The Dos and Don’ts For Styling Curly Hair – How to Do It Right Without Damaging Your Curls

Jane Schlosser
By Jane Schlosser Updated on 8 Mar 2021
The Dos and Don’ts For Styling Curly Hair – How to Do It Right Without Damaging Your Curls
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Curly hair is one of the most unpredictable things ever.

I know you may be thinking, “Okay, Jane, that seems to be a little bit of an exaggeration,” but us curly girls know it to be the truth!

Making the comparison of having wild curly hair to having a child may not be appropriate, but it seems severely accurate.

After all, your curls are like a baby, and they need just about the same attention and maintenance.

One day, your hair may be extremely maintainable and even enjoyable to handle! The next day, it’s on the furthest extreme, and that is curls that are stubborn, unruly, and downright uncontrollable.

While there is no special trick to keep consistent results every time you style, some handy tips can help you achieve more controlled and steady outcomes.

I am here to share the top 8 mistakes to avoid when styling curls and solutions on how to avoid damaging them.

So here goes …

1. Never Use Products With Silicones Or Sulfates

styling natural hair sulfate free silicone free

One of the easiest things to do when dealing with curly hair is to overlook our product ingredients.

Who wants to look like a hair health freak in the middle of Target, checking the label of your shampoo and trying to read that 1 point font?

While it may take a couple of extra minutes to figure out what the label says, it’s essential to read what you are putting in your hair!

Instead:

Look for organic natural hair products.

When looking for new shampoos and conditioners, seek out the ones that mention sulfate-free and silicone-free.

2. Do Not Detangle In A Damaging Manner

broken hairbrush from detangling curly hair

Listen, hair frustration is a THING.

When your curls are all tangled up after a week of wear, they do not cooperate in the slightest, which could result in some pretty intense detangling.

I am so guilty of this, but rough detangling is hugely damaging, and you should avoid doing so.

Instead:

Use a wide-tooth comb and thoroughly saturate your curls in the shower with conditioner, detangle in sections starting from the bottom up.

It allows for a more comfortable and less damaging process by combing out your hair as you work your way up instead of forcing all of the tangles to the ends of your hair and then vigorously combing it out.

Trust me; your ends will be grateful.

3. Never Towel Dry!

towel drying curly hair

Towels, especially cotton ones, create so much unnecessary friction and frizz on your curls.

They make your curls prone to getting matted and tangled up throughout the week, which will provide you with quite the arm workout on detangling day.

Instead:

Use a microfiber towel after your shower, or any 100% cotton t-shirt works as a perfect alternative!

4. Never Apply Products to Anything Less Than Soaking Wet Hair

apply product to curly hair

Never apply styling products on semi-dry hair.

If your hair is already even a little bit dry before you apply the product, the outcome will already be frizzier than what we like.

Instead:

Straight out of the shower, wrap your hair in a t-shirt or microfiber towel. When you are ready to style, take it down and use a spray bottle to rewet your curls.

A good indicator of knowing if your hair is wet enough is this:

When you apply any product to your hair, you should hear a scrunching noise, if that makes sense.

Here, maybe this will help. It should sound like “chwwwwwwwwwwweeeesh.”

Another indicator your hair is wet enough is water running out of your hair when you go to scrunch. Pretty much, your hair should be as wet as it is when you got out of the shower.

5. Don’t Be Lazy With Your Hair Care Routine

lazy hair products

After a 20-minute shower of shampooing, conditioning, and detangling, it is easy to be ready for the hairstyling process to be finished when you exit the shower.

This could result in some poorly distributed styling product that leaves half of your curls popping and the others well – flopping.

You want to avoid a lazy job of product distribution throughout your hair because that is one vital piece that will make or break your results.

Instead:

Section off your hair when you apply the product will ensure that all of your curls get coated. I recommend finger combing or using a styling brush to distribute the product and then scrunching with a cotton t-shirt or microfiber towel to collect the excess that wasn’t absorbed by your hair.

6. Don’t Treat All Curls The Same

different types of curls styling

Yes, of course, you should let all of your little curls know that they are the best curls EVER, and tell them how beautiful they are every day, but that is not what we are talking about when I say not to treat all of your curls the same. I mean that you do not want to rake through your hair in 2 minutes, then call it a day if you are seeking maximum definition.

Instead:

Take 5-10 minutes to define the curls that frame your face and the curls on the top layer of your hair. This means taking a little product and twirling those curls, individually, around your finger one by one until they are coated and defined. This will provide excellent results with minimal effort!

7. Use Your Diffuser To Your Advantage

curly hair drying with a diffuser

Okay, let me set the scene for you. It is 7:00 a.m. Alarm blaring.

You roll out of bed 45 minutes late, and you need to be out the door at 8.

For those of you who are like me, this is called a typical Tuesday morning. That means that I have mastered the art of quickly styling and drying my curls with satisfactory results by using the diffuser.

A big mistake people tend to make when they dry with a diffuser is creating too much friction too early on.

Initially, moving the diffuser around your head every 2 seconds and shaking out your hair before it has dried at all only creates more frizz.

Instead:

Ideally, we would like to use the cold setting, but that may not be in the question if you are running late.

In the mornings, when you are at the tail end of time, put your hair drier on the warm setting and move the drier around your hair, but not touching it. Once the outside is dry, you can begin carefully scrunching it upwards with the diffuser on me medium level. After a few minutes, you may flip your hair side to side and continue to do the same until dry.

8. Don’t Fall Asleep With Unattended Curls

best pillowcases for curly hair

Falling asleep with your hair down will create a whole disaster in the morning. I am speaking from personal experience because I am a dangerously vicious sleeper. No kidding, I probably get a few workouts in throughout the night from all of my crazy movement.

There is already a large amount of friction caused during the night, but leaving your hair down will make it even worse.

Instead:

Throw your hair up into a loose bun before bed; this will better protect your curls and help them maintain definition when you wake up. Also, invest in a silk pillowcase which will also reduce friction between itself and your hair as opposed to a cotton pillowcase which is like friction city. If you want to go the extra mile, get a silk bonnet that will allow you to wake up with almost ready-to-go curls!

Final Thoughts

Applying these tips into my day-to-day routine and avoiding the simple mistakes have made a world of difference in my hair’s manageability and appearance.

It is not difficult to get caught forgetting small steps, even if they are the basics, but those little steps make a huge difference when they are overlooked.