6 ways to make your curls come alive

Ditch that straightener and start hydrating – here’s how to keep your curls happy.

Ever been on the wrong end of a “triangle” haircut, used a brush during your teenage years (and have the photos to prove it) – or had your locks described as “frizzy” or “boofy”?

Yes, curly girls and gents: living with rebellious hair is not always easy.

But curls are also a blessing – especially if you can learn a few tried-and-tested methods to truly embrace them.

Avoid using these products on curly hair

Lindsay Wilson is the founder of Curly Girls Australia and New Zealand, a Facebook group that has more than 74,000 members and espouses the popular Curly Girl Method of hair care pioneered by curl expert Lorraine Massey.

Lindsay recommends ditching products with the following ingredients:

  • Sulphates
  • Silicone
  • Drying alcohols or parabens.

“Another thing we avoid is using raw oils directly on the hair. When you mix water and oils you can see that they separate. They also set on the hair and become water repellent,” she says.

Shampoo, or any product that lathers, is usually also on the no-go list: “We try to avoid shampoos and we try to clean with conditioners, or non-lathering cleansers that actually work for the hair and the scalp without drying it out.”

Goodbye straighteners

Smoothing your curls out once in a while can be a welcome change – but it’s definitely hurting your hair, says Lindsay.

“Some people do say I like to have both, but essentially what happens is the curls do become damaged and they don’t really curl the way they’re supposed to,” she says.

The Curly Girl Method strongly discourages heat styling – including curly irons, or blowdrying with a brush.

Hello wide-toothed comb

Unless you’re trying to recreate the ’80s, avoid using a brush on curly hair, particularly if it’s dry.

Lindsay says it’s best to use your fingers to run through your curls when they’re wet. If that’s not working for you, a wide-toothed comb is your best bet.

Find a good hairdresser

“Unfortunately curly cutting is not actually taught in hair school,” she says.

So find a hairdresser that has undertaken specific training in cutting curls.

And if your hairdresser is trying to cut your curly hair wet, run a mile.

Keep your curls calm overnight

A silk pillowcase is widely recommended for curly hair because it reduces friction and helps keep the style and shape of your hair.

Jill Richards, owner of Byron Bay’s Rebel Curls salon, says “pineappleing” your hair overnight is also a good option.

“It’s just pulling your curls up on top of your head in either a scrunchie or one of those Invisibobbles – and just keeping it up there loosely,” says Jill.

Doing that saves the hair at the crown of your head from becoming knotty and breaking, she says.

Be careful with colour

“The worst thing that’s happening to people with their curls is excess colouring, whether it’s in the salon or whether it’s at home, and box colours that you buy at the supermarket,” says Jill.

If you do want colour in your hair, she suggests first organising an assessment with your hairdresser.

Or if you can’t afford that, pick a supermarket colour that’s not too far you’re your natural colour – and avoid putting it all the way through to the ends.

More hair tips and tricks

 Written by Larissa Ham.