How to Really Care for Curly Hair

Get real life advice and the top 10 products to help maintain perfect locks

Words by Emma Tiernan
June 1st, 2018

Having curly hair can be both a blessing and a curse. Many women with curly hair, myself included, often envy our straight-haired sisters and long to have straight and easily managed locks. There is no getting around it; curly hair is hard to manage. Yes, you will always get women coming up to you saying how they wish they had your hair, but in reality, it is harder than it looks. With tangles that are impossible to get out, to battling with frizz and not being able to use a hairdryer, curly hair is a cruel mistress. If your hair is also prone to curls then no doubt you’re nodding your head at this. For me, if I use a blowdryer, 10 minutes later I look like a lion that has gotten an electric shock- not a cute look. Not to mention the fact that you need to plan when you have a shower so that you can give your hair enough time to air dry or having an extra hour to both blowdry and straighten your hair, which we are all guilty of doing.

Though there are A-listers such as Blake Lively, Zendaya and Sarah Jessica Parker (I mean, who doesn’t want hair like Carrie Bradshaw?) who embrace their curls and look amazing while doing so, let’s be real, those women have a team of stylists to tame their curls. For us regular girls, we have to rely on the right products and pray that the elements will be kind to us. As we are the ones most likely to use heat to tame our locks, our hair is often weaker which means more prone to breakage and more often than not looks dry. Below are some of the tips I have learned throughout the years that help in maintaining healthy-looking curls.

Sarah Jessica Parker
Blake Likely

Firstly, don’t buy products just because they are a fad, do your research on them and make sure they will work for your hair type. Trust me, this will save you a lot of money in the long run. The most important products for your hair are shampoo and conditioner. These are the products that will help you to manage your hair the most, and keep your tresses hydrated and protected. Secondly, always use a deep conditioning mask for your hair at least once a week. Using a deep conditioner will help give your hair that extra bit of TLC to help prevent breakage and to nourish dry and brittle looking curls.

I don’t rely on too many styling products, in fact, I barely use any apart from the occasional sea salt spray or oil but mainly I focus on treatments and using the correct shampoo and conditioner. I have found that styling products do not add much to my routine that a good mask and deep conditioning don’t already do. Another misconception is that you should always use a mousse if you want to keep your curls in place. That is simply not true, I find that every mousse I have tried – and I have tried many – leave my hair stiff or looking wet and greasy. My advice is unless you have already found the perfect mousse that you know works for you, stay clear of this type of product.

Another brilliant tip, and perhaps best-kept secret, that I got from my hairdresser is that you should change your cotton pillowcase to a silk version instead. The silk protects your hair from breaking or getting damaged while you are sleeping while other fabrics catch on your hair, causing it to break and look frizzy(ier). Using a silk pillowcase is also very good for your skin, so it’s worth investing in.

Lastly, if you want to avoid using styling products, try double french braiding your hair when you get out of the shower and leave it in overnight. When you wake up in the morning and loosen the braids out you will be left with tight bouncy curls.

Shop top 10 products to help maintain healthy curls


Damaged Hot Oil Treatment by Lush

This treatment is perfect for hair that is constantly being heat styled, dyed or is just dry and damaged. It consists of all natural ingredient that helps your hair look and feel less dull. To use, simply add the treatment to boiling water, let it cool for about 20 minutes then apply it to dry hair. Leave in for another 20 to 30 minutes so your hair can absorb the ingredients then wash it out with your normal routine. Damaged leaves your hair looking nourished and hydrated. I try and use a hot oil treatment at least once a month if it is feeling brittle and dry.

Shampoo, €15.45 Conditioner, €17.95

Kérastase Discipline Bain Fluidealiste Shampoo & Conditioner

I have tried numerous shampoos and conditioners to help with frizz control while also protecting my hair from further damage. My hairdresser recommended trying Kérastase to help manage frizz and protect my colour. The shampoo isn’t directed specifically at people with curly hair but the products help eliminate frizz and protects dyed hair. I have noticed a huge difference using this duo, it completely eliminates frizz for me and gives my hair a really healthy shine.

Shampoo, €28.45 Conditioner, €30.45

Bumble and Bumble’s Curl Sulphate-Free Shampoo & Conditioner 

Another favourite of mine is Bumble and Bumble’s curl shampoo and conditioner. It helps to add more definition to my curls without having to use any other products. It locks in moisture, resulting in healthier hair that looks full of life. It also helps protect damaged hair from heat styling and dye.


Curly Wurly Shampoo by Lush

I tend to use this shampoo once a week, normally when I am using a deep conditioner. It is made with all natural ingredients and helps deep clean your hair, leaving it soft, nourished and frizz-free. It also leaves your hair smelling of coconuts which is always a bonus. Curly Wurly contains Jojoba oil, a light oil which offers moisture and shine to the hair, along with organic extra virgin olive oil that helps to strengthen your locks. It also leaves you with more defined looking curls.


John Frieda Frizz Ease Deep Conditioner

If your hair is in need of a little extra TLC then this deep conditioner from John Frieda is perfect. I try to use a deep conditioning mask at least once a week, you just leave it in for 2-3 minutes and then rinse out. Sometimes if I have time I leave it in for 30 minutes to give my hair that extra bit of nourishment. The product helps repair and fortify dry, damaged and frizzy hair while protecting against breakage, which is perfect if your hair is dyed or constantly heat styled.


Kérastase Discipline Curl Idéal Masque

My favourite hair mask has got to be the Discipline Curl Idéal Masque by Kérastase. The only product that I have found that really helps control voluminous hair by managing the volume at the roots, it also helps add discipline to frizz and helps nourish and moisturise your hair.


Tangle Teezer

The only brush I ever use on my hair. Since curly hair is much more fragile than wavy or straight hair, I like to use Tangle Teaser as it is particularly suitable for fragile and colour-treated hair, and helps prevent hair from breaking. It is also is the best brush for detangling knots.


L’Oreal Kids Sweet Pear Tangle Tamer

This might be a product aimed at kids, however, this is an OG in my hair care routine. I’ve used this since I was a little girl, and despite the fact I am certainly no longer a child, I still continue to use it. Though I’ve tried other detangling sprays, none have ever worked as well as this one. Curly hair knots so easily, and many of us don’t brush it out between washes because that will result in it becoming frizzy and losing your curl. So it is guaranteed after you shower your hair will be quite knotty. This product helps to detangle hair quickly and results in no tears. Plus, it smells amazing and is super cheap.


Bumble and Bumble Curl Defining Creme 

I love this product, it leaves my curls super soft whilst also combating frizz. The formula of this product helps lock in moisture to keep hair looking hydrated, preventing your curls from looking coarse and dry which is a huge concern for curly hair. This product really helps if your hair is dyed or is constantly being heat styled. If your curls tend to droop then this product will help them look bouncy and healthy. The result is having tight almost ringlet type curls- I can confirm that after using this product I look like Shirley Temple and for reference, I have type 3B curls.


OUAI Wave Spray

Salt water does wonders for curls- I guiltily don’t wash my hair after the beach because the salt water just gives my hair the most perfect beach curl. As an alternative to actual salt water, I found that Ouai Wave Spray gives you that tousled beach hair that everyone loves.