Help me help my hair
May 12, 2015 9:17 PM   Subscribe

What are the best products to use for my thick, curly hair?

For many years I had very short hair, anywhere from almost a buzz to a shaggy pixie cut. A couple years ago I started growing it out, and now it's to my shoulders. My problem is I haven't had long hair since high school and now I'm not totally sure what to do with it. My hair is very thick, dark and wavy-curly. For some reason it's curlier now then it was the last time. Sometimes it looks awesome, the rest of the time it looks...scraggly.

I know "no-poo" and co-washing is really popular among people with hair like mine, and I like that idea in theory. Unfortunately I've tried it a couple of times and the level of grease is just too much for me. I have to wash at least every other day or things get pretty gross. If this is the case, is there a type of shampoo and conditioner I should be looking for? Products for curl definition? Should I dry my hair with a special towel? etc

Up until now I've been using drugstore brands, I'd absolutely be willing to spend more for higher quality.

Thanks, curly mefites!
posted by ariadne's threadspinner to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (10 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Deva Curl has a good product line and an instruction video for the best use.
posted by ksaklingon at 9:19 PM on May 12, 2015 [2 favorites]

Jessicurl is my absolute go-to. I use their hair cleanser, and a combo of Rockin' Ringlets and Confident Coils on dripping wet hair, plopped (see Naturally Curly) in a jumbo flour sack towel. Jess has videos on the site that are very helpful. Made in the US, no animal testing, vegan, 'cone free, and probably also sold by your local curl-friendly stylist but they have sales all the time.

The longer my hair gets, the more I *have* to shampoo at least occasionally. The Jessicurl cleanser is good, but after a certain length I have to use real (though sulfate-free) shampoo at my roots and the cleanser to wash the old product out of the length. I do* co-wash the other time I wet my hair per week.

*Did. I just pixie'd and my morning bedhead responds to nothing but a shower, but I co-wash most days now and just shampoo once a week.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:52 PM on May 12, 2015 [2 favorites]

Mine gets scraggly when I have too much silicone in it. Check what's in your products - I switched from Bumble and Bumble coconut conditioner (lovely) to their curl conditioner (full of silicone) and now I have to wash mine all the time to get the silicone residue out (and then put hair oil on it to calm the frizz. I won't be buying that conditioner again).

Try switching to a few silicone-free products - silicone-free conditioner, hair oil instead of serum, etc, and see if that helps.
posted by tinkletown at 1:46 AM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]

Paying more for higher quality is key, in my experience. I used to love the Aveda Be Curly shampoo sio42 mentioned, but last year it suddenly turned against me. Now I'm using Bumble & Bumble stuff, and it's great. Every now and then I feel like i'm spending too much and buy some whatever-brand at the grocery store, and regret it.

I buy it at a salon. I don't get my hair cut there, just buy the shampoo. The woman who runs it is friendly and willing to recommend particular brands or lines (because that's where she gets her money, yes, I know, but she's steered me towards cheaper products as well).

I us a clip to hold my out of my face while it air dries, and try not to touch it while it's drying. I've never bothered with the special towels because life is too short for dealing with such things.
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:51 AM on May 13, 2015

For curl definition, my daily products are John Frieda's Dream Curl Spray and Hair Serum. I do a weekly deep conditioning with a hair oil.

As far as 'technique': I also use a hair comb to hold it up while it air dries. I never brush it, only finger comb in the shower, and I try not to touch it during the day.
posted by pumpkinlatte at 6:56 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

I also have very thick, curly hair, and finally chopped it mostly off. My usual method of taking care of it, short or long, is to use a pick to comb it only when wet from the shower and to apply product at that time, normally DevaCurl. I do find that my hair seems to get 'tired' of products after a while and change my shampoo/conditioner/product about once a year, which seems to help. Once product is applied I will scrunch my curls into place and then valiantly resist touching it. I let it air-dry.

On days when I can't wash it, I generally wet my hands and gently adjust any curls that are really out of place, but I do not comb it again. I would definitely recommend against combing or brushing your hair dry, that always gives me fuzz instead of curls.

I also wash and condition about every other day, and my current shampoo/conditioner of choice is Garnier Dry Hair -- dry hair products seem to work pretty well because curls need a lot of moisture. I loved their curly hair line and am still annoyed that they don't make that shampoo/conditioner anymore.
posted by possibilityleft at 7:52 AM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

My hair is coarse, as well as very thick, dark and wavy-curly. Well, it *used* to be dark. It absorbs product. I get it cut in layers,which releases curl/wave. I use whatever silicon shine product is cheap, and lots of the strongest gel. The silicon makes is slippery, which makes it easier to comb and also releases curl/wave. The gel keeps it from being a frizzy cloud, up to a point.

I use cheap shampoo and conditioner; the only thing I really expect from conditioner is de-tangling. I use a big comb in the shower to comb it while it has conditioner on it. Towel-dry, comb, ignore. I do not, ever, use a hair dryer. as it dries, I sometimes finger-comb it. I wash it every 3 - 4 days when it's long, more often when it's short or when the weather is hot & sweaty. On days when I don't wash it, I spray it with plain water, brush, ignore. In general, I dislike maintenance and fussing with hair, makeup, etc., but I don't want to look like a bag lady.
posted by theora55 at 8:30 AM on May 13, 2015

Shampoo: Can't remember which one I usually buy because it's been forever since I bought any-- But it is a Paul Mitchell product from the "moisture line", as is almost everything else I use...
Conditioner: Paul Mitchell Super Charged Conditioner.
Curl definition: Samy Salon Big Curls Defining Cream, about $5 at Rite aid. Been using it for years and swear by it.
Frizz Control: Paul Mitchell Awapuhi Spray.
Comb: Wide tooth.
Hair Brush: No.
Towel: No, but if I must, I will use a microfiber towel for scrunching up the ends. I never put it on my head, I only scrunch up the ends so they don't drip on me.
Hair dryer: No, not without a Diffuser on it.
posted by goml at 9:29 AM on May 13, 2015

It's worth splashing out for a good haircut, too. I really didn't want to believe that an expensive haircut would make a difference, but now once or twice a year I get a Deva cut and it's amazing. The amount of attention and praise I get for my hair now is crazy, and the important thing is that the Deva cut grows out well--if I feel lazy or don't want to spend the money or just have other things going on, I've left it for up to 12 months and it's still looked great at the end.

I also nth going silicone, sulfate, and paraben free. That's made my hair my softer and manageable. I really like the kinky-curly line of products. I use the leave-in conditioner and a small amount of curling custard after I shower each day and then let my hair air-dry, "scrunch out the crunch" (basically grab fistfuls of hair and sort of curl/crunch it up against my scalp) after an hour or so, and my curls look great for the rest of the day.
posted by TwoStride at 4:47 PM on May 13, 2015

Not sure where you are located. I am in Ontario Canada and I make the trek to the Jonathan Torch curly hair institute at Yonge and Sheppard in Toronto. And I swear by their Curl Keeper product. They will cut your hair in a way that is conducive to curls, and will teach you how to style it properly!
posted by leslievictoria at 4:57 PM on May 13, 2015

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