Skip to Content

The Ultimate Guide to Washing Curly Hair: Tips, Tricks and Routines (2024)

This site is supported by our readers. We may earn a commission, at no cost to you, if you purchase through links.

how to wash curly hairYou’ve been there – staring in the mirror, unhappy with your frizzy, unruly curls. What if you could transform them into smooth, bouncy ringlets that’ll turn heads? It’s easier than you think. Washing curly hair the right way is key. Don’t just grab any shampoo – you need one made for dry, damaged hair.

Massage it deeply into your scalp and thoroughly rinse. Conditioner’s for the mid to end lengths only, avoiding roots. Let it soak while you shave or wash your face, then rinse with cool water. Avoid harsh ingredients like sulfates that cause frizz.

With the right techniques tailored to your hair’s unique needs, you’ll unlock a head of healthy, hydrated curls that’ll make you smile each morning. This guide shares insider tips to help you get the beautiful, frizz-free curly hair you’ve always wanted.

Key Takeaways

  • Use sulfate-free shampoo and focus on the scalp when shampooing.
  • Apply conditioner only to the mid-lengths and ends of hair. Let it sit for 3-5 minutes before rinsing it out.
  • Rinse hair with cool water and use leave-in conditioners for added moisture and to control frizz.
  • Between washes, refresh curls by misting hair with sprays. Avoid piling hair up on head when drying as this can disturb the curl pattern.

Prep Your Curls Before Washing

Prep Your Curls Before Washing
Before washing your curly hair, be sure to detangle it with a comb or your fingers to avoid tangling. Follow up with a natural oil treatment like Curl Moisturizing Shine Oil to boost moisture and shine.


You’ll want to gently finger-comb your locks before hitting the shower to avoid tangles and keep your curls smooth. Brushing curly hair dry leads to frizz and breakage, so prep those ringlets with care.

Try using a wide-tooth comb or detangling brush to gently separate knots. Apply a nourishing pre-wash treatment beforehand for extra slip.

Pre-Shampoo Oils

Look y’all, tame those tangles before you hit the shower by massaging in a moisturizing curl oil to soften and define. Pre-pooing with oils like argan, coconut, or olive allows thorough detangling and boosts moisture retention for your coils.

Gently work the oil from roots to tips, focusing on dry areas. Let it penetrate for at least 20 minutes under a shower cap or towel. Products like As I Am Coconut CoWash help prep hair for gentle, nourished cleansing.

Choose the Right Shampoo

Choose the Right Shampoo
First, remember when shampooing curly hair to select a cleansing product that produces low lather and contains hydrating formulas. With these types of shampoos, you can cleanse your curls without stripping away essential natural oils.


Step two is to slather a low-lather, moisturizing shampoo onto your thirsty curls to gently cleanse without stripping your hair’s natural oils. Opt for a sulfate-free formula designed for curly hair. Concentrate the lather on the roots and scalp to remove product buildup and nourish follicles without drying out the lengths.

Rinse thoroughly with warm water. Limit shampooing to refresh curls between washes.

Hydrating Formulas

Focus on shampoos enriched with oils and butters to inject moisture into thirsty curls. Look for hydrating product recommendations like SheaMoisture’s 100% Virgin Coconut Oil Daily Hydration Shampoo. It gently cleanses while coconut oil, shea butter, and aloe vera nourish and moisturize your curls.

Pair it with a moisture-rich conditioner like As I Am Coconut CoWash Cleansing Conditioner for added hydration and frizz prevention. Deep conditioning benefits curly hair by preventing dryness. Explore hydration techniques like Carol’s Daughter’s Almond Milk Leave-In Conditioner for weightless moisture.

Condition Correctly

Condition Correctly
Choosing the proper conditioner is crucial for curly hair health. Apply conditioner to the length of hair, avoiding the scalp, and let it soak in for a few minutes before rinsing thoroughly.

Mid-Lengths to Ends

Apply a rich conditioner from the mid-to-end lengths of your hair down. This delivers moisture where your curls need it most.

  • Gently smooth the conditioner over wet hair past your ears.
  • Evenly distribute it using praying hands or a wide-tooth comb.
  • Focus on thoroughly conditioning the oldest, driest ends of your hair.
  • Allow the conditioner to penetrate for 3-5 minutes for a deep conditioning treatment.
  • Rinse out thoroughly with cool water.

Conditioning cleanses buildup without stripping oils. The hydration will be much appreciated by your curls.

Rinse With Cool Water

You’d be wise to let that cool water cascade through your curls, sealing the cuticle and prohibiting frizz. After shampooing and conditioning, switch to cool water for your final rinse. This closes the hair cuticle, locking in moisture while smoothing each strand.

Cool water allows for better detangling as well, letting combs glide through neatly. The lower temperature prevents swelling of the strands, reducing frizz. So don’t skip that last cool rinse when caring for your curls.

It makes all the difference in fighting frizz and keeping your hair smooth and shiny.

Detangle and Style After Washing

Detangle and Style After Washing
When cleansing your curls, always follow up with leave-in conditioners or defining products after washing. These will smooth, hydrate, and define your curls while combating frizz and adding shine. Don’t skip this important step for bouncier, frizz-free locks right out of the shower.

Leave-in Conditioners

Don’t forget to smooth a leave-in conditioner into your curls for extra moisture and frizz control after washing, before styling and drying. Leave-ins provide lightweight hydration and define curls. Look for brands that are free of silicones and sulfates.

Apply the conditioner evenly, combing it through wet strands from roots to ends. Scrunch out excess water with a towel. Then style as usual with gel or mousse. Your curls will air dry smoother, shinier, and more defined.

Defining Products

  1. The Curl Definer Cream is a nourishing, lightweight cream that smooths and defines curls. It hydrates hair while controlling frizz and enhancing natural curl pattern. This cream leaves curls touchably soft without being greasy or sticky.
  2. The Moisturizing Curl Elongator is a conditioning curl cream that elongates, defines, and hydrates curls. It smooths and separates curls while reducing frizz and flyaways. This moisturizing cream keeps curls bouncy, shiny, and defined all day.
  3. The Curl Enhancing Smoothie is a smoothing curl definer that nourishes dry, coarse curls. It softens and detangles hair while locking in moisture and reducing frizz. This smoothie cream gives defined, touchable curls with shine and bounce.
  4. The Curl Control Cream Gel gently defines curls and reduces frizz with its unique gel-cream formula. It provides flexible hold, hydration, and smoothing without crunchy gel effects. This cream gel elongates curls, controls frizz, and enhances natural curl pattern.
  5. The Anti-Frizz Curl Defining Gel gives curls definition and frizz control with its unique humidity blocking polymers. It smoothes, separates and defines curls while locking out humidity and sealing in moisture.

How Often to Wash Curly Hair

How Often to Wash Curly Hair
Transitioning to the next important step in caring for curly hair, determining the ideal washing frequency. Washing curly hair too often strips natural oils, causing dryness and damage. Yet inadequate cleansing leads to product buildup, limp curls, and scalp irritation.

  • Co-wash (cleansing conditioner) 1-2 times per week to remove buildup without over-cleansing.
  • Shampoo with a sulfate-free cleanser 1-2 times per week if needed.
  • Use a rich, weightless conditioner whenever shampooing or co-washing.
  • Refresh in between washes with a curl revitalizing spray.
  • Adjust frequency based on curl type: wash fine curls daily, medium curls every 2-3 days, thick curls weekly.
  • Extensions require gentler cleansing; use co-wash and conditioning treatments.

Following these curl washing guidelines provides the ideal balance for healthy, defined curls.

Refresh Curls Without Washing

Refresh Curls Without Washing
Refresh your curls between washes by using misting sprays and dry shampoo. Lightly spritz your curls with a hydrating mist like DevaCurl Mist-er Right to instantly refresh them. Then, use a dry shampoo at the roots to absorb oil without having to wet your hair.

Misting Sprays

Discover refreshingly weightless hydration with a misting spray, punctuating your curls with revitalizing moisture in seconds. Misting your curls boosts bounce and shine between washes while preventing frizz.

Look for lightweight sprays with frizz-fighting oils that refresh your curls on the go. Target flyaways and smooth edges by misting stubborn pieces. Let misting sprays detangle and define while locking in moisture.

They allow you to reset your style without fully washing, keeping your curls happy and hydrated.

Dry Shampoo

Freshen up your curls between washes by sprinkling in some dry shampoo for a quick refresh. Look for dry shampoos made for curls to avoid drying your hair out. Apply to your roots and lengths in short bursts, then gently massage in with your fingers.

Let sit for a few minutes before shaking off the excess. The starch in dry shampoo absorbs oils and revitalizes curls, reducing grease and frizz for a freshly washed look without needing water.

Common Curly Hair Washing Mistakes

Common Curly Hair Washing Mistakes
Don’t make these common errors when washing your curls: Piling all your hair on top of your head while shampooing and skipping conditioner altogether.

Piling Hair on Head

You’ve scrunched your curls atop your head, ready to hit the town in bouncy ringlets.

  • Use a microfiber towel or old t-shirt to gently squeeze out excess moisture.
  • Allow your hair to air dry or diffuse it to enhance your natural curl pattern.
  • Use a silk pillowcase or bonnet at night to help maintain your curls.
  • In the morning, freshen your curls with a curl refresher spray or foam.

Try to avoid piling your curls in a towel or terrycloth fabric, as this can lead to frizz and disruption of curl formation.

Skipping Conditioner

Leaving conditioner out of your routine is a curl killer. Curly hair needs the hydrating effects of conditioner. Without it, hair dries out fast. Try co-washing instead of shampooing. Use a sulfate-free moisturizing cleanser to gently detangle.

Mist with a leave-in conditioner for extra hydration. Embrace the benefits of co-washing: soft, bouncy curls without stripping oils. Explore conditioner-free curl products for low-maintenance washing. Just don’t skip conditioner completely.


Follow the curves for lovely locks. Washing your curly hair wisely winds waves with wellness. The ultimate guide equips you to nourish those spirals splendidly. Cherish your curls; mastering curly hair care crafts confidence.

Now you can twist, coil and curl with joy. Healthy, hydrated hair awaits you. Simply soak in our tips, take the time to treat those tresses tenderly. You’ll soon be styling stunning spirals and reveling in the bounce of beautiful curls.

Avatar for Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is a published author and software engineer and beard care expert from the US. To date, he has helped thousands of men make their beards look better and get fatter. His work has been mentioned in countless notable publications on men's care and style and has been cited in Seeker, Wikihow, GQ, TED, and Buzzfeed.