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10 Curly Hair Tips for Well-Defined Curls

The 10 Commandments of Caring for Curly Hair

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Once you begin learning more about black hair, you'll soon discover that it comes in way more than one texture. Black hair can run the gamut from straight to slightly wavy to super tight coils, but many people of African descent find that their natural hair falls somewhere in between. You don't have to be biracial or multiracial to have hair that's described as "naturally curly." Curls may range in size from pen spring to fat marker, but the care and feeding of them is similar. Want to flaunt those curls without worrying about a lot of frizz? These 10 tips are made for anyone seeking well-defined curls.

1. Shampoo in the Shower

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This is the best way to cleanse and condition your hair (besides a salon's sink) because it keeps your curls pointing downward. The more you manipulate curls, the more likely they are to frizz. Instead of flipping your head over, washing your hair while your head is upside down, and then flipping your head back, simply let the water run down the length of your hair as you stand straight under the shower head.

2. Keep Hair Well-Moisturized

One of the best ways to ensure consistently well-defined curls is keeping them moisturized. Not with oils, but with regular conditioning and deep conditioning. Curls that are dry and parched simply won't have the same definition that well-conditioned curls will have.

3. Apply Products While Wet

Your hair should be as wet as possible when you begin the styling process. After shampooing and conditioning, do not towel dry. In fact, don't bring a towel anywhere near your curls. Instead, squeeze the excess water from your hair and throw a towel around your shoulders.

Once you exit the shower, begin applying your styling products. If your hair begins to dry without product on it, that's how it will continue to dry. Putting products on it while wet locks in the style.

In addition, curls love to clump together. You can use a paddle brush, Denman brush, comb or your fingers, but as you work through wet hair, you'll notice that curls love to grab onto other curls. Let your hair take the lead and allow curls to come together on their own.

4. Divide Hair into Sections

To ensure full coverage of hair products, you'll need to section your hair. Depending on thickness, this may be anywhere from two to eight sections. Use plastic clips to hold hair out of the way. It's usually easier to begin at the back of the head. Work with a section of hair, applying product from the roots all the way to the ends. Once you're sure that section is saturated, you can move on to the next sections. Trying to put product on your hair as one big piece will probably find you with well-defined hair on top and frizzy curls underneath.

5. Do Not Scrunch

Scrunching is for wavy hair that's trying to become curly. Once you have products in your hair and it's combed through to your satisfaction, do not scrunch it. Scrunching hair that's already curly will only cause it to become frizzy.

6. Use Good Quality Products

There's a good reason brands like Kinky-Curly and Miss Jessie's are so popular among people seeking great-looking curls: they work. Products from these lines, as well as Ouidad, are designed to work with curly hair of all textures. You'll get much better results with a high-quality gel than you will from a cheap drugstore brand, which usually leaves hair feeling crunchy and parched.

7. After Products are Applied, Leave Hair Alone

Once your hair products are in and you've combed through your hair or worked through it with your fingers, leave your style alone. Let it air dry or use a diffuser, but don't touch those curls. This means no combing and no brushing; otherwise, you'll just comb or brush your curls into a big ball of frizz.

8. Let Hair Air Dry Whenever Possible

You may not always have time to let your hair air dry, but do it whenever you can. The less heat you place on your hair in the form of blow drying, even if it's diffused, the more moisture your hair retains, which is crucial for maintaining healthy curls that don't frizz. If you're in a hurry, low heat via a diffuser dryer is fine, but again, don't scrunch. Just move the dryer around your hair quickly and stop when your hair is about 50% dry.

9. Avoid Oils

For well-defined curls, products that are not oil-based will give you better results. When you don't want to wear your hair in ringlet form, using oil is fine and won't disrupt your style, but gel-like products give good hold while keeping frizz at bay.

10. Get a Great Cut

Are your curls not shaping up, no matter what you do? It may be time to visit a stylist and get a cut that complements curls. Many curly headed girls and women find that their hair grows in a pyramid shape; a great cut will have your curls falling in a flattering pattern that moves, instead of a big helmet of curls that seem frozen in place.

Be careful when looking for that perfect hair cutting pro -- while some stylists will recommend thinning to reduce bulk, this isn't always the best solution for curls. Two popular procedures include the Deva Curlaboration and the Carve & Slice.

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