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How to Care for Natural Spiral Curls

by S.R. Becker

Determining your curl pattern is the first step in designing a hair-care routine. Spiral curls look like loose ringlets or corkscrews and, like any type of curly hair, need lots of moisture -- the more the better. Fortunately, the beauty industry is listening to the needs of those with naturally curly hair and it's getting easier and easier to find moisturizing products designed to keep your spirals looking bouncy and frizz-free.

Wash your hair less frequently. If you're washing every day, try skipping a day, eventually working up to skipping two or three days. When you do use shampoo, use a formula that does not contain sodium lauryl sulfate or sodium laureth sulfate, as these are harsh detergents that strip moisture from your hair. Lather only once and only wash your scalp. Then let the water rinse the suds down through your hair, which will cleanse the length.

Condition your hair with rinse-out conditioner after every shampoo. Shampoo at the beginning of your shower, apply conditioner and leave it on while you finish showering to give it time to penetrate your hair. After rinsing the conditioner out, work a leave-in conditioner through your thoroughly wet curls with your fingers.

Skip the shampoo every other wash and use only conditioner. You can buy cleansing conditioners at salons and beauty-supply stores, but you can also use a regular, silicone-free rinse-out conditioner. Massage the conditioner into your scalp with your fingertips to loosen dirt and oil and leave your hair smelling fresh. In the natural-hair community, this is known as "co-washing" or "conditioner washing."

Apply olive oil, coconut oil or a deep conditioner to your hair the night before you wash. This is known in the natural-hair community as a "pre-poo" or "pre-shampoo." Sleep with your hair tucked into a shower cap and use an old pillowcase on your pillow to prevent staining your bed linens.

Use microfiber towels and satin pillowcases to help prevent breakage and frizz. If you don't have a microfiber towel, wrap your hair in an old t-shirt to absorb the excess water.

Finger comb or use a pick to separate your curls. Combing and brushing your hair increases the frizz factor and risks breakage.

Refresh your curls in the morning with diluted conditioner. Mix 1 tablespoon of your favorite rinse-out conditioner with 1 cup of water in a spray bottle and spray the mixture lightly onto your hair, sliding your fingers gently through your curls. Alternately, dilute a bit of leave-in conditioner with water in the palm of your hand, rub your hands together and gently run your fingers through your curls.

Items you will need
  • Deep conditioner
  • Olive oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Shower cap
  • Sulfate-free shampoo
  • Rinse-out conditioner
  • Leave-in conditioner
  • Microfiber towel or t-shirt
  • Satin pillowcase
  • Spray bottle (optional)

Tip

  • Conditioners and styling products that contain silicone help to define your curls and fight frizz. These products can build up in your hair over time, but cleansing once a month with a clarifying shampoo will remove them.

Resources

About the Author

S.R. Becker is a certified yoga teacher based in Queens, N.Y. She has a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and has worked as a writer and editor for more than 15 years. Becker often writes for "Yoga in Astoria," a newsletter about studios throughout New York City.

Photo Credits

  • Allan Danahar/Photodisc/Getty Images