Struggling to manage your curls? Learn how to care for curly hair the right way with these five steps for your wash day routine.
If you let it, the time involved washing natural, kinky, curly hair can rival the endurance of a cycler.
Between detangling, deep conditioning, and drying, hours and frustration can both build. Growing up with coarse, coily locks myself, I have cringeworthy memories of having my hair detangled with sharp bristled brushes—all in the name of achieving a smooth, sleek look.
But thankfully, products and tools have since advanced in creating a more efficient and healthier process for curly hair to thrive and grow.
5 Essential Steps for Your Curly Hair Wash Day
Read on for five steps to consider when washing and caring for your curly hair.
Pre-poo is a shortened term for pre-shampoo. It involves parting hair into sections and applying water- or oil-based conditioning products to prime hair before shampooing.
The benefits of pre-poo include:
- better manageability
- more softness
- increased moisture
- less breakage + dryness
You should also finger-detangle your hair during this stage to make your post-wash curls easier to manage.
2. Care for Your Scalp + Co-Wash
Proper scalp care is especially important for curly hair, as it grows differently from the follicle and lends itself to hair fragility. Using a separate product dedicated to cleansing the scalp creates a healthy foundation for curly hair to grow by removing excess product and buildup.
Conversely, co-washing—which involves cleansing your hair with conditioner or a cleansing conditioner—gently cleans the rest of your hair without stripping curls of its much-needed moisture. Depending on your wash day frequency, co-washing can take the place of daily conditioning.
Over longer periods of time in between washings, incorporate deep conditioning. Deep conditioners may come in the form of a mask, and are often combined with steam or heat to improve the penetration of the product. Such products are essential to replenish and restore your tresses.
Detangling your hair can be tedious—especially if you skipped the first step of this curly hair wash day routine.
However, if you finger-detangled your hair as directed in the pre-poo prep, you should notice fewer knots and tangles in this stage of your curly hair routine. But at this point, you want to do a more fine-tuned detangle to ensure you’re completely knot-free.
Curly hair detangling tips include:
- applying water-based products with slip, which lends to how lubricious your hair feels after product is applied
- using a wide-toothed comb, starting from the end of your hair working your way to the root as you detangle
4. Hydrate + Moisturize
It’s important to note the difference between hydration and moisture—both of which are important for hair care.
First, hydration involves increasing the moisture content of your hair. It involves ingredients known as humectants, which draw moisture to your strands.
On the other hand, moisturizing involves smoothing your strands. It typically involves ingredients that are emollient (aka soothing and softening).
Tip: Products with silicone can impart a false sense of moisture, so curly-haired folk should use water-based products and lightweight creams or oils to moisturize their curls.
As someone with coarse, coily hair, I prefer wearing my hair in a protective style, which involves keeping the ends of my curly hair tucked.
However, the beauty in curly hair lies its versatility. Whether you sport a wash ‘n go, a weave, or another style of your choosing, using the curly hair wash day steps above should create a healthy environment for your natural curls to thrive.