How I Got the Best Curly Hair of My Life, Thanks to Instagram

If you had told 13-year-old me that someday, in the faraway future, hundreds of people would generously teach me how to take care of my curly hair on an app called Instagram, I would have cried. Okay, I would have asked what an app is and then I would have cried.

I have only very recently (like, in the last year) started loving my hair in all its maximalist, effusive glory. I used to straighten it every week all the way through high school and college. Now, though, I’ve come to realize that much like bright colors and clashing patterns, frizz and curls better reflect how I feel on the inside than stick-straight strands do. My hair is as much an expression of my personal style as my rainbow sweater collection.

That doesn’t mean it’s easy, however. Sometimes it looks like this (please see photo). I often think about what Shiona Turini said when she shared her hair routine on Man Repeller after switching from straightening it for years to finally wearing it natural: “I’m […] learning that no two hair days are the same. It has a mind of its own and it depends on so many variables. I can only embrace it.”

She hit the nail on the head. Curly hair is higher-maintenance than a teacup poodle. As much as I’ve come to enjoy mine, I do not enjoy the mental space it takes up in my effort to make it look its best — the product application, the air-drying, the spritzing, the oiling — and even then it often turns on me out of the blue, sticking out at a weird angle after a restless night’s sleep or becoming broom-like after too much contact with my beloved chartreuse mohair peacoat.

Exasperated after a recent bout of curly hair betrayals, I turned to my favorite therapist-cum-search-engine (Instagram!) for advice. I asked for three things: 1.) general curly hair tips, 2.) how to preserve my curls so they maintain their luster for multiple days after washing, and 3.) where to get a good curly haircut in New York.

Messages poured in from people with every curl type under the sun, some offering advice and others asking for me to share said advice. I was originally going to post the responses on my Instagram Stories, but I received so many requests I figured there was a real thirst for it — enough to merit a permanent post on the interwebs that could be easily referenced in a post-mohair pinch. Below, find the answers to my three queries as culled from Instagram, plus the routine I’ve adopted since, and please oh puhleeze deposit any additional curly hair secrets in the comments below if you have them.

General product recommendations:

Camille Rose. All its products are great! But the Algae Renew Deep Conditioner is my holy grail. I have super duper curly hair and it helps my curls stay lush.”

Shea Moisture!!!!! Truly revolutionary!!!! It isn’t high-end and it’s very affordable. But the same brand has a higher-end line called Madam C.J. Walker. Absolutely life-changing. Use the shampoos and the hair cream for after the shower to keep the integrity of your curls.”

Shu Uemura Wonder Worker — best product I’ve used for a frizz-free air dry.”

Philip Kingsley Elasticizer Pre Shampoo Treatment!! It is a pre-wash treatment but I leave it in overnight. It is the only thing that saves my curls from all the heat damage I do to it!”

“I use Curl Keeper. It’s a Canadian product line, so I’m not sure if you can order it to the states but nothing tames my curls quite like it!”

“I just started using L’Oreal EverCurl Sculpt and Hold Cream. It’s NOT CRUNCHY and makes my hair shiny with less frizz. I also love Paul Mitchell Skinny Serum and Davines Curl Building Serum.”

“Evo Liquid Rollers Curl Balm is a game-changing product!! My hair is just like yours and it supports the curls but is not crunchy one bit! So soft!”

Lush’s Dirty Hair Styling Cream is really good for light definition and it smells like someone who believes in crystal magic in the best possible way.”

AG Hair Recoil Curl Activator is gooooood! Recommended to me by another curly-haired babe and I was skeptical but now can’t live without it.”

Davines Oi All In One Milk! Also Davines has a whole line ‘Love Curl‘ with an amazing curl refresher. Cruelty-free and paraben-free!”

“I use the Whipped Cream by Sebastian! It’s super lightweight so doesn’t make your hair greasy, but it’s enough to hold your curls in place for a week.”

R&B Hair Moisturizer from Lush!!! I used to bleach my hair and it was the only thing that’s kept it alive and soft, especially in the winter.”

“The best conditioner I’ve ever used and have used for the last eight years (!!!) is the Moisture Repair Conditioner by Moroccan Oil — you don’t need much, just comb that sucker through with a wide-tooth comb in the shower and rinse with cold water. [You’ll have] the silkiest hair [right] out of the shower.”

“I really like Miss Jessie’s Pillow Soft Curls Styling Lotion! It’s good for definition that’s not crunchy and it smells like fresh laundry. A woman stopped me in a bar last weekend to tell me how wonderful my hair smells!”

“A product called Cantu has rocked my world. It’s only 7 bucks but don’t let that fool ya. My curls are feelin’ themselves.”

Curl preservation tips:

“I started leaving coconut oil in my hair for a full day before my shampoo day, and it feels aaaaaamazing. Highly recommend.”

“I really like Living Proof No Frizz Leave-In conditioner. It really helps tame the post-shower frizz for close to a week.”

“Put lots of salt (sea salt or kosher) in a big bowl with warm water, whisk it together and after a shower dunk it over your head.”

“Moisturize in the morning and evening! Spritz with a bit of water, let that sink in and then smooth over with a tiny bit of your favorite moisturizing styler.”

“I change up my products so I don’t use the same thing all the time or my hair starts to get used to it and starts to frizz.”

“Use a glass spray bottle to spray day 2 or 3 (or 4 or 5) after washing, and just get your whole head damp and add a little of whatever your after-shower product is, it kind of brings curls back to life a little.”

“For third-day hair, I’ve used Klorane Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk and then I’ll spritz my curls with water and then spray in a little more Briogeo Leave-In Conditioning Spray.”

“I like to use a spray bottle with a little argan oil in it to spray over those curls that need help day 2 or 3 after washing.”

Carol’s Daughter Hair Milk Refresher Spray.”

Bumble and bumble’s Bb. Curl (Style) Pre-Style/Re-Style Primer is CLUTCH for extending curls! You apply it before your other styling products and then just spray it on again to re-define and re-moisturize after a few days. If I need even more moisture I’ll spray Infusium 23 Moisture Replenisher (which is dirt cheap yay) and then the Bumble and bumble.”

Where to get a good curly haircut in NYC:

Fox & Jane on Grand St. — Kiki is a lifesaver.”

“Jennifer Luna at Fox & Jane is a curly-haired, curly hair genius and super bubbly and sweet.”

“Go to Angela at Whistle Salon!

Chokmah Hair Lab

Bull in The Heather Salon

“Stacy at Butterfly Studio on 23rd street. She’s amazing. A little pricey but worth it.”

“Coby at Little Axe in Williamsburg will change your life.”

Brush on 19th St”

Dante Pronio!!! The only haircut I haven’t cried after in my life. I have followed him to four different salons. He is at Sally Hershberger now. When my hair was short he cut it to visually compensate for my right shoulder which is a little higher than my left shoulder. He also does this cute dance when flicking cut pieces of hair to the group. I think he is totally unaware of it, which makes it even better.”

“Antonio at John Barrett is great with curls. He’s been my hair stylist for 16 years from Cleveland to NYC. He’s a hair genius and the nicest person IRL.”

Chris Chase in Chelsea”

“Cindy at Linden Salon is a genius with curly hair — removing weight without length. She’s in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Worth a trip.”

SELF Salon in Williamsburg. Go to one of their DevaChan-certified stylists.”

Shuki Zikri

“Girl, it’s Head Chop in Williamsburg. $100 for a cut and curl set. Ask for Martha Ellen — she’s a curl wizard AND she has a cute dog.”

“Molly at Sara June — she’s a curly-haired stylist.”

My new hair routine:

1. Wash in the shower once a week with DevaCurl Low Poo Shampoo

2. Condition with DevaCurl One Conditioner OR the Tony Moly Mayo Hair Mask and comb through with fingers

3. Scrunch in IGK Mistress Hydrating Hair Balm while it’s still pretty wet

4. Tie up using the “plopping” method for about ~20 minutes (an Instagram recommendation — TYSM!)

5. Air dry

6. Spritz with water throughout the week and reapply IGK Mistress Hydrating Hair Balm as-needed (also an Instagram recommendation, and probably the most impactful change in my routine in that I’m able to maintain the integrity of my curls for longer between washes)

Overall I couldn’t be more thrilled with the results of my Help Harling’s Curls social media campaign, the only downside being that I now have so many products and hair salons I want to try it will probably take me until age 175 to fully vet them all. That’s okay, though. If there’s one thing curly hair has taught me, it’s patience.

Now it’s your turn! Deposit as much curl wisdom as your curly-scalped brain contains below.

Photos by Edith Young.; Illesteva sunglasses throughout.

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  • Adrianna

    omg Whistle. I have straight fine hair, and a “master stylist” HACKED it to pieces in 2015. I literally had chunks of hair missing by my ear. I guess in the name of “texture?” I’m sure everyone else is fine there, but I cannot get over that experience.

  • I have been using Aveda’s Dry Remedy hair oil for years and love it for my 2B/2C waves/curls. I use more than they recommend (I have a lot of long hair), after every shampoo/conditioning round (which I do every other day or two), and my hair just drinks it up. Since my hair is also super fine, it was hard to find an oil that was moisturizing enough for my curls, but light enough to not give me a greasy head.

  • Renee LeBouef

    I’m still not embracing mine and blow it out on the reg, but I’ve been steady creepin on this FB group for years. The advice and “after” pics from these women is disgustingly awesome. One day….

  • Megan

    Your hair looks luxurious! I wonder how these methods would work for wavy hair? Mine is super unpredictable like you mentioned, interested in the plopping method in particular

  • took me a while to come around to my curly hair but once I finally got a good haircut it was life changing and now I love it! Can’t wait to try these tips.

  • Annaoc17

    I have always worn my hair curly out of sheer laziness, but it hasn’t always looked its best. I recommend getting your hair cut dry, because if you’re like me you have tons of different curl patterns and textures that need to be cut curl by curl. I go between using Innersense hair products and Deva Curl. Innersense is all organic and smells divine and they call their product lines “hair ceremonies”. The Hydrating Cream conditioner has saved my hair this winter and I swear by the I Hold Gel. My stylist is here in Atlanta (Southern Curl, ask for Beth) but she recommends putting the styling products directly into my soaking wet hair and scrunching it in. Then I use a microfiber towel out of the shower to scrunch out some of the wetness and I always air dry.

  • laura

    okay QUESTION for anyone who does sweaty workouts several times a week: do you wash/wet your hair every time after exercising? I know some people say they don’t shampoo it and just let it get wet while they’re showering, but for me, just getting my hair wet is a whole struggle that I wouldn’t have to deal with most days if I didn’t workout. Mine has this weird wavy, semi-curly, frizzy texture that’s easier to style without washing/wetting everyday. Aaaany advice on this would be great.

    • cryptdang

      I don’t wash my hair after exercising (I run, so get fairly sweaty), but I do wash every other day. It does take maybe 15-20 mins for my scalp/hair to dry out and my hair to be ready for my typical second-day routine.

    • Rosemary

      UGH SAME I struggle with this so much and have honestly started using good hair days as excuses to skip workouts…

      • I have easy to style straight hair, and I still use good hair days as an excuse to skip workouts…

    • mariahg

      After exercising and I’m not drenched in sweat, I’ll do the same routine that I would do with third-day hair (meaning haven’t washed nor worked out; see article): Spritz the roots with Klorane Dry Shampoo, spritz the middle and ends lightly with water, then use the Briogeo Spray Leave-In Conditioner on the middle and ends, but focus on the ends. If the ends are reallllly dry I’ll use a few drop of The Ordinary’s Marula Oil, and Argan Oil would work, too. You could then let your curls air dry, you could use the “plopping” method (highly recommend if you’re getting ready for an event), or you could put your hair in a tight french braid (my usual).

      If I’m sweaty to the point where it looks like I just worked the Dunk Tank at a carnival, I WILL wash my hair. I’ll always use conditioner, but it depends on the day of the week if I’ll use shampoo.

      Typing this out just makes me tired but boy do I love my curls!

      • Rebecca May

        I always french braid my hair before a work out and that helps keep it dryer. Then I will do an ACV H2O one a week to rinse my scalp, depending on how much I needs it. I also swap the H2O for tea in my mix, helps extend the time.

    • Lindsey Hook

      I have the same hair texture and get superr sweaty when I work out- every 2nd day instead of shampooing I use conditioner and just really scrub it into my scalp like shampoo and rinse well! Doesn’t dry my hair out but also doesn’t leave it weird and stringy from sweating!

    • Martha Pietruszewski

      I will just condition my hair in the shower, and not wash it with shampoo after a workout.

    • laura

      thank you for the recommendations! will definitely be trying them out this month & see how it works out. 🙂

      • Rae

        My favorite trick is to put my hair in a french braid before I work out. After showering or even the next morning if I worked out in the evening, I unwrap the braid. The braid gives it the curls a fresh look and you can then add any second-day products you would normally use too 🙂 This is a lifesaver during the summer when I run outside almost every day!

    • phixia

      I wash AFTER every workout because a sweaty scalp is an itchy nightmare- but I don’t shampoo, I just use the AsIAm coconut co-wash then (depending on where my hair is at emotionally) conditioner, usually the L’oreal elvive Extraordinary oil mask in the orange tub.

  • Leah

    I read Man Repeller daily and this is the first time I comment! Hi! These tips are amazing.
    So, I am white and have that hair texture that is curly but also pretty fine and lanky. When I was a teen it would curl in ringlets but has since gone through some kind of second hair puberty and now the curls are much looser. The issue I’ve had is that it’ll get greasy and flat at the root with too much moisturizing products but really dry and frizzy at the ends without them. I’ve also had pieces of hair that would refuse to cooperate and lay completely straight.
    I used to work in a hair salon and these are the best tips I’ve ever gotten: I use Schwarzkopf hair powder to keep the roots dry and voluminous. Dry shampoo works too. For the straight pieces: I got a super skinny curling wand and will use it on just those individual strands and try to curl them in different “directions” so they look natural and blend with the rest. It keeps damage to a minimum and works great!

  • K

    Your hair looks great! Very excited to try plopping now (such a weird name though).

    What works for me is:

    -This conditioner (not sure if available in US):
    -Combing hair through with fingers and scrunching whilst conditioner is in.
    -Scrunching again once conditioner is washed out.
    -Putting in no product at all EVER after this.
    -Air drying (but this is of course SO annoying in the middle of winter).
    -Being very firm with hairdressers about the things they should not do, even when they are convinced they should do it. This I have learnt after many, many painful mistakes. Particularly mistakes involving short layers.

  • cryptdang

    Any humidity-specific frizz tips? I live on the coast (poor me, I know) and winter fog is fierce. My hair is fine and putting a lot of heavy moisturizing products in just weighs it down and makes it look really thin!

    • mariahg

      I live on the Gulf Coast, so I understand your pain re: heat and humidity! I’ve just accepted the fact that there will always be some type of frizz going on with my hair each day. There are ways you can definitely work it to your advantage, like putting your hair up in a bun thus achieving the Pinterst-Perfect “messy bun” look, or french braid!

      As far as products, I try to keep things lightweight and avoid heavy creams. Harling referenced it above, but my go-to products are the Klorane Dry Shampoo and the Briogeo Leave-in Conditioner (and I also swear by the Briogeo Curl Cream- which is very light for a cream).

      • cryptdang

        Yeah, I have accepted a certain amount of frizz as part of the game as well. Funny how just putting my hair up didn’t cross my mind…my hair has been short for a long time and only recently got to a length where that is an option! Watch out pinterest, here I come.

    • Rosemary

      Argan oil is the best for humidity! Super light and a strong frizz deterrent. I scrunch it up from the ends and then smooth it over the lower 2/3rds. Also it’s very cheap at Trader Joe’s

      • cryptdang

        Ah thanks! Will check it out next time I’m at TJ’s!

  • Kate Ball

    The Silke London turban has changed my hair life. It’s just a silk turban that you bundle your hair into at night and it stops any frizz forming. It extends my next hair wash by about 3 days. Also for UK ladies Boots own brand curl creme costs £2.99, looks like something old ladies would use to set their blue rinse and is the one product I swear by.

  • Sandra Guedes

    The only thing missing is first you need to know what tipe of porosity you have, so you can find what products and oils work better for you!

    • mariahg

      Something I’ve always wanted to know! Can we get a follow-up article about this?

      • Sandra Guedes

        fist you have to clean your hair (if you have products with silicone you need a sulfate shampoo, I know some use ACV to clean their hair but they usually also use natural products only)
        then you put a strand of hair in the watter and you see where it stand!
        I have low porosity hair but my Highlights are high porosity, so they need oils!

    • Meshell Louise

      This is very true, Sandra. I came across that info on It also helped me find the right products for me. I found out my hair likes oils bit butters or creams. A gel cream will also work for me in a pinch.

  • mariahg

    Thanks for mentioning my tip, Harling!
    Another thing I learned from my best friend, fellow curly girl and MR reader, Alex, is that you need to squeeze out the excess water from your hair after rinsing before you put in your conditioner. Curly hair is so dry that it will try to absorb the water instead of the product if your hair is saturated with water from rinsing. And, you’ll end up using less conditioner in the long run.

    • Rosemary

      Whaaat this is exciting I’m gonna try it right now

    • Ellie

      Oh my goddddd I need to try this

    • Elizabeth

      I have pin straight hair and still do this, it’s the bestttt hair tip and not nearly enough people know about it!

      • mariahg

        Sometimes I’ll even towel dry my hair for a minute, especially if I’m going to do a deep-conditioning treatment! The conditioner or treatment then doesn’t slide out of my hair and i can leave it in while I shave my legs, use a body scrub, etc.

        • Elizabeth

          Take it to the next level–pin your hair up in a messy plop bun kinda thing (I think of mine as a topknot/Martha Washington hybrid) with a big plastic jaw clip while it’s soaking in. Even less slides out, plus it helps prevent bacne!

          • mariahg

            Oooooooh I need to invest in a clip for this purpose. I usually just twist it up into a bun, but it always slides undone.

    • Harling Ross

      yes a very important step! i do this

  • B.H.

    I need this information for hair that is wavy/curly in the back but limp and straight in the front and frizzy/fluffy/static-y absolutely everywhere. Thanks in advance.

    • Rosemary

      If you send a picture to they’ll give you great specific advice! But for starters, plopping will probably help a lot with frizz, as well as a lightweight oil like argan oil.

      • B.H.

        Thanks! I might just try that!

    • purrkeepsie

      1. use moisturizing hair products to wash/condition
      2. get a good cut from someone who understands curly hair
      3. use anti-frizz products to style, but beware of silicones (ingredients ending in”-cone”) because they might dry your curls out (ditto for step one)

      that should get you started.

      but everyone’s hair is different! I think a good cut is probably the only thing that helps everyone.

    • M Rae

      ugh same!! hairstory’s new wash helps make my all-over texture more consistent and less static-y. im in a VERY dry climate so this is already a huge feat. to style, ill often use a normal moisturizing cream all over (right now into blndn’s leave in cream) and then a more stiff salt/gel spray on the weird straight parts in the front and scrunch. carols daughter spray leave in conditioner surprisingly has some good non crunchy hold to it. if i have time, i’ll lightly diffuse the front parts to get the waves to set!

      • B.H.

        Thanks for the tips!


    Also. There are exactly 3 people I know (from the internet, per usual) who finally convinced me to wear my hair curly after SO MANY YEARS of heat styling the shit out of it: You (Harling), Leandra, and this person I follow on insta named Shona Vertue. Tysm for that push to reject society’s generally v narrow version of what is beautiful and accept my hair for the curly, occasionally unruly spectacle that it is (this sounds cheesy but I mean it!!).

    • Totes just found you on the gram and your curly hair is AHMAZING!!

      • Blythe this comment *made* my day thank you!! I feel I should also come clean and note that I looked at your insta and muttered, out loud (like a normal human), “oh my god she looks so cool.” Your selfie game is extremely strong and I respect that deeply.

        • (BLUSHING SO HARD)

          • Rosemary

            Just found yall both on the gram and you’re BOTH so cool! This is why I love the MR comment section

  • Larisa Ikeda

    My biggest challenge is that I’m fairly obsessive about the daily wash. I use Sacha Juan’s Normal Hair Shampoo and Conditioner, followed by R+Co’s Aircraft Pomade Mousse, which I brush through using Mason Pearson’s bristle and nylon brush, then let it air dry, then give it another brush to tame the frizz. Excited to try the “plopping” method, however silly it sounds/looks.

  • Ellen

    The Aveda curl line is great, also: Maroccanoil Curl Cream!

  • My hair is at a weird point where it’s super super dry and nearly straight (as in, it NEVER gets greasy but very noticeably turns to straw from the roots up), and I don’t have time to really concentrate on helping it out! :/ It used to be like a 2c/3a combo and now it’s a sad 2b. Right now I ‘wash’ it once a week with Shea Moisture conditioner and otherwise wear it in a protective braid or bun. When I have some free time, I use the trick from a past MR article where you take an entire bottle of conditioner and use it as a mask! The first time I did that I ended up with more defined waves than I’ve had in months, so I’m a fan.

    My biggest reservation about diving into curly haircare is that it seems so high-maintenance. My hair is so long that it takes almost an hour to wash, comb through, and rise out, and then another 8-12 hours to air-dry. I don’t want to use heat styling or many more products that would require more intense shampooing on a basis that’s more frequent than I can deal with and I’m not sure where to begin with leave-in type treatments.

    • Rosemary

      Plopping your hair, or even just scrunching it instead of combing it right out of the shower, will sometimes make a bigger difference than adding products would! Scrunching takes 10 seconds and has helped me significantly with definition. It sounds like you need moisture more than anything, finding one very good moisturizing product should help a lot and not change your routine too much!

      • I’ve been plopping for years! Sleeping on satin pillows too, and I don’t even own a comb or brush because all I do is gently detangle it with my fingers while it’s being conditioned. So I kind of ended up at this point where I was like… do I need to be doing leave-ins and masks and adding more oils or something? And stuff like gels and mousses… eesh. But so far, just using an immense amount of conditioner is kiiiind of helping!

        • Rosemary

          Oh wow, yeah it sounds like you’re doing a lot right, you just need a really strong moisturizing product! Gels and mousses can sometimes dry out your hair more, so I would avoid that, but just keep conditioning a ton and try to find a good oil or other moisture leave-in

      • mariahg

        Plopping is. the. best. But, it takes time! I’ll kind of do a half-Plop, if you will, wherein I’ll “plop” my hair on my pillow when I go to sleep. When I wake up the curls are soooooo bouncy!

  • Elizabeth Muñoz

    If you live in the NY area — i’d highly recommend visiting The Curly Hair Alchemist ( aka Meg Conkling aka the Goddess of Curls! She completely transformed my hair, my curls have never looked better! Plus she’s super sweet and gets to really know you and your hair. Her salon is an hour north of NYC in Dobbs Ferry — the view of the Hudson River from the salon chair is an added bonus 🙂

  • Nadia Johnson-Lisk

    If any readers live in Minneapolis, The Hive Salon on Hennepin and Broadway is a must-visit for curls. While they cut straight hair, all stylists are specialists in curly hair cuts, textures, colors, etc. Finding the right cut is the first part of the journey; products come after! (See Sasha or Kima if you go!).
    Also, an apple cider vinegar rinse 1-2 times per week (1:1 ACV:H2O) gets rid of any product buildup and keeps hair frizz down.

    • Nadia Johnson-Lisk
    • Caro A

      Me! Thank you!

      • Nadia Johnson-Lisk

        Tell Sasha Nadia sent you if you go!! She’s such a cool spirit and is truly a hair whiz. 🙂

    • mariahg

      Do you make your own ACV rinse or do you buy one?? There are so many different “recipes” online. MR commmunity- help!

      • Nadia Johnson-Lisk

        Make! Way cheaper/better. I do 1/2c acv to 1/2 water in one of those ketchup squeeze type bottles to help get into my roots. Your hair will smell like salad for a minute, but I always condition after so it never ends up smelling that way (that I’ve been told!).

        • mariahg

          Thanks! So, equal measurements of ACV and water??

          • Nadia Johnson-Lisk


  • Rosemary

    omg a tiny piece of me is in man repeller I can die happy now

    • Harling Ross

      🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Kubla

    Fabio Scalia in Brooklyn heights is amazing. The cut makes the biggest difference in wearing hair naturally curly.

  • Yes yes yessss to this! I also recently started figuring out to embrace/deal with my insane curly hair. I have 2 competing hair types in certain places and always had the worst time trying to handle it. Some of my curls are soft and wavy, some are super kinky and then other parts of my hair sometimes dry completely straight. It is bananas. Shea Moisture products, Deva Curl and only washing it once a week has been a game changer.

  • Mallory

    I’ve always had the straightest of straight fine hair, but then in December I took the plunge and got a “low-level” perm. Oh my goodness I did not realize how much effort and maintenance you curly hair girls actually had to go through every single day! I love the waves/curls and it has been a fun (and interesting?) learning experience, but these tips were super helpful and eyeopening. If anyone else has any more advice on dealing with perms and dealing with the straight to curly transition it would be much appreciated

    • Rosemary

      I’ve never had a perm, but my hair went from curly in childhood to wavy/straight during puberty, then turned curly again as I grew it out from a bob in middle school- so thanks to that crazy train, I feel you on the straight to curly transition! My biggest advice is NEVER be tempted to brush it. I don’t even comb it after I get out of the shower at this point, I just finger comb conditioner through, then scrunch the conditioner up and let the curls form before rinsing it out and scrunching my leave in products in. Getting a good curly cut (gradual layers are your best friend) and scrunching post-shower, then plopping with a tshirt are the things that make the biggest difference. Once the cut and technique are there, products are secondary- I’ve had great hair days with 3 Bumble & bumble curl products and great hair days with just a smidge of argan oil. Best of luck, I’m glad you’re enjoying your new curls!

  • tiabarbara

    not sure if you can buy this in the States, but Davroe make excellent products for curls! their Curl Creme Definer is my current hair staple. after washing my hair I’ll wrap it up in a turban towel to soak up as much excess water as possible then apply 2-3 nickel-sized dollops of Davroe Curl Creme Definer throughout my hair. if I’ve left my hair wrapped up too long and it’s a little too dry, I’ll spritz with salt water spray first, then apply the Definer, just to add some texture.

    I can’t wait to try out some of these tips! I have insanely thick hair that requires a massive undercut just to relieve a small modicum of its weight, so usually by Day 2 it’s lost all its life and I’ve had to result to tying it up (this isn’t such a bother now as it’s summer, but come winter I’d like to wear it down more often!)

  • Meshell Louise

    I use to use Deva Curl, but it did nothing for my fine curly hair. Then I went to Ouidad which was better, but not quite *it*. I tried CHS (curly hair solutions) they have Curl Keeper, & yes u can order online and get it delivered to USA. It also was ok. I then tried Bumble&Bumble, which I currently use. I use the Curl Care Custom Conditioner in the shower. Wash my face then detangle & I leave it in, no rinsing out. I wrap up in my Diva Towel :)) (best towel EVER!). I leave my hair in it while I apply my body lotion & face moisturizer etc. Curly hair needs and wants extra moisture, I learned this thru trial & error, so I give it a lot od moisture. I take my hair out of my towel and add a leave in conditioner from mid-lengths to ends x2. At night before bed I use a pump-ful of Moroccan Oil, mixing it in my hands and distributing it evenly throughout my hair. The last thing I do is gently and carefully brush my hair to distribute the oil with my paddle brush. Which doesn’t snag, pull or damage my hair. Luckily my hair has always been very elastic. My stylist said w/e ur doing to ur hair keep it up (that was 6 months after starting this regime). This has been my holy grail for almost a yr now. I Now LOVE my hair/curls <3

    • Kate Amery

      Wait – can you share more info on this towel?

  • LS

    The best advice I ever got for my curls was to stop shampooing, or at least stretch as long as possible. Curly hair can’t handle being regularly stripped of oils. Sounds gross but it’s amazing how quickly your hair/scalp adapt and how much less product & effort you need as a result. I started stretching an extra day or so at a time between shampoos until I only shampooed every 2-3 weeks. I’d rinse my hair every morning & use conditioner to detangle the ends, then apply a dime-size bit of creamy product & usually air dry (with maybe a quick hit with a diffuser drier at the end to add volume). I’m a regular swimmer so I was worried about chlorine damage – the way around this is to completely wet hair before getting in the pool (once it’s saturated with fresh water it’s unlikely to absorb more), then apply some conditioner & top with swim cap. Works very well, I never got chlorine damage even swimming 3-4 days/week. I say all of this in the past tense because I cut my hair into a pixie cut 4 years ago & haven’t looked back.

  • anna

    No one recommended Hairstory New Wash! It’s a conditioning cleanser that does not lather (takes time to get used to but now it’s routine). No need for conditioner, & it lets your hair fall exactly like it wants to. No surprises how it will turn out. Changed my wavy life. Then I alternate between their Hair Balm & Dishabille for a messy wavy perfect do. sometimes I also put in Sachajuan Hair Paste to encourage more separation. Also never use a Terry towel- I use Devacurl’s microfiber towel to press dry. & when I put the products in, I cup the hair & scrunch it up to encourage more curl.

    • Zauberwald

      New Wash is insanely overpriced. I achieve better results with As I am co-wash, which rings in at $7.99 at Target!

  • Gene Day

    New wash by is the best thing for me (medium curl, fine hair, not terribly thick). I get (sometimes unpredictable) longest lasting curls from washing at night and letting it air dry while I sleep. I use aloe and Hair Balm, sometimes Dressed Up with Undressed all mixed together and scrunched through. I just go through with a straightener or curling iron to shape anything near my face that truly isn’t cooperating. I used deva products once at the absolute worst cut of my adult life and I couldn’t stand how heavily fragranced they are, not to mention crunchy.

    • Gene Day

      And I only brush it immediately pre washing (every other day usually) to stimulate my scalp and pull out loose hairs. Sometimes an apple cider vinegar rinse before washing if it hasn’t been cooperating. I pin or clip some sections for volume and shape management if I will be up for a while before bed. The mental space all this takes up is absurd. But much more manageable when you don’t actively loathe your cut, shape is so important.
      Good luck everyone !

    • Harling Ross

      dying to try new wash

      • Hannah

        Hair Balm is pretty great by hair story as I am an air dry-only curly lady. My only gripe is that it doesn’t soften my hair as much as I’d like, but def defines the curl/wave quite nice and reduces frizz. Also, Harling, I love you for compiling this for us, the curly crew of the world. I’m pretty much constantly on the search for a new routine/product/brush/literally anything that makes curly hair it’s best, probably for the rest of my life. one more thing – CAN SOMEONE PLEASE HELP WITH MY TANGLES. I can’t find a good detangler that doesn’t make my fine curly hair greasy after. Please and thank you <3

      • Zauberwald

        Check out the co-wash by As I Am (available at Target), if you’re not keen on spending $40 for the New Wash.

    • Sandra Guedes

      I know devaculr doesn´t work for everyone, but i think you are suposed to break the cast so they dont look crunchy, I usually dillute it woth water

  • Sophia F.

    I straightened my hair for 15+ years, until last fall. I realized I wanted to embrace the curls and learn how to work with them, both because 1) I have two super curly daughters and think their hair is fantastic and 2) I live in Seattle and the weather is not a friend to blowouts. r/curlyhair is a total game changer; I learned more from twenty minutes there than I had ever figured out on my own. Also, the Naturally Curly website can help you identify what type of curly hair you have, and thus what products might work well for you. Right now I wash/condition with Deva Curl, and crucially, do NOT fully rinse the conditioner, just squeeze out enough so my hair doesn’t feel greasy (sometimes, if my hair is dry, this means not rinsing at all). I scrunch Shea Moisture’s Curl Enhancing Smoothie into my damp ends, followed by Deva Curl’s Ultra Defining Gel all over… and I do these last two steps upside down in the shower, after using a wide toothed comb. Then plop/use a tee to gently squeeze out extra water, and then diffuse because I can’t stand the feeling of wet hair. My hair has totally transformed in the approximately six months I’ve been doing this.

  • Be careful of using low-poo with silicone-containing products (Mistress Hydrating Hair Balm has em). I did that and ended up with world’s worst build up. Low poo isn’t strong enough to remove silicones, you’ll need a sulfate shampoo for that.

    If you do mix sulfate-free (“curly girl”) products with silicones products, you’ll need to use a clarifying sulfate shampoo every 1-2 weeks.

    • Harling Ross

      ahhh this is so good to know thank you!

    • Abbey Leroux

      That is good to know. May I add on by recommending good ol’ Apple Cider Vinegar as the build-up tonic? I keep a spray bottle of it in my shower. After I wet my hair I spray the ACV into, through, over, and around it. Let it sit for 5 minutes or so while I perform other shower rituals, then rinse. Low-poo and condition as usual. My Deva-curl hairstylist introduced me to this in the salon. It works. It’s cheap. And it makes me hair MUCH cleaner and softer.

      • Oh great idea! I have hard water so that would probably clear some buildup for me.

  • pamb

    Squealing because I use the Deva Curl One Condition and just bought the Low Poo to try.

    That Tony Moly mask (and the matching sleeping pack) were on the clearance shelf last week at Ulta. I passed it up, now I’ll have to run back and get them!

    • Harling Ross

      yes! you won’t regret

      • pamb

        Just to let anyone reading comments know… I ran back to Ulta today; they don’t have the Tony Moly Mayo and Zayo online, but they had it in store on clearance for $4.13 from $16.50. Bought both, excited to try them!

  • tequilamockingbird


    & for portland folks, tiffanie zaharko is just the absolute best. i don’t live there anymore & god i miss her haircuts.

  • Such good tips, but I have no idea what to do with my hair. It’s naturally wavy, but can fall straight in the cold and gets super frizzy in humidity. What’s a girl to do?

    Eva |

  • Harling Ross

    i can’t believe no one has commented on the absurdity of my “before” pic

    • jr

      bc you look cute in the before pic!

      but if you want:
      lolz your curls don’t know what they’re doing

    • May

      you look like a spectacular pre-raphelite

    • Meshell Louise

      Harling you really don’t look that bad. Almost looks like mine before I found what works for me. It really is trial and error. You have to find your porosity, if your hair likes oils or creams, and since most curly hair is usually more than 1 type of curl…mine is 2c, 3a/b type curls. But, once I found all this out it has made such a difference in my hair care and time it takes to do…15 minutes from out of shower to ready! Now, I can live with that 🙂

    • Rosemary

      it’s because we all relate

    • Rebekah Jane

      Absurdity? That’s just how I look every morning.

  • Franki

    My hair is super curly, but ita also pretty thin and fine, when I let my curls air dry they usually look super flat on top and poofy on the bottom plus it takes QUITE awhile to be totally dry to ‘scrunch it out’; so this is super *extra* but I actually bought a standing hair dryer that I sit under for 15 minutes – and I do this everyday because I have to get my hair wet every day ..have not mastered the second day curls.. :/ I usually just eat breakfast while I’m sitting under so it’s not a total waste of time, but it is so worth it, my hair is soft and fluffy (in a good) for the day, I think it also helps it to stay less frizzy. The dryer I got was $99 and it’s on wheels so I just up to a chair! I use Deva curl products as well as oribe curl gloss << it's amazing 🙂

  • Georgia Dight

    Does anyone have any reccommendations for where to get a great curly hair cut in Sydney?

    • Betsy Greaves

      I don’t know about curly, but Edwards and Co. is always amazing albeit expensive, and Keith Archer at Strobe Hair and Makeup in Paddington is great! I know he has a few curly clients and they always look brilliant.

  • Miriam Kolker

    Wear a cotton t-shirt like a crown to bed! It’s the Tia and Tamara advice I finally tried. I wash my very curly hair at night and used to put it in a french braid to sleep, lengthening the curls. I would keep my hair in this braid for the entire next day, then on day two be able to wear it “down” (down being a half-ponytail). However, just last month I tried the cotton t-shirt method. After showering, I flip a shirt over my damp hair, keeping my hair completely down, sometimes even without product. In the morning, my hair is dry and the boing-iest I’ve ever seen. Highly recommend.

  • Hannah

    Does have product/care recommendations for keeping curls happy in hard water (aka. high mineral content)? I recently moved to Santa Barbara, where the water is quite hard, and my curls are limp, greasy, and sad. I usually shampoo once a week, and increasing that hasn’t helped at all.

    • I used to live in Austin–hard water but not the hardest. I used the Deva Low Poo shampoo and Deva conditioner, probably twice a week. I also rotated in a heavier conditioning treatment about once a week. And I would switch to a different shampoo every so often to help really cleanse my hair. Almost didn’t matter what other shampoo. Styling-wise, my hair seemed to respond best to just a little mousse to give it lift, I used Oribe, and a little gel. For gel, again I used Deva’s. I experimented with others that I liked better on my hair, but I have sensitive skin, and Deva products never make me break out at all. My hair looked best if I air dried all the way, using high heat but low speed. I’m in Seattle now. No hard water and much more moisture in the air. So I’m adjusting to different problems, but finding my way. Hard water was definitely a challenge, but once I figured it out, my hair was the sexiest and most badass it has ever been. Good luck!

  • Hannah

    Oh also, loose braid for sleeping is a must for me to avoid tangles. Recommend.

    • Rosemary

      Just wanted to share my perspective that this probably won’t work for some types of curly hair, I’ve tried it and braiding completely messes up my curl pattern no matter how loose, it’ll take my 3A hair to 2B in less than an hour (which is sometimes a look I love and embrace, but not if I’ve just washed, scrunched, and styled it to get more definition haha). My anti-frizz sleeping strategy is to flip all my hair up above my head so I don’t roll around on it! Sometimes keeping it together with a scrunchie at my crown helps too

  • Ally

    After swimming in the ocean my hair always looks best, so I can see how dumping a bowl of saltwater of them could help a lot! But isn’t the salt gonna dry out the hair? Would love to hear if any one knows if salt is really that bad for your hair!

    • Sandra Guedes

      yes please! I need answers! I once filles a soda bottle with seawater because it helped with the friss but my mother yelled at me because she said it would ruin my curls ta

    • Zauberwald

      yes, it is really that bad for your hair. I had a love affair with salt sprays one summer, and had to cut about two inches off after a few months, because they were parched beyond repair!

  • Aydan

    that’s my hair routine!!!! without the masks because I have slightly less coiled curls, so while dry, not too dry!! Also see Hayde at Culter Salon (she works at both Soho & UWS) — She’s amazing and always makes my curls beautiful while cutting them in such a way that they are gorgeous for the next several months!!!! (note: I also have bangs, so she’s especially amazing!!)

  • chouette

    Can I just add Erin at Hour Rose Salon in Williamsburg to the list? She’s cut my hair for YEARS and I followed her from Mousey Brown when she opened her own salon! It’s so cute and sunny and she cuts great hair (and does really good color esp. balayage if that’s your thing!)

  • Sandra Guedes

    Also Look up if therés any curl facebook group in your area. I live in southamerica and we dont have access to a lot of curly hair products, but people from those facebook groups organice to test and evaluate every hair product in our market so talk with one is curl friendly!

  • Christine Dyson

    Well done Harling, the struggle is worth it, have been using the routine for wavy hair from the Curly Girl handbook and it’s been hair changing and possibly life changing.
    The ironic thing is I’ve always regretted not having curly hair like my Dad, turns out it’s been there in hiding for 50 years. The money I spent on perms in the 80s…

  • Abbey Leroux

    Harling, it’s been a few months since the Keratin report. Have your curls returned to normal by now or are they still feeling smoother than au-natural?

  • Amanda

    I, too, love how my curly wild hair enhances my maximalism!!! I also find that if I want to have 2nd/3rd/4th day hair without washing, I can cut down on frizz by putting my hair in tight French braids overnight and then spritzing in the morning. My hair doesn’t jive with coconut oil (and it’s expensive) so I use almond oil instead and rub it into my scalp and through the ends once per week! It seriously makes my hair grow soooooooo much faster and thicker!

  • Ella Cohen

    Kathryn at Ouidad salon gave me the best curly haircut I’ve ever had! She knew exactly how much to cut to avoid over-shrinking as it dried. I like to be super low maintenance with my hair, so now I just towel dry for half a minute, scrunch my damp curls with Ouidad VitaCurl Tress Effects Gel, and go. There’s no crunch and my curls stay super defined.

    I’m sure all curly girls know this, but my here’s my best pro-tip: if you have a big event and want “perfect” curls, do your whole curl routine ~2 hours before you even need to start getting ready. Read, watch TV, or answer emails while your hair dries naturally. The less moving and shaking you do, the better the curls.

  • Fawcett Proust

    My hair: lightened from a dark, ashy brown to the lightest blonde my salon offers. Between 3A and 3B curl pattern. Shoulder length. Thick density, fine strands.

    My routine:
    I’m an artificial blonde, so I use the AG Sterling Silver shampoo and conditioner in the shower to keep my hair platinum. They’re pretty moisturizing. I rinse with cool water at the end and shake out some of the moisture and scrunch. I never towel dry my hair.

    Once I’m out of the shower, I use a few pumps of the original MoroccanOil Treatment and It’s a 10 Potion 10 Leave-In and scrunch them both in. Then, I use the Bed Head Screw It jelly-oil and scrunch that in as well. I use the Bed Head Foxy Curls creme and scrunch that through my length and finish up with the Bed Head Get Twisted finishing spray.

    I let my hair air dry for about 3-4 hours. When I wake up each morning, I spray my hair until it’s damp with a mixture of Redken Diamond Oil and water. Then I scrunch Screw It, MoroccanOil and It’s a 10 into my hair and I’m left with soft, defined, shiny curls.

    I love Celeb Luxury BondFix and use that once a week, and I use the ApHogee Protein Treatment every 6 weeks to revive my curl pattern. I don’t ever use heat on my hair since I lighten it. I never have breakage or any lost hair with this combination.

  • Fayla Garcia

    Hair masks are also super handy with my curly hair!!

  • Ginny

    Does anyone have any tips for curly but short hair?? I have a really short bob, so find it gets easily overloaded with products and ends up as grease-city! There’s only so much scrunching a gal can do, and my dreams of Marilyn Monroe curls are turning into a Bob Ross nightmare! Much love from the UK fellow MR’s x

  • Basil

    This really helpful. I have dead straight hair (like, it can be in a bun for 24 hours, be taken out and be dead straight again within 15 seconds), but my son has curly hair. I have no clue how to look after it, and it looks like my daugter’s hair is heading the same way
    Could you do the same kind of article but for people with fine hair? It’s it’s own series of hell. The only thing that improved it for me was pregnancy, but that’s a bit extreme for good hair

  • Sara Catherine Floyd

    My fave fave fave spray product is French Girl Organics Sea Spray!!! Especially perfect if you like your hair to feel sort of like you just got out of the ocean! When I’m not using that I use Pureology Curl Complete spray! I’m going to have to make sure to try the plopping method!

  • olga

    as a curly babe thnx u for this

  • Rebekah Jane

    A great curl refresh tip if you’re a Deva girl from my brilliant stylist – fill a continuous spray bottle with a squirt of Deva One Conditioner and some warm water and shake it up. I use it on three and four day old hair when Mister Right or the Bumble Curl Primer just won’t cut it. I get my hair between damp and soaking, flip and defuse until happy. While I admire you air-dry ladies, my hair likes to keep every drop of water until the last possible second and nothing ruins an outfit like a wet collar.

    Also, I also use a very thin curling wand (the SHAME, I KNOW) to remind certain curls to stay out of my face. Otherwise, I would go into a hair rage midway through the day and start eyeing the scissors.

  • Lisa Rudy Wollek

    Want the best frizz free curls ever? Go on and search for user Rudeechicks Super Soaker method. Tried and true!

  • Angela Rollins

    Yooooo. So I’m a dancer. Which means I do my hair and then have to put it in a top knot at some point in the day and then I’m screwed for the rest of the week because if I take the hair bands out of my hair… my hair is still ESSENTIALLY in a top knot. Needless to say, this is bad for my mental health.

    Anybody have experience with getting their hair out of a top knot and back to looking good? Maybe there are different ways of securing it in the knot that will make it more happy when I take it down?

  • Mona Cali

    I’ve always used to get frizz which was quite annoying. I found that conditioner and leave in conditioners mixed together work well. Below is a video to help

    Let me know if it has also worked for you applying this method.

    All the best