Having curly hair is often considered a blessing and a curse. Those with straight hair stare in awe at full, bouncing curls, but never realize the amount of care that is required to maintain them.
Many people fall prey to common mistakes when it comes to caring for curly hair. Curls can be a real handful because they are much more delicate than straight strands. Knowing what to avoid is the best way to keep healthy curls. (1)
When it comes to hair care, there are always dos and don’ts. Curly hair is very delicate by nature and the tighter the curls, the more care is required. Outside of using hair care treatments designed for curly hair, there are also things you should avoid.
The common mistakes discussed below should be avoided, so you can provide the best care for your curls and prevent long-term damage.
1. Blow Drying
The heat from hair dryers is damaging to curly hair, especially the higher heat settings. (2) Air-drying curly hair is always a better option to keep curls healthy.
Hot air directly applied to curls damages the delicate strands and causes the frizz you want to avoid. If air-drying is not an option and you need to use a dryer, use a hood dryer or a dryer attachment that circulates the air around the curls rather than hitting it directly.
When you have waves or curls, over-washing can be a big no-no. Frequent washing damages the curls by drying them out, so there is no need to wash your hair every day.
When it comes to curls, you only need to wash twice or maybe three times a week. On the off days, use natural oils to keep your hair soft and shiny, as oils are essential for the health of textured hair.
Skipping conditioner is a common mistake that can damage curls. The delicate nature of textured hair leaves it vulnerable to the environment, so it quickly becomes dry, dull, and frizzy.
Conditioning is the best way to keep your curls hydrated, shiny, and full. Conditioners that contain natural oils, like coconut or argan oil, or shea butter are ideal options. (3)
4. Too Much Heat
If heat from a dryer damages your hair, then heated styling tools will be just as bad. In fact, they are worse because the heat is directly applied to the delicate strands.
Flat irons or curling irons can also permanently change the shape of your curls. If you need to use a heat styling tool, be sure to set it on the lowest heat setting, and always use a hair protectant first to minimize any damage.
5. Too Many Chemicals
Chemical treatment of any kind can damage hair, but with curls specifically, they can change the way your curls behave. Forcing curls to act against their nature is harmful and will cause irreparable damage.
Keratin treatments are popular in hair styling but they create new bonds that stick to the proteins on your hair. These bonds change the structure of the curls, but they don’t wash out easily. The problem occurs when new hair grows in and meets the treated hair, the bonds are weak and your hair breaks much easier.
6. Towel Use
When it comes to towel drying your hair, avoid using terry cloth towels. (4) The fabric has tiny nibs that fluff curly hair, creating frizz.
These nibs also absorb too much water from the hair, causing it to dry out quicker. Using a microfiber towel to scrunch dry your curls will prevent tangling and frizz.
7. Styling Products
You need to take care when selecting styling products and avoid the products with silicone. Silicones apply a coating to the hair and not the real moisture that curls need. The coating is actually a barrier that prevents hydration within the hair from occurring.
Not only do they clump on your hair, but by preventing hydration you hair ends up limp, dry, and difficult to manage.
8. Avoid Alcohol
You also need to avoid products that contain alcohol because this soaks much needed moisture from your curls. Look for products that deliver moisture and finishing oils to seal and define the shape of your curls.
By preventing dehydration, your curls will never have to worry about unsightly frizz.
Using a fine-tooth comb on textured hair is not a good idea. When it comes to the delicate nature of curls, these combs cause snags and breaks. Hairbrushes are known to increase frizz in curly hair, so they should not be used.
If these tools need to be used, then limit the frequency. Wide-tooth combs or simply running your fingers through the curls is the best way to brush your hair.
Take time to work through any tangles, and always work from the ends to the roots.
10. Missing Trims
You want to trim your hair often to minimize breakage. Cutting off split ends prevents fraying, which gives your curls a frizzy look rather than sleek, defined curls.
The technique of dusting involves micro-trimming the damaged sections of your hair, and this should be done every few weeks to keep your curls looking their best.
The cotton of pillows soaks the natural oils from your curls, depriving them of much needed moisture. Dry curls lead to frizzy curls and end up promoting breakage, so you should use a scarf at night when sleeping.
Satin scarfs or silk pillowcases will save the shine and life of your curls, and they also reduce tangles and breakage.
12. Environmental Protection
The beach and the sun are not good for curls. Saltwater, sun, and wind dry out hair, leaving tangles and higher risk for breakage. For your outdoor excursions, apply a leave-in conditioner to protect your curls during the day.
13. Too Much Touching
Try not to touch your hair too much throughout the day. The more you touch your hair, the more you break up the natural pattern of the curls, leading to frizz and tangles.
Final Thoughts on Curly Hair Mistakes
Curly hair is a beautiful thing, but regular care is essential. Following the guide above, you can avoid the dangers that damage curls the most and protect your hair.
Don’t let frizz and tangles ruin your look; take the time to care for your curls, and use the right products and tools. Curls may be high maintenance, but with a little love and attention, they will keep you looking your best all day long.