Updated curly hair opinions

I wrote about hair in October 2015. I’ve switched up my routine a bit since then, so here’s a whole new wave of insanity hot off the press.

Disclaimer: Always get second and third opinions — I have wavy thin fine curls. My solution might not work for all hair types.

No-poo? What to know

For heading into no-poo territory, the MOST important thing to think about, if you haven’t already: Treat your hair as three separate regions that need to be addressed differently.

  1. Scalp – from your brain to about an inch off your head. where sweat, dirt and excess oil build up. Needs to be kept clean for hair health and general wellbeing!
  2. Body – where the curls happen. This is where you apply styling and conditioning products to retain curl shape.
  3. Ends -The last 1-3 inches of your hair. Get driest fastest. May need extra oil love to prevent split ends and avoid dull appearance.

The no-poo movement (not a card-carrying member, but appreciate the sentiment) is about avoiding daily use of harsher shampoos that strip your hair beyond what it needs to do. Shampoo is almost 90% for your scalp and removing dirt and buildup, but the lathered product can cause hair shafts to get damaged with rough washing. No-poo is about more delicate products in moderation for better hair health.

Curly girls are over-marketed products like gel and mousse — which have high amounts of alcohol in them, which can dry hair out — and “de-frizz” sprays and synthetic oils. I say trash ’em both. The idea that your curls have to look a certain way can lead to heavy product overload…which makes your scalp unhappy!

Here are my curl best practices with advice sprinkled throughout. Again, just a reminder: I’m legit insane, a bit of a product junkie, and this is only one opinion.


  • I don’t stand with my hair under hot water and try to rinse as lukewarm as I can handle it. Heat affects how your natural curl forms. Curls love cold water!
  • If I’m in the shower for 10 minutes, maybe a minute or two of that is water actually running through my hair. I mostly step aside so the water’s on my body and not flushing out my fancy conditioners.
  • Curls need time to soak up conditioners. Anytime I conditioner my hair I wait at least two minutes before rinsing it out.
  • I almost always wash and condition my hair flipped upside down. This helps retain curl shape, lift my hair off my head and rinses icky things off of my scalp instead of into it.

Shampoo or cowashing

  • Everyday cleansing cowash in place of shampoo: RenPure cleansing conditioner in rosemary mint (Target). After I get my hair soaked, I move my hair away from the water and use about 5-7 pumps focused solely on my scalp. I lightly use my fingernails all over my scalp, gently scrubbing for a minute, then leave it in for two more minutes to fully get in there.

**A no-poo washing solution like a cowash only works if you do a good job of cleaning your scalp with an adequate amount of product.**

  • Then I rinse out upside down, combing the rest through my body and ends until the water runs clear-ish.
  • Shampoo as needed: Yes, I still have a shampoo for after heavy workouts, concerts, days out in the sun, etc. I use a quarter-size amount of Shea Moisture’s moisture retention shampoo (CVS). It’s very low-impact and doesn’t leave your hair feeling squeaky.


  • Conditioner: two pumps of Everyday Alaffia Shea Conditioner in Lavender (Whole Foods), ONLY applied to body and ends. Conditioner is thick and intense — your scalp doesn’t benefit from over-conditioning. I leave it in for 5 minutes before rinsing out.
  • Deep conditioner: I use Aussie’s 3-minute miracle (CVS) once every 5-7 days when I start feeling dry. It’s cheap and effective and doesn’t have nasty stuff in it. Only applied to the bottom half of my hair. I leave it in for 10+ minutes because I’m a cool rebel.


  • Shea Moisture’s African Water Mint Leave-In Detangler. I use a nickel-sized amount focused solely on my scalp and it is tingly and glorious.
  • Garnier Sleek n Shine Leave-in is cheap and amazing and smells like vacation. A tiny bit of it goes a long way. I once lasted a weeklong trip with this as my only hair product.
  • Both of these leave-ins (applied after water’s off and water’s been scrunched out, before drying with shirt) will give your clean, conditioned curls body and shape, replacing the role of a gel.
  • Consider using coconut oil or another curl oil just on the very very ends of your strands (last inch or two) where you’re fraying or splitting to keep things healthy.


Don’t! Use! Towels!

  • Terry cloth is harsh for curls — it pulls them apart and creates frizz. Once you lightly squeeze and scrunch water out of your hair — never, ever wring — your curls must become untouchable.
  • What I mean by that is the very worst thing to do to your hair, especially thin curls, once you get out of the shower is to fuss with it. You want to make sure everything is moisturized before you turn the water off and then pretty much leave the curls alone.
  • Use a tshirt to dry only your scalp and the back of your head where you hair is heaviest. Go squeeze by section, or flip your head over and scrunch close to your head.
  • Do. not. touch. your ends. They’ll dry very quickly on their own and don’t need drying with any fabric!
  • Don’t run your fingers or God forbid, a brush through your hair’s body. All your detangling already happened in the shower!
  • Since my hair is whisper thin, I twist up my ends into a hair clip that lifts my hair off my scalp. That way I keep my ends from frizzing while drying the wet crown of my head.
  • If you shower at night, wrap your hair gently in a tshirt to wake up with curls that haven’t been totally frizzed to death in your sleep. See: plopping.


For your driest, frizziest times or dullest curls. Microwave coconut, grapeseed or olive oil (or raw shea butter) with a squirt of your favorite leave-in for 20 seconds. Work into your ends first, then your body. Wrap up with a hot towel right out of the dryer if you can. *Shampoo* out after about an hour and condition as usual.


If things are dry, tangly or just plain bad before you go to sleep, you can lightly spritz or wet your hair with water and add a lot of conditioner to your ends, comb with fingers, braid and sleep that way. In the morning, your hair will be so much happier! Plus, less detangling work in your shower.

Getting started

If you were going to buy three things to get started on revamping your routine, I’d buy RenPure’s cowash, Shea Moisture’s mint leave-in for your scalp and Garnier’s Sleek n Shine leave-in for your body and ends. All available on one Target run for $20 total. Start there daily and experiment with amounts.

Curl care is all about leave-ins, proper rinsing and drying techniques, and keeping your scalp free of dirt and sweat.

Any advice to add, drop it below!


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