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My Favorite Oils and Remedies for Curly Hair

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Hello my dears! How are you all, and how is your hair today? is it accurately helping you express your mood, while acting as barometer for atmospheric pressure changes? My curly hair is very big and fuzzy today, ain’t no taming it. There must be rain coming.

Today I want to shine a little extra love on my curly haired babes. Because let’s celebrate the fact that your hair expresses itself in a bigger way than non-curly hair. It’s not that curly is better, it is that curly is more dynamic. There are more factors which determine it to be exactly what it is, which is completely unlike any other head of hair.

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It is true that no two heads of hair are the same, on the entire planet. This fact just amuses me to no end. I just absolutely love that each person possess their own head of hair that is  not identical to any other head of hair. With this fact in mind though, It means we need to be thoughtful and curious and experimental when it comes to figuring out the best way to care for our own unique hair.

Today, I am sharing what I have found while thoughtfully experimenting with natural oils and remedies and methods of care in the hundreds of different heads of curly hair that I have worked on in the course of my career.


Brushing your Curly Hair

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To begin with, I have to state a fact. I have rarely come across any curly haired person who is a friend of the hairbrush. This is partly why I continue on my brush crusade……..I feel like so many of us have taken to heart the advice of someone who didn’t appreciate they dynamic beauty of curls. Sometimes, you have to let the beast roar. ( The roaring beast is your insanely big brushed out curls) Your hair and scalp will thank you forever, and many of the unsavory hair and scalp issues that have plagued you will disappear.

Flaky, itchy scalp? Needs more stimulation and circulation to it. Remedy? brush your hair.

Oily, flat roots and dry ends? Keep that oil moving through. Brush your hair.

Slow growing hair? Increase blood flow and cell division. Brush your hair for faster, healthier growth.

Frizzy hair? Brush your hair and help train some of the frizz down.

Heavy hair? For goddess sakes brush the fallen hairs out of your head once in a while to lighten your physical and spiritual load, not to mention helping your curls spring back to life.

Let’s be real. Most of us have ducked away from every hair brush and head massage that has come our way for fear of messing up our curls.

My advice, no matter your curl type, is to embrace the beast, love the frizz, and open up your scalp and hair to the mechanical and medicinal magic of a good hair brushing.

IMG_2006Here is the trick: Brush your dry hair, before you shower. That’s right, spend 10 minutes letting the beast roar. Brush it like you are making up for the last lifetime of not brushing it. From all angles. Feel the feelings in your scalp. Flip your head upside down and keep brushing it. Now, hop in the shower. Wet your hair thoroughly and go about your routine with washing or not washing. Even better, apply your favorite oil to it as a treatment once your hair has been brushed, rinsed, and is towel dried, then sleep on it. Wash out the next morning.

Do it again next week. Need a brush? This one is burly and designed for all curl types.


Oiling your Curly Hair

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Because of the way curly hair is made and the way that it grows, it is more susceptible to environmental strain and damage. Think of it like your tenderhearted friend who just keeps falling in love with the wrong dude, over and over again because she just loves to love so much. She may need your help finding ways to protect her heart better.

Your curly hair needs your help protecting itself so that it can be strong and do the right thing and make good choices. The best protection it has is the oil that your scalp makes so generously for it to bath in. (another reason to brush your hair, to help it spread it’s natural born protective armor.)4313E6A5-495B-434B-99D1-8680146C6E75

For those of us with longer hair, we especially need this armor of oil in our ends, where the hair is older and more damaged and farther from our oil-producing scalp. Sometimes, even our own natural oils aren’t enough to quench the thirst of our hair. And we can tell if that is the case, because it starts to feel like straw and our ends get brittle and break. That is how we know that it is time to find the right oil to nourish our hair in just the right way.

Before we launch in to oils, I need to say a quick word about the nastiness of silicone on curly hair.


Silicone, the anti-moisture.

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It is oh so easy to fall into the silicone trap, especially if you are curly. The instant smoothing, softening action of refined liquid plastic can be so tempting, so very enticing. We all crave that frizz-ease silkiness that we felt the first time we ran it through our strands and exclaimed ‘what is this magic???’

I know. It can be hard to say no. But just say no. It is the devil for your hair. It fills in the cracks of your uneven hair cuticle (all us curls have uneven hair cuticles), making each strand feel very smooth. Then it dries  in their and creates a coating that sticks. Over time it builds up into gunk that is very hard to remove. At this point, you have very effectively sealed OUT all moisture, making your hair dull and brittle and sad:( My heart feels sad just thinking about the trickery that led us to think we needed this stuff in the first place. But that is another topic for another day.

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A quick little note too, if you are a MORROCAN OIL addict I have to say this: I get it. It smells amazing and it makes your hair feel great. My experience in the salon with the Moroccan Oil line is that it is a phenomenon of biggest advertising hoax of consumer trickery I have ever witnessed. No it isn’t Argan Oil. It is a base of artificial fragrance, silicone and other petroleum-based synthetic goo’s and a *tiny* bit of Argan Oil to make it sound good and drive the price tag way up our unsuspecting asses. Rant? yes. Truth? Yes. Don’t buy it.

But trust me, curly babes. There are so many better options to experiment with than a Silicone laden smoothing serum that cost more than your water bill.


How to use Oils in Your Curly Hair

There are many ways to use oils in your hair. Here are a few, I recommend you try them all out and see what works for you.

You can apply oil to your dry hair, as needed, to add moisture, shine, protection and softness. Start with a few drops of oil, in the palm of your hand. Rub your hands together and smooth them over the surface of your hair. Do the same thing but this time, flip you head and hang your hair forwards, and scrunch the oil gently into your ends. Do this any time your hair feels really dry and crunchy, or any time you plan to be in harsh elements such as wind, sun, salt water etc.7U6A5237

You can do this same thing, on wet hair. Your hair will drink the oil in a bit deeper, and dry with the benefit of the oil in it which will help the curl pattern stay in tact. Some folks swear by applying their oil to absolutely dripping wet hair, because it disperses throughout the hair more easily and keeps the curls very well defined. If you like thicker oils lake castor oil, vitamin E oil or Lanolin, wet hair application is definitely the way to go.

In India, women oil their hair before they wash it. I love this method, as it really seems to have a deeper and more repairative effect on the hair. For this method, you will use more oil than just a few drops. Think about a teaspoon to a tablespoon, depending on your hair length and density. Wet and towel dry your hair. Apply the oil to your ends first, gently massaging it up your strands towards your scalp. Give yourself a scalp massage. Cover head with a towel of a hat and sleep on it. Wash out in the morning ( I wash twice with African Black Soap to remove excess oil.) I personally do this twice a month with my favorite hair oil which is Jojoba.

If you are using a very fine oil like fractionated coconut oil, you can put it in a spray bottle and spritz it in when you need it.

Play around. The point is, feed your hair oil when it is dry and needs quenching.

How to know if an oil is right for your hair? It is as simple as this: You like the results of using it. So try them all and see what works best for YOU.


My Favorite Natural Oils and Remedies for Different Curly Hairtypes

7U6A5951I know, I know, I just went through this whole thing about how no two hair types are the same and should each be treated uniquely. I stand by that. But for the sake of simplifying and streamlining your process of creating the best hair care routine for your unique hair type, these suggestions are for you to take and run with in your own experimental way. I am sharing what I have learned and my biggest hope is that it helps you understand and love your hair better.

Here are my favorite remedies and oils for different curl types. Keep in mind that the key here is to experiment and find what works best for you. All of these oils and remedies can be  bought in small amounts, very affordably. Also, don’t be afraid to cocktail ingredients. All of these remedies can be used interchangeably in your hair! Have fun and summon your inner alchemist.

For Thick Hair:

If you have fine textured curls I recommend:

    • Vitamin E oil– It is nice and thick and a little bit sticky, great for curls that need a little weight and taming to keep them in tact. Adds shine too.
    •  Olive oil Thick as well, with a bit of weight too it but without the stick. A favorite of Mediterranean blooded folks with thick curls. Nice shine to it.
  • Coconut OilGreat all purpose hair oil, not much stick at all and little shine but lot’s of protective qualities.
  • Castor oil The thickest and stickiest of them all. Tame flyaway and add lots of shine and luster.

If you have coarse textured curls I recommend:

  • Avocado oil Very moisturizing, nice shine, super protection and super softening.
  • Shea butter a great hair tamer and moisture barrier protector for coarse and dry hair. I love to melt it down with my jojoba oil. A tiny bit of stick to it, nice matte finish.
  • Beeswax Even more taming, protection, and stickiness than Shea Butter. Best if melted down in oil or with Shea Butter, makes a great pomade for coarse curls.
  • LanolinThick, protective, and strengthening for brittle coarse hair.
  • Emu oil Fine, viscous, incredibly softening and strengthening for coarse dry hair. Deeply penetrating and reparative.

For Medium Hair:

If you have fine textured curls I recommend:

  • Sweet Almond oil Not to heavy, not too light. Great shine, easily absorbed moisture.
  • Argan oil Reparative, softening and super protective for dry and color treated hair.

If you have coarse textured curls I recommend:

  • Fractionated Coconut oil Lot’s of shine, lots of protection and softness. A little goes a LONG way. Great for use before heat styling or a lot of sun exposure.
  • Argan oil- Again, very softening and reparative.
  • Emu oil- Strengthening and softening, not too heavy.

For Thin Hair:

If you have fine textured curls I recommend:

  • Jojoba oil Lightweight, lovely. Easy for your hair to absorb. Nice shine, super soft.
  • Rosewater Light as air, but incredibly softening and shine enhancing. Helps tame curls and add lustrous bounce. Spray in as needed!
  • Rosehip oil Light, easily absorbed and very hydrating for fine and fragile curls.
  • Sea salt Mix with warm water and spray in for added texture and volume in oily hair that falls flat. Spray in at the roots….Or, mix with warm water in a cup and pour over the hair as a finishing rinse. Do not rinse out. Best ever? Jump in the ocean every chance you get.
  • Aloe Vera Great for parched fine curls with straw-like ends. Lightweight and hydrating, softening. Scrunch into your ends, or spray in liquid with a mister.

If you have coarse textured curls I recommend:

  • Seseme oil Lightweight but with a tiny bit of stick for taming and softening coarser curls. Nice shine.
  • Neem oil Reparative and easily absorbed moisture for hair and scalp.
  • Grapeseed oil Lightweight and very softening.
  • Emu oil- Great for brittle thin hair because it helps boost elasticity, making coarse thin curls more bouncy and buoyant.

For Frizz-

  • Coconut milk Use it like conditioner for softening and taming your hair, smoothing down frizz and moisturizing.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar Mix with water and use as a conditioning hair rinse. ( 1 tablespoon ACV to 8 oz water is a good starting mixture) Adds lots of shine, detangles and smooths down the surface of your hair strands, helping with frizz and adding reflection.
  • Honey Incredibly softening and hydrating, melt it down in hot water (1 teaspoon honey to 8 oz water) and spray in your hair on dry days to help attract moisture from the air into your hair. Turn fuzz back into bouncy curls, adds lots of shine.
  • Hibiscus flowers Very softening, smoothing and shine enhancing. Steep a tea with dried hibiscus and use it as a conditioning rinse. Even better, put a handful of dried hibiscus in a jar of Apple Cider Vinegar and set it in the sun for a week. Use this as a conditioning rinse. For added moisture, melt a tablespoon of honey in it and soak your hair with it, letting it sit for 10 minutes before rinsing it out. 

Strengthening Fragile Hair-

  • Horsetail GrassSteep the dried grass in hot water, drink the tea daily. Rinse your hair and scalp once a week with this biotin and silica-rich brew. Helps build protein strength.
  • Emu oil- So deeply penetrating that it can really help build inner hair strength in fragile hair.
  •  Argan oil- Also deeply penetrating and easily absorbed, but the hydrating and protective abilities really help prevent further damage in already very fragile hair hair.

Washing your Curly Hair- As far as washing hair, I know many curly haired people who love the ShamPHree routine. I know many who just brush and rinse with warm water once a week ( after years of me pleading with them to try it. ) Several of my fine-haired clients swear by washing with African Black Soap by Alaffia, followed by a Apple Cider Vinegar rinse. 

Screen Shot 2016-07-23 at 8.13.31 PMMany of my medium to thick, coarse curly clients have fallen madly in love with New Wash from Hairstory Studio. ( Try it and let me know what you think. Then you order it, be sure to tell them that How-to Hair Girl referred you, I’d sure appreciate it because I get a small percentage of each sale when I help someone discover the line, which truly has  revolutionized less is more haircare.

Weaning your Curls off of Shampoo/ Hair Products: I get asked this question a lot….How do I wean my curly hair off of hair products? Getting off the hair junk can be a real jump for curly haired people who have become dependent on one product or another. My short answer is this: Start to trust your natural oils to take care of your hair for you. This basically means that less is more when it comes to hair…..Take less away, add less back in. Homeostasis is the curly hair word of the day. If you shampoo a few times a week, cut down to one less time a week for a while. Instead of washing it, give it a thorough brushing when it is dry to redistribute oils from the scalp and move them towards your ends. Rinse your hair with warm water.

Slowly work your way down to no-shampoo, letting your hair adjust to the new routine and letting your scalp re-calibrate oil production. Over time, this switch from chemical cleansing to mechanical cleansing will condition your hair and create a much more manageable environment for your curls to behave and thrive naturally.

The same is true for getting off conventional hair products, curl creams, butters, etc. Find the oil that works for your hair, and start brushing it regularly. You heard that right, curly babe.


My Personal Curl Routine

Me and my medium density, coarse but fine (is that even possible?) sometimes-curly-sometimes-not but always at-the-mercy-of-the-weather-hair loves a combination of all of the above oils, remedies, and routines at different times depending on the weather, the seasons, my mood, and the way I decide to wear my hair. So you can imagine the look of my haircare cupboard. #hairhoarders no no don’t get rid of that! My hair needs that!

Screen Shot 2016-08-01 at 6.55.27 AMMy most often-used oils are Jojoba and Castor, Jojoba ( I love La Tierra Sagrada Jojoba Oil ) for moisture and softness and conditioning, and Castor to tame it. I brush my hair all the damn time, sometimes wearing my hair in big wild brushed out curls, but sometimes just to work the oils through before I rinse it. I love New Wash, especially in the Summer and Winter months when my hair is dry. I also love the Hairstory Hair Balm. I ALWAYS do an Apple Cider Vinegar rinse, and when my hair is limp, I swear by Salt Spray by La Tierra Sagrada. Nothing is better than my hair after a jump in a river.

I hope this post helps you find your curly hair sweet spot.

Here are my favorite herbs for hair, to take you natural hair remedies to the next level.

Here is my favorite DIY tricks for Naturally Curly Hair.

And here are my favorite DIY Recipes to Rock your Haircare at Home.

What are your favorite tips and tricks for caring for your curls? Would love to hear your feedback in the comment section.

xo, HTHG

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2 Comments

  1. Marina

    how about weaning yourself off of conditioner? That is my problem…I ditched shampoo a long time ago…but can’t seem to ditch conditioner. Help!

  2. Kaci

    Great post! I was thoroughly confused with all the brush talk before i made it through it lol but it makes so much sense!
    I recently chopped my dreads off and am working on growing a pixie cut into a curly mohawk. My hair is fine and my curls are fragile but i have a lot of hair. I’m trying the pine tar soap for the first time tonight to see what kind of result i can get. Crossing my fingers! My frustration is that if i try to shape it once dry it is so soft it all just fluffs together ??

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