How to Care for Curly Hair – No Poo

Today, I’m going to dive into how to care for curly hair and ditch the shampoo.  If you’re a curly-haired human and reading this, I’m betting that you are looking for how to take care of your curly hair.

My Bad Hair Years

I fought my curly hair for years and really wish someone would have given me the low-down on what to do with curly hair.

Believe me, I’ve had my share of bad hair YEARS.

I’ve also had a slew of bad hair cuts.  All of them were basically attempts to tame my tresses.  In fact, when I was 4, my mom chopped off my cherub curls.  I looked like a little boy and neither of us knew how to manage my curls.

The reality is curly hair can be very difficult to care for IF you fight the curl or don’t understand what your hair needs.

But back to my curly hair…it was bad people. Really really bad! The picture below is me in that boy haircut.  I’m the boy on the left.


My hair was kept short until I was about 9 or 10. By then I had finally talked my mom into letting me grow it out.

For years I fought the curly hair. I always had it tied back and never let my hair down – literally.

Chopping it All Off

Just before joining the Air Force, I chopped it to a bob and straightened it every day. It still wasn’t right but I finally had the straight hair I longed for. When I joined the military, I cut it even shorter to a boy haircut again and straightened it as best I could. I was desperate and didn’t know what else to do to keep my hair under control.

Turns out humidity (I was first stationed on Guam) and straightened naturally curly hair are not a great combo, but I survived somehow and even got a few dates.

I finally decided to grow my locks out.  What do ya know…Mark loves me in long hair so I’ve pretty much had to learn how to deal with it over the years.

BUT for the past 5 years, I’ve not just learned to deal with curly hair, I’ve fully embraced my curls.

I have found that there are really 2 things that make or break a curly head of hair.

  • Dryness
  • Control Issues

This is the first installment of 3, I cover how to wash your curls and what tools work the best.  The next post will be all about how to style your curly hair. And the last one is all about how to tell your stylist to cut your hair (if you’re looking for a long style).

So without further adieu…

How to Wash Curly Hair

1.  Give Up Shampoo.  Curly hair is just naturally dry and that is because of the structure of curly hair.  No way around it.  Curly-haired folks NEED to apply more moisture to their hair and avoid harsh shampoos.  I opt for NO-POO.

You read right.

I do NOT shampoo my hair.  Seems crazy? But believe me, I CAN NOT shampoo my hair.  If I even shampoo my hair twice a week, it becomes very brittle and damages quickly.  Not only that, but it is frizzy and out of control.

It sounds gross, but if you have curly hair, you understand the dryness and need for moisture. Without shampoo, my hair is not funky. I don’t have any problems from not using shamPOO my hair.  But trust me, my hair is not nasty, and neither will yours be.

2.  Wash With Conditioner.  So what do I do? Every two or three days, I wash my hair with conditioner.  To wash, I just apply a generous amount of conditioner to my hair and scalp and scrub.  Next, I run my fingers through my hair to remove any tangles.  Once all the tangles are out, I rinse out most of the conditioner but leave a little in there since my hair is a moisture hog.

3.  Periodically Clean Scalp. Every 2 weeks or so, I scrub my scalp with a  conditioner/sugar scrub mixture. I can tell when I need to scrub my scalp because it starts to get a little itchy.

For the scalp scrub, mix 1 tablespoon sugar to 3 tablespoons conditioner to make a paste and scrub that into my scalp followed by a good rinse.

Curly Hair Products ~ From the Grocery Store


At the time of writing this, I hadn’t found a salon formula that I loved and we were on a strict budget.  I had been using grocery store hair products for years. I used 3 products on my hair and they were lifesavers.

  • Conditioner – TRESemme Moisture Rich Vitamin E formula.  It’s reasonably priced and gets the job done.  **UPDATE:  I’ve switched to a paraffin-free conditioner from Costco (Kirkland’s Signature) LOVE it as far as a grocery store brand conditioner goes.
  • Oil – I use an Argon oil blend by Shea Moisture, Raw Shea Butter Reconstructive Elixir (it’s available from Target).  I LOVE LOVE LOVE this stuff!  I put it on just before I put gel on my hair (but I’ll get into that in the next post)
  • Styling Gel – I still use my TRESemme #4 Tres Gel.  The hold is just right.  #5 makes my hair crunchy, and #3 is not strong enough.  Just call me Goldilocks.

Recommended Reading

Curly Girl Handbook.  I cannot recommend this book enough!  It is full of so much information.  I read it years ago and what an eye-opener.  I’ve found what works for me from the book and made my own way.  If you have curly hair, this book is a great starting point!  It is packed with loads of information.

The author breaks curly hair down into seven 7 different types of curls.  For each type they have very specific tips and hints to work with your curl. The book has been updated from years ago when I first read it and it has even more valuable information.

Everyone with curly hair should have this book!  It also contains hair recipes and helps for getting a good cut along with other valuable information.

Here are some photos from the book to give you a peek inside.

Next, we’ll cover curly hair styling tips


50 thoughts on “How to Care for Curly Hair – No Poo”

  1. i just found your post and have to say I love it!!! I have curly hair and so does my oldest daughter. However my problem is if I don’t shampoo it every day it gets extremely greasy. What do u recommend to combat that problem???

    • Hmmm…I’d start out by only shampooing every other day if you can try it for a few days. Then evaluate how your scalp responds. You could also incorporate a vinegar rinse for your hair in leu of shampoo. I’m sorry I can’t be more help. Most of the time, curly hair is dry and oiliness is not an issue. Is your hair dry/frizzy and scalp oily?

  2. So glad I found your posts on Pinterest! I’m always looking for tips on curly hair. I have a similar routine as you. Haven’t used shampoo in YEARS! It sounds gross…always get a few funny looks when people ask about my hair and I start explaining what I use…
    Just wanted to add a tip…I condition my hair every day, and use an oil like you do. When you condition try putting the oil in first (on wet hair), then layering the conditioner on top of that. I usually go through a “washing” motion as if I were shampooing, and comb it through with a wide tooth comb. I leave it on while washing up, and rinse my hair very last. My hair is always soft, shiny, and never any tangles. I love the Garnier line of gel and oil. I usually use Paul Mitchell Tea Tree oil conditioner, but started to switch over to RenPure BB Conditioner… I may have to try the trsseme conditioner. I also use their Leave in spray…great stuff!
    Doing curly hair is like being a mad scientist! Everything has to go in at just the right time and amount…otherwise it’s a disaster!

    • Thank you for the tip Marissa! I’m going to give my argon oil a try before conditioner. You are so right, curly hair is like being a mad scientist – LOL! Thank you again!

  3. Thank you so much for this whole post! All parts! I love my curls curls but a lot of the time it seems like they don’t love me back! But hopefully with your tips they will! I’ve known for a while that I needed to get shoet layers but ypu confirmed it for me thanks! Also, I will try out the NoPoo method 😛 Thanks againM

  4. I just started the no-poo hair care, and it really helps define my curly/wavy hair. I use the baking soda wash and apple cider vinegar rinse. At first I thought the vinegar would make my hair smell, but after your hair drys you can’t even tell 🙂 I have always struggled with dry hair. I straightened my waves everyday for years. I really like my hair curly now. I even think it looked nicer than it does straight.

  5. HI thanks for the tips, I find shampoo is ok once a week or so but no more poo every day. And bc dryness is an issue I switched from styling gel ( alcohol based) to styling cream ( oil based). My favorite is “it’s a 10” miracle styling cream.

  6. We are hair twins and oddly, I used to use the same conditioner and gel that you share in this post! I’ve switched as of a couple of months ago and if you haven’t tried these products, you should check them out because they make my hair so much curlier and healthy and easier to work with. The products are the suave professionals conditioner with argan oil (it’s a gold bottle) and the Shea Moisture coconut and hibiscus curl enhancing smoothie in the pinkish tub.

  7. I was happy to come across your article I to have curly hair had used wen products for a while but I started loosing large amounts of hair and discontinued now I’m using a sulfate free shampoo 2 times a week and my hair has gotten better I’m always looking for ways to take better care of my hair for it’s been frizzy & dry at times but with everything I read it has helped a lot

  8. Good advice. I have the classic crazy 10 foot wide hair. Great in the 80’s, not so much at 46 now. One tip that works is replacing hair gels, mousse, and oils with simple hand lotion. A few pumps and run it through your hair. Do not brush or comb though. You will be amazed at how manageable and soft the curls are. Air dry and go natural!

  9. Fellow curly hair here! I have struggled with my “mop” or what others have called my “Tarzan Jane hair”for years. I am the only one who had curls and so it got cut off and I never understood how to care for the curls. But I have been learning and adjusting. I use a sulfate free shampoo but am considering going no poo. I also have been doing a coconut oil treatment and it is amazing. Viva labs coconut oil. 🙂 my problem is still frizz…ugh. Humidity is my worst enemy. This post has helped me a lot. 🙂


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