Tips For Choosing Products for Curly Hair

Choosing the right hair products is so tough because there is just so much choice out there. When you are faced with hundreds of different products with ingredients you’ve never heard of, how are you supposed to know which ones are right for your hair and which ones will only cause more damage? In recent years, there has been a move towards natural ingredients instead of chemicals that can dry your hair out, but which ingredients are healthy for your hair and which ones are bad? 
This is a struggle for everybody, but it’s particularly difficult if you have curly hair. Managing curly hair is difficult because it is prone to drying out and if you use the wrong products, you won’t get the nice defined curls that you want. Unfortunately, a lot of women don’t know how to choose the right products and so they can never get their hair to look the way that they want it to. If you are struggling with your curly hair, follow these tips to help you pick the right products. 


Know Your Hair Type


Before you can pick the right products for your hair, you need to understand your hair type and its specific needs. A lot of people don’t realize that hair is broken down into categories based on the shape of the hair as it grows from the follicle. If it is very oval shaped, you will have curlier hair than you would if it was more circular. 

The basic hair types are type 1 (straight), type 2 (wavy), type 3 (curly), and type 4 (coiled). However, there are sub-classifications within each type, from A to C. So, caring for 4c hair is slightly different from 4b or 4a hair, for example. Somebody that falls in the type 3 category will have completely different needs from somebody in the type 2 category too, and the products you use will be different too. 




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Understanding what your hair type is so you know what your specific care needs are is vital if you are going to be able to choose effective products. You can use this guide to help you determine what your hair type is and what that means in terms of a care routine. 



Avoid Sulfates At All Costs


Whenever you are buying hair products, you should always start by checking the ingredients list. There are a few things to watch out for but you should avoid sulfates at all costs. Unfortunately, sulfates are in a lot of shampoos because it’s the ingredient that makes them lather up. Sodium lauryl sulfate doesn’t actually clean your hair in any way, it’s only there to give the foamy effect to the shampoo and it can actually irritate and dry out most hair because it strips all of the natural oils, but it’s especially bad for people with curly hair. This is the reason why most people with curly hair struggle to retain moisture. Once you start using sulfate-free shampoo products, you will notice an immediate improvement. The good news is, people are starting to wake up to the impact that sulfates have on their hair, so more and more sulfate-free options are hitting the shelves. 



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Be Careful About Products With Alcohol


Alcohol is another ingredient that you need to watch out for in hair products. Alcohol is used in shampoo because it mixes with water and washes away oils. In some cases, it can be an effective moisturizer for hair, but in most cases, it has the opposite effect. Alcohols evaporate very quickly, which leaves your hair dry and frizzy if you wash with them on a regular basis. This is a big problem for people with curly hair that is already prone to dry out, so always check for alcohol. 



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However, it isn’t as simple as just avoiding all alcohols because some of them will actually make your hair softer and more manageable, which is a big bonus for people with unruly curls. Look for cetyl alcohols and benzyl but avoid anything else if you want to improve your hair. 



Use Hydrating Shampoos 


Curly hair is affected by humidity much more than straight hair is. It’s very porous, so it easily absorbs moisture and gets frizzy. On the other hand, it also dries out incredibly quickly in a hot environment, leading to dry, brittle hair. It’s important that you find a way to manage the moisture levels in your hair to keep it looking nice. 


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People with curly hair are more prone to dry hair because it is harder for the natural oils to distribute evenly throughout the whole hair strand. This means that retaining water after washing is even more important, so you should always use hydrating shampoos on curly hair. 


It’s also a good idea to use a moisturizing treatment on your hair on a regular basis to keep it healthy. You can buy some great hair masks or you could make your own DIY one at home using this recipe. Making your own conditioning treatment at home means that you can be 100% sure that it doesn’t contain any chemicals that could damage your hair even more.



Check The Protein Levels


Everybody knows that your body needs protein to repair itself and stay healthy, but did you know that your hair benefits from protein too? In some cases, having a shampoo with lots of protein in is a good thing because it repairs damaged hair. However, if you have curls, you need to be very careful about the protein levels in your hair products. Too much protein will make your hair dry and stiff, making it very difficult to work with. 



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Identifying protein in shampoo can be difficult because it is present in a lot of ingredients and it has many names. It’s fairly straightforward if you see wheat protein, soy protein, or quinoa protein listed in the ingredients, but you might not realize that keratin, amino acids, and oat flour are also high protein ingredients. Make sure that you are thorough when checking the ingredients list so you can avoid protein build-up in your hair. 


Use Shampoo With Slip


Curly hair is very difficult to manage, especially if you don’t use the right shampoo. Finding a shampoo with slip is so important because it allows you to comb through your curls easily.  Slip refers to how lubricious the product makes your hair feel after applying. This is primarily used to describe hair products (i.e. daily conditioner, deep conditioner, or leave-in conditioner), which are usually applied during washing and detangling. The slipperier the product, the easier it is to run your fingers, a wide-tooth comb, or brush through your mane. If you have curly, wavy, or coily hair then you know this to be true because we tend to deal with tangles, snarls, and knots more so than our straighter-haired lovelies. Untangling all of the knots is far more difficult if you use a shampoo without slip and this leads to a lot of tugging and hair breakage. It also takes you a lot longer to wash your hair in the morning because you spend ages wrestling with all of the tangles. You will also find that you don’t need to use as much conditioner when you use a shampoo with slip. This is a big benefit because reducing the amount of product you use in your hair helps it stay healthier.  



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Stick To Natural Ingredients As Much As Possible


People get the wrong idea about chemicals and they assume that anything man-made is automatically bad for you, but that isn’t the case. There are chemicals that are good for your hair and won’t damage it. However, a large percentage of the chemicals that are used in hair products are there for lathering up or fragrance, and they’re not good for your hair. The good news is, there are plenty of natural ingredients that offer the same benefits as the chemicals without any of the potential downsides. Things like avocado, aloe vera, and coconut oil, for example, are all excellent moisturizers. Natural ingredients also nourish your hair with vitamins and nutrients that they don’t get from chemical ingredients. So, even though chemicals are not always bad news, sticking to natural ingredients is the best way to make sure that your hair has everything it needs. 



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Experiment With Different Products And Routines



Unfortunately, there is no magic formula for dealing with curly hair because everybody’s curls are unique. It’s important to follow the rules on this list, but the most important thing is to experiment with different products and styles to find what works with you. Just because somebody else with curls swears by a product, that doesn’t mean that it will transform your hair. 



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Using the curly girl method is the best way to improve the health of curly hair, and you can find lots of great advice on this here. When it comes to changing your products, you should always change one at a time. If you start changing all of your products at once and your hair suddenly improves or gets worse, you won’t know which product is making the difference. If you are methodical about it and you change products one at a time, you can gradually work out which ones are best for your hair and build a routine that is perfect for you. This is going to take time, so don’t be disheartened if you don’t get your ideal style right away. 










As long as you follow these rules for choosing hair products, you can get the beautiful curls you have always wanted. 









This is a collaborative post but all opinions are my own. Graphics via Pixabay.


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I was raised in Tennessee but have lived in Florida for many years. Love my small home in the Tampa Bay area and its developing garden. My decorating style is eclectic - some vintage, some cottage, all with a modern flair. Pursuing a healthier lifestyle. Spent many years in social services but am happily retired.

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