The Ultimate Curly Hair Care Routine: How to Keep Your Curls Healthy and Strong

Here’s exactly how to wash, protect, and keep your curls looking as beautiful as ever.

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Best products for curly hair

Curly hair has a mind of its own. Take it from me – I’ve been a curly girl since I was born and my bedhead has not always been pretty.

Before I put any serious consideration into how I cared for my curls, waking up in the morning always proved to be an adventure. On good days, I woke up and my hair looked like a picture out of a magazine, no styling necessary. On other days, well…let’s just call it a train wreck.

Since I realized my “do nothing but expect great things” attitude towards my hair wasn’t cutting it, I invested time trying out curly hair products, talking to stylists, and reading up on how best to wash, protect, and grow curly hair well.

{RELATED POST: How to Care for Your Hair… the Right Way}

Throughout the years, I have developed a solid routine to keep my curly hair healthy, strong, fast growing, frizz-free, and more. Today, I would like to share it with you!

The Ultimate Curly Hair Care Routine:

Step 1: Shampoo Your Curls Once a Week

Once a week?! That’s disgusting, you may be thinking.

But hear me out: over-washing curly hair can dry out your hair tremendously, leaving you with brittle, rough strands. Further, it can irritate your scalp or cause excess dandruff, which nobody wants.

Quite honestly, you may find you can go even longer than once a week without washing your hair; 2-3 weeks may work better for you. I find that by Sunday, after 7 days of not washing my hair, my curls feel a bit oily and dirty, so it’s time for a wash. Experiment with your curls and see what duration works best for you!

When shampooing, focus on applying the product on your roots. Combing it through your ends is fine, but the roots are the most important areas to have the shampoo work through! This will ensure the product cleans up any oil or dirt that may have accumulated on your scalp since your last wash.

I have tried out many different shampoos, but here are the three best curly hair shampoos, in my experience:

Best shampoos for curly hair: Sebastian Drench shampoo, Tresemme Luxurious Moisture shampoo, Project Beauty Hairgurt shampoo

Like I said, these are the three best shampoos for curly hair, and I’ve tried more than my fair share of them. The Sebastian Drench is my personal fave, even though it’s a bit expensive. I find that it, and its corresponding conditioner, make my hair feel the most hydrated and moisturized.

However, the TRESemmé Luxurious Moisture and the Project Beauty Hairgurt are both fabulous curly hair shampoos in their own right, as they both smell amazing (which is always a plus!) and leave my hair smooth and clean.

The biggest takeaway from shampoo shopping is that you are looking for a brand that hydrates your locks, keeping them from getting dry, coarse, or brittle. 

So, find yourself a good shampoo for curly hair, but don’t wash too often!

Related reading: The Best Drugstore Shampoos for Oily Hair

Step 2: Condition, Condition, Condition

Conditioning curly hair is huge. Conditioner keeps your hair soft, shiny, and tangle-free. If it’s a good conditioner for curly hair, you shouldn’t need more than a grape-sized amount, and once you apply it, you should be able to work your fingers through your curls easily.

I condition my curls almost every time I shower. This typically turns out to be conditioning 5-6 days a week. I am typically a night shower-er, so, if by the evening my hair feels healthy and hydrated, I will simply let the warm water run through it. Most days, however, I feel like my hair needs a little pick-me-up, so I make sure to condition.

When conditioning, focus the product on the middles to ends of your locks only. If you work conditioner into your roots, your hair will look greasy and flat once your hair dries.

Below are my three favorite conditioners: 

Best conditioners for curly hair: Sebastian Drench Conditioner, Tresemme Luxurious Moisture conditioner, Renpure Coconut Milk conditioner

My hair stylist swears that the Sebastian Drench Conditioner is the best conditioner for curly hair, and I can see why. The tiniest amount of this conditioner goes a long way. My hair feels so incredibly soft and luxurious after using this product.

The TRESemmé Luxurious Moisture Conditioner and the Renpure Coconut Milk Conditioner are perfect alternatives if you are looking for more affordable options. All three curly hair conditioners provide nourishment and vitamins to keep your strands strong and tangle-free.

Step 3: Apply an After Shower Cream

AHH these are my absolute favorite products to share with you all. I consider them THE best hair products for curly hair. I have found some after shower products that have revolutionized my curls.

These products are amazing — they’re total must-haves. They nourish your locks, define your curls (no more weird wave/straight/curl messes!), and volumize your hair! After I apply one of these products and let it dry, my hair looks like I just strolled out of a salon every time. I can’t sing their praises enough.

Here’s how to use ’em: after showering, comb through your locks. Then, apply a quarter sized amount of one of these products all throughout your curls, from roots to ends.

These are my top 2 picks for the best after shower creams for curly hair: 

Best after shower creams for curly hair: Briogeo Curl Charisma leave in defining creme, Marc Anthony Argan Oil Volumizing Cream

Both of these products are to die for. And if the pros I listed above weren’t enough, both of these products provide essential nutrients to your hair, making sure your locks are healthy and shiny.

The Briogeo Curl Charisma uses rice amino and avocados, leaving out the icky sulfates, silicones, and parabens that will damage your hair! The Marc Anthony Volumizing Crème is equally as impressive, as it is infused with keratin (a fibrous protein), argan oil, shea butter, and more.

Make sure to stock up on these creams to make your curls looking perfectly glamorous!

Step 4: Apply a Hair Mask Once a Month

This step is by no means crucial, but it is nice to give your curls some extra love once in awhile especially if you apply heat often. 

Hair masks can be leave in or rinse out, like this Hair Butter shown below:

Best hair mask for curly hair: Quenching coconut curls hair butter

The purpose of hair masks for curly hair is to rejuvenate your curls, hydrate dry strands, and tame frizz. They also leave your locks bouncy and shiny.

The Quenching Coconut Curls Hair Butter is my personal favorite hair mask for curly hair, but you can easily make your own DIY hair mask for curls with ingredients from your kitchen, like this one:

• Coconut Oil Mask: Apply 1 tbsp of coconut oil to the ends of your hair. Gather your hair into a low bun and cover with plastic wrap. Leave in for at least 30 minutes, or sleep with it! Wash it out in the shower once you’re done.

If you want some more hair mask ideas, check out this post for damaged hair masks or this post for avocado hair treatments!

Related reading: The All-Time Best Haircuts for Frizzy Hair (+ Products & Tips)

Step 5: If You’re Going to Use Heat, Protect First

Though hair masks aren’t crucial, heat protectant sprays are.

If you like to give your curls some extra oomph with a curling iron/wand, flatten them with a flat iron, or blow dry them with a hair dryer, your locks need to be protected.

Unprotected curls given excessive heat can result in damaged hair that doesn’t grow quickly, flat curls that can’t breathe well, and, again, dry strands. Furthermore, adding a protectant makes your hair shiny and soft (which, if you haven’t already guessed, is really important to me!).

This is my favorite heat protectant spray for curly hair, like, ever:

Best heat protecting spray for curly hair: TRESemmé Heat Tamer Spray

This TRESemme Heat Tamer spray is a great heat protectant spray for curls. Just spray it on and it will moisturize and prevent your hair from getting damaged. It smells amazing, too.

Protect your curls before you apply heat, they’re worth it! And, if you can, limit your heat use; your curls are beautiful just the way they are.

Tell me your thoughts!

There ya have it, a 5-step curly hair routine to help you keep your curls perfectly, well, curly. What do you think? Are you going to be trying out these products? How do you keep your curls fresh and healthy? Let me know in the comments below. I look forward to hearing from you!

13 thoughts on “The Ultimate Curly Hair Care Routine: How to Keep Your Curls Healthy and Strong”

  1. So you say your supposed to wash your hair at least once 1-3 weeks but u also say you wash your hair 5-6 times a week which is it… and condition your hair everytime you shower basically everyday right? So do u condition it in the shower or is it a leave in conditioner your talking about?

  2. Just ordered these products to establish a hair care routine. I have to say overall, it was pretty affordable. Can’t wait for them to come in so I can try them out!

  3. umm so i am kind of confused on how to take care of my hair.
    it used to be wavy – almost straight but its been getting curlier and curlier.
    i dont know why that is but my mom had curly hair too but since were south asians my hair routine has always been for straight or wavy hair which isnt gonna work now.
    i tried looking it up but its usually just from people who have always had curly hair and only tell some stuff because the erst is obvious to everyone with curly hair.
    like my hair is always in a braid which used to be easy but trying to detangle it everytime and also when i open it its a weird wavy curly monstrosity.
    im a teenager and it could be genetic or stress but i just need some guidance.
    i think my hair is around 2c, there are no kinks that ive seen mostly just big curls and some waves but then again its probably like that from always being in a braid.

    please if anyone has some time, can you tell me how you take care of this type of hair.

    • I’m also a teenage girl and I used to have straight/wavy hair but the last couple of years it has changed and now i have some mixture between curly and wavy and it just looks wierd because in the back i have mostly wavy, but in the front its really curly.. I don’t really have a lot of tips because I am also pretty new at this but here are some tips:
      •only use shampoo on your scalp
      •try to brush it before you condition and not when you get out of the shower. It has helpt me a little and my hair doesn’t get as frissy.
      •try airdry it or use a old t-shirt, not a towel.
      •(and to a pretty important step:) remember to scrunch it (you are problary already doing this but in case you haven’t tried it, try it!). Otherwise my hair just gets curly in the front and the rest is wavy.

      Sorry for the long answer, I bet you don’t care about my hairtexture, but if you get any tips from someone that helps, it would be nice if you shared them with me🥰

      Hope this helpt a little at least

      • Yeah, what she said. My hair has also become curlier overtime and I have now a 2b-2c texture. I would recommend not buying the products in this article. Try looking for sulfate- silicone- and paraben-free products. I try to use a curl cream after I shower (which I do every other day or every 3 days) and some gel, then diffuse with a heat protectant. I don’t know if this will work for you but you could try. I have very little and fine hair though, so results may vary.

    • Hey, I hope this helps but a curl specialist has told me always having your hair in twists outs or braids often can change your curl pattern it’s basically training your hair to pick up that form.

  4. I don’t get it: step 1: don’t wash your hair (which I understand as don’t put any water on it). Step 2: condition your hair 5-6 times a week. So I do wash it? I’m most here

    • i think they mean that you should only shampoo it once a week as shampoo strips your hair of your natural oil so doing it too often can dry out your hair but conditioner actually just adds some moisture so you should do that more often.
      i hope that helps.

  5. I have naturally curly hair, tight curly hair. I was stupid and decided to cut it all off…..and I had a fro for the longest time. I can confirm this routine works wonders! I started doing this and my hair has never looked better 🙂 the only think is after I shampoo on Sunday’s, my hair is super frizzy for the next 2 days even after conditioning…

  6. I have naturally curly hair 2c/3a and I found getting rid of all sulfates and silicones have really helped my hair. My hair isn’t super curly so I tend to wash every 4-7 days depending on the weather since I live in hot and humid Florida. I only condition my hair when I wash it but I deep condition it every time I’ve been using the maui moisture dry damage deep conditioner/leave in and I love the devacurl delight shampoo and the deva curl styling cream. I’ve noticed so much improvement. I used to always straighten my hair and then I straightened it at least once a month but now I go months without using heat on it.


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