Curly Hair, Take Care:: Learning What Works

curly hair take care

Where my Curlies at? For a long time, I felt like an outsider in the hair department. Why did my curly hair try to emulate a poodle every time I wore it straight? How come when I tried to style my hair, the product made it crunchy? Why were summers so hard?!

After many trying years during childhood and adolescence, one thing became clear. My curly hair is glorious.

OK, I had to figure out how to do my hair, but once I began working with my hair instead of against it, I had it made.

Day 1: Co-wash, condish, oil, gel-cast, and diffuse

Day 2: Water and condish rinse, oil, gel-cast, and go

Day 3: Water and condish rinse, oil, and go

Day 4: Updo and go

Day 5: Updo and go

Day 6: Repeat Steps 1-5

Am I speaking a foreign language?

No. But I am speaking a special dialect curlies everywhere should learn.

When I was young, my hair was simple. I was in my prime; my hair was youthful and full of life. Haircare was easy. Wash, rinse, condish, gel, and GO.

But what was hard was straightening my hair to look like everyone else.

Once I realized I have something almost everyone wants, I ran with it. My already healthy hair got healthier. Before I knew there was a different way to care for curly hair, I was naturally implementing many of the necessities.

Stay away from sulfates (i.e., shampoo).
Condition – A LOT.
Refresh instead of a total wet-down.

After babies, everything changed. My once beauteous hair became limp and looked downright sick. What’s a girl to do?


Finally, I’ll tell you what you should be doing to care for your curly or wavy hair.

Enter the Curly Girl Method.

I see many social media posts consumed with curly kid hair.

What do I DO?!” cry mamas desperate for the secrets to unlocking the lustrous, smooth curls they know their kids must have beneath the matted rat’s nest their child’s head has become.

Here are the skinny 10-steps to get you started, after which, I’ll tell you what I do for my 3.5-year-old curly girl. (Side-note, wavies—you’re curly girls too, don’t deny yourself the glory.)

  1. Do a “final” wash on your kid’s hair. Use a clarifying shampoo, even dish soap. The goal is to strip the hair of anything sticking to it.
  2. Have a deep conditioner, regular conditioner, and creme styling agent on hand—all free of SILICONES
  3. Put on a deep conditioner as long as your kid will allow it. Rinse.
  4. From here on out, AVOID ALL SULFATES. They make sulfate-free shampoo if you really feel like shampoo is a must. But it’s not. 
  5. Avoid washing hair every day. If you’re a daily bather, skip the hair portion of the event. Chances are the tighter the curls, the less washing you’ll want to do. I co-wash weekly, but I don’t shampoo my hair more than once every few months. Yes – every FEW months.
  6. When you do get hair wet, co-wash, use a conditioner, and scrub the scalp. Scalp massagers are great for this. Let the hair sit in the conditioner for the length of the bath/shower.
  7. Rinse conditioner, then put fresh conditioner in. Put in as much conditioner as the hair can hold. You will squeeze the hair in a pulsing fashion (scrunch in hands then squeeze in quick successions). Do this until you are getting little to no conditioner/water out of the hair. Leave this conditioner in. If your kiddo has fine hair, you won’t likely need to put in anything else.
  8. Finger comb the hair or use a wide-tooth comb. THROW THE BRUSHES AWAY.
  9. Scrunch with a microfiber towel or t-shirt and air-dry. Do not use a cotton towel for the love of frizz.
  10. Again, never use a brush. Brushes break curls making for a frizzy, nasty mess.
  11. On day two, spray down with a conditioner and water mixture. Mix essential oil for scent if you want. Remember, you really can’t have too much conditioner. Finger comb after spraying to gently separate tangles and add a light holding product (if you want).

My curly girl enjoys weekly hair co-washing and daily conditioner spritz to detangle. If only she knew how good she has it! I personally have to go to much greater lengths to whip my hair into presentable shape, but that’s another story.

Sara Hoogeveen
Sara is a career child welfare worker turned career mama. After having their first child, Marian (Feb 2017), she realized her true calling in life was to mom and mom hard! Sara resides with her husband, Blake, and daughter in West Omaha. They are expecting their second child, Henry, August 2019. Sara is a Nebraska transplant from Iowa while Blake grew up in Bellevue, NE. She has a professional background in child development, psychology, and human services, and puts these degrees to use every day in raising her children. Sara is a staunch believer in only being able to care for others when you also care for yourself. When she’s not momming, she can be found reading books from a book club she co-leads, cooking, or crafting.