We spoke to women with different curly hair for advice that will surprise, plus some tried-and-tested favourites…
Curly hair has gone from being largely ignored by the mainstream to coming under the spotlight thanks to social media.
And it’s not just that we’re seeing more advertising campaigns featuring curly haired girls – we’re seeing a shift at street level, too.
Those of us who were born with naturally curly hair are starting to feel more confident about rocking it and rejecting our straighteners.
Now more than ever, there’s information online, expert advice and even curl-type guides to help us navigate the best way to treat our hair.
At one end of the spectrum, there are Type 2 curls you’d define as a loose wave, and at the other, there’s Type 4 hair, which is a more predominant curl (and could be very tight with a coil effect).
This numbering system was created by hair stylist Andre Walker to help hairdressers working backstage at fashion week. And now it’s entered the mainstream…
“It’s a good tool because it helps consumers have a landing page, a hair care starting point – but it’s not the law,” says Jacqui McIntosh, who’s been in the hair industry for over 27 years.
“It’s important to understand that you may have Type 4 hair, but your porosity and elasticity may mean you can use something less or more moisturising.”
A good way to think of the curl-type guide is similar to a make-up foundation shade – it’s your base point.
And once you know your curl type, you can adopt the tips and tricks that work best for you.
To help you on your hair journey, we asked a cross section of curly girls to share the best secrets for their hair types. Because often, the best tips come from our peers…
Jini, Type 2A
“I put serum in my hair while it’s wet using the raking method (running your fingers through your hair to distribute rather than brushing it through). Then I let it dry to 70% before carefully blow drying with a diffuser. Finally, I put it in a small bun to set before letting it loose.”
Izzy, Type 2B
“One of the best tips I’ve learnt to make my hair look 100% is to steer clear of products that claim to fight frizz, but aren’t tailored to curly girls.
“Frizz-fighting shampoos, serums and creams aim to smooth down hair into a straighter texture, which totally goes against my coils and leaves my curls looking undefined.
“Instead, I opt for curl-boosting ranges that cater to my tresses and don’t fight against my natural locks.”
Emily, Type 2C
“The plopping method has completely changed my hair game.
“While your hair is wet, scrunch through a styling gel. Next, lay a T-shirt on the bed with the arms end facing towards you. Tip your hair upside down onto the T-shirt near the neck end, then lift the other end of the shirt and fold over your hair. Twist the sleeves and tie them around your head.
“Let your hair air dry (the cotton soaks up the water and helps speed up the process), then take your hair out and break the gel up. Easy, defined curls.”
Ava, Type 3A
“A colleague told me that hair masks nourish your strands more effectively than standard conditioner – the molecules are smaller, so it penetrates better rather than just coat the outside of each strand. So, I swapped all my conditioners for masks.
“I sleep with a mask in overnight, then rinse out the next day.”
Rachel, Type 3B
“The best thing to happen to my curls was ditching shampoo and embracing the co-washing method – washing your hair with conditioner only.
“I was sceptical at first, but it really works. I also stopped being conservative with products. As soon as I started using what felt like tons, I saw a big difference in my hair.”
Thinking of giving co-washing a go? Try AS I AM’s Coconut CoWash cleaning conditioner - it’s a light no-suds conditioning cream that’s perfect for the method.
Jasmine, Type 3C
“While my hair is wet, I part it into sections.
“Then I use a good hair oil to seal in the moisture and twist strands of hair into little twists.
“I’ll sleep with the mini-twists in and take them out in the morning. The result is that my hair has more of a stretched-out curl and looks super-defined, rather than frizzy.”
Aletha, Type 4A
“I saw a lot of girls online drying their curly hair with T-shirts because the cotton doesn’t rub your hair cuticles up the wrong way (which causes frizz).
“Now they’re the only thing I use to dry my hair. I just squeeze out the water with an old T-shirt as soon as I’ve put my products in.”
Joy, Type 4B
“Most people with curly or afro hair know that hydration is one of the most essential parts of hair care.
“I found out about As I Am Naturally’s Hydration Elation Conditioner and it’s amazing!”
Nadine, Type 4C
“For my wonderfully curly but delicate ‘fro, the best advice I received was to only comb or brush when my hair is wet and conditioned.
“I never comb in-between or if it’s dry, as that makes my 4C curls dry and causes them to break.
“I prefer to use my hands to detangle my hair or use a wide-tooth comb.”
AS I AM Naturally knows there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to hair care. Natural curls and coils are as diverse as the people who wear them. As I Am® was formulated understanding the needs of those with natural curls. In fact, the brand has been so successful that it won the Best Natural Hair Range at the UK Hair Awards.
Find AS I AM Naturally at selected Superdrug stores and online at Superdrug.com