How to manage curly hair – a 20 point checklist

by Tangobabe

How to manage curly hair

Today’s article is written by Anja. Enjoy!

When I was a little girl, I had big, light-blond curls. Very cute, if I say so myself ;-).

In primary school, my hair got darker. Ash blond, as they say. My mother found my curls too ‘wild’, so I always had a short, boyish haircut, which I hated.



As soon as I was allowed to decide for myself, I let my hair grow, which brought my curls back automatically.


Ash blond, still, but shortly after that, I started to light up my hair. And never stopped with that.


At that time I had no clue on how to treat my hair. I combed it daily, as I always had. (Wrong!) And it was cut at one length. (Wrong again!) The weight of my own hair pulled my curls straight.

Thinking that my curls were gone, I figured I needed a perm if I wanted to have curls again.


That was quite a mistake. The perm curled really, really strong, making me look like a sheep;-).

So that was once and never again.

In the years between my 25th and 45th birthday my hair changed a bit in length here and there.



Two times I tried going back to my natural color, but each time, I started crying when I saw myself in the mirror afterwards, asking the hairdresser to give me back my blond locks.

When I was around 45 -50 years old, I decided to let it grow. Weird, I know, since it is a common idea that ‘older’ women are not supposed to have long hair.  But I don’t care. I finally know how to treat curly hair, so this time I am able to make it look good.

How to care for curly hair

At least: often, because it sure needs special care and treatment. Let me share my knowledge with you.

One of my biggest struggles with my hair is the fight with frizz, especially in humid climates.


So here are my 20 best tips on how to manage curly, frizzy hair

1. Wash your hair only twice a week, not more often.

2. Use special anti-frizz shampoo and specifically nothing with alcohol in it (dehydrates the hair even more).

3. After washing it, rinse it, and then use a special anti-frizz conditioner.

4. While the conditioner is still in your hair, entangle it carefully, using a wide-toothed comb. And I mean really wide-toothed!


5. rinse and add a deep-conditioning product or a hair mask. Leave-in for at least 5 minutes or for as long as the instructions on the packaging say.

6. rinse carefully without tangling up the hair again.

7. Towel dry very carefully and lightly, or use a special super absorbent microfiber towel or a microfiber hair turban.

8. DO NOT COMB!!! (Only comb your hair twice a week, while conditioning it.)

9. Add products in your wet hair that contain proteins and/or that are specifically meant for curls and frizz.

Which products are best for your hair depends on what type of curls and what sort of frizz you have exactly.

10. determine your type of curls and your sort of frizz via the schedules on website CurlyNikki.

For example I am a type 2B Wavy Curvy, with Top Layer Frizz.

Buy products accordingly and start treating your hair accordingly. I am not saying that you should buy products from that website, but use the instructions and descriptions to figure out what you should be looking for in your products.

11. Do not blow dry or use hot irons, just let your hair air dry.

12. when at the hairdressers make sure they do not slice your hair with a razor or scissors. Our type of hair needs to be cut, not sliced.

13. if you hair is really a disaster you might consider a Brazilian Blowout to make your hair look shiny and healthy.

Be aware of a few things though:

  • It is a very expensive treatment that lasts only for about 12 weeks.
  • Make sure that you go to a skilled professional, because if badly done, it can do  a lot of harm to your hair. Like e.g. a bad perm can be disastrous, a BB can too.
  • A Brazilian Blowout tends to straighten one’s hair. So if you happen to have curls and you love your curls, like I do, verify with the person who is going to give you the BB that she is skilled enough to do it while letting you keep your natural curls. I have read stories from women with curly hair that had this done, and came out with their curls in all their glory, so it IS possible.
  • Personally I do not dare it, since I am scared to have straight hair for 3 months, which I would hate. Also I find it a lot of money (250-450 dollars). I would only consider it if I had a recommendation from someone who has similar hair as me and who knows a capable hairdresser near me who can do it.

14. when you are traveling and you cannot get hold of all sorts of fancy products for frizzy and/or curly hair, there are a few things that you can do:

  • Leave in (half of) your conditioner instead of rinsing it out fully. What I tend to do, is to rinse it carefully -with my hands- of my scalp, but leaving it in my hair. A part of it will have been combed out anyways, so you will not have a head full of conditioner left. Just enough to tame the worst of your frizz.
  • Go to the supermarket and get some simple, natural oils, like olive oil, jojoba oil or coconut oil.  And get some eggs for their yolks. Make a mixture, maybe using warm water, and use them as deep conditioners on your wet hair.

15. If you ARE capable of getting specific products, then here are a few of my favorites:

best products for curly hair
I have not found The Perfect Product that solves all my frizz problems yet. But I found several products that work. Some are meant to be used on dry hair (touch ups in the mornings), others are for wet hair. Some work best on the hair ends, others on the frizzy parts. Some work best when combined with each other.This is a sort of trial and error. You have to experiment on your own hair.

best product to manage frizz
The whole Frizz Ease series from John Frieda is one of my favorites. I  use the shampoos, conditioners, masks, serums, and their Secret Agent.
Products to manage frizzy hair
I also like Andrelon’s Perfect Curl series.
And I use L’Oreal’s anti-frizz series.
This Hair Wonder Hair Repair creme works well too.

The last 5 points will be very helpful in keeping your curls healthy and in controlling your frizz, but I don’t stick to them myself:

16. don’t apply any chemical treatments on your hair, like bleaching.


Sorry, but I prefer blondes, so I still light up my hair, even though it damages it. No, Pooja, (who is standing next to me), I did not refer to you. Your hair is gorgeous;-).

17. Avoid the sun.

Nope, not going to avoid the sun, although an up-do may limit the area that is exposed to the sun.

18. Avoid swimming pools (chlorine) and the sea (salt).

19. Go to the hairdresser every month to have half an inch removed, better yet: keep it short.


Noooo, I like it this way.

20. Sleep on a silk pillowcase.

Although high in maintenance as far as conditioning and detangling goes, there are advantages with my sort of hair and hairdo too!

Whenever I have a bad hair day, I just grab my hair and bundle it up somehow. The messier the better. In most cases it will look nice and at least better then a big bush of frizzy long hair flying around;-).



And those rare days that really nothing helps,  you can always put on a turban to make all your hair troubles disappear instantly.


Oh, did I mention that you MIGHT look  like a fool, though? LOL

What are your top tips for managing curly or frizzy hair? Do share them here, I would love to know!

This article was written by Anja, aka Curly Traveller or Tangobabe. Be sure to visit her travel blog for lots more interesting stories and experiences!

{ 45 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lorraine

Anja, you are fabulous and so is your hair! Although my hair isn’t curly so much of what you wrote resonated with me. Like you my very blonde hair as a child has darkened over the years and the grey crept in so, in my late 30s, I started to have blonde highlights every 3 months. I had a perm in the 80s which was a disaster because I have so much hair and I did have it cut shorter in the 90s (once) when the hairdresser caught me at a vulnerable moment. Otherwise it has been long. I wash it every 3 days with L’Oreal shampoo and conditioner for coloured hair and use John Frieda Frizz Ease serum (I have also used the gel, crème and finishing spray!!!) or more recently Moroccan/Argan oil. I blow dry it using a protective spray and finish off with the straighteners. It’s a long time since I allowed it to dry naturally and now I am a bit afraid of the kinks! I have also tried the Three Day Straight product which worked well with my regime. I don’t live in a humid climate like you but have holidayed in SE Asia a lot so know what you are up against. Thanks for a great article and some very cute pictures!


2 Anja van der Vorst

Thanks, Lorraine, for your extensive response and tips. Yes, argan oil is a fabulous product!
Your hair is beautiful and a lot blonder then mine; pretty!


3 Lorraine

I am much happier blonde…and long…like you!
I think we should both be sponsored by John Frieda though!


4 Tangobabe

Hahaha, I agree!


5 Patti @ NotDeadYet Style

Your hair is just beautiful, Anja! As a fellow curly girl, I appreciate all your tips. Mine is short now but I am letting it grow. Too much bleaching damaged it!


6 Tangobabe

Too bad. Hope it grows fast! Mine grows very, very slow.


7 Barcy

I’m a curly-top with long hair as well. My hair is extremely curly and has a natural tendency to spiral, so I need the weight of long hair. It gets really round if I go short and I wind up looking like a bobble head doll. For my type of curls my best advice is to get it wet every morning (conditioner every day, shampoo every other day) and apply product while the hair is still almost dripping wet. Then I just push it into place with my fingers and let it dry naturally. I fought my hair for years, but now I realize that it is my best feature. Long live curls!


8 Tangobabe

Viva curls, Barcy!;-) and thanks for your tips!


9 Rosa Wippich

Thank you for this article! For years I didn’t know that I had nice curly/wavy hair. I would blow dry my hair and even got perms when I was younger. A few years back I let my hair dry naturally (well, I was distracted by my kids and couldn’t blow dry it right away) and to my surprise, I had nice curly hair! It looks and feels fuller than my blown out straight hair.

So, now ‘I embrace my curls’!


10 Tangobabe

Wow, what a special way to discover you have curls !


11 Natalie

I love seeing someone else embrace their curls! My mother also cut my hair very short when I was young and I feel like I’m still getting over it 30+ years later. It seems the more I fight my thick wavy hair, the worse it looks. For a few years I’ve been using Garnier Fructis Anti-Humidity Smoothing Milk after I towel dry and it works well for helping my frizz without taking away the curl, plus it’s inexpensive!


12 Tangobabe

Oh, I feel you, Natalie. I also feel my long hair gives me so much joy, due to my childhood. Silly, right, at age 57! But totally harmless, so why not?;-)
And thanks for the tip. Am sure going to try it out.


13 Lorraine

Aged 7 my mother cut my hair above my ears – my teacher said I looked like a shorn sheep! LOL! Traumatic!


14 Tangobabe

My, all these childhood traumas! 🙁 Happy that we turned out well despite of that;-)


15 Lorraine

No comment! LOL!


16 Susan

Oh!!! My daughter used to have curly cues. Beautiful and blonde. Her hair would only reach her shoulders dry, but wet? more than half way down her neck. She still has lovely wavy hair, but straightens it!!


17 Tangobabe

Oh, too bad! Maybe she will change her mind one day…


18 Kate hampshire

My hair just frizzed but has been much better since I started sleeping on silk pillowcases. I make them myself and sell them on my etsy shop http://Www.etsy/katykookaburra.
I went to nz for 6 weeks and slept on cotton pillowcases. It took 3 months to get it back in condition. I shall take my own pillowcases with me in future.


19 Tangobabe

I don’t have mine with me, these days. Maybe I will buy one for here.


20 Lena

Oh. I’m sorry to be a party pooper but this is a bit wrong, this advice. Unless you’re getting paid for promoting Frizz-Ease. It contains silicone (dimeticone) which in short term does make your hair all silky and shiny, but in the long term – you are covering your hair in something that’s waterproof so your hair isn’t getting any moisture, and you need suphate so to wash it off, and sulphates dry out your hair even more. So you’ll get that straw crunching feeling every time you use Freeze-Ease shampoo and then you cover your hair with silicone serum, enhance the effect with silicone mask and finish off with silicone conditioner. Your poor hair doesn’t sat and a chance.
I’ve got curly hair. And I’ve gone through it all – wishing it was straight, trying to make it straights, spending money on forcing it to be what general media wants it to be …. Now at ripe age of 42 I accept that my hair is what it is, I love it, and I spend about 5 min a day and £4 a month to keep us happy. Basically – no silicone, no sulphates, no hair drier, and go with the flow.


21 Tangobabe

No, you are not a party pooper at all. It is all about good, honest advice and information on this website. So your different advice and experience are very welcome.. I will do some more research about silicone products for frizzy hair yes or no.


22 Anja van der Vorst

I checked out CurlyNikki’s website about silicones and here is what she says:


23 Lorraine

Very interesting – and I was joking that we were sponsored by John Frieda/Frizz Ease! I know they use silicone in hair ads but didn’t realise it was such a complex topic.


24 Sylvia

Thanks for a great article Anja and good to point us to this link too. I think it’s important info.


25 Sylvia

I had heard about this but then forgot again. I wonder if that’s the reason some of those anti frizz products just don’t seem to work for my thin (non-curly hair). Thanks for bringing this up. Definitely need to study some of the labels…


26 Anja van der Vorst

Agreed! My labels revealed not much good;-(.


27 Lisa

My daughter has beautiful curls with very little frizz. I hope she decides to keep them and love then rather than abuse them with straighteners and the like as she gets older. Some good advice that will help me help her.


28 Tangobabe

I hope she does too!


29 MyEmptyBag

nice advices! your hair is beautiful! I have a indominate curly hair too and I know what are you saying….

great post!



30 Trisha

I have hair very much like yours, but it (was!) quite dark, I now dye is several shades lighter, but that’s another story! I too have stopped using the Frizz Ease, which I used to buy in bucketfuls. You do get a sort of silicone build up after a while, which is basically coating each hair in plastic. I discovered the new types of hair oils last year and these have made so much difference. O’real make several, as do other high street brands nowadays, but the origanal one by – Morrocan Argan Oil by Organix – I still find to be the best. This was introduced to me by my Greek Cypriot hairdresser, as she has our type of hair and uses it herself. It can be used prior to drying hair, to revise hair between washes and to create a shine/smooth after a shower/using the steam iron (!). The Defining Cream in the same range is wonderful for smoothing/creating shine and reviving the curls as well. Mediterranean oils have been used since classical times on hair and their products are organic too, making for good, healthy, gleaming hair which is well nourished without chemical build up. The oil is very light, doesn’t leave traces on pillows and washes out cleanly each time. I thoroughly recommend giving these products a try if you have our type of hair.


31 Tangobabe

Thanks for your great tips, Trisha! Going to explore those products.


32 Lena

Um there is still dimeticone in Organix Oil stuff. I use Tresemme Naturals conditioner, Loreal Nature Riche Macadamia shampoo and mask, and dirty cheap Boots Curl Creame. Honestly, my hair improved, and I dye it blond, but still it’s much better that when I was using -cone based products. I would love to find pure argan oil….


33 Lorraine

If you are in the UK, Lena, then I got mine in Superdrug.


34 Greetje

I loved this post, my dear brave Anja. As my hair is opposite from yours, there is not a lot I can say. But I loved the photos and the stories and the funny bits.


35 Anja van der Vorst

Thanks, Greetje.


36 Kay

Your story mirrors my own – for years, I tried to get my childhood curls back, but I was going about it all wrong. My “bible” as of last summer is “The Curly Girl Handbook” by Lorraine Massey. I stumbled upon it online, and to say that the Deva method and products have changed my life is an understatement! Here’s to finally becoming the curly girls we were meant to be after age 40 (in my case, 48)! The book is available as an e-book or paperback with DVD at Amazon and other major retailers.


37 Anja van der Vorst

Oh wow, what a great tip. Will check it out!


38 Yolanda

Your hair is amazing and beautiful, Anja! I think curls are fantastic! My hair is straight, so I suffered in the 80s trying to have big, curly hair. I have heard that using paper towels to squeeze the water out go the hair after washing helps prevent frizz.


39 Anja van der Vorst

Oh, that’s new to me. Will see how that works out. Thanks, Yolanda.


40 Jane

I also have curly hair. I live in north Florida where it was either so thick from the humidity that I couldn’t even finger-comb it, or nearly straight in the dry winter months. My solution is a lot easier and less expensive: stop using shampoo. That’s it! Use only water/and or conditioner. Conditioner actually works really well as a shampoo for curly hair, which tends to be dry. Since quitting shampoo, my hair stays much the same throughout the year. I also use a gel (health food store brands which are less irritating to my eyes) and rarely use a hair dryer. Anyway, whatever your approach, the message is basically the same—stop washing so much and find products or methods that don’t dry out your hair. BTW, I don’t color, which also makes a difference, I guess,


41 Anja van der Vorst

Hi Jane, thanks for your input!
Yes, stop using shampoo is a very good advice for our kind of hair. I used shampoo occasionally, but am going to stop using it all together. I am going to buy a clarifying shampoo to wash out the silicon build up for once and for all. After that no more shampoo.
Not coloring and specifically not bleaching does make a huge difference for the health of your hair.


42 Sandy

Hi Anja: great stuff! I recently moved to Houston, Texas and have had so many issues with my highlighted natural curls, I had been forced to flat iron them and load them with products to get any kind of professional look. I recently asked a friend of mine who is Latin what she uses and she told me about Davines hair products. You can get them on Amazon, and they are a bit pricey, but not any more than salon prices. I got the Momo shampoo and conditioner, and it is AMAZING! I only wash my hair twice week and use the conditioner every day. It has a kind of weird texture, but the stuff really works! I follow up with leave in spray treatment from Infusium and have been able to get the softest, prettiest curls, that my husband asked me to stop straightening my hair, he likes the curls much better:) Thanks for the wonderful hints!


43 Anja van der Vorst

Great tips, Sandy, I will look into them.

Too bad (for me) is that Amazon often does not ship certain items to e.g. Singapore or the Netherlands, the countries where I am the most:-(.


44 Amy

Anja, as a curly who wears her hair fairly long and natural, I have dealt with my share of bad hair days and frizz. The product I like best is from Jessicurl. As “all natural” as it can get, it has tamed and defined my curls and left them really soft. It’s a reasonable cost, too. In the US, you can buy direct on-line or search for a salon near you. In Canada, it is a bit harder to find, but well worth looking for. I love that Jessi encourages all curlies to go back to their natural state – no matter what kind of curls they have.


45 Anja van der Vorst

Thanks so much, Amy. I read about JessiCurl and am at the lookout for it here in Singapore since a month now. So far no luck, but my search goes on.


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