This Woman Shares The Routine That Shaped Her Gorgeous Natural Curls

Photo: @christinavega_

Because I am a makeup artist, mom, and beauty influencer, the No. 1 question women ask me is what I do to my hair. I won't lie, it's taken me a long time to restore my curls—five years to be precise. Given all the damage I did before, straightening, heat styling, and more, it was all worth it.

Patience in this process is truly key. My journey to natural used to feel like work, but since working with Weleda on a project that asked me to look at the way I connect to myself and to nature – I’ve changed the way I view my natural hair routine and use it as my very own moment of mindfulness during an otherwise busy day. It helps me to connect to what makes me feel like my most authentic, natural self. Nothing makes me feel more connected than caring for my curls.

So you want to bring out your natural curls too? First, I invite you to create a hair ritual that is mindful and therapeutic. I promise it will make the whole transition feel that much easier. I do have one rule that applies across the board: once you make the choice to go curly, don't use any heat—don't straighten your hair, curl it with heat, or even blow dry it (unless you're diffusing). I personally went through serious heat damage. To be totally honest, I liked the versatility of being able to wear it straight or curly. But when I would wear it curly after flat-ironing it, I noticed my curls lost their definition. Then I realized I was onto something—I needed to pick a team, and I picked team curls.

It wasn't an overnight transition for me, but I'm sharing my routine because there are probably a few things here you can do to help you speed up your journey—and take a moment to enjoy the process. Here's a breakdown of what I do to keep up my hair daily, weekly, monthly, and every so often (I called it quarterly here to simplify) that, in my own experience and in my experience coaching others, all contribute to a vibrant, curly mane.

Photo: @christinavega_

My daily hair routine.

Silk hair wrap.

I wrap my hair in a silk scarf every night—and I have a silk pillowcase. If I don't, it gets super locked in the back. Simply put it up in a pineapple before heading to bed. I try different ones and just started using Fisher’s Finery. So far, so good! I like Slip Silk pillowcases too.

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Curl revitalizing spray.

I also spritz a revitalizing spray daily to hydrate and refresh my curls. Scrunch it in an upward motion, which helps to keep the shape and fight frizz. Some of my favorites are Deva Curl's Mist-er Right and Madame CJ Walker's curl refresher mist.

Scalp and hair oil.

If my scalp is dry, I'll use some hair oil wherever it's needed. I try not to put too much product on daily because I don't co-wash it more than twice a week. (See below for product recommendations.)

My weekly hair routine.

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Related Class

Co-washing.

I co-wash every three to four days, which comes out to about twice weekly. Co-washing is followed by several steps, in this order. Since I don't apply much product on the daily, it's all front-loaded into co-washing day and lasts until the next co-wash. In between products, I allow my hair to absorb each step for about five to 10 minutes.

  1. Leave-in conditioner: Curls Blueberry Bliss Reparative Leave-In Conditioner (cream) and Crème of Nature Strength & Shine Leave-In Conditioner (spray)
  2. Mousse: Crème of Nature Coconut Milk Curl-Quench Foaming Mousse and Made Beautiful TRUE Moisturizing Styling Foam
  3. Gel: Curls Blueberry Bliss Control Jelly and Ouidad Advanced Climate Control Heat & Humidity Gel (great for summer months and travel). Bounce Curl Light Creme Gel is great to use if you prefer something lightweight or have fine hair.
  4. Cream: Curls Crème Brule Whipped Curl Cream and DevaCurl Supercream Coconut Curl Styler
  5. Allow to air dry or diffuse it if I’m in a hurry
  6. Apply hair oil where needed: Weleda Rosemary Conditioning Hair Oil (which I also love on my body after a shower) and The Mane Choice Serum Oil Mist

For co-washing, I typically use Amika's Nice Cream Cleansing Conditioner or Made Beautiful Co-Wash Cleansing Conditioner, and to dry the hair, I try to use something that won't also drain its moisture like a T-shirt or microfiber towel. I personally use the DevaTowel from DevaCurl.

Photo: @christinavega_

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Deep treatments.

When it comes to maintaining natural curls, hydrating with masks and deep treatments is really important. I do deep treatments every week or sometimes every other week. For more intense hydration I use deep treatments once or twice a month. Some deep treatments I've been loving recently are Shea Moisture's Intensive Hydration Conditioner, Curls' Reparative Hair Mask, and Deva Curl's Melt Into Moisture. To help treat hair breakage and damage I highly recommend treating your curls to a protein pack once a month. My go to for this type of treatment is Palmer’s Coconut Oil Formula Deep Conditioning Protein Pack.

These hydration-boosting tips I've learned over the years help make the product work harder for you:

  • Put mask on, and leave it on with a cap. Sometimes it's nice to let the hot water run over your cap for a thermal hair hit.
  • Rinse everything out in cool water to lock in the moisture.
  • Apply the product starting from the end of the roots.
  • Work in sections. Don’t be lazy! Part your hair in sections of four.

Monthly.

I shampoo once or twice a month in order to avoid stripping the hair using LivSo's formula. If I'm feeling like my hair could use a deeper clean, I will clarify the scalp to reduce any product buildup. Lately I've been loving DevaCurl's Buildup Buster. Then I'll follow with styling (steps 1 through 6 above, under co-washing).

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Quarterly.

I recommend trimming your ends about every three to four months. I see Mona Baltazar in New York City, who uses a dry cutting technique. She takes each individual curl and cuts it, then she washes the whole head, dries it, and cuts everything again. It takes about two or three hours each time, but it's worth it. Find someone who can cut your hair curly.

I always tell my audience that if they are going through the journey of being natural to have patience. The curls won’t happen overnight. Especially if you’ve been unknowingly damaging your hair for years, it’s going to take a couple of years to bring it back to its natural state. But relish in that journey, and use it as a way to balance and center yourself.

Going through a hair identity crisis? This personal essay from a woman who's been there will help.

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