Curly hair can be hard work. And while most tutorials and guides focus on how to make curly hair look better, few talk about how to keep it healthy, or rather, how to prevent damage and maintain the integrity of the hair shaft, which can be difficult as curly hair is prone to damage.


First, finding out what your hair texture is will be a helpful step. If you have a looser curl texture, it may be helpful to wash it with shampoo more often, and if you have tighter curls using an extra hydrating conditioner (with more ‘slip’) can help with the detangling process. Depending on your texture, you’ll want a routine that is best suited for your hair.

There is quite the debate as to what textures can be considered curly or not, such as whether wavy and afro textures fall within the ‘curly hair’ label. I do think curly hair can be used to widely describe many textures, but for the sake of keeping this article a reasonable length, and for my own expertise (I don’t know much about how to care for kinky/coily or wavy textures) – I will only be discussing hair in regards to type 3 hair textures, though much of this advice can be used for different textures. Check this out if you’re unsure what hair type you have.


Hair porosity is an often-overlooked aspect of hair care, but is a very important one to keep in mind. Hair porosity is your hair’s ability to take in and retain moisture and oil, which is determined by how tight or spread your cuticle layer is.

Low porosity hair has cuticles that are close together. This means that it’s harder for moisture and oil to penetrate. With that being said, the hair is able to retain that moisture for longer. Using warmer water whilst washing your hair to open the cuticles can help get moisture into the hair.

High porosity hair has cuticles that are widely spread apart. This means that moisture and oil can be easily absorbed but can leave the hair just as quickly. So, sealing in moisture with products like gel is important.

Medium porosity hair is in between both and has a cuticle layer that is less tightly bound than low porosity, but also less spread out like high porosity. Moisture and oil will enter the cuticle layer easier than low porosity hair and will not leave the hair as quickly as high porosity hair.

Everybody’s hair is different, and you’ll likely have different porosities throughout your hair with some parts being higher or lower porosity than others, try to generalise it and find an average.


Image by Sarah-chai from Pexels

Cleaning your hair is a very important part of any hair care routine. But, for curly hair, there is a lot of bad information out there.

Many people think that you should wash your hair once a week when you have curly hair, whilst this may be okay in terms of shampooing your hair once a week, I would highly recommend at least wetting and combing the hair more often (every 2/3 days) in order to avoid excessive knotting and reduce damage to the hair shaft.

A popular thing in the curly hair community is the vilification of sulphates. It’s correctly understood that sulphates strip the hair of its natural oils, but it’s incorrectly reported that it is harmful or damaging for the hair. Sulphates are important to properly clean the scalp of oil and dead skin cells. Not properly cleansing the scalp can lead to scalp issues and hair loss. Also, if you have curly hair, you probably use a lot of products, these products need to be properly cleaned off of your hair shaft, otherwise they can weigh your hair down and build up. Sulphates are great for this and sulphate-free shampoos, which I have used in the past myself, do not properly clean off dead skin, oil and products from your hair. Many ‘sulphate-free’ shampoos also contain ingredients and chemicals that are very similar to sulphates anyway but may be slightly gentler. In my opinion, the whole sulphate free shampoo thing is just a marketing scheme. If you want to reduce the drying effects of sulphates use certain techniques and products for moisture retention after shampooing the hair. If you don’t like sulphates, maybe use it every other week swapping between a sulphate free shampoo and one with sulphates. If you really don’t want to use shampoos with sulphates in it, consider using sulphate-free shampoos that say that they are ‘clarifying’ and avoid ones that claim to leave your hair moisturised, this is not the point of shampoos and will likely not clean your scalp or hair properly.

Isabel is a writer and editor with a passion for reading, art and philosophy. She often spends her time pondering the meaning of life and performing her rigorous skincare routine.


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