Those of us who have been blessed with curly hair know how much of a rollercoaster ride our relationship with our curls can be. One day you love your hair and fully embrace your curls, and the next, they cause you to have a mental breakdown and you consider going full 2007 Britney. No shame, because we’ve all been there.
You’ve probably spent a ton of time, effort, and, above all, money trying to figure out the precise number and order of products that will get your hair to look perfect every time (even though we all know that’s pretty much impossible, because your hair basically has a mind of its own). While the actual routine will vary from person to person, there are some things that we should all steer clear of. So, here are some curly hair don’ts from the experts.
1. Don’t Complicate Your Routine
Jessica Fitzpatrick, texture specialist at Beyond Texture Salon in Brooklyn, New York, wishes you would stop overcomplicating sh*t, and by sh*t, I mean your hair care routine. “I’m finding my clients are striving for this perfection in their routine when they are lacking consistency,” she says. Fitzpatrick says, “We tend to overcomplicate our product choices with all the YouTube tutorials and curl type hype when we haven’t established a status quo first.” Simple and consistent is the key here. I know it’s hard, but give your products some time to work before you abandon them and start anew with the next big thing on Instagram. According to Curls Understood, you may not see immediate results when using a product, and it’s best to give it about three months. If you aren’t in love with it by then, say thank you, next, and try something new.
2. Don’t Use Product With Toxic Ingredients
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We’ve all had to kick toxic people out of our lives, so consider throwing away hair products that contain toxic and harmful ingredients in them. Curl specialist Candace Witherspoon suggests that any product that has sulfates, parabens, silicones, propylene glycol, ethanol alcohol, and added fragrances need to go. Sticking to more natural and clean hair products is the best way to keep your hair healthy.
Dhiran Mistry, stylist at David Mallett Salon in New York City, agrees with Witherspoon and suggests you keep away from products with those ingredients in them. He says that silicones will repel moisture from your hair, sulfates will pull out your hair’s natural oil, and alcohol will cause excess drying. AKA, all things that will make your curls look and feel unhealthy.
3. Don’t Use Chemical Processes
A step in accepting your curls and finding other ways to manage them is to throw away any chemical processes you’ve ever used (keratin treatments, relaxers, etc.). According to Fitzpatrick, chemical processes lead to two terrible events: hair loss and thinning. “Chemical relaxers cause hair loss from the mid-shaft (breakage) and hair loss from the root (thinning),” she tells us, adding that these treatments can also lead to the recession of the hair line. Yes, receding hairlines aren’t just for creepy men on dating apps. Stay away!
4. Don’t Forget To Moisturize
As we approach the cooler months, Fitzpatrick wants you to be sure you’re assessing your moisture needs often, saying, “We tend to be in drier environments during this time of year.” She suggests using a deep conditioner more often and opting towards more cream-based stylers. She also suggests sleeping next to a humidifier, which will help provide extra moisture in your environment. And while we all love our oils and butter products, avoid using them. She tells us that, while they make your hair feel wonderful, they don’t improve the condition of the curls. They create the illusion of healthy hair and moisture, while in reality, they just sit on your curls and provide zero benefit.
5. Don’t Skip Out On Haircuts
I get it—no one likes getting a haircut. You go to get a *trim* and end up leaving with a curly bob. Like, have you ever cried after a haircut, or are you lying? Fitzpatrick suggests that in order to avoid this nightmare, it’s important to find a stylist that you communicate well with. No more sitting there scared sh*tless to speak up when everything is going wrong. She says, “Treat your first appointment with your stylist kind of as a first date.” Don’t hold back; tell them your deal breakers and expectations in this new relationship.
The list of benefits of getting your curls trimmed is long, but some continuously put off getting it done. Pandemic concerns aside, Fitzpatrick wants you to know that getting a trim will help encourage growth and longevity. Knowing this and being patient when it comes to seeing results will prevent future avoidance of getting a haircut in the future.
6. Don’t Sleep On A Cotton Pillow
Your life will change after sleeping on a silk or satin pillow. Not only will it help protect your curls while you toss and turn, it’ll change the appearance of your hair in the morning. No more unwanted frizz and untamable hair—it’s truly a miracle. Naturally Curly says that the friction between your hair and your normal cotton pillow case can leave your hair dry and brittle. Sleeping on a silk or satin pillow, though, will add an extra smooth layer that will allow your hair to maintain its moisture.
7. Don’t Use Heat
IDK who needs to hear this, but heat is damaging to your hair. Having straight hair once in a while can provide a break from taming our curls daily, but doing it frequently is literally killing your curls. Using heat constantly will take away your hair’s natural shape and bounce. “Daily use of any hot iron on curly hair will eventually damage curly hair. Steer clear of them!” Mistry tells us.
Yes, I’m talking to you, the one who never gives their hair a break. Every once in a while is fine, but this isn’t middle school anymore and you shouldn’t be flat-ironing your hair within an inch of its life every single day. Give those curls a break.
Images: Radu Florin / Unsplash; @curlyhair_memes (2) / Instagram