How to Care for Curly Hair Naturally

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How to care for Curly Hair naturally without chemicals
Wellness Mama » Blog » Beauty » How to Care for Curly Hair Naturally
Note from Katie: I’ve shared many of my favorite hair care products, from mud shampoo to detangling spray and even ways to help hair grow naturally. On all of these posts, there were eventually reader questions I couldn’t answer and they all started with “I have naturally thick and curly hair…”  When my friend Julia offered to share her experience of caring for her gorgeous curly hair naturally, I jumped at the chance. (And for the record, she isn’t the only one with hair envy- the first time I met her, I was amazed by her curls!) Enter Julia…

I think I have always had hair envy for Katie. She has the perfect hair. It’s straight. And fine. *And* blonde.

What about me? My mom has thick hair. My dad has ringlets. So naturally, I have thick ringlets! Dark, coarse, tight ringlets.

Don’t get me wrong, I have come to peace with my hair. I fought it for a while and tried to straighten it, but the pain and the time investment (hours and hours) broke me of that.

Finally, I learned how to care for my hair. So while I still occasionally have a pang of hair envy for straight hair, I love my own hair now because happy hair is pretty hair.

Caring for Curls

Due to the shape of curly hair strands, the hair tends to be under-moisturized. The curly-haired scalp, on the other hand, can get very oily. Curly hair care comes down to managing these two competing demands.

See, your scalp produces natural oil, sebum, to keep your hair soft and to protect it. Straight hair wicks the sebum down the shaft easily, so that the whole length of the shaft is moisturized. Brushing aids this process by distributing the oils thoroughly (thanks, Scarlett O’Hara, with your hundred-brush-strokes-a-day routine!).

Curly hair, on the other hand, is shaped irregularly and the oil has a hard time wicking throughout the length of hair because of the bumps and ridges. It’s also impossible (and often painful) to brush when dry, so brushing can’t help, either. In fact, brushing curly hair often damages it.

So there we have it. Your poor curly, dry hair is exposed to the environment without anything to buffer it from the wind or the sun, and so gets damaged easily. Further, the unused sebum ends up sitting on the scalp collecting dust… Literally.

Grossed out? I promise I’ll teach you coping mechanisms in a minute.

The Rules of Curly Hair Care

Once you understand the relationship between your scalp and hair, there are certain rules that make sense:

Curly hair has one Great Commandment: Thou shall not brush thy hair when it is dry!

This wrecks your curl pattern by breaking up the hair strands that are forming curls. These groups of hairs are called “clumps.” Breaking up your clumps will make look like that triangle-headed girl from the Dilbert comic: frizzy. Not attractive.

Further, because your curls resist the brush (understatement of the year), brushing can yank your hair out at the root or break it into split ends (or probably both!). Remember, you are more likely to damage the hair shaft because it is not protected at all!

Always (always, always) detangle your hair wet, preferably with conditioner in it so it has something protective coating it.

Shampoo and Conditioner for Curlies

How often should you wash your hair? It is different for everyone. I know curlies who wash every day. I know people with straight hair who have to go several days in between washings or their hair will dry out. Experiment!

If you notice your hair is always dry, try waiting a day to wash it… You might just solve your problem that way! I wash my hair every two days. More frequently makes my hair dry, less frequently and my scalp gets itchy and oily. When it was very long I would go three days.

A Word About No-Poo and Co-Washing

If you have been trying to learn more about how to care for curly hair, you have probably heard of these methods. What are they? Well, they are essentially the same thing.

The idea is that traditional shampoo is far too harsh for curly hair. Curly hair is not sufficiently oiled, so it takes a beating. It’s already fragile enough without marinating it in chemicals. Instead, you should use a combination of conditioner and gentle friction to cleanse your scalp.

Sounds logical so far, right?

For me, it breaks down in the practical application. My hair is really thick. Most conditioners are so creamy that I can’t actually get them to sink through all the layers of hair to reach my scalp. It’s really frustrating. What ends up happening is that the hair on top of my head gets moisturized but my scalp doesn’t actually get clean. Instead, I get dandruff-style flaky buildup that is really embarrassing (and obvious since it is front and center).

Modified No-Poo Method

I find that a combination of the no-poo philosophy of gentle cleansing together with a natural cleanser works best for me. I look for products that are a thin consistency but are detergent free. This modification to no-poo that I use is known as “low-pooing” or low detergent shampooing.

Just Water Method (Not Recommended)

A lesser known (and less popular) variation is water washing: you use only water and friction to clean the hair. You can certainly try it, but I haven’t heard of many people with curly hair who found this a good routine. We use too many stylers for water to really cleanse our hair, and the friction without a protective oil or cream can be damaging. It works better (so I hear) for folks with straight hair.

How to Wash Your Curly Hair

Shampoo/cleanser is for your scalp. Conditioner is for your hair. Don’t get it twisted.

In the shower:

  1. Wet your hair. Apply sufficient cleanser to your palm and massage it into your scalp ONLY. Do not rub it throughout your length. The detergents in shampoos can be very drying, and if you don’t have oil in your hair to protect it you will abrade and possibly even burn the shaft. Even if you are using a gentle cleanser like a no-poo/co-wash, the agitation still does just that: agitate or irritate the hair. Try to avoid doing that. Angry curls are no fun to be around; they don’t tip at restaurants and generally embarrass you in public.
  2. As you rinse the shampoo from your hair, continue to massage the scalp to help remove any buildup.
  3. Now load up your hair with the conditioner. Even if you plan to rinse it out, you still want use the moisture in the conditioner to help release the knots in your curls and relax them gently so that you can comb your hair. Note that you should concentrate the conditioner on the length of your hair, NOT your scalp. Remember, your scalp makes all the moisture it and your hair needs; It just never distributes down the length of your hair. Therefore you need conditioner on your hair to replace the sebum that your hair needs but isn’t getting.
  4. Distribute the conditioner as you can. If your hair is very tangled, squeeze the conditioner into the knots and (gently) worry at them with the comb to unravel. Otherwise cover your palms with conditioner and use your fingers to rake through your hair to distribute. This will start the detangling process.
  5. Then follow with a wide-toothed comb to make sure you get all the small snarls out.

Choose Your Own Adventure Haircare

Now from this point it gets tricky, and routines start to differ. There are a couple of schools of thought on leave-in conditioner, and how to do so. You will likely need to experiment. (Can you tell I like to experiment?!)

Here are your options:

  • leave it in
  • rinse it out
  • both

Let me explain…


If you leave in, do just that. Finish detangling, turn off the shower, and move on.

You may want to do this if your hair is hard to style without the slippery conditioner to help smooth it out, or if you hair is very dry. This is what I do currently. Even with very short hair, the difference is tangible if I don’t leave in some conditioner. I simply cannot get my stylers to distribute throughout my hair.

Rinse Out

Rinsing out is also simple. Just rinse the conditioner out of your hair. Some people like to use cool water to do this. It can improve the shininess of your hair, but I find this uncomfortable.

You are a good candidate for cool rinsing if you find that your hair gets really frizzy really quickly once you get out of the shower.


Then there’s the combo. I did this back when my hair was long enough to brush my bum a couple of years ago.

Basically the idea is that if you leave the conditioner in straight from the shower, you may remove some of it when toweling your hair dry. Not a problem in itself, but if your hair is finicky and really needs that conditioner (like mine did), then if you remove it unevenly it can cause problems. Rinsing and then reapplying conditioner allows for greater control.

This is a good solution for people with really thick hair… or with hair OCD 😉

How to Choose the Best Natural Products for Curly Hair

Products are really personal. You can make your own, or you can research and purchase from a retailer that you like and trust (like my Wellnesse brand shampoo and conditioner for curly hair!). I am a big DIY fan, but I find that curly hair usually needs the real, lab-formulated, deal.

Some basic rules:

Avoid Sulfates and Silicones

Sulfates/sulfites are the harshest of detergents and surfactants. They are extremely drying to the hair and should be avoided.

Silicones are plastics. Their job is the coat the hair to make it look shiny. Sounds good, until you realize that because they are synthetic they can only be removed by sulfates: natural cleansers just can’t get the plastic off. So the choice is between nasty persistent buildup (eeew) or sulfates (which are to be avoided because they barbecue your hair).

Plus, while they make your hair look shiny, silicones actually block healthy oils and moisture from getting to your hair shaft.

Some silicones are water-soluble and identified by the suffix PEG. Those do not require sulfates to be removed. I still avoid PEG-type silicones because I don’t like to put plastic in my hair and even water-soluble silicones block that ever-important moisture.

Avoid Parabens

Avoid parabens (synthetic preservatives) because cancer. ‘Nuff said.

I suggest trying new products out for at least a week (or several applications if you wash your hair less frequently) before trying something different.

Important Note: Sometimes your hair will need to detox or get used to a certain product. It may not immediately recognize that it loves something.

Natural Shampoo and Conditioner for Curly Hair (That Work!)

There really are great options out there, with a little trial, error, and patience to find them. My favorites are:

The Best Curly Hair Cleanser/Shampoo:

For a cleanser, I start off looking for something without sulfates in it. And beware, silicones do end up on shampoo too! You are less likely to find them, but check anyway.

You may need to test out several cleansers to find one that works. In practice, I look for a cleanser that distributes to my scalp easily. Also, after you rinse, compare how your hair feels to how it felt before you cleansed it. You should not be able to feel a coating of any kind, but it should also not feel dry.

If it feels dry, the cleanser is probably too harsh and you need to find something gentler or more moisturizing. Still give it a week! Your hair can change its attitude. Your hair should feel like your body does after you wash with good soap, not like it feels after you wash the dishes, if that makes sense.

Options to Try:

The Best Curly Hair Conditioner:

Conditioners come in all kinds of textures and consistencies. I look for a few things. First, does it distribute well throughout my hair? If it is made of angel tears and unicorn oil but it won’t go where I put it, it’s useless.

Second, I pay attention to “slip” (i.e., how slippery my hair feels). We are using it to detangle, after all. This slippery feeling is what makes it release those snags and snarls.

It shouldn’t feel too slimy, but you want a silky, soft feeling. Think wet seaweed, not pond scum. And I want it to play nice with other products. This is only really important if you want to leave it in.

I once found a lovely conditioner that I really liked, but it would produce icky white flakes if I left it in and used anything else to style my hair. I had to toss it in the trash and start over. It may not be a concern for you, though.

I love  (very rich, good to leave in), and  (extremely slippery, will literally melt your knots). If your hair is happier with a lighter conditioner, you might even try 

It’s sort of the melding of both: a rich conditioner and marshmallow root, the active ingredient from the Knot Today. It’s a solid DIY that really works.

Options to Try:

Best Styling Products for Curly Hair

Ok, there are soooooo many styling products out there! Here is a basic rundown of what each type does and how it may help you.

Creams: labeled as creams or smoothies, these tend to be a combination of butters, oils, and waxes. The majority of your DIY stylers will be creams, as they can be easily made with readily available ingredients (Katie’s whipped body butter is excellent example, although that is not the use she probably had in mind!).

Heck, I bet her magnesium body butter would give great curl definition! Cream stylers are ideal for people with dry hair that is thick and naturally voluminous.

If you have fine hair, you will likely want to avoid creams because they can be heavy and weigh your hair down. They can also make fine hair appear oily and limp. A little tends to go a long way.



The half of DIY stylers that are not creams are usually gels (flax seed variety). Some are natural, some are not, and most tend to be translucent and slimy/gummy. They come in lots of different hold levels and tend to make hair shinier than creams, but can be drying (especially the chemical-laden ones).

Many contain silicones to make hair shiny so beware if buying from a store. The safest bet may be trying plain organic aloe vera gel as a gentle gel.


Long touted as the ideal styler form for curly hair, mouse is a light foamy concoction that works with the natural buoyancy of curls. Sounds good until you start reading labels and see that most a filled with alcohol (drying) and silicone (plastic). I haven’t found any with a clean enough ingredient line-up to recommend (hint hint Katie!).

I find that mousse is good for folks with fine or limp hair, but I personally find it too drying.

Also, it is virtually impossible to make mousse yourself! I’ve never even seen a recipe for it. If you find one, let me know!


Pomade is a styler that adds shine and hold to your hair. There are a few different kinds. Basically they are either waxy and stiff, or oily and smooth.

Waxy tends to give more hold than shine, and vice versa with the oils. They are good for putting your hair in an updo or if you have short hair like mine (hello, Mohawk!). You can make either at home, although oil-based pomade is simpler.

Until better natural products (that actually work) become available, you can either make a combo of liquid oils in a tincture bottle (like this nourishing hair oil recipe) or you can make a solid bar of it (like these DIY lotion bars).

Power to the Curls!

Folks, keep in mind that these tips are not just for curlies… if you hair is dry, you might try something you see here. You might just discover the cure for your hair woes! Learning to care for your hair properly can be a path to finally loving your hair.

Do YOU have curly hair? How do you care for your hair?

Julia profile Wellness MamaAbout Julia: Julia is the owner of the gorgeous curly hair in this picture and the mom of that adorable little girl.
Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


126 responses to “How to Care for Curly Hair Naturally”

  1. Hali Avatar

    Hi everyone! I just wanted to tell y’all my hair story. Lol!
    I have 2a-2b hair. I love it so much. It’s beautiful shade of auburn (never dyed it) and sooo easy to manage. It’s light weight and bouncy and I could literally just sleep on it and wake up and it’s great! You would probably never guess that I’m a “no-poo’er” right? Yup! I haven’t used shampoo in 3 months! I occasionally use a very small and watered down amount of silicone free conditioner on my scalp and hair. So if you’re curious as to how my hair looks this great here’s my routine:
    Befor shower: nothing
    In shower: wide tooth comb and water. About once a week or after the pool I’ll use conditioner.
    Right after shower: wrap in towel. Take towel off. Air dry. No styling or products. Nothing!!!
    Before bed: braid it (it’s about half way down my back) and snooze till morning.
    My complete morning routine:
    Un-braid hair.

    So now you all now my secrets! Simple right? Hope you try it!

  2. Faith Avatar

    Does anyone use Acure? They are also a natural product line of shampoo, conditioner, face washes etc. I love their Argan oil shampoo.

  3. Sofie Avatar

    I absolutely LOVE Jessicurls products. I most often use the deep conditioner and the Confident coils, it works wonders!

  4. Nitya Avatar

    I absolutely love Amiri hair cream, It is super awesome, it makes my hair smooth and smells great. I can feel that my hair looks stronger, my hair used to be curly and dry and this cream has improved the quality of my hair.

  5. Annemarie Avatar

    Good day,
    Just a quick note … I LOVE your website!
    I have always had skin that showed reactions to products and the last few years it started increasing. Earlier this year my doctor gave me two options; a) medication OR b) I go ALL natural (face, body, hair).
    This is tricky since it is not too easy to get most of the ingredients where I live. Some of it is readily available but most of the products I have to order online and often from other countries :(.

    My hair is FINE, VERY FINE and EXTREMELY curly (cross between spirals and curls).
    I wash my hair in the following ways, varying as needed;
    1. Just water
    2. Baking soda with honey / baking soda with Lavender or tea tree oil or ‘n combination of other all natural products

    I rinse with apple cider vinegar twice a week (more often makes my hair fall out).

    I made conditioner with the following ingredients;
    Shea butter
    Coconut oil
    Avocado oil
    A few drops of Rose EO, Frankincense EO and Sandalwood EO.

    Incidentally this conditioner works wonders on your skin too 🙂

  6. Stephanie Avatar

    I switched to Devacurl no poo and only use shampoo about once a week. I love kinky curly products! I use knot today detangler/leave in and the curly custard. I do the “plopping” routine every time I get out of the shower. Even sleep with it sometimes.
    I went out on a limb and bought Tigi Curlipops diffuser hair dryer. Very oddly shaped and took a few tries to get used to but I wouldn’t trade it for the world now! I can’t let my hair totally air dry ever. For some reason, it is never as pretty as when I diffuse it.
    I also find that you have to switch up your routine/products every few months to get your hair to curl right. I have Tigi catwalk curl amplifier I’ve used for years, also Ouidad tress effects gel etc. I’m always experimenting but my curls are perfect right now so I’m happy. My curls are 3B

  7. Charlotte Avatar

    Has anyone on here mentioned Chagrin Valley Soap and Salve??? I’ve used it for a month, and they’re now my absolute must-have shampoo! They sell natural, handmade shampoo bars with all different formulations for hair types TONS of choices!). My curls are springy and big and bouncy, not the flatter curls I’ve had all my life. It looks like I used a curling iron the day I wash! Some people say in their comments that they never had any wave or curl, but using these bars brings it out. I love the auburn henna. And I only have to wash about 2x week, but I do it more often sometimes because I love how my hair looks wen it’s just washed.

  8. Brittney Avatar

    Hi Julia! I enjoyed this post-where do you buy the shea moisture line? I checked at whole foods and it was a no go! HELP!

    1. Julia Avatar

      Hi Brittney! I actually get it at Target, but a lot of drugstores and groceries have also started to carry it (in my area of the world it can be found in Walgreens and Kroger). I think Wal-Mart carries it too. It is rare to find such a high-quality and natural product at such, hm, pedestrian markets, but it truly is great stuff!


  9. Kona Avatar

    Just wanted to add that I have had good luck with using a homemade shampoo that has castile soap and raw honey (and a few other ingredients) and then using dr bronners hair rinse! I couldn’t stand the smell of an apple cider vinegar rinse so was glad that I found the other rinse. My curly/wavy hair is soft, less frizzy and not oily (I did have a transition period though of about 2-3 weeks, but it wasn’t too bad).

  10. Eva N. Avatar

    I have very dry, frizzy curls. At least I did, until I completely gave up on shampoo and conditioner. I have been using baking soda & vinegar on my hair for about 6 months now and I love the way my hair feels! Even in the summer, frizz is just not that big of a deal anymore (compared to what I used to have to battle when I used shampoo) and I can go up to a week without washing my hair (depending on how hot it is, if I work out a lot, etc.). It doesn’t get greasy, stinky and my scalp is never itchy. I still use products such as Argan oil and mousse or gel (depending on how I’m styling my hair) which add a nice fragrance to my hair. But I only use about half as much product as I used to, as I simply don’t need it. Even if I put NOTHING in my hair post-wash, it still looks fine. I’m not gonna lie, I do miss that feeling of sudsing up my hair with yummy-smelling shampoo, but I just can’t ignore these fantastic results I’m getting!

  11. Mecca Avatar

    What’s your guys’ feeling about brushing curly hair in the shower? From what it sounded like, you guys OK’d it with a long-tooth comb… But I’m just wondering because I’ve read online that brushing wet hair is bad because that’s when it’s most prone to breakage. Also, do you think there are any benefits to using a “tangler teezer,” in the shower, as opposed to a comb/ brush? I have black/ latina (very curly) hair that I love and want to preserve, and keep healthy. Please help!

    1. Julia Avatar

      Hi Mecca! I have used a very wide-toothed comb in the shower in the past, but now my hair is so short that it just does not tangle like it used to, and so finger combing is entirely sufficient. I think you can safely comb int he shower, just make sure that you are still using the conditioner to help keep those knots soft, and maybe try to get it started by finger combing. I would also suggest working in sections if you are going to comb in the shower… I found that it minimized breakage. I would do 3 sections, but your volume of hair will dictate how many you would use. I hope this helps!


  12. Rebeca Avatar

    Would Julia kindly share a few more photos of her hair cut? It looks like we have similar hair and face shape and I would like to show her awesome hair cut to a stylist so I can have it too. Pretty please? 🙂

    1. Julia Avatar

      Hi Rebecca! Ah, I’m flattered! Honestly, I was looking through other pictures of myself, and that’s probably the best view of the cut. I didn’t take a whole bunch of “just got a new cut, here are all the angles” when I first got it done. I can try to describe it, though, which might help your stylist. It’s an asymmetrical layered bob with the front coming to just at chin level and the back at collar length (I would look down and he would measure to my collar in back). It’s designed to be worn with a side part and has a lot of “movement” in the top layer (it just doesn’t look like it in this picture because I had just spent 10 days in the hospital and had nothing but conditioner on hand to style it with). I hope that helps! Sorry I couldn’t find any good pics…


  13. jeanne Avatar

    I use a natural -ish, herbal shampoo but found it still makes my hair too dry. Then after reading this article, I realized my problem. My shampoo never fully made it to my scalp. Because the shampoo is so thick, I was basically only drying out my hair. So I found a small squeeze bottle and squirt the amount of shampoo I normally use, about a tsp., into the squeeze bottle. Then add about 5 – 10 x that amount in water. Swirl until dissolved (shaking makes too many bubbles). I then squirt it directly to my scalp in zigzags and focus on cleaning only my scalp. Then I condition as the article says, just focus on the hair, not the scalp. After shampooing this way for 3-4 shampoos (1 week), my hair is totally different. Now I can air dry my hair WITHOUT hair oils and products to get rid of frizz. They never worked well for me anyway. Now my curls are soft and smooth. 🙂

  14. elyse Avatar

    I have medium-thin hair, chin/shoulder length, now cut in a very layered bob — it’s naturally wavy/curly on top and ringlets underneath — a little looser than Julia’s.

    For what it’s worth, here’s the routine that saved my curly hair and made it awesome:

    1. Dr Bronners hand/body pump soap (not the castille, the pump is made with sugar and shikakai and is more moisturizing. Could use the Baby/Sensitive Castille maybe)
    2. Rinse with Dr Bronners citrus rinse (have tried apple cider vinegar but it wasn’t moisturizing enough for curls and dry skin like I have). Don’t leave in.
    3. Don’t dry hair AT ALL, add Dr Bronners hair creme (a little goes a long way) — I’m sure other hair creme’s/oils would work
    5. Flip method into a t-shirt and tie up like a turban with curls all squashed fatly on the top of my head (see naturally curly website for instructions)
    6. Leave in t shirt for 10 mins while dressing
    7. Take off tshirt — Have beautiful bouncy curls that aren’t greasy, stiff or sticky but hold together and dont’ frizz

    Additional points:
    I never brush my hair
    Since using Dr Bronners my scalp has beautiful skin (not flaky fuzzy white skin like I had my entire life prior to this)
    I wash every two days
    The days I don’t wash I do get my hair wet and I do the t-shirt routine with it without any hair creme. It doesn’t look as good on the 2nd day but still pretty damn good.

    I went through a LOT of trying to figure out this routine so I wanted to share in case I can save anyone some trouble.

    1. Kristen Avatar

      Hi Elsie, thanks so much for the info 🙂 Can I do your same procedure without the t-shirt? or is there a reason for the t-shirt? Could I still get awesome curls with just the Bronner’s creme only?

      1. elyse Avatar

        Oh, sorry there is some special towel that you’re really supposed to use that doesn’t soak up that much water. The purpose is to “set” your curls by leaving them piled on top of your head under the towel/t-shirt. AND you want to keep them wet so you don’t use a regular towel that will soak up too much water. I definitely don’t get this definition or bounce of curls if I just put in the creme and let my hair hang down and air dry.

  15. Vee Avatar

    This goes out to anyone with advice. I’ve switched to all natural hair care, but am really having a hard time with it. I am so tempted to go back to the chemical laden yummyness that is silicone. I’ve tried all the different natural homemade shampoos and store-bought. I finally found the shampoo I like that is natural, it cleans without stripping or making my hair a sticky greasy mess, but now my scalp is so dry it’s flaking all over the place. Literally, I’ll wash my hair and then hours go by and I’m embarrassingly flakey. I’ve tried adding oils to my shampoo, to my conditioner, AS a conditioner…I’ve tried masks directly applied to my scalp. It’s driving me absolutely insane and I’m about to give up and by me some good ol’ Head and Shoulders. If ANYONE has any advice…please, please keep me from going backward. I don’t want to go back to the chemicals, but I’m at the end of my rope.

    1. Lizzie Avatar

      Hi, Veeb,
      I also have had problems with flaky scalp while trying various natural hair care products. My curly, natural hair care “journey” has taken several years . . . and I am still experimenting, but right now I am really happy with my hair routine. Since switching to my current routine, I haven’t had any problems– maybe some of these tips will work for you, too?
      1) A big tip that curly haired tutorials usually give is to not wash your hair every day– I used to think that meant that on the days when I didn’t wash my hair I should just ignore it in the shower, but that’s not what works for me! I take a shower every day, and even though I only wash my hair with shampoo about once a week, I still take time in the shower on days when I don’t wash my hair to wet it all the way through, and massage my scalp with my fingers for a few minutes, and then stand under the shower for another few minutes to “rinse” my hair. I use a bit of conditioner to detangle and co-wash my scalp at this time. This process lifts any scalp-irritating build-up or flakes from the scalp, and I can then rinse them away. It also feels great for my sometimes itchy scalp!
      2) Other than that, preventing flakes naturally has been about finding the right product combination that works not just for my hair but also for my scalp. I tried the baking soda/apple cider vinegar washing routine for a while (about six months . . . twice), but that worked for a few months, and then my flaky, itchy problems returned, and I got frustrated and went back to drugstore brand dandruff shampoos. I’ve also tried some drugstore sulfate-free shampoos and conditioners, but these tended to leave a residue on my scalp, and didn’t help any with my flaky issues. Right now I am using the “Kinky Curly” brand of shampoo (“Come Clean”) and conditioner/detangler (“Knot Today”) as well as their hair gel (“Curling Custard”). The shampoo especially is a miracle– this stuff is completely natural and sulfate free, but it also actually cleans my hair and gets rid of build-up, unlike a lot of other curly hair shampoos that I’ve tried! I have combination 2b/2c hair, and while these products are most often recommended for tighter curls, they work perfectly for me, too.
      3) One final tip is that, especially if you’re going for natural hair care brands, to be brand-exclusive. This may sound like a sales pitch, but I swear its not! Basically, I mean that if you’re using a shampoo from one brand, use the conditioner and hair gel/cream/mousse from the same brand. Not all natural hair products play well together– using two products that aren’t meant to work together can increase build-up or weird chemical reactions on your hair and scalp. By sticking to one brand, you can make sure that all your hair products work together, not against each other.
      Hope this helps! Let me know if I can answer any other questions about my routine!

    2. Victoria Avatar

      Your scalp might be readjusting to life without silicone. When I was in beauty school, the people with the worst scalp problems usually used something like Pantene at home. I also deal with flaky scalp so what I do is I just go to a salon and get a scalp treatment. You could also do one at home, just brush your scalp with a stiff brush to loosen the flakes (Be gentle though! You don’t want to scratch your scalp to bits!) and then get your favorite carrier oil and put a couple drops of tea tree essential oil in it. Massage the oil into your scalp for a few minutes and then rinse, shampooing if you need to. Hopefully this helps!

  16. Melissa H Avatar
    Melissa H

    I’m curious if any curly-heads have used coconut oil as a conditioner in the shower. I hear that you apply it first and let it sit then wash it out. I like that’s it’s natural but I’m curious if it’s effective.

    I have thin, wavy-to-curly hair. Oily scalp. Humid environment.

    Thank you!

    1. Victoria Avatar

      I’ve tried it as a deep conditioner, but always had to shampoo it out. What I do now is I wait until my hair is dry and then rub a little bit of oil on my hands and gently brush through my hair with my fingers. My hair is more wavy than curly, though, so if your hair is more on the curly side, try scrunching your hair with coconut oil on your hands.

  17. tiffany Avatar

    Good information but this post seems kind of like you are talking down about your curly hair. Straight hair isn’t the optimal form of beauty and us curly haired girls just have to figure out how to deal with our less then desirable strands. You seem to lack true confidence.

    1. Julia Avatar

      Hi Tiffany! Yikes, I hope I didn’t come off that way! I LOVE my curly hair, and have been wearing it curly for many years with confidence. I don’t think that curly hair is less than desirable, it’s just been my experience (but maybe not yours) that curly hair needs extra care that straight-haired folks don’t seem to need to worry about. That is all I was trying to convey!


      1. Eneida Avatar

        I totally understood what you were saying and you didn’t seem like you lacked confidence at all. I can tell you love your curls. ?

        I am Latina with thick, coarse shoulder length curly hair. I have attempted to go natural on many occasions but I reverted to straightening it either with chemicals but more recently with a flat iron because my hair never looked like I wanted it to look.

        My husband loves my curly hair as does my hair stylist who reluctantly proceeded to straightened my hair. A few months ago I decided to have another go at going natural.  But this time I did some research as to how to take care of it (in my 60s?). I get many compliments and I’m determined not to flat iron it ever again.  However, my hair has a mind of its own?. It doesn’t move. My curls aren’t bouncy. So, I’m little frustrated. I use the Shea Moisture products (styling milk, shampoos) as well as oil treatments and deep conditioning once a week. Maybe if I get some more length on it it’ll look better. This week I started leaving the Shea Butter Restorative Conditioner on my hair overnight a couple of times. When I rinse it off in the morning my hair feels wonderful and more manageable. I just put some jojoba oil and a little bit of the styling milk and nothing else. So far so good.

  18. Erica Avatar

    I have more wavy hair than curly but I have been using a clear aloe Vera gel for years now and I’ll never buy another hair gel again. My hair stays soft while the waves are pieced together. I also just started using Nature’s Gate shampoo and conditioner. It is paraben and sulfate free. I buy it at the but I’ve hear you can find it at whole foods too.

    1. Erica Avatar

      And I use a wide tooth comb right after I get out if the shower to detangle. Hair brushes are evil for curly/wavy hair

  19. malbert Avatar

    The one item I recently purchased that has improved my hair AND skin is a filtered shower head that I found at Lowes. I have long, thick wavy hair that gets tangled a lot, and I live in an area with hard water. The first time after I showered with the filtered head I noticed my hair was softer and shinier and the faint chlorine smell was gone. I love a line of shampoo/ conditioner called Simply U that my Wal Mart used to carry but no longer stocks so I had to find something else. Now I use the Organix line, and my favorite is the biotin and collagen.

  20. Anita Weller Avatar
    Anita Weller

    I also recommend no poo plus henna. I have thin curly hair… since I went no poo, I don’t need any other product for styling and just do the occasional bicarb/vinegar thing if it’s getting a bit too oily. I use a 50/50 mix of henna/indigo to get the colour I want, and cannot recommend this combination enough.

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