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A number of people have asked me how I take care of my curly hair to get it to look the way it does, so I figured it’s time to make a blog post. The majority of this is my own adaptation of The CurlyGirl Method.

Products

My shampoo and conditioners are all sulfate free, silicone free, alcohol free and paraben free. I prefer to use Clairol’s Hair Food Hair Milk for my shampoo and conditioner, but I’ve had difficulty getting them because my local stores keep running out, so when that’s not available I use Shae Moisture’s Daily Hydration shampoo and conditioner, mixing in their Curl and Shine Conditioner when I want extra bounce. I’ll also occasionally use Clairol’s Hair Food Volumizing Conditioner from time to time if I want a lot of poof. I used to also use the Clairol Hair Milk Cleansing Conditioner in lieu of shampoo, but I found that too much of that started to dry out my hair and damage it.

I used to have an extremely oily head, but after going on HRT that completely dried up, so now I need to re-add some oil daily or else my hair frizzes like mad. For that I use three products:

I used to use each one separately but now I just combine them all in equal parts into an old Tinkii bottle.

Finally, for a styling product I use Shae Moisture’s Curl Enhancing Smoothie. I also really love their Smooth & Tame Blow Out Cream, which does wonders for getting my hair to bounce nicely, but it has gotten very hard to find at a reasonable price (I think they stopped making it). If I don’t have time to take a shower and need to combat frizz, I use Shae Moisture’s Coconut Oil Spray. The final product that I use is Overtone’s color depositing daily conditioner, in Vibrant Red.

I’ve heard REALLY good things about DivaCurl’s products, but they cost four times as much and can’t be bought at Target, so I’ve not had a chance to use them.

Technique

I only shampoo whenever it feels like I need to, and never more than once a week. Shampooing is pretty basic, we all know how to do it. I get good sized dollup on my hands and work it through my hair until I get a lather, then fully rinse it out. If my hair feels particularly gross, I might do this twice.

Some days I don’t use anything on my hair at all, I just let it get damp as I shower but don’t directly soak it. If I do soak it, I always use conditioner with it. I’ll finger comb the hair forward and put a generous amount of conditioner on my hands, 4-6 pumps from the Hair Milk, or about a small handful. I spread that to both hands then (scrunch)[https://youtu.be/Vota3aH-aFI?t=40}] it all into my hair, starting at the tips, but completely saturating all of my hair. I’ll wrap my hair up on top of my head and then let it sit like that for 5-10 minutes while I do other things in the shower. If my hair color is starting to fade or I can see my roots are showing, I’ll substitute my Overtone conditioner in for my other conditioners. This works best starting from dry hair, but can be done while wet as well. The color is somewhat targeted at the place you apply it, however, so I tend to section my hair and dab it into the roots, or will scrunch it up from the tips. Despite being called a daily conditioner, the bottle doesn’t contain nearly enough for me to use it daily, so I tend to only do it once a week at the most.

When I’m ready to get out of the shower I’ll plunge my head under the shower for 5-10 seconds to let my hair get soaked, but not enough to fully rinse the conditioner out. I’ll then squeeze the bulk of the water out of my hair (not wringing, because that damages the hair, just squeezing), before then using a wide toothed comb to comb my hair out straight, ensuring there’s no tangles. This leaves a lot of the conditioner in the hair, which is good. You want your hair to feel slick.

Post-shower I wrap my head in a microfiber towel to pull out the bulk of the water, hold it for like 10-15 seconds, and then hang the towel up. I finger comb it all forward and then use my hair oil mixture, 4-5 pumps into my hand, scrunching the mixture into the ends of my hair. I do this every time I get my hair wet, because otherwise it turns into a frizzy tangled mess later on in the day.

Finally I do a plop into a stretchy t-shirt and tie it up around my head. I’ll leave that on for most of the morning while I take care of the kids and get dressed, usually about 30-60 minutes. If I need my hair out my way after that, I pull it all into an upper pony tail, curl it around into a bun, and put a clip on it. Sometimes I’ll leave it in that bun all day, which can be very good for the hair because it traps the moisture into the bun and lets the hair soak it up.

When I let it down, if I need it dry right away then I’ll use my diffusing hair dryer, turning my head upside down or on its side and letting the hair fall down onto the diffuser and scrunching the diffuser against my head. When my hair was shorter, I didn’t bother with using a hair dryer at all, I just let it air dry, occasionally scrunching it to prevent the hair from getting stiff. I still do that if I’m not in a rush, and often it makes my hair look the best eventually, but it takes it an hour or two to get fully dry.

We get Santa Ana winds here in San Diego that make the air very dry, and on those days my hair will get very frizzy. I combat that mid-day by spraying the coconut oil leave-in spray into the frizz, finger combing it into my locks, and adding more moisture by wetting my hands if needed.

Before bed I always get my hair damp and then pull it up into a tied bun. This keeps my hair from getting everywhere while I’m sleeping, keeping it out of my nightly skin care products, and avoiding tangles.

That’s it, that’s my whole routine.

This is the third time I’ve cone back and updated this post, and this time it’s a total rewrite. My techniques when my hair was shorter have changed a fair amount, but the products and principles remain the same.