Ask Design Mom Week: Caring for Curly Hair

Hi Gabrielle. I’m really enjoying your Ask Design Mom week, and I have a question for you. What products do you use for your hair? Your curls always look beautiful, and I love that you wear it curly and don’t get it blown straight all the time. I also have curly hair and am always looking for product suggestions. Thanks, and good luck with the move. — Emily

Hi Emily! Thanks for the hair compliments. I feel like I’m having a hair crisis right now, so I appreciate the positive feedback. My haircare has been heavily influenced by the book Curly Girl. I don’t follow their instructions exactly, but I have adopted many of their guidelines. Two that I use daily are:

1) Pile on the conditioner. I use a light shampoo very infrequently, and then a heavy conditioner very frequently. Any thick conditioner will work. I leave it on in the shower for a few minutes. Then rinse it out. After I’ve towel-dried my hair I put in more conditioner, mixed with gel, and leave it in. On a particularly frizzy day, I might scrunch my dry hair with even more conditioner throughout the day.

2) Get rid of your brush. When I’m wearing my hair curly, I never brush it. I keep a wide tooth comb in the shower to work the conditioner through, but I don’t brush.

What about you Fellow Curly Girls? Do you have any favorite haircare products or haircare tips?

Images of curly haired peeps from Bumble & Bumble. Win a $300 shopping spree from Peek? Find out how here.

46 thoughts on “Ask Design Mom Week: Caring for Curly Hair”

  1. this is a good question and I like your tips.

    My brother-in-law got me addicted to the Be Curly products from Aveda. I use them whenever I wash my hair. I don’t care much for their shampoo and conditioner but all the other products like their leave in conditioner is awesome and totally takes away the frizz

  2. This is so funny, because I got asked this by a mom of a curly-haired girl (who didn’t know how to do her daughter’s hair). My number one rule is I never, ever use a brush (unless I’m blowing it dry straight, which I have no time to do!). I also love the Aveda Be Curly styling cream. It helps with the frizzies. Conditioner is the key!

  3. I’ve got wavy thin hair and my life changed when I started using Sebastian potion 9, it is a leave in cream and leaves my hair shiny, manageable, frizz-free.

  4. My daughter has curly hair. I use this with her

    love the capivating curls defrizz leave in creme and the captivating curls creme gel twist.

    If you want to spend a little more money, Aveda products are great (use them for myself).

    Again more expensive, but when I used to live in a very humid climate I loved the Sebastian Laminates Shampoo and Conditioner to help combat frizz.

    I don’t have curly hair, but my hair is so much healthier now that I’m not washing every day. Have been doing this for about 6 years now. I started out just washing every other day and touching up on the off days with a water spray bottle, round brush, and hair dryer. Now that we are living in New Mexico where it is VERY dry, I can go every 2 days.

    I also don’t wash my daughter’s hair every day. On the off days, we just wet it with a water spray bottle and comb it through with a big comb and rescrunch her curls.

  5. I use the aveda be curly shampoo and conditioner (but the styling cream doesn’t take out the frizz for me) (contrary to the other posters) and then a KMS styling cream for curly hair — and I too only comb my hair in the shower. I always air dry.

  6. My hair is wavy so it doesn’t need a whole lot of product, just a little to make it look pretty. I used to use gel but I don’t like the crunchy weighted down look. Lately I’ve been using Curls Rock by Catwalk. It’s light weight and makes my hair super soft plus it’s not too expensive. If I want extra curly hair I use a diffuser with my dryer on low. Otherwise I get a big poof ball…

  7. I have mystery hair, because it’s curly and OILY – not dry, so it behaves a little differently! Here’s what I just started doing a month or so ago and my hair has never looked better….
    shampoo every other day, and condition every other shampoo. I wet it in the shower every morning (no shower cap for me!) and i use MorrocanOil intense curl cream every day – it keeps my curls frizz free and nicely seperated and they feel silky and smooth all day – just like that “I just got my hair treated at a salon and feel like a milliion bucks” feel!
    Good Luck Ladies!

  8. I have super curly hair too, and I would second the conditioner advice. My all time favorite gel is Biolage Gelee. It runs about $15 a bottle, but it works really well to combat the frizz without being really crunchy.

  9. i just cut all of my curls off…18" of pony tail to a mia farrow in rosemary's baby! it's been awesome.
    i agree with no shampoo, lots of conditioner, wide tooth comb, throw that brush away, and keep your hands out of your hair!
    even though i'm loving my new do all the curly girls at my office are swearing by this new product living proof. it's given me a minor case of curl envy.
    check it out:

  10. My teenage daughter and I swear by “Ouidad” cut and products. We use a ton of conditioner and gel – can go 2-3 days between shampoos. I finally made peace with my curly hair as an adult, and I love seeing my daughter embrace and love her curls as a teenager! It’s all about the products – lots of conditioner and gel – and as little handling of the hair as possible!!

  11. I use a clarifying shampoo and a heavy conditioner–but only wash my hair about two times a week.

    I use a comb in the shower and make sure to rinse my hair again after combing to make the strands stick together more (I have the kind of curly hair that tends to separate into lots of poodle curls–like Guns N Roses Slash–if I’m not careful.)

    I don’t really ‘towel-dry.’ It makes my hair more frizzy.

    I turn my head upside down and GENTLY press the towel once or twice to scrunch the curl a bit. I then use a spray gel (Garnier spray gel for curly hair) and don’t TOUCH it until almost dry–about two hours. I find that if I try to blow dry my hair when it’s too wet I just get a head of nasty frizz.

    When it’s almost dry I’ll use a little mousse or gel and use a diffuser on warm/cool for a bit of lift. I’ll use a bit of pomade on my curls to help keep things smoother (I use Garnier Brilliantine Shine Wax) and to finish. I get really glossy, rarely frizzy curls by being gentle.

    The best part is the day after, and the day after: I’ll tip my head under the bath faucet to re-wet my hair, use the towel to press, and then let air dry again. The curls are even better the next, and next day.

    I can’t stress the importance of having someone who understands curls cut your hair. A professional will be able to create the right layers and use the right techniques to free your curls and avoid the dreaded triangle head.

  12. my hair is SUPER curly and i have similar advice. i also have used advice from that cute book “curly girl,” has great tips for different types of curls.

    i never shampoo my hair, only conditioner once or twice and comb through with my fingers in the shower. then i just use regular old gel, i have been using herbal essence recently and put it in RIGHT when i am out of the shower. my hair has to be wet when i put in the product- thats important. oh- and i never brush it. not even with a comb. that definitely causes problems for me! then i let it air dry for 10-20 min and then hairspray a bit and then blowdry the rest.

    i usually can go 2-4 days without showering my hair again just with a little hairspray. it usually looks better the following days!

  13. Good conditioner, wide toothed comb in the shower, scrunch my hair dry and immediately apply a curl creme and gel. In the past I have also used mousse in place of curl creme.

    Right now I am using curl defining creme and gelee (firm hold) from Biolage. I do have to switch it up once in a while because my hair gets used to the product. (I also like John Frieda, Samy products, and curly sexy hair mousse spray)

    I swear by my diffuser. It surrounds your curls with air instead of beating them down with it.

    For touch-ups I just put a bit of the curl creme (or mousse) on it. :)

  14. Pantene spray wax is excellent and cheap. Spray in while wet, and blow dry (with a diffuser, of course)for soft curls that don’t look wet or crunchy (or if you like the wet look, just leave it to dry on its own). Or, just have a bunch of babies – it worked for me! With each pregnancy my hair became much less curly.

    But the spray wax is probably a more reliable solution.

  15. Oops, I forgot to say that as you blow dry (on low heat and low setting), wrap sections of hair around your finger, to make the curls bigger so you don’t end up with frizz. If I have any frizzy spots, or places where the curls are weird, I finish with a quick curl of the curling iron (not my whole head – heavens! Just a few key spots), or more hair-twirling to incorporate crazy hairs.

    I’m loving this topic, as I have spent most of my life hating my hair and wishing someone (who actually had curly hair themselves) would give me some advice! Thanks, ladies (and gentleman)!

  16. I have curly hair and love it – it’s so easy! I wash my hair once a week or maybe twice in a week and half. I usually use mouse though. Favorites are Paul Mitchell’s medium hold (smells like coconut!) or Joico (smells like oranges!). But I switch products a lot. I also like Aveda products and Paul Mitchell’s gel – but when I use gel, I usually pari it with a curl activator lotion. I scrunch, scrunch, scrunch and sometimes will even twirl a couple of strands of hair to form ringlets. Then I blow dry with a difuser. That’s the key! And although I only wash it about once a week, on the in between days, I wet it with a spray bottle and re-blow dry. I also wear it up a lot. There are a lot of fun up-dos for people with curly hair.

  17. My daughter has very curly hair and I love the Curls products found here:

    I only shampoo 1-2 times a week with Curlicious Curls Cleansing Cream

    Every night (or sometimes every other night), I use Curl Ecstasy Conditioner in the bath and rinse it out after letting it sit on for a few minutes.

    After it’s towel dried, I use Curls Milkshake at her roots if her roots are really dry by her forehead.

    Then I use a little of the same conditioner I use in the bath mixed with Jojoba Oil (Found at my local health food store). I comb it through with a wide tooth comb.

    Because she’s only 6 and I give her a bath at night, I part her hair down the middle and put two braids in her hair. In the morning I take them out and her curls are soft and bouncy! Her stylist also recommended she use a satin pillowcase because a cotton one can dry out her hair.

    I have totally straight hair so it took me awhile to learn what works for her hair!

  18. i have actually had great success with John Frieda Frizz Ease. The best part is its really affordable in comparison to other products. I always diffuse and use hairspray as a tag team combo…. good luck!

  19. Gabby, that is what we do with our daughters hair too!!

    All three of my daughters have curly hair, so do I. My two daughters that are caucasan and I swear by the Bioloage Gelle (that spelling is totally wrong).It holds well and isn’t crunchy. My black daughter has very curly and dry hair and I swear by the Curlz products. They keep it shiny and conditioned. I have some friends (caucasan) who use it..but it is too heavy for my girls. Other comments have already posted the links for both of these lines…good stuff.

    My son’s hair is quite short, but if you want to keep boy hair in line, Aveda Finishing Cream is just right–and it smells good.

    Our rule of thumb is that you can’t use too much conditioner and we never use a brush…wide tooth combs forever!!

  20. I don't towel dry. lightly perss out the water but don't create a lot of friction. then use your fingers if you need to, but don't brush it out. as little as you can touch your curls the better. i put in a little product. let it dry & if i really want them to look good, I use a curling iron for touch-ups.

  21. My life changed instantly when I discovered the Remington Emi Airwave curling hair dryer. It’s only $23 at Target. You drop sections of your hair into the tube attachment which swirls it into smooth curls and dries it so fast. I used to wait nearly 3 hours for it to dry completely. I use whatever curl defining product I wish, dry, then use Phyto cream to pull the curls apart and finish it. This dryer is unreal!

  22. A great stylist who knows how to cut curly hair is absolutely necessary. I've moved many times & so when it's time to go in search of somebody new, I call around to the salons and ask if any of their stylists have naturally curly hair. It makes the world of difference — naturally curly-headed stylists know how to do it right!

    (The find-somebody-with-hair-like-mine trick also got my baby-fine straight-haired sister "the best haircut of my life!")

    I second all the Aveda recommendations (and I almost always find a curly stylist on staff at Aveda salons). I've used the "Elixir" leave-in conditioner mixed with gel before scrunching.

  23. For my curly hair, I leave conditioner in for a few minutes while I shave my legs, then rinse of course. After I get out of the shower, I put my hair in a towel turban and then when I’m ready to style it, I first wet it in the sink so it is dripping wet once again, towel dry it a little bit, and apply a little Pantene Curls gel, then a little Pantene Curls mousse. I’ve been using this trick for years and it works like a charm. The secret is all in wetting it that second time.

  24. Also, I never, ever blow dry my hair. I know that wouldn’t work for some, but it makes your hair more healthy and shiny if you can skip the blow.

  25. I have curly hair too, and the BEST product I have ever tried (and I’ve tried a LOT!) is made by Sunsilk, it’s their “Captivating Curls” line.
    And the great thing is that it is cheap!!

    They have shampoo and conditioner, but the products I use are the de-frizz leave in cream, which I put in while hair is wet. Then I use the scrunching mousse, I use a ton if it but the great thing about this product is it doesn’t leave your hair “crunchy” feeling. IT’S STILL SOFT! So I put the mousse in and then towel dry a little, and then DIFFUSE. The true key it too keeeeeeep drying until your hair is really dry. It makes it so soft and curly. I might use some hairspray at the end, because I live in Florida and it’s really humid = frizz.

  26. oh wow, i’ve been trying to get her to give up her hair regimine for a while now! i have pretty much the same hair, i don’t know what conditioner she means here, but i use a lot of it too, spray conditioner, again lots of it. i spray often to revive. my favorite is ICON replenishing spray. it’s really expensive when you see how fast it goes, but if you have the dough, it’s a good place to spend it!

  27. I’ve struggled with my very, very curly hair for years. Recently I’ve found products, advice, and a stylist that have made me actually enjoy (if not love) my curly hair. Here are my thoughts:

    1. I completely second the advice to check out Curly Girl.
    2. The author of the book, Lorraine Massey, also has her own salon and hair care line. I use her DevaCare products and LOVE them.
    3. I once stumbled upon this website, I order my DevaCare products through them. But they also have a wealth of other products for sale. More importantly, they have articles on how to identify the type of curl you have, which will influence how you style and what products you use. Most importantly, they have user reccomendations for stylists. I found my current stylist through them (she’s actually trained by Lorraine Massey!). I’ve NEVER walked out of a salon satisfied until I found her.

  28. The one thing that has made a world of a difference with my hair, being that I’m bi-racial and it can be difficult to care for curly hair, has been to NOT BRUSH IT! I only us a wide tooth comb in the shower to help the conditioner through, rinse, rub a dollop of conditioner back into my hair, and then exit the shower, get dressed and go. Hair is weakest when it’s wet, so if your brushing it then, that’s where the dryness, and breakage comes from. Also, i find my hair has such natural bounce and shine when I’m not violently brushing it when it’s wet trying to get all the tangles out. It dries naturally, the way curly hair should, and in time it has transformed the look, and feel of my hair.

  29. Ouidad ( are the BEST products for curly hair!! I have very curly hair and these products have completely changed my hair from a frizzie mess to beutiful curls! I can’t say enough good things about it. I don’t wash often, condition a lot and never use a brush. The balancing rinse and teh Tress FX styling are my two favorite products.

  30. I’m a hair dresser and I use Paul Mitchel’s Skinny Serum on my clients with both straight and curly hair. The hair is shiny and frizz free.
    A few of my clients swear by using Olive oil. There hair look great and it keeps the frizz under control.

  31. I love to use JOIWHIP by joico, I had tried every product out there and when I found this I stuck with it, sometimes I combine it with Curls Rock by Catwalk TIGI, but I use barely any of the curls rock and then put on the JOI WHIP, made my somewhat crazy hair to a beautiful masterpiece.

  32. I like the Aveda products too, but have used Deva Curl products for the past year. You put the conditioner in first, then shampoo, then condition again. Never brush, like everyone has said. I also take small section of hair (usually around my face) and gently twist them around my finger. They dry less frizzy.

  33. I have wavy hair that I’ve given up on wearing straight. I hate spending money on hair products… so I’ve tried all the cheap ones… and by far my favorite is: Garnier Fructis Curl Sculpting Cream. Just scrunch it in your fresh out of the shower hair… and let it dry. No crunching. Just perfect, soft curls. Love it.

  34. I’m a renegade hair care curly headed one. I have curly, fine hair and oddly enough, hardly ever use conditioner. These days my seconds in the shower (due to a VERY active toddler!) limits me to shampoo-in-one. While my hair is almost sopping I add a few handfuls of mousse, comb with a wide comb or paddle brush to “shape” into separate curls and then dry with a diffuser. It’s never crunchy, rarely frizzy (only if I space a miss spots with the mousse) and stays healthy. (Apparently the mousse mostly evaporates as your hair dries!) I’ve taught a few of my curly headed friends my “way” and they all do the same! :) Good luck!

  35. I’m a curly girl so I give tips #1 and 2 a big AMEN, and I have some tips to add, too!

    3) Get rid of your hairdryer, too. Or if you have to use one, low heat only – plus a diffuser.

    4) Find a hairstylist who has curly hair in a great style. Cutting curly hair is different than cutting straight hair – you need someone who really understands that. I knew I found the right stylist when she DIDN’T offer to straighten my hair at the end of the cut.

    : )

  36. My two year old has gorgeous curls and I’m obsessed with taking good care of her hair so that she doesn’t grow up to hate it! LOL I don’t really use curl defining products on her yet but I did buy Curly Girl and read it cover to cover and bought a wide-tooth comb for her. I use a conditioning cleanser similar to Wen and pile it on, then do a light rinse so that it isn’t all rinsed out and scrunch her curls while they’re drying. If they start looking frizzy and flat I just spray her hair with water, comb it through a little, and re-scrunch. I’m afraid to take her for haircuts… I will try what a previous poster said and ask around for a stylist with naturally curly hair.

  37. i have just started to embrass my curls..I use Karite by Renee Furteter and postion #9 and learned to use a diffuser..Now I am loving my soft strawberry blonde curls..dont know how to put a picture with this..

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