How to Manage Curly Hair: Product. Product. Product.

Posted on March 19, 2009 by in Beauty

I have naturally curly hair that I love.  Now.

It took me years of trial and error to get here.

I spent decades of my life walking around with a frizzy sort of kind of wave thing going on and I hated my hair.  I brushed and brushed and blow dryed and sprayed and it always just poofed.

My senior year in highschool, I discovered gel and scrunching.  Then, instead of a poofy triangular shaped fro, I had a crunchy spiral perm that always looked wet.

I’ve tried every cut, product, and gadget on the market.  From the very, very cheap to the very, very overpriced, I’ve experimented with everything in an effort to manage my curly hair.

About three years ago, I stumbled on the secret recipe.  I’ve tested it since then – trying to swap out one part of the formula or another – and time and time again I have proven to myself that this is what works on curly hair.

The results are predictable.  Every single time I follow all the steps, my hair will look great.

In an effort to spare you (or your curly haired loved ones) the same pain I endured, I’d like to share my secret with you.

How To Manage Curly Hair:

Curly Hair Tips That Work Every Single Time

1. Get a cut designed for curly  hair

You can have short, medium or long hairstyles with curly hair.  I’ve done them all with success.  I’ve also done them all with disastrous results.

  • The key is layering and shape.
  • Call a salon and ask for someone who has a reputation for cutting curly hair.
  • Tell them you want “volume on the top, take the weight out of the bottom without getting rid of the length”.  That’s how you avoid the triangle shape and show off the unique texture of naturally curly hair.

2. Use Aveda BeCurly Shampoo and Conditioner

This is one area where you cannot skimp on price.  If you’re lucky, no one else in your house will have curly hair and you can stock up on $0.99 Suave shampoo for them. You cannot use shampoo or conditioner with alcohol in it on curly hair.

  • Do not wash your hair every day.  Curly hair dries out and it doesn’t need to be shampooed every day.
  • It’s OK to just use conditioner some days.
  • When you DO shampoo – just shampoo at the scalp and roots.
  • Leave the conditioner on while you finish washing up, shaving, etc.  Give it a few minutes to penetrate your curls.
  • My routine basically looks like this: Day 1 – Shampoo/Condition.  Day 2- no washing.  Day 3 (and maybe 4) – Condition.  Day 4 or 5: start over.

The good news is, you’re not using your expensive shampoo every day so it will last longer.  And even if you have really thick hair (which I do) and long hair (which I have), you only need a dime size amount of shampoo and about a quarter size of conditioner.

3. Aveda BeCurly Curl Enhancer on wet hair

Get out of the shower, comb through your hair with a wide tooth comb or pick, and rub a quarter size drop of Curl Enhancer through your hair.

  • Yes, this product is important.
  • Do not ever, ever, ever again in life put mouse or gel in your naturally curly hair.
  • This product is going to intensify your curl and condition your hair – so you’ll actually have soft ringlets instead of crunchy or frizzy waves.
  • Don’t scrunch.  You’ll want to scrunch – but there is no need.  Just coat your hair with the product and it will do it’s job.

4. Add hold

Normally, this is where I would tell you to use Sap Moss Styling Spray.  Unfortunately, Aveda recently discontinued that product.  I am still weeping and searching for a black market supplier.

Instead try…

  • A teeny, tiny amount of gel WITH NO ALCOHOL IN IT
  • A few spritzes of Aveda’s Pure Abundance hairspray (this is what I use)
  • A few spritzes of some other very light hold spray that will not crunch or frizz your hair.
  • Aveda’s Confixor Liquid Gel – this is what my stylist uses.  It’s no Sap Moss, in my opinion, and it’s not worth the added cost since I’m already buying the hairspray.

The goal here is a LIGHT hold.  The Curl Enhancer doesn’t offer any hold, so you need something here – but it’s tricky to find something that won’t sap the moisture from your hair once it’s dried.

5. Blow dry with a diffuser

If you let your hair air dry, you never know what you’re going to get with naturally curly hair.  If you take five minutes to blow dry it, you’ll get perfect results every single time.

  • Use a diffuser.  Don’t ever go near your curly hair again with a blowdryer that doesn’t have a diffuser with the fingers on it.
  • Stick your head upside down (or lean to the side) and dry it a section at a time.
  • Don’t overdry.  Get it mostly dry and let the air take care of the rest once you’ve locked the shape in.

I recommend using an 1875 watt ionic blow dryer for faster drying times and more frizz control. Pictured is a Revlon RV544 1875 with Diffuser – $29.99

6. BeCurly Curl Control  – Pomade, basically

This is your finishing touch that will add shine and keep your curls looking perfect (for days, if necessary).

  • Use just a very small amount – you don’t want to weigh down your curls or make your hair look greasy.
  • This is where you get to scrunch.  Put a small drop in the palm of your hands, rub your palms together, flip your head upside down, and scrunch, scrunch, scrunch your curls.

The end.

I actually add a little bit of PureAbundance hair spray, but I love volume more than most girls so I go out of my way to make sure the curls don’t fall by breakfast.  It’s not one of the Elements That Cannot Be Messed With.


  • Aveda Be Curly Shampoo and Conditioner
  • Aveda Curl Enhancer
  • Aveda Be Curly Curl Control
  • Blowdryer with a diffuser

The other elements you can play with, but these are the key ingredients.

Unfortunately, you can’t get Aveda products just anywhere.  Offline, you’ll only find them at an Aveda Salon or an Aveda store (which are rare, if not impossible to find, in many areas).

Online, you can get it from the Aveda site or Amazon.  Once in a while you can find Aveda products on sale at Amazon.

Let me know if you try this out – and I hope that you will.  You can manage curly hair and have predictably good hair results.  Yes, even your hair.

Try it.  Trust me.  You’ll thank me.

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Posted on March 19, 2009 by in Beauty


53 Responses to “How to Manage Curly Hair: Product. Product. Product.”
  1. FaiqaNo Gravatar says:

    Great tips & like I always say, “Never trust a woman who doesn’t use product.” I love Aveda, too.:)

  2. So glad you wrote this up! I know you wrote it up just for me. 😉

    Now to search for these products.

  3. Sybil LawNo Gravatar says:

    I don’t have curly hair at all (waves), but anything Aveda rocks! I am going to send this link to a friend with super curly hair, however…

  4. My hair is stick straight, fine and copious. I’ve finally tamed it by going short and using good products. I think curly hair is beautiful, of course, but think that my straight stuff is easier to manage. I do have to have an excellent stylist, but I always get compliments. We’re lucky because not everyone has good hair!

    There were 2 stories on NPR this morning about hair: one about shampooing

    and one about why hair is curly or straight:

    Both are very interesting!

  5. and i hate the aveda products i bought when they cut my hair. something about that loreal crap that works for my hair. regardless, you have me THISCLOSE to buying a diffuser.

  6. I got my curly hair cut here: and it is an amazing cut. I have *never* in my life liked my curls, with the possible exception of right after my first child when it was super long glossy curls but before I knew it they were coated in drool and snot so that didn’t last long.

    Anyway, I use Devacurl products and I love them, but they are expensive, too. Not quite as much as Aveda-$17 for 12oz. I avoid shampoos with sulfates-which are basically detergents that strip your hair of moisture. I do miss the lathering action of sulfate ‘poos, but I’ve learned to live without it, heh. And for conditioners and product, I avoid anything with silicones in it. Problem is the non-water-soluble kinds of ‘cones seal the hair shaft so moisture can’t get in. If you use a sulfate free shampoo, you get product buildup, too, since the harsher detergent shampoos are kind of necessary to cut through them.

    Finding your holy grail when you have curly hair is so flipping hard; very cool you found and are sharing yours. If I run into problems with my routine, (unfortunately sometimes my hair product soulmates stop working!), I’ll definitely check Aveda out!

  7. RobinaNo Gravatar says:

    FINALLY someone does a smart post about curly hair? And do you haven any idea how long it took me to find someone that would give me slight layers?? FOREVER. And damn, my haircut looks just like yours in that picture, but of course, I have darker hair.

    I’m definitely going to try those products. I already knew to only wash my hair 3 times a week, but I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to use mouse in my hair, but the lady told me that’s why I get such bad tangles, and so far, she’s been right.

    But, I never, EVER comb or brush my hair. I can’t even begin to tell you the nastiness my hair would become, but I do blow dry it exactly as you described. So, all I need is to get the products. You do get a percentage of what you recommend, right???

  8. KellieNo Gravatar says:

    I just happned to be on your main blog and saw the picture of your curly hair. I clicked my way over and read this post.


    Thursday, I decided I was DONE with my curly hair. It’s long-ish (reaches to just above the hook on my bra). I’ve tried product after product and the result was NEVER the same. One day, perfect curls. I’d do the same thing the next day and those curls? Would look like shite.

    So, I just called the salon and cancelled my appointment for tonight. I’ll give the curly hair one more chance to stop pissing me off.

    I wash my hair everyday. When I wake up in the morning, my curls aren’t so curltastic.

    Anyway…I’ll shut my trap now and just say THANK YOU for this post! Seriously!

  9. LaurinNo Gravatar says:

    I’m almost out of shampoo and will be trying the Aveda next. I’m reviewing quite a few curly hair styling products right now in my never-ending search for the perfect one. What does it for me is the Remington Emi Airwave hair dryer. It spins each section of your hair dry in a tube, leaving them perfect curled and smooth. This dryer changed my life.

  10. The Universe must be talking to me. This is the second review I read today about the Aveda products for curly hair.

    A couple of the reviewers said the Curl Enhancer felt “heavy”. Maybe they used too much.
    My hairdresser recommended Redken Fresh Curls Conditioner. It seems to keep my curls softer. I’m ready to purge the mousse from my life, so I may give the Aveda a try.

  11. My Aveda products arrived in the mail yesterday! (including one very expensive bottle of sap moss!)

    Now that I managed to find the Sap Moss…
    I use it instead of hair spray?
    Before blow drying?
    Before the? BeCurly Curl Control?

    I have been trying to figure out a more predictable way to have “Good Hair Days”!!
    instead of Great Hair!, Frizz Bomb, Rats Nest, Pony-tail, repeat, that I’ve had over the past 10 years! 😉


  12. I found the Sap Moss from a seller on Amazon! I just checked again and there are a few left, but for $45 a bottle!?!? I paid a little less than that. (insane! because there is still a sticker on the bottom that says $16! grr!)

    If it is as good as you say… I’d pay the $45 PLUS my first born.
    But MY first born is a 16 yr old boy… He’ll go really REALLY cheap! 😉

  13. Ok,
    I’m back to report.
    I used my shampoo & conditioner (Curls Rock by Catwalk)

    Be curly curl enhancer
    sap moss
    My ionic blow dryer w/ a fingered defuser
    Be curly curl control
    and a couple spritzes of hair spray.

    I have tons of ringlets!
    Bouncy, shiny, healthy-looking curls!
    With body and movement!

    So far, I’m thrilled.
    We’ll see how it holds up in this Texas humidity!


  14. ZyleNo Gravatar says:

    Thanks for this post! I have a real love/hate relationship with my hair. There is only one guy in the world who seems capable of cutting it properly, and he’s a 90 minute drive away and hard to get an appointment with since he now owns 3 salons… Gaah. I’ve been making do with someone from a closer salon of the same chain but it’s just not the same. Anyways, I seem to cycle between mousse and gel for “styling” if you could even call it styling… and it looks “okish”, sometimes it even looks good… right now though I feel like a wet poodle. I’m definitely going to order some Aveda and give your method a try!!

  15. SisjakeNo Gravatar says:

    Of course, NOW I read this; after I got a spiral perm in an effort to control my natural curl. It wasn’t nearly as curly as yours but looked a mess most of the time, even with the looser curl. I guess I’ll have to wait out the perm until I can do anything natural but the Aveda products look good for a perm too.

  16. KristyNo Gravatar says:

    I use the Big SEXY hair serum with my T3 evolution and Karmin G3 for styling my hair.

  17. SandraNo Gravatar says:

    my hair is naturally curly not ringlets but just curly. The only thing i find that works is washing my hair about every second day, when I was my hair I use shampoo and conditioner but I rinse out the conditioner last so it has time to work its magic on my hair. Then I just use a spray that stops hair from going all dirty and greasy

  18. danaNo Gravatar says:

    Great piece, loved it and I’m going to use it.

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  21. HNo Gravatar says:

    Do you have any idea how this will work on wavy/curlyish hair? I had that super-ringlet-naturally-curly-unruly hair as a child, but it doesn’t get that way so much anymore after years of wearing it longer and flat ironing more than probably what is necessary. If I blow dry it it’s just a bit wavy, but air drying makes it curlier, but it poofs terribly. I’m looking forward to trying this, but any idea what I should expect?
    Unfortunately it will be awhile before I can get the Aveda products but they’re definitely on my urgent list because my hair is TIRED. Thanks for posting this, I hope it works for me!

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    I have countless products that I have to weed out every year because they just don’t work on my curly hair. The right cut means everything and I like to get mine trimmed as often as I can because my curls I can live with but the frizzy ends no matter what I do drive me insane. My question is, if you don’t wash it everyday what do you do with it in the morning you don’t shampoo ????

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  29. MarcyNo Gravatar says:

    I recently bought a diffuser for my hair dryer and friggin LOVE that thing. Living in SW Louisiana, there is 95% humidity on a cool day, Gaah. I’ve tried a ton of gels, mousses, creams, serums, ect on my hair, only to have it frizz within the hour.
    I used my diffuser for the first time the other day, and WOW what a difference. I’ll try the products you list on here, as I haven’t tried them before. Now, if I can just find someone around here who can cut the mess of hair I have, lol.

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  36. richalleNo Gravatar says:

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  7. […] not just for the babies and the earth and the naturally curly hair. I mean, thank you for that stuff too. And especially for the gift of Aveda to tame such hair while […]

  8. […] I have come to realize that I like… my curly hair. […]

  9. […] remember him as a toddler, with his thick curly hair and strong pointy chin, like mine. I remember him dancing around in his Bears’ jersey in front of […]

  10. […] didn’t blow dry my hair this morning, praying to the gods of short curly hair that my bangs would cooperate and not air dry in some flying nun wing […]

  11. […] have naturally blond curly hair, and it is, as far as I’m concerned, my saving grace.  I may be short and 20 lbs overweight and […]

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