Image courtesy of @nameisnoa

The narrative that curly, coarse hair is notoriously difficult to style has been spun from a loom of misunderstanding and, frankly, a lack of curly hair cheerleaders in the styling world. But here’s the twist: with the right products and a sprinkle of patience, managing curly hair can be as breezy as a walk in the park. Yes, you read that right.

Getting great air-dried curls starts with using the right moisturizing and styling products that work well for curly hair. Over time, with a little practice, you'll find that you don't need to be a pro to get beautiful curls at home. It's all about paying attention to what your hair needs and learning from it.

What Is Curly Hair Texture?

It's all in the follicles. While straight hair grows from round follicles, curly hair sprouts from more oval or asymmetrical ones, causing the hair to curl right from the point of exit. What’s more, the way the proteins (keratins) and oils are distributed along the strand plays a significant role.

In curly hair, the distribution of keratin and other proteins is uneven along the length of the hair shaft. This uneven distribution contributes to the bending and coiling of the hair strand. Certain areas of the strand are stronger or more rigid because of denser protein concentrations, causing the hair to curve or spiral as it grows.

Best Products for Curly Hair

Curly hair has a naturally dry texture due to its shape, which prevents scalp oils from travelling down and coating the entire hair shaft, especially at the ends. Moisturizing products specifically designed for curly hair are formulated to mimic these natural oils, these are essential for curly hair because they are crafted to infuse and retain moisture without weighing down curls, and prevent frizz from forming as the hair dries. Frizz is often the result of hair seeking moisture from its environment. When curly hair doesn’t retain adequate moisture, the outermost layer of the hair (cuticle) will lift in search of humidity.

The amount of product you should use when air-drying your hair is a decision that is heavily influenced by the specific characteristics of your hair type and texture. Your hair's individual needs can vary greatly depending on factors such as thickness, porosity, curl pattern, and overall health. It's important to recognize that what works perfectly for one person may not necessarily be the best approach for another due to the diverse nature of hair.

How To Air Dry Curly Hair

  1. Your air drying success starts in the shower. Using a hydrating shampoo and conditioner wash your hair as usual. If you need to brush out any knots or tangles, do this in the shower using conditioner as your detangler.
  2. With dripping wet hair, flipped upside down, your base stylers will depend on your specific curl, whether that is gel serums, curl mousse, or leave-in conditioner, gently run through your hair. This sets the foundation of your style.
  3. Careful not to disturb the curl pattern, flip right side up and add your styling cream, or hair oil in an upward scrunching motion. 
  4. OPTIONAL* Some curly hair does better when wrapped, opposed to hanging loose. Use a bamboo hair wrap to hold your hair in place until dry. This technique is known as Plopping. You can read more about Hair Plopping here.
  5. After your hair has fully dried, spray an Anti-humectant Spray to keep your cuticles sealed, and frizz away.

Pro Tip  Using a hydrating hair mask 1-2 times a week can help combat frizz. If you find your hair is still struggling with frizz, use a moisture cream before using your stylers.