Hair Care

The Best Curly Hair Routine To Follow and Mistakes You Must Dodge!

Everyone adores curly hair. Well, except for those of us with natural curls (without the correct curly hair routine).

Written by Manal Yahya

On Apr 6, 2023 – 13 minutes read

The Best Curly Hair Routine To Follow and Mistakes You Must Dodge

Do you have a long history of curly hair issues? Anyone with curly hair would have to agree with that. Despite everyone gushing over the defined and ideal curls you put so much effort into managing, styling, and maintaining a routine, you can still have your moments of irritation with the curls. I mean, who said managing curls was easy? But you can manage them – with a curly hair routine of your own.

According to hair experts —more importantly, experts with curly hair, if you regularly follow a healthy curly hair care routine, your curls will be at their best behavior. They will thrive. Once you find good hair care or styling routine, you stick to it for good. That’s how you manage textured hair.

Curly Hair Routine For Defined Curls

Wondering whether your curls will be —dreamy (because they do have good days) or nightmare (especially if you don’t take good care of your hair) is a constant struggle. If you have textured hair, I bet you have different hair care products lined up on your shelf.

From shampoos and conditioners for curly hair to gels and hair mousses, you name it, you have it. You may feel bad about using too many products on your hair. But experts believe that using different products for different purposes does improve the condition of your curls. 

Curly hair routine for defined curls

The ideal good hair day is a compilation of many such products you have loaded with. Why? Because all the products that you are using are formulated specifically for certain purposes. For instance, hair oil is formulated to give your hair shine while hair mousse is for volumizing hair.

When these products are combined, you can maximize the results. This concept of pampering curls with multiple products is named “curly cocktail” and it is widely known. You can find experts mentioning how cocktailing can benefit to get defined curls. So, start cocktailing hair care products into your regimen!

Step-By-Step Routine For Curly Hair

Here’s a step-by-step routine for your curly hair that you can replicate at home. You don’t have to go to the salon now and then if you follow this routine regularly. Some products mentioned below may not work for your curls, but with an episode of trial and error, you can find out what works best for your curls. Here is what you can follow. 

#1 Detangle

This is an entirely optional step in your curly hair routine. If you have dry and coarse hair that gets knotted easily, this step will help you post-shower.

Step-By-Step Routine For Curly Hair

A few hours before showering, you can either apply hair oil to prevent your hair and scalp from becoming too dry during the next step or deep conditioner to detangle your knots. Be careful and gentle to avoid breaking your hair during detangling.

Curly Hair Routine: #2 Cleanse

If your hair is not clean, it will be apparent on your hair. Your skin, including the scalp, renews itself and sheds dead skin cells, and replaces them with new ones every 28 days. These dead skin cells along with product residue and dirt on your scalp and hair need to be cleansed and clarified. Cleansing is a balance between getting rid of these buildups and pesky silicones. without stripping the natural oils from your hair. It’s like a reset button. 

For this cleansing process, you need silicone-free and sulfate-free clarifying shampoo that removes slime, gunk, and residues from your hair. These are gentle and effective. On the other hand, traditional shampoos contain drying alcohols, parabens(1), sulfates, and silicones. These are harmful to your strands and you don’t want that. You need to avoid using products that will further dry out your hair strands. This does not mean that you can use shampoo every day.

rinse hair

Limit the usage to once a week because overwashing hair is a real thing and it can leave your hair extremely dry resulting in brittle and rough curls. It can irritate your scalp and cause dandruff as well. While shampooing, focus on your roots to ensure that shampoo cleans up the dirt and buildups accumulated on your scalp. 

But, certain types of curls may get frizzy even from regular shampooing. For them, co-washing or no-poo is the best option for curly hair routine. This means, skip shampoo completely and cleanse your hair with a conditioner. It will protect coily(2) and coarse hair from losing moisture but leave other types of curls over-conditioned and lifeless. So this option is not good for soft and wavy curls. For fine curls with low porosity, a low-poo with commercial cleansing ingredients is better as their hair tends to get more easily weighed down. 

#3 Condition

After washing your shampoo, the next step is hydrating your curls. For that, you need a conditioner. You have three options —conditioner, deep conditioner, and leave-in conditioner (provides benefits throughout the day). You don’t need all three! It depends upon your hair type. All three have numerous benefits. The primary one is, of course, moisturizing and hydrating the hair. Additionally, it can keep your cuticles and locks soft, detangle your hair, and reduce frizz. When your hair is wet, its main ingredient —cationic surfactant— sticks and coats to the strands to replenish the moisture the shampoo may have stripped.

As with other aspects of a curly hair routine, how you condition your hair depends on your hair type. If you have coily hair, you need to lock in moisture so you need to do the deep conditioning. You don’t have to worry about leaving white residues behind either. For curly hair type, you can either wash the conditioner entirely or leave it in—not wash the conditioner entirely or use a leave-in conditioner. Leaving a little conditioner can trap hydration in for longer, which means you have a long-lasting definition. If you have wavy hair, you can rinse the hair but you also have the option to leave it in.

condition cleanse hair

So slather on a rich formula (you need only a grape-sized amount) —focusing more on the ends as your hair may look flat and greasy if applied to your roots. Work your fingers through the curls easily or use a wide-toothed comb as your curls soak in the moisture. You can never use enough conditioner, so do not hold back.

When you are choosing a conditioner, check the ingredients closely. Many conditioners use silicones and you need to stay clear of them. Choose one with high concentrations of plant-based ingredients, moisturizers, emollients(3), and humectants. If your hair has low porosity, avoid choosing heavy and creamy formulas as you don’t want to weigh down your curls. 

Curly Hair Routine: #4 Seal

After washing out your conditioner, it is time to seal your hair cuticles with a cold water rinse. By rinsing with cold water, your cuticles will lay smooth, meaning better reflection of light and an increase of shine.

cold shower

Tilt your head back and gently rinse your hair with the cold stream of water. If you are aiming for slippery seal-skin texture, be careful about rinsing out the conditioner entirely. 

#5 Enhance

Once you have cleansed and conditioned your hair, you can further moisturize your hair with creams —after shower cream or styling cream—, lotions, leave-in moisturizers, hair mousses, or foams. Because the best way to layer products on your hair is by applying from lightest to heaviest products. So start with these light products. These are amazing curl enhancers as well. You can protect your hair from dryness and breakage by using styling creams.

curly hair routine after shower

Furthermore, they can soften, define, and volumize your strands. An after-shower cream also does everything good to your curls. After showering, you can comb your curls to detangle (if any knots are left tangled), then apply a quarter-sized amount of any of these products from roots to ends. These products can provide essential nutrients to your hair and will never fail to leave your hair glamorous.

Curly Hair Routine: #6 Hold

The next step is using products to seal everything in, define your luscious curls, and hold them in place. For wavy curls, this step will add structure to looser shapes, nourish, and elongate curls. From a light hold to a much stronger hold, you can prolong the time of enhancing from other products you have used before. You can use gels that can hold moisture in, enhance, define your locks, and control frizz.

curly hair routine for beginners

Some gels may even give extra shine to your hair. Take a generous amount of gel and seal the product into your hair in sections. Parting hair is better while sealing. Some women with curly hair use jelly or custard along with gel to increase the clumps and hold. Although one of the ingredients that are high in concentration in gels is glycerin, this humectant may cause frizz in a humid environment if used on certain types of curls.

#7 Dry 

Now comes the drying part. Air-drying your hair is always the best choice, especially for curly hair types. But if you are in a hurry to go out, you can use your hairdryer. However, you cannot omit using an added diffuser attachment. Don’t even think about drying without a diffuser. A diffuser will add volume to your hair and define your curls to the perfection you desire.

blow dry hair

To boost volume at your roots, flip your hair within ten-minute windows while you are waiting for it to dry, and don’t bring your fingers to touch your curls. Work in sections but don’t forget to go easy on the heat. You don’t want to go full force on your already delicate curls. Also, do not forget to use heat protectant spray. Unprotected curls are more prone to damage, flat curls, and dry curls. So protect your curls at all costs.

Curly Hair Routine: #8 Style

Now comes the final part: styling your hair as you desire. You can style your curls in any curly style but end it with spritzing a hairspray to finish your look. 

3b curly hair routine

This is it! This is the perfect and best routine for curly hair. With these steps, you’d no longer feel like you are trying to win a losing battle. So, follow these sequential steps and flaunt your smooth, shiny, and frizz-free curls!

The Two Big NO’s For Curly Hair

Before you purchase hair care or even styling products for your curly hair routine, you have to know the big fat ‘NOs’. The first frown is for choosing clarifying shampoos with sulfates(4). They are drying, extra harsh, can strip your hair of moisture, and leave your hair dehydrated. Eliminating both sulfate and artificial moisture in the silicone version can transform your curls wonderfully. 

The other big no is for using combs or brushes instead of fingers to detangle hair post-shower. There are a host of reasons why you should lose combs for curly hair and that’s for another day. By using fingers instead of combs, you can work gently through your tangles but you have to be extremely gentle.

Otherwise, you would be ripping through the tangles with a comb and disrupt your curl pattern, causing breakage, frizz, and also comprise length retention. You can use a wide-tooth comb or denman brushes to gently comb and detangle while conditioning your hair. So eliminate using both shampoos with sulfates and detangling with combs or brushes. 

Common Mistakes To Avoid In Curly Hair Routine

Whether you have type 2A or 3C curls, you must have had your own set of challenges. Dryness, breakage, and frizzy hair? The struggle is real and there is no doubt that caring for curls is a bit handful. To avoid adding more to the struggle, you should be careful to not make common curly hair mistakes that many women regret. Here are the mistakes you should stay clear off:

Over-cleansing Your Hair

How often do you wash your hair? How many times a week? Washing your hair depends upon a handful of reasons such as scalp moisture, sebum production, and so on.

curly girl method

But when you over-cleanse your hair with shampooing too frequently, your hair will lose its natural oils or your hair and scalp may dry out, causing hair breakage and damage. So limit your shampooing to once a week and washing your hair just once or twice a week.

Skipping Conditioner

To keep your curly hair from turning dull, dry, and frizzy, you need to keep your locks hydrated. For that, you can choose not to skip using your conditioner. Because using shampoo alone cannot do everything. A hydrating conditioner (you have many such conditioners specifically formulated for different types of curly hair in the market) in your curly hair routine can protect your hair while keeping your locks nourished and hydrated.

curly hair routine after shower

Don’t forget that rinsing your hair upside down can flatten out your curls and lose volume. But since textured hair needs lasting moisture, you can take a step further and invest in a leave-in conditioner. This is an extremely helpful product for curly hair. It additionally forms a barrier around your delicate locks from UV damage and anything that can damage your curls.

Not Using Diffuser while Drying Hair

But air-drying is the best way to dry any hair. But if you are in a hurry and you choose to dry your hair with a blow dryer, always remember to add a diffuser attachment to limit the amount of direct heat hitting your curls.

best curly hair routine

It will certainly help prevent friction and frizz. Or you can avoid the dryer altogether and use an old T-shirt to remove excess water. 

Not Applying Hair Styling Products Quick Enough

It is often said that you should apply your styling products when your hair is still damp from the shower. If you are not quick enough, you may affect your hair cuticle and cause your locks to be undefined and frizzy. So before your frizz set in, apply your styling products. 

best curly hair routine for guys

Leaving hair Unprotected While Sleeping

Do you sleep on cotton pillowcases? If yes, change your pillowcase immediately. Cotton fabric can soak up your hair’s natural oil and posture while you sleep. So either you start sleeping on a silk pillowcase or wrap your hair in a silk scarf before sleeping. A daily thing to include in your curly hair routine.

best curly hair routine for 3b hair

You have to reduce the friction your curls are exposed to. It does sound high maintenance, but curly hair is unfortunately high maintenance. 

Not Getting Regular Trims

Split ends cause more damage than you’d like. One problem nobody likes is the knots it gets tangled in. This is a sign for you to take your scissors out.

best curly hair routine for 3a hair

You can only stretch regular trims for up to 8 to 12 weeks. But if you don’t trim your ends as required (at least once every four months), you will make your hair tangled and further damage your curls. 

Not Bothering with Hair Treatments

Treating your hair weekly or every other week as a curly hair routine can immensely help your curls. You can make protein hair masks at home with natural ingredients you have at home that can add protein and bring life to your hair. We all need sufficient protein for a healthy diet. Similarly, your hair needs protein for it to be healthy.

If you combine some oils with your regular shampoo, you can deep condition your hair and get proteins. You have other hair treatments for curly hair such as hair masks to keep your delicate strands healthy. You will be left with healthy and bouncy curls if you pamper your hair with love and care.

What order should curly hair products go in?

These mistakes are common among curly heads. And they wonder why can’t they tame their curls. Dodge these mistakes in your curly hair routine and you can tame them just fine. 

If you are not fond of your curls, here’s a quick reminder: there are a lot of women who wish for curls like Lorde, Zendaya, many others with a head of curls. They use styling products to curl their straight hairs! You don’t have to apologize for your curls, instead, embrace them and flaunt those bouncy curls!

  1. ChemicalSafetyFacts. (2021). Parabens. (Online). Available at
  2. Taliah Waajid Brand. (2020). 5 Characteristics Of Strong, Healthy Coily, Curly & Wavy Hair. (Online). Available at
  3. Crown. (n.d.). Emollients. (Online). Available at
  4. Reader’s Digest Magazines Ltd. (2021). The Truth About Sulfates. (Online). Available at

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Manal is a lifestyle influencer who has spent years delving into the world of beauty, fashion, and wellness- a pro when it comes to anything woman.

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