We are curl advocates at botaniq, so we’ve created this essential styling guide – with the help of experts Emily Seerup and Beau Jenkins from Bob Hair Co. – to help you get the best out of your curly assets.
Whether you are naturally curly or a hairstylist lacking in curl confidence, this guide is for you.
Correct product application is the first and most crucial step in your curl styling routine. Even and thorough are the keywords here – you need to coat every curl from root to tip.
To make application easy, work in sections. Rub a pea-sized amount of product into your hands, then smooth and scrunch the product through your hair. Repeat this process with each section until you’ve covered every strand.
Feel free to experiment with product cocktails to suit your hair needs and styling goals. Em’s advice is to “Find your miracle product and stick with it – curly hair is so individual, it might take you a while to find one perfect for you. But having an excellent product or products ready to go after the shower to lock in moisture will make all the difference.”
Beau suggests using products that are on the more natural side to avoid build-up on the hair. Likewise, Em advocates for using products that are free from sulfates, parabens and silicones, as these ingredients can inhibit moisture retention. A product that Em swears by is a silk pillowcase. Unlike cotton, silk allows your hair to glide over the fabric while you sleep, which minimises breakage and frizz.
PRODUCT RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CURLY – VERY CURLY HAIR TYPES
For fine hair types, Em suggests using lighter products, like a mousse or gel, that won’t weigh you down. Whereas, coarser curls can handle a heavier formulation like a cream, balm or lotion. Beau suggests trying a moisturising leave-in conditioner or serum in combination with a sea-salt spray.
PRODUCT RECOMMENDATIONS FOR COILY – HIGHLY TEXTURED HAIR TYPES
“Don’t be shy with moisturising products – serums, curl creams and leave-in treatments – this type of hair soaks up moisture,” advises Beau.
Beau’s pro tip for optimum hydration is to apply a leave-in treatment, wrap your hair in a hot damp towel and leave it for a half-hour or so. The heat will help the treatment penetrate your hair.
WASH AND GO
If you are time-poor, not a morning person, or you live in a warm climate – wash and go styling can help you achieve maximum curl results with minimal effort.
Wash and go styling begins the second you step out of the shower. Start by gently removing excess moisture from freshly washed hair using a cotton t-shirt or towel with a tight, smooth weave like a microfibre or Turkish towel. Don’t rub as this can aggravate frizz and disrupt your curl pattern.
Next, apply your styling products. Remember the golden rule of even and thorough application. For extra definition, you can twist sections of hair or use a wide-tooth comb to elongate your curls. If you want volume, don’t allow your hair to dry to a super straight part. Em suggests a rough zig-zag part instead for more root lift.
Once you’ve applied your product, you are good to go but avoid the temptation to fiddle with your hair as it’s drying, leave it alone if you want to minimise frizz. After your hair has air-dried, scrunch through an oil for shine and definition – Beau recommends carrying a hair oil in your bag for touch-ups on the go.
If you can’t leave the house with wet hair, or you desire more body and bounce, then diffuse drying is for you. Remember to apply your products properly first, and never attempt to dry your curls without a diffuser attachment.
A diffuser releases warm air without the force so that you can dry your hair without encouraging frizz. Always use a low-medium heat and a low-speed setting on your dryer to prevent damage. Hold the diffuser an inch or so away from your hair and proceed to dry in sections, when your hair is almost dry, you can begin to scrunch while diffusing to encourage volume and more curl.
Em’s advice is to let the diffuser do the work - the more you touch your hair, the more frizz you’ll encourage. And, “If it’s not super humid, you don’t have to dry your hair 100%.” You can combine diffusing and air drying. Em suggests diffusing until your hair is about 50-70% dry before letting the rest air-dry.
For perfect, bouncy curls, Beau recommends scrunching your hair with your head upside down while diffusing. Once dry, gently rub your scalp to separate the curls and enhance the volume of your hair – make it massive! Then scrunch in a bit of oil or serum for moisture and shine.
Em’s pro finishing tip – Once your hair is 100% dry, set the diffuser to cool and use it to scrunch your ends into the roots for more definition.
It’s a rare event to wake up with perfect hair. Luckily, you can transform bed hair into great hair in five minutes or less with these pro tips.
For a super simple style refresh, wet your hands and scrunch your hair to reactivate yesterday’s product and bring your curls back to life. If your hair is feeling dry, spritz through a leave-in detangler or apply an oil and you are good to go.
According to Em, a spray bottle filled with water is your best friend. “Your refresh days in between washes should always start with using a spray bottle to dampen your hair. After it’s damp, you can work through your products again to define and seal the moisture in.”
If you are feeling more adventurous, why not give hot tools a whirl. Curling tongs aren’t just for straight hair; they are a fantastic styling tool to give your curls more spring and polish or to achieve a looser or tighter curl than you naturally have.
Beau’s pro tip is to wrap your hair around the tong in the direction that your curls go, and for volume, carefully hold the tong close to your roots. To minimise damage, always apply a product with thermal protection first and don’t leave the tong on your hair for longer than 8-10 seconds at a time.
Em’s advice for using a tong is to pick just a few pieces to define – concentrate on curls around your face and parting. Remember to leave the curls to cool before you dress them out, so they retain their shape.
Love big hair? Then, brush your curls for a super seventies vibe, suggests Beau. Or use a pick or wide-tooth comb to create root lift advises Em. Slide the pick or comb into your roots and gently pull up but don’t comb all the way through – you just want to lift your roots.
And, of course, you can’t go wrong with a simple updo – especially useful on humid days to help manage frizz. Beau’s a fan of a simple high pony and says you can either slick your pony up or keep it more natural and pull a few pieces out around your face for a softer look. Em loves space buns on curly hair, especially if you have a fringe, and the classic half-up in a scrunchie never goes astray. For products, use an oil for shine, dry shampoo at the roots (only in dry hair) for volume and a light hairspray to keep everything in place.
And there you have it, the essentials of curly hair styling. It’s all about locking in moisture, correct product application, and a bit of styling know-how. For more info on curly hair care read our scientific guide to curly hair.
A bit about Em and Beau from Bob Hair Co.
Em Seerup – I’ve been hairdressing for four and a half years. I’m also a freelance writer on the side, and I love art and music. I love the freedom of expression that hairdressing brings, and I always have a different colour in my hair!
What do you like about working with curls? – The freedom and personality it brings - no two heads are the same, and working with curly hair is super visual and super free, quite the opposite to how you cut and colour straight hair.
Beau Jenkins – I’ve been a stylist for about 11 years and have loved every moment.
What do you like about working with curls? – Each head of curls has a totally different texture; you never know what you’re going to get. I love how visual you have to be when cutting, colouring and styling curly hair it’s completely about the shape and freehand.