If you're blessed with naturally curly hair, then you'll know that a regime made up of the right products is key to defined strands that look healthy and hydrated.
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But it’s not just the finest ingredients that can benefit your coils – knowing the right way to shampoo, dry and sleep on your hair will ensure you have long-lasting bounce. From curls to waves – and all levels of shape in between – Aveda’s Global Artistic Director of Texture, Renee Gadar, answers your barnet bugbears below. Then, check out the WH edit of the haircare buys that will boost your mane, no end.
What causes curly hair?
'The texture of each person’s hair is dependent on genetics. Curly hair is present when the follicle produced from the scalp is from an oval shape, whereas when the follicle is more rounded, the hair will form straighter,' says Gadar.
How can I protect my curly hair?
'Drying your hair with a towel? Stop. I recommend using an old t-shirt. The elasticity and softness in jersey fabric isn’t as rough on the hair and helps to keep the follicle smooth, which allows the natural curl pattern to shine through,' explains Gadar.
Can I share shampoo with my straight-haired flatmate?
'Not really, unless they want to use what you need. I recommend using a hydrating shampoo and conditioner, plus an intensive conditioning masque at least once a week to add lustre and hydration,' clarifies Gadar
Should you treat curls differently to waves?
'Every head of hair is different, and no two curl patterns are the same. This is why most people need to a slightly different hair care routine. Some will need more moisture, others will need to be dried a particular way for more bounce. During a haircut, your stylist will be able to advise you on what's best for you. Ask them to explain the needs of your and the best way to treat your curls,' says Gadar.
Why is curly hair prone to frizz and dryness?
'The natural oils from your scalp tend to have more difficulty travelling down curly hair shafts due to the kinks and coils. This can make your hair feel dryer. Combat this by applying an oil through mid-lengths to ends for an instant injection of hydration,'s ays Gadar.
How should you brush curly hair?
'Hair is most malleable when it’s wet, so apply a deep conditioning masque in the shower; comb your fingers through to separate and detangle. Avoid combing or brushing curly hair when it’s dry. This will break up the curls and cause untamed frizz,' says Gadar.
What products are best for naturally curly hair?
'Sorry, but not being bothered with styling products doesn't wash with curly hair–you'll dry it out more. Choose a product that works for you and run it through your hair, using your hands to shape and mould the style. This will help your curls/waves to dry with more definition while reducing unwanted frizz.'
'You can then either leave your hair to air dry (avoid touching your hair as it dries to avoid fluffiness, then shake your curls out once they’re completely dry for a fuller look), or use a diffuser in combination with a cool heat and low speed. Try twisting sections of hair into tendrils about an inch thick to achieve a more defined curl,' adds Gadar.
22 best products for naturally curly hair
1. Best curl enhancer: Aveda Be Curly Curl Enhancer
Formulated with wheat protein, this formula expands when your hair is wet, then retracts when its is dry to help lock curls into place, while reducing frizz and revving up shine.
2. Best curl styling cream: Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl Enhancing Smoothie
Want to add some lush natural hydration to your curls? Shea Moisture's coconut and hibiscus-enhancing smoothie smooths out your split ends and leaves you with shiny, bouncy strands.
3. Best budget curl definer: The Iney List Chia Seed Curl Defining Hair Treatment
For less than a tenner, this brilliant treatment boosts curls that have lost their definition. Simply spritz on to allow the serum to protect hair while it separates all types of curls, from tight coils to loose waves.
4. Best curl creme: Ouai Curl Crème
This 'does it all' creme is nothing short of miraculous. It was created by celeb stylist Jen Atkin, who enlisted the help of 150 members of the Ouai community and made sure it faced over a year of testing before it was released. Teaming with conditioning plant oils that add definition, shine and a hit of hydration, this creme really does it all.
5. Best curl shampoo: Living Proof Curl Shampoo
Beautiful-looking curls start with shampoo meaning that yours should cater to your coils. Thankfully, this brilliant formula is infused with a healthy curl complex that gently removes styling product build-up and dirt, without stripping your hair. Plus, it's proven to make curls 3 times stronger.
6. Best curl conditioner: Charlotte Mensah Manketti Oil Conditioner
If there is anyone who knows about curls, it's Afro specialist hairdresser, Charlotte Mensah. Her range is has earned plaudits for supercharging dry and dull hair with long-lasting moisture. This epic conditioer gently nourishes hair without weighing curls down.
7. Best co-wash for curls: As I Am Coconut CoWash Cleansing Conditioner
A hero co-wash if ever there was one. This sulfate-free cleanser and conditioner is designed to be used with the brand's Cleansing Pudding+Sulfate-free Moisturizing Cleanser. It does a stellar job at gently cleansing hair while de-tangling hair and defining.
8. Best leave-in conditioner: Equi Marula Oil Leave-in Conditioner
This leave-in formula harnesses a blend of South African Marula Oil, Moroccan Argan Oil and Organic Jojoba, which help to promote hair growth, repair hair follicles, soften hair and soothe the scalp. Perfect for strands that are in need of some serious TLC.
9. Best curl treatment: Sachajuan Curl Treatment
This intensive treatment works to bat away frizz and mend split ends while simultaneously smoothing the curl cuticle to enhance manageability and shine. Simply smooth into freshly washed hair and leave in curls for 5-10 minutes before rinsing off.
10. Best curl gel: Briogeo Curl Charisma Rice Amino + Quinoa Frizz Control Gel
This incredible formula blends rice amino acids to banish frizz-causing moisture, plus quinoa extract to strengthen strands and increase elasticity. It also offers light to medium hold, so won't weigh curls down.
11. Best curl spray: ghd Curly Ever After - Curl Hold Spray
For those that like to style their curls with heated styling tools, be sure to use this lightweight, non-sticky spray, first. It shields against damage-inducing high temperatures while defining curls and keeping static and frizz at bay.
12. Best curl mask: Davines LOVE curl mask
Unruly curls? This clever mask helps to transform thick and rowdy locks into soft, silky tresses. Relying on moisturising almond extract, it works to minimise breakage and brilliantly boost shine.
13. Best super hold curl styler: Bouclème Super Hold Styler
If your curls fall flat after only being outside the house for half an hour, then a spritz of this will soon sort you out.
14. Best curl primer: Noughty Hello Curls Define & Reshape Curl Primer
Made with an impressive 97% ingredients, this natural curl primer is a multi-functional lightweight formula that defines standout curls first thing, or can be used to reshape hair throughout the day.
15. Best curl revival spray: Iles Haute Performance Curl Revive Spray,
For those in-between wash days, allow this spray to breathe life into frazzled strands that are at risk of drying out.
16. Best curl detangler: Larry King Liquid Hairbrush Conditioner
Knots are hair's kryptonite, so keep them bay with this liquid conditioner that melt away tangles, without destroying coils. Comb not needed.
17. Best curl protector: Amika The Shield Anti-Humidity Spray
If there is one thing that any curly girl knows, it's that humidity is the enemy. Thankfully, this heat resistant spray creates a protective force field across hair to prevent frizz and damage caused by UV rays.
18. Best curl mousse: VIRTUE Curl-Defining Whip
This is no ordinary hair mousse. In fact, it's formulated with the techy Alpha Keratin 60ku, Virtue's clever take on a classic formula that gets to work on damaged hair to help reconstruct curls and hydrate them from the inside out.
19. Best curl gloss: Oribe Curl Gloss Hydration & Hold
Thick curls don't always deliver on the gloss. This super-luxe lightweight gel relies on passionflower and Cupuaçu nut extract to fight humidity and impart a mirror-like shine.
20. Best curl oil: Moroccanoil Treatment Original
Curly hair can dry out quickly, but a few drops of Moroccanoil's super treatment leads to quick and hard-hitting nourishment.
21. Best curl milk: Maui Moisture Curl Quench Coconut Oil Curl Milk
For curls that have undergone any chemical treatment, this moisture infusing milk is made with 100% pure Aloe Vera Juice to gently nurse parched strands back to health.
22. Best curl gel oil: Bumble and bumble Curl Anti-Humidity Gel Oil
This gel meets oil hybrid goes to town on softening and loosening tight curls so that they're much easier to manage and maintain. The anti-humidity complex also works to banish the frizz that tends to appear once the mercury rises.
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