How 13 Women Style Their Naturally Curly Hair

by Vanesa Pacheco

As a curly-haired woman myself, I’ve come across an endless amount of articles explaining how to style naturally curly hair. Each one expresses a definitive statement about what is good for my type of hair or what would make my curls bounce without frizz or knots. These articles, although not wrong in their advice, have forgotten a crucial aspect of what makes curly hair so unique — curly hair falls on a spectrum that can run from thick, tight kinks to thin, almost wavy hair.

Although curly hair is usually portrayed as one type of loose ringlet, it is actually diverse and can change with length, color, product, or even have more than one texture. Because of this diversity, I decided to ask 13 women, whose curls are all different from one another, how they go about styling their natural curls. I wanted to share their routines so that other curly-headed gals could take ideas from their steps, begin to appreciate their beautiful locks, or simply admire the diversity of curls on all these amazing women.

Nural, 22

Nural uses:

“I mix a few pumps of the leave-in conditioner (2-3 for medium length hair; the thicker/longer the hair, the more pumps) with the oil in my hand. Then, I flip my wet/damp hair upside down and scrunch the product through my hair, making sure to get the roots to the ends! When scrunching, I hold my hair for a few seconds in the scrunch before slowly releasing. After, I flip my hair back up (the harder you flip, the more volume it will have) and let it air dry.”

Amanda, 34

Amanda uses:

“So I’m a curly haired girl and have hated it all of my life. I kept it pixie short up until recently because I’m hoping I’m mature enough now to handle it. Although I keep it up a lot, when I do decide to wear it down, I dampen it a little and add Moroccan oil to the ends. If flyaway hair is sticking up off my head, I use a light hair wax – actually it’s just a Crew product I stole from my brother-in-law. If I wash it, which I only do like twice a month because it’s naturally dry, I always let it air dry after spritzing it with oil. I’ve learned that blowing it dry results in a fuzzy, evil mess. I’ve realized that three to five days after I’ve washed it, it’s at its best.”

Axelle, 21

Axelle uses:

“As a treatment, I liberally apply Amla oil through my hair from root to tip once a week and then leave it in for 3 hours overnight. After thoroughly shampooing with TIGI Catwalk Oatmeal & Honey shampoo, I condition my hair with John Frieda Miraculous Recovery Mask. Once detangled with a wide-toothed comb and towel dried, I apply Aussie Curl Defining and Shine Mousse through the lengths of my hair and scrunch. I allow my hair to air dry until mostly dried, scrunching often to encourage curl formation, and then spritz with KMS California Freeshape Quick Blow Dry and use a hairdryer with a diffuser attachment, tipping my head upside down for added volume and drying in large sections. Finally, I smooth it out with a few pumps of John Frieda Frizz Ease Extra Strength Serum.”

Tiana, 22

Tiana uses:

“I’m big on leaving my hair alone most of the time and I don’t like a lot of product. The most important part of my hair routine is deep conditioning and regular trims. My curls always look better after a trim. Before shampooing, I use olive or coconut oil. I shampoo and deep condition my hair once a week. After, I braid or twist my hair and wear braids/twists for half the week and a braid/twistout for the rest of the week. I do protein treatments ever 6-8 weeks, depending on my hair’s condition. I also color my hair about once a month.”

Kathryn, 23

Kathryn uses:

“As soon as I towel dry my hair when I come out the shower, I use Moroccan Oil Smoothing Lotion. It’s a little expensive (around $30), but worth it. I use it all the time anyways because it really helps keep my hair less frizzy, so I still use it even if I plan to use a straightener or curling iron. Then, I use one of the two sprays I have. I tend to either scrunch up my hair or make little twisted buns and let them stay in while I do my makeup. I’m slowly building a relationship with my naturally curly hair, but it’ll definitely take a little longer to get to a point where I can say I love it.”

Orbelina, 23

Orbelina uses:

“I don’t do much to my hair. I use whatever shampoo and conditioner is in the shower and then put in my turbi immediately after my shower. I usually like to put Moroccan oil or a Moroccan oil curl cream before the gel. Then, I put plenty of hair gel in it, but not to make it straight, like I scrunch it in. After, I diffuse it until it’s almost dry, but not quite, and tada!”

Norma, 37

Norma uses:

"I wash my hair three times per week. I use shampoo and anti-frizz conditioner. After I shower, I towel dry my hair. Then, I brush it out and add some mousse."

Brooke, 22

Brooke uses:

“After years of horrible frizz, I feel like I’ve finally found the right combination. I wash my hair every other day using conditioner (I shampoo about once a week) and then I use one of those brushes made specifically for wet hair in the shower. I comb through all my knots with the conditioner in. Then, I brush again once I’m out the shower and apply my products. I then squeeze the excess water out of my hair, and apply some sort of mousse to just the ends and scrunch. I pin my bangs and let it air dry! Everyone is like ‘don’t brush your curly hair ever!’ but mine is so nuts, I have to or the curls come out thick and knotted; they look way more polished if I brush it out when it’s wet.”

Diamond, 25

Diamond uses:

“Because my hair is prone to extreme dryness and fragility, I make it a point to moisturize it everyday. I use a spray bottle filled with a mix of coconut oil and water and spray it on my hair. Coconut is often used as a sealant for moisture and it really works wonders for black hair textures. Then to style it, I use a curl defining butter, usually with shea butter and coconut oil in it. I find that hair butters work better for my tight curl pattern as opposed to styling lotions and creams. They really define my curls and the definition lasts all day!”

Augusta, 23

Augusta uses:

“I have long, naturally curly hair. First, I wash and condition with generous amounts of shampoo and conditioner (especially conditioner). I use shampoos and conditioners with coconut oil or some really hydrating, soothing ingredients in it. Then I wrap it in a towel and absorb wetness for 1-2 minutes, run a little more conditioner through my hair, comb with a wide-tooth comb, and use towel to absorb more wetness. Using Scruples Twisted Curl Defining Crème product (or more conditioner if I run out of that), I then run my fingers through and scrunch my hair a little. Then I allow it to air dry. It usually takes about an hour to get completely dry.”

Gena, 22

Gena uses:

“I just basically try to stay away from shampooing my hair as much as possible, which translates to me shampooing like once a week, or less sometimes. But, I always condition at least twice a week. I use Aussie 3 Minute Miracle Moist, which I had doubts about because I have used their products before and they would destroy my natural curl. However, I really like this product. I mostly like to put my hair in an olive oil hair net once every week or every two weeks. I also avoid all combs and brushes and rinse with cold water. ”

Cara, 23

Cara uses:

“I wash it once with a natural shampoo with no extra stuff in it. Then, I condition it and leave the conditioner in to soak while I shave. I then rinse that out and put more conditioner in the very ends. Oh, and I finger brush in the shower while the conditioner is still in it. No real brushing unless I straighten it.”

Astrid, 23

Astrid uses:

"For years, I've used Rusk leave-in conditioner. It's made my hair softer and a lot healthier. I part my hair and apply the product thoroughly from root to end. Instead of scrunching my hair to add more volume, I comb my hair after the product is applied. This gives my curls more bounce. I try not to wash my hair every day. Messy buns and braids are my favorite on my off days. I've embraced my curly hair and let them dry naturally. It may be unpredictable, but that's half the fun."

Images: d3l/Flickr; the rest of the photos are personal photos permitted for use by those participating in the article.