The One Hair Care Tip This Hairstylist Gives Everyone With Curls
Hair care routines are about as varied as hair types. There's practically no limit to combinations we can do based on the hair's unique needs, scalp type, texture, strand diameter, porosity, natural sebum production, and final styling goals. But some hair care techniques are just so tried-and-true, you simply must master them.
If you have curly hair, here's the best way to wash according to hairstylist Miko Branch, co-founder of hair care brand Miss Jessie's. Why is it so important to really nail down proper shower techniques? Well, "Caring for curly hair starts in the shower," she says.
A hairstylist's go-to method for washing curls—with no damage.
Basically, the most effective way to get your curls to look their best is to start with proper cleansing care. (For info on how much to wash, read our explainer.) This is because curls are very delicate, and too harsh or vigorous of a wash can lead to physical wear-and-tear, but not cleansing enough or detangling curls properly will also lead to buildup, frizz, or knots down the line. So you have to be smart and strike a balance.
"First, use cleansers and conditioners that were specifically created for your hair texture," she says. This is vital as each curl type has different needs: Sure, most people with curls tend to need more hydrating options, but even within hydrating shampoos, cleansers, and conditioners, there's some variety. Some curls need an option that works daily, as their strands need a more regular wash schedule; others wash less and might need an option that will effectively remove buildup and detangle without stripping.
Then, "using warm water, cleanse your scalp to remove buildup, dirt, sweat, and so on. Switch to cooler water to condition your hair midshaft and seal the ends. Always use a wide-toothed comb to gently detangle, and microfiber towel to soak up extra water. And, air dry (the best dry!) or use a diffuser with the blow dryer set on low," she says.
Warmer water can create a more humid shower environment, theoretically helping lift the hair shaft1 so the shampoo can clean better. (Just not too hot, which can be drying). Then the cooler water closes the hair shaft, helping trap in all the nutrients from the conditioner.
As for the detangling, most people with curls know that trying to run a brush through dry strands is a hard no. (Far too much breakage, physical stress, and damage.) So when detangling curls, either do it in shower while your hair is soaked with conditioner, or do it after your shower with tons of leave-in and detangler. Once knots and tangles are out, continue with your styling products and favorite drying method.
Hair has unique needs—and if you have curls, you know how important it is to tend to those needs. Starting with proper showering technique is the best way to do that.
Alexandra Engler is the beauty director at mindbodygreen and host of the beauty podcast Clean Beauty School. Previously, she's held beauty roles at Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, SELF, and Cosmopolitan; her byline has appeared in Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and Allure.com. In her current role, she covers all the latest trends in the clean and natural beauty space, as well as lifestyle topics, such as travel. She received her journalism degree from Marquette University, graduating first in the department. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.