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From Dry to Hydrated: How to Transform Your Frizzy Curls

Do you struggle with keeping your curls soft, bouncy, and frizz-free? As a fellow curly girl, I know the struggle. Keeping curls hydrated can be especially difficult if you live in a dryer climate, or if you just naturally have dryer skin and hair.

Fortunately, there are solutions. Of course, it’s not a one-solution-fits-all type of problem, but with a bit of patience, you can transform your dry, frizzy curls into luscious, moisturized locks.

We will discuss seven steps you can take to hydrate your curly frizzy hair:

  1. Choose the right shampoo and conditioner, and use them properly.
  2. Use the right styling products and methods.
  3. Treat your hair with deep conditioning and protein treatments.
  4. Protect your hair from excess damage.
  5. Get regular trims.
  6. Stay hydrated and healthy.
  7. Be patient!

How to Hydrate Curly Frizzy Hair

Choose the Right Shampoo and Conditioner, and Use Them Properly

how to hydrate curly frizzy hair - right shampoo and conditioner

Have you ever stood in a beauty supply store staring at the back of shampoo and conditioner bottles, trying to decode the long list of ingredients?

Every curly girl has! Choosing the right shampoo and conditioner for your curls is an essential part of maintaining their health and decreasing frizz and dryness.

When choosing and using your shampoo:

If your curls are in need of some TLC, choosing the right shampoo is very important. Some shampoos can be very drying, stripping the hair and scalp of all of its natural oils without replenishing them.

Shampoos with sulfates can have a drying effect on hair. However, they can also provide a powerful, deep cleanse when needed.

Here are a few suggestions for choosing and using the right shampoo:

  • Choose a sulfate-free shampoo for regular washes. This will ensure that you are not “stripping” your hair, or removing all-natural oils every time you shampoo your hair.
  • A shampoo with sulfates can be useful for a bi-weekly or monthly cleanse to remove buildup. The frequency of these deep cleanses really depends on your individual hair, how oily your scalp is, and how much product you use. 
  • Don’t shampoo your hair every day, because this can lead to dry, brittle hair.  If you feel that you need to restyle your hair between washes, simply rinse your hair with a conditioner or a co-wash.
  •  Even though you shouldn’t shampoo your hair too much, when you do wash your hair, make sure to clean it thoroughly. You want to apply the shampoo at least two times so that you can really clean your curls and prep them to soak in the moisture from your conditioner. You want to be able to build up a good lather, and this typically happens the 2nd or 3rd time you apply your shampoo.

When choosing and using your conditioner:

There are many conditioners to choose from, and you may need to experiment a bit to see which one in particular works for you. The major debate between curly girls everywhere is whether to use a conditioner with silicones or not.

Silicones provide a coating on the hair, but can also build up and weigh it down. Personally, I prefer silicone-free products, because my curls are weighed down easily.

Here are a few suggestions for choosing and using the right conditioner:

  • Choose a conditioner that is specifically designed for dry curly hair. You may also be able to find lightweight or heavier options within different product lines.
  • Avoid conditioners with alcohols other than cetearyl alcohol. Cetearyl alcohol can actually be naturally occurring and is helpful in moisturizing hair and skin. Other alcohols are drying.
  • You want your hair to feel soft, silky, and manageable after rinsing out your conditioner. If it doesn’t, it is time to try something new.
  • Conditioners with natural oils like argan oil, sunflower oil, or coconut oil can be especially moisturizing for thick, dry curls.
  • Make sure to let your conditioner soak into your hair for at least five to ten minutes. I always shampoo and condition my hair at the beginning of my shower so that my conditioner can soak into my hair for the rest of my shower.
  • Rinse out your conditioner with cool water. Hot or warm water opens the cuticle of the hair, and cool water closes it. So in order to really seal the conditioner into your hair, it’s best to rinse it out with cool water. This will seal in moisture and make your hair smoother and shinier. 

Use the Right Styling Products and Methods

how to hydrate curly frizzy hair - right tools and products

Choosing the right styling products and using them properly can both hydrate your hair and minimize frizz. There are many options of styling products for curly hair, but the most popular are creams, gels, and mousses.

For hair in need of moisture, I recommend a combination of a leave-in conditioner and/or a moisturizing styling cream paired with a styling gel for a bit of frizz-free hold.

Here are a few suggestions for choosing and using the right styling products:

  • After you have cleansed and conditioned your hair and are ready to start applying styling products, avoid rubbing your hair roughly with a towel. This will create frizz. Simply squeeze and dab the excess water out of your hair to prep it for styling. 
  • Use a moisturizing, leave-in conditioner to seal in moisture. Avoid leave-in conditioners with alcohols other than cetearyl alcohol. Cetearyl alcohol can actually be naturally occurring and is helpful in moisturizing hair and skin. Other alcohols are drying.
  • A good curl cream can do wonders! If your hair is fine and is easily weighed down, try using a lighter curl cream, and don’t add too much. Even just a dime-sized drop can do the trick!
  • If you have thick or coarse curls, you may need to use a heavier curl cream and comb it through your hair section by section.
  • Use a gel specialized for curls if you would like a bit more hold. Curl gels can be very helpful for minimizing frizz. You will want to comb the gel throughout your hair with your fingers or a wide-toothed comb after you have applied your leave-in conditioner and curl cream.
  • Use a diffuser if you are blow-drying your hair! You should never blow dry your curls without a diffuser. Use medium/low heat and airflow and tilt your head back and forth (or flip it upside down) to achieve voluminous, shiny, and bouncy curls.
  • After you have completely dried your hair, either by air drying or blow drying, seal the moisture into your hair by applying a light, moisturizing oil to your curls. You can also use this oil to help separate and smooth any curls that may look a bit frizzy or clumped together.

Treat Your Hair with Deep Conditioning and Protein Treatments

how to hydrate curly frizzy hair - conditioning treament

Even with the right day-to-day care, your dry, curly hair will still need a regular moisturizing and/or protein treatment to boost strength and hydration. The frequency of these treatments can vary based on your hair type, how dry it is, and the climate in which you live.

Of course, conditioning treatments can help add moisture to dry hair, and protein treatments add strength and definition.

There are also products that are a cross between both a conditioning treatment and a protein treatment. Those are my favorites!

Here are a few suggestions for choosing and using the right treatment:

  • Avoid deep conditioners with any alcohols other than cetearyl alcohol.
  • Treatments with keratin in them are particularly beneficial for strengthening and defining your curls. Keratin is the naturally-occurring protein in hair and skin. If you feel that your curls are extra frizzy and limp, a treatment that contains keratin may just perk them up!
  • Make sure to comb the treatment through your hair so that every strand is fully saturated with the treatment.
  • Put on a plastic cap after applying your treatment. This will prevent your hair from drying while the treatment is soaking in.
  • Use heat for a deeper treatment. In order to do this, you must first put on a plastic cap and then you can sit under a hair dryer or use a special attachment on your blow dryer. By applying heat, you are opening the cuticle of the hair, and thus allowing the moisture to penetrate deeper into the core of the hair.
  • Make sure to follow the directions for your particular hair treatment. Some treatments require you to wash them out with shampoo afterward, and some only require rinsing. If you have to wash your treatment out, make sure to still apply conditioner after shampooing.
  • Your hairstylist may be able to apply treatments that are more powerful than what you can apply at home. Ask your stylist about your hair concerns and the treatments they offer.

Protect Your Hair from Excess Damage

how to hydrate curly frizzy hair - protect hair

In order for your curls to be hydrated and frizz-free, it is important to avoid damaging them. Damage can take on many forms, from heat damage to chemical processing, to rough styling, to environmental factors.

Although it is nearly impossible to avoid absolutely all damaging factors, especially if they are environmental, you can minimize the damage by protecting your curls properly.

Here are a few suggestions for protecting your hair from damage:

  • Give your curls a break from the flatiron. Straightening your hair frequently can damage your curls and make it more difficult for them to bounce back to their healthy, shiny selves.
  • If you chemically process your hair, make sure to do regular conditioning and strengthening treatments. This is important whether your hair is permed, relaxed, or colored. Usually processes like bleaching, relaxing, and perming are more damaging to the hair than simply depositing color. Either way, make sure to fortify your hair between these services.
  • Avoid chlorine. If you are a regular swimmer, try using a swim cap to protect your locks from the damaging effect of chlorine. If you forget your swim cap, you can saturate your hair with regular tap water before entering the pool. Your hair will soak up less of the pool water because it has already absorbed the tap water. Also, be sure to thoroughly shampoo and condition your hair after exposure to pool water.
  • Use a water softener/filter if you have hard water. You may be able to purchase an attachment for your shower that softens your water. Using soft water on your hair can make your hair less brittle and more bouncy.
  • Protect your hair while you sleep by using a silk/satin bonnet and/or a silk/satin pillowcase. This reduces friction between your hair and your pillow, and can even reduce breakage and frizz.
  • Try to avoid consistently pulling your hair back tightly. If you pull your hair back tightly on a consistent basis, you can cause hair breakage or even hair loss. Instead, try gently pulling back your hair with a clip or a silk scrunchie.
  • Be gentle when detangling your hair. It can be easy to get frustrated while detangling your curls, but try to be patient. It is usually best to detangle when you have conditioner in your hair, either before or after shampooing. Detangle section by section and work your way up from the ends.

Get Regular Trims

hydrating frizzy curly hair - regular trimming

If you are trying to grow out your curls, getting a trim may seem counterintuitive, but it is actually essential for keeping your hair frizz-free. When your hair is holding onto “dead weight” or split ends, it gets frizzy and weighed down, and it can be very difficult to detangle.

Also, you are only wasting your valuable product on ends that aren’t even absorbing it! Trimming your hair will not help it grow faster from your scalp, but it will prevent the unnecessary loss of length from split ends.

After all, the only way to get rid of split ends is to completely cut them off. If you leave them, they will continue to split farther and farther up the hair. If you want bouncy, moisturized, frizz-free curls, make sure to take care of those ends!

Here are a few ways you can tell that your curls need a trim:

  1. Your ends are fuzzy and frizzy even with plenty of product. Your ends just don’t seem to absorb any of your product.
  1. It is very difficult to detangle your hair. The ends of your hair immediately become tangled right after you have detangled them.  Basically, every time you run your brush or comb through your hair, it gets caught at the ends.
  1. You feel bumps on the end of your hair strands, or you see that the hair has split. Split ends can come in many forms. Below is a visual representation of several types of split ends to look for.

Stay Hydrated and Healthy

Stay Hydrated and Healthy for Frizz-free Curls

It is no secret that our inner health affects how we look on the outside. If you are hydrated and healthy, it is likely that your hair will reflect this.

Here’s what Heather L. Brannon, M.D. states about hair’s structure:

At the bottom of the follicle, a piece of tissue called the papilla contains tiny blood vessels (capillaries).

These nourish the hair root to keep it growing.” ( Therefore, our hair grows from our blood supply. What we put into our bodies (or what we don’t) can make our hair hydrated and healthy, or brittle and unhealthy.

Here are a few ways you can keep your hair hydrated and healthy:

  • Make sure to nourish your body with healthy foods. As stated above, your hair grows from your blood supply, so what you eat can actually affect the health of your hair before it even leaves the scalp.
  • Stay hydrated! Your hair’s hydration starts from the inside. If you are depriving yourself of enough water, your hair can become dry and brittle. According to the Mayo Clinic, the average woman should consume about 11.5 cups or 2.7 liters of fluids a day. 
  • Maintain a healthy regimen of exercise. Because our hair grows from our blood supply, it only makes sense that we give our hair a nice boost when we really get our blood flowing. Whether you prefer the gym or just a nice walk, you can stimulate healthy hair growth.

Be Patient

Transforming your dry frizzy curls into beautifully healthy, hydrated locks takes time and patience. Like anything else, real change doesn’t happen over time. But don’t give up, and don’t be too hard on yourself.

Transforming your hair may seem like an overwhelming task, but just take it one step at a time. Even small, consistent changes can make a huge difference over time.

In Summary

You can transform your frizzy curls by switching up the way you care for yourself and your hair. It is important to be mindful of the way you wash, style, condition, and protect your hair, and it is absolutely necessary to choose products that will be beneficial for your hair.

Of course, it is equally important to care for your overall health and well-being by keeping yourself hydrated, well-fed, and active. With a little patience and the right guidance, your curls will be bouncy, hydrated, and beautiful before you know it!

Key Things to Know

  • Shampoo your hair regularly (not every day) with a shampoo that doesn’t contain sulfates. You can use a sulfate shampoo occasionally for a deep cleanse.
  • Conditioning your hair is very important. Condition after every shampoo, and leave it on your hair for several minutes.
  • Use moisturizing styling products and use a diffuser if you are blow-drying your curls.
  • Apply regular deep treatments to your curls. These treatments can include hydration masks and/or protein treatments.
  • Protect your hair from damage by not exposing it to too much chlorine. Also, try to avoid straightening your curls often.
  • Protect your curls from damage while you sleep by wearing a silk/satin bonnet and/or using a silk/satin pillowcase.
  • Get regular trims to get rid of split ends.
  • Maintain your own health by staying hydrated, eating well, and exercising. This will affect your hair more than you know!