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I love curly hair, I love my curly hair, I love other people’s curly hair… But if it’s dry, coarse, and/or damaged, you end up looking like the deranged super villain from a fantasy fiction film. I’m going to share with you these 6 easy and affordable tips for curly hair that will make yours look and feel the best with the least amount of effort and money.
Most people, myself included at one point, are in a cycle of overwashing their hair. Stripping it of all its natural oils and beauty, and then having to overcorrect with products. Products that cause build-up and make it necessary to use a shampoo that would again strip the hair, and the cycle continues…
My hair would go from shiny perfect curls to dry, coarse and unruly while following the same routine and using the same products. I couldn’t make any sense of it.
I had tried all the curly hair product lines, I did no-poo for a while, homemade shampoos, I’ve put all kinds of food in my hair…
The “good hair days” just seemed to be something that was occasionally gifted by the hair gods and had control over.
And if you have curly hair, you know that many days, there’s no throwing it in a ponytail. It won’t stay back! It sneaks out until you end up looking like your head has a forcefield.
Less Is More
Then I realized that consistently “good hair days” need not come from super expensive products.
Or hair magicians.
Just about everything I use, you buy once or only a few times a year and they are all very affordable.
And as far as time and effort, most days, my hair requires little else than a little szuging with my fingers.
Tip # 1: C0-Washing
Most shampoos contain chemicals that are way too harsh and strip the hair of the natural oils that keep hair shiny and soft.
Co-washing is when you use only conditioner to cleanse the hair.
Most conditioners, whether they be expensive or affordable are all you need to get excess oil or styling products out of your hair. I use this one. It’s usually around $7, I get it on sale sometimes. One little bottle lasts me about 4-6 months.
This is not a new idea.
There are many blog posts and forums that go over this at length. But, I found one simple thing that makes co-washing much easier. And you use much less product this way as well.
The silly little thing that makes it much more efficient and saves a ton of product is… One of those old refillable ketchup bottles that they used to have at diners!
You simply put your regular amount of the conditioner in the bottle and fill it halfway with water. (More or less product and water, depending on how long and/or thick your hair is.)
Use the nozzle on the top to get right to the scalp and roots and saturate all the way through. (Especially if you decide to keep using shampoo you should use this technique. So many soaps and detergents are super concentrated and you can save a lot of money and waste from dispensing them appropriately.)
Then massage it into the scalp just as you would your shampoo. Maybe a little longer, especially when you are just starting out. Work it all the way to the ends and rinse. That’s it!
Give your hair a good rinse with cold water from the showerhead before you get out. Or keep a bottle of filtered water for a final rinse if you have hard or heavy chemical water.
Wring as much water out of your hair with your hands as possible. Then, either wrap hair in a regular towel without mussing it up or use a big old t-shirt. Many towels are too abrasive to rub against wet hair.
Tip #2: “Wash” It Less
This may take a little while to figure out, I often just end up going a day or so too long especially if I’m not going anywhere. These are the days my hair will go into a ponytail when it has a little excess oil in it.
Usually, 1-3 times a week depending on your activities. You will probably start out “washing” your hair more often in the beginning and as time goes on you will find you need to co-wash less and less.
Workouts actually allow me to go longer without co-washing. This may seem surprising but it actually seems to help facilitate cleansing the scalp and moving oils down the hair shaft, both on its own and with the use of a boar-bristle brush. More on this helpful tool in a moment.
It was once explained to me by a former educator for Phyto hair products that sweat is water-soluble and therefore, can simply be rinsed from the scalp and hair just by massaging the scalp as if there were shampoo in it but with nothing actually in it.
My hair actually rarely gets oily and instead gets almost waxy. Like if I try to flip my hair from the opposite side it was parted it will just stand straight up. This is apparently the sebum, which is not water-soluble and is a mixture of lipids.
I actually end up needing to co-wash my hair more when the weather is dry and I don’t sweat as much. Like I would most of the year when I lived in South Florida.
Other things that may affect how often you co-wash, getting into a pool or the ocean, or using styling products in your hair. See below
Over time, you will have less and less need to use any styling products if you use them at all.
Tip #3: Saturate the Hair to Protect It
As far as getting in an ocean or a pool goes, a great tip is to fully saturate the hair before getting in. This way the strands are essentially full and the harsh salt and chemicals don’t have the same ability to saturate. You’ll want to rinse your hair when you get out as well and co-wash sometime before bed.
Tip #4: Boar-Bristle Brush
This one may surprise you if you’ve used a boar-bristle brush in the past and ended it up with a super fluffy, frizzy Rosanne Rossannadana hairdo but it’s all about using it in the right context and the right brush.
First, don’t go full boar.
Bed, Bath & Beyond and Amazon sell a kind of boar-bristle brush that also has plastic prongs. (Phew, that’s a long of alliteration!). So, you know, you can actually brush the tangles out of your hair and do something other than make the top layer frizzy.
Tip #5: When to Use the Boar-Bristle Brush:
After a good sweat, hot yoga, long run, whatever you do that gets those juices flowing. When your scalp is saturated with sweat.
Do start at the bottom to get the tangles out or use a wide-tooth comb. We don’t want to build a rat’s nest.
After the tangles are out, make sure to brush from scalp to the end of your hair, from your forehead down, the crown of your head down, the nape of your neck to the ends, and the same from your temples.
Use the sweat to soften the hair and distribute the oils and loosen the sebum.
I often won’t co-wash my hair after this because the sweat makes my hair look amazing!
You might think that is gross but my sweat doesn’t generally smell (unless I’ve been making some poor life choices). And I don’t think I’m gross.
Also, I spend $0 on styling products.
The other time to use the boar-bristle brush is right before you get in the shower to co-wash. Again to distribute the oils from the scalp and protect the rest of the hair shaft.
Tip #6: Do Shampoo Your Boar Bristle Brush.
Over time, your brush will get funky from all the dead skin and oils and sebum it lifts from your scalp. So, you do want to shampoo the brush which is super easy.
Now, I felt like it was dumb to just have shampoo around only for my brush so I started using dish soap, and that works great too.
Comb out as much hair and funk before as possible. At this point, you’ll see how good it is for your scalp to exfoliate and stimulate the scalp.
Get a shallow dish, I use an old takeout container from a Thai restaurant. Add a dime-size amount of shampoo or dish liquid and some warm water. Stick the brush side into it and splash around a little and let sit for about 10 minutes.
Rinse well and comb out the rest of the hair and funk.
Rinse out the dish and leave the brush in it, bristles down to dry.
One woman once told me she would just throw it in the dishwasher but I’m not sure what that would do to the wooden handle over time and that may be a boundary for some.
And now you have 6 easy and affordable tips for Curly Hair!
Let me know your easy and affordable tips for curly hair in the comments!