suds Up Sans Shampoo

Don’t believe what the commercials are telling you; shampoo doesn’t need to be used nearly as much as you think it does. In fact, some curly haired people can get away without using it at all. Most shampoos contain sulfates like sodium lauryl, which works as a harsh oil cleanser that’s too strong for curly hair. By stripping the natural moisture from the strands, conventional shampoos can rough up the cuticles on each strand and leave them dry and frizzy. A simple solution? Lather up your strands with a “co-wash” and substitute your regular shampoo for a high quality conditioner instead. The friction of lathering your curls with conditioner and thoroughly rinsing them out will get your head just as clean as using a harsh shampoo.

Coat on the Conditioner

Not only is conditioner a great way to cleanse your curls, it also adds back much needed moisture. You can make up for the lack of natural scalp oils by using plenty of conditioner in the shower and adding a light leave in product for extra moisture. The heat of hot water naturally opens up your strands and causes nutrients to wash away, so coating them with conditioner helps those nutrients to come back. When adding conditioner, always start at the bottom of your hair and slowly work your way up in order to add hydration where your strands need it most.

Stay Away From Silicone and Parabens

Commercial hair products may get quick results, but they come at a cost for the health of your hair. Many hair products are full of silicone, a form of plastic that is added to products to coat your strands to make them shine. However, these chemicals aren’t easily washed off with natural products and tend to coat your strands, which blocks natural oils from getting in.

Parabens are chemicals used to preserve products and prevent bacteria from growing. Unfortunately, they have also been shown to cause some forms of cancer, and have been classified as an estrogen mimicker– meaning that they artificially elevate the levels of female hormones in your body. Clearly, the antibacterial benefits of parabens aren’t worth the risk to your health.

Depend on a Diffuser

Allowing curls to air dry is often best, but if you need to speed up the process it’s better to rely on a diffuser over a hair dryer. Regular nozzles can blast your strands and disrupt your curl pattern, but diffusers spread out the heat and help to dry your curls out evenly to create a fuller, frizz-less look. Start at your scalp and work towards your tips for the best results.

Untangle Only When Wet

Curly hair is notoriously temperamental, and playing with it too much will only result in frizz. To keep your look under control, only detangle your hair when wet and coated in conditioners, preferably with a wide toothed comb or simply your fingers. If a comb isn’t enough to do the trick, you can use this comb/brush combo for non-damaging detangling results. Resist the urge to touch it once your strands begin to dry, or you’ll irritate the hair shafts and cause more frizz.

Turn Away From Towels

Friction is bad news for curly hair, and drying your hair with a terrycloth towel can do more damage than you know. Instead, wring out excess water with a clean T-shirt or a microfiber towel that gets rid of water without the risk of breakage or frizz.

Top Homemade Recipes For Natural Curls

You don’t need to rely on expensive products to keep your hair in shape; there are plenty of ways to make your own hydrating and curl defining solutions right at home without relying on the toxic synthetic chemicals found in hair products on drug store shelves.

Beer

Strange but true; beer is actually better for your hair than it is for your liver. Not only does it revitalize curls, it also replenishes their moisture level, causing them to become shinier and bouncier. The key to this recipe is to use dark, non-alcoholic beer.

  1. Wash your hair with shampoo like normal.
  2. Slowly add beer to your strands, thoroughly coating each one.
  3. Let the mixture sit on your head for at least five minutes before rinsing it off with cold water.
  4. Use twice a month for best results.

Apple Cider Vinegar

For a natural cleansing that won’t strip your curls of moisture, nothing can beat apple cider vinegar. The natural acidity restores your hair pH levels and gives you a healthy shine, all without weighing your strands down.

  1. Blend one part apple cider vinegar with one part water.
  2. Shampoo as normal, and then use the blend as a hair rinse.
  3. Massage it into your scalp and let sit for several minutes before thoroughly rinsing out.
  4. For best results, follow these instructions every other week.

avocado for curly hair conditioning

Avocado

For a truly hydrating boost for your coils, avocado is exceptional. You’ll be amazed what difference this boost of moisture will make for your curl pattern.

  1. Mash an avocado and mix it with 2 TBS of yogurt to make a creamy paste.
  2. Apply to hair and let sit for an hour before shampooing like normal.
  3. For an extra boost of hair nutrition, you can add a banana to this mix as well.

Hot Oil Massage

Curly hair dries out quickly, but a regular hot oil massage will bring that hydration right back while helping to avoid frizzing. The best oils for this process are olive, coconut or almond oil.

  1. Gently warm a few tablespoons of oil for three minutes in the microwave.
  2. Allow oil to sit out until the temperature cools down enough to be comfortable to touch.
  3. Add the oil to your strands and massage into your scalp.
  4. Put on a shower cap to keep the oil in place, and wrap in a towel.
  5. Leave in place for an hour before rinsing out and shampooing like normal.

Honey

The natural humectant properties of honey make it a great way to add some moisture back into your hair, making it manageable no matter how bad your tangles get.

  1. Gently warm some honey and mix equal parts with olive oil or coconut oil.
  2. Massage into your hair, being sure to focus on the scalp.
  3. Cover with a shower cap and leave in for 30 minutes.
  4. Wash out with a mid shampoo and style as normal.

Eggs

The benefits of eggs go far beyond filling your belly. Their high protein and fat content is great for your hair, and eggs add moisture that eliminates frizz.

  1. Whisk one egg with 2 TBS olive oil and 1 TBS mayonnaise.
  2. Add to hair and let sit for thirty minutes before thoroughly washing with cold water.

This remedy works best once a week.

Aloe Vera

Adding aloe to your hair provides a boost of healthy vitamins and nutrients, all without any synthetic ingredients.

  1. Massage fresh aloe vera gel into your hair and leave in place for fifteen minutes.
  2. Rinse off in tepid water and wash your hair with a gentle shampoo.

Carbonated Water

If you’re looking for a simple way to clarify your curls without any special ingredients, carbonated water might be the solution you’re seeking.

  1. Blend equal parts non-flavored carbonated water with plain.
  2. Shampoo and rinse with regular water.
  3. For a final rinse, use the diluted carbonated water.
  4. Let dry naturally, and follow this remedy a few times a week.

In Summary

Naturally curly hair can be tricky to manage, but there’s no reason for you to reach for a bottle filled with questionable ingredients. Natural curly hair care methods are simple and effective, and are sure to get your hair moisturized and glowing in no time.

About Author

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Lydia Noyes is an Appalachian homesteader and writer that lives on a land trust deep in the mountains of West Virginia.