Curly Hair Styling Tips

I’m so excited to share be continuing this series where we cover curly hair styling tips.  I think this series is really going to help you party curly hair!

Last time, I covered the challenges of naturally curly hair as well as products to use.

Today, I’m sharing my curly hair styling tips.

But first, there are 2 important guidelines to follow when dealing with curly hair.

1.  Don’t brush your curly hair.  There are a couple of reasons for this.  First of all, the dryness of curly hair makes it more prone to breakage. Also, there is a propensity to frizz up.  We don’t like frizzies.  You can use a wide-tooth comb in the shower when your hair is full of conditioner.  Never brush your hair when it is drying.

2.  Don’t blow dry your hair.  Of course, you can blow dry your curly hair if you intend to straighten it, but if want it to have your natural curl shine through, you need to unplug the hairdryer.  I for one do not like looking like a wet dog but a blow dryer will just cause your hair to frizz and poof up.  (it can also damage it)  When you see how I recommend styling, you’ll realize why a blow dryer is your enemy.  One thing though, *if you really need to speed up your hair drying* use a defuser and try not to blow your hair around.

There are 2 basic routines I follow for my hair.

1st Up *Wash* Days

Wash Hair With Conditioner.  I talked a little about how to wash your curly hair WITHOUT shampoo here. Remember this is the time to comb your hair (when it is full of conditioner).  Most of the time I just use my fingers but, again, you can use a wide-tooth comb. When rinsing your hair, you want to leave a little bit of conditioner in it.  This helps with frizzies and dryness.

Remove Excess Water.  After you have rinsed, you are going to squeeze the excess water out by scrunching your hair. I grab a large section of hair at the end and scrunch it up towards my scalp. All the while, you want to squeeze the excess water out.  This helps to relieve weight off of the curls and aid in them going to their natural curly bounce. Next, I wrap my hair in a towel for a few minutes.  The Curly Girl Handbook recommends a microfiber turban.  I used that for a while but didn’t notice much difference from my regular terry cloth towel.

The main thing to keep in mind is you don’t want to work with overly dry hair and the right amount of moisture is important.  I try to get my hair out of the towel and fixed while it is still wet by NOT dripping.  If it is too dry, it is frizzy and less cooperative for styling.

Apply Oil to Hair.  Next, apply Shea Moisture Argon oil onto the hair. This product comes in a squirt bottle, but I find it’s better to just pour small amounts and smooth it directly on the hair.  Pay special attention to the dryer areas of your hair (mine happen to be around my face, the hair ends, and the crown of my head).

Apply Styling Gel.  After the oil, use an appropriate amount of styling gel (I like Tresemme).  Personally, I have very thick, long hair so I need to apply about half of a palmful but adjust as needed.  Avoid placing gel near your scalp and instead focus on your hair lengths and ends.

Part Hair.
 Once all the product has been applied you’re going to section your hair in half.  Below is a picture of my hair at this stage.  Everyone’s curls are unique this is just to give you an idea of what my hair looks like at this stage.


Twist Ringlets. After parting, grab chunks of hair about 2-3 fingers diameter and start twisting the sections to form ringlets.  Alternate the direction of the twisting to get a more random look. At this point, you will be able to tell if there is either too much or not enough gel.  Generally, if there is not enough gel, the curls will not hold their shape from your twisting and will un-twist.  Apply more gel as needed.

This is how my hair looks after I’ve twisted all the ringlets on the one side.

curly-hair-ringletsLet Hair Air Dry.  Do NOT touch your hair until it is dry.  The more it is touched and messed with, the more frizzy and out of control it will become.

Separate Curls.  The look you have going now is similar to Shirley Temple.  You may like that, if so, leave it but it doesn’t fit me.  So you’ll separate the curls. Here is my hair dry before separating…


And here is my hair dry AFTER separating…


It is a subtle difference, but matters in my opinion.

So that’s it for how to style Day 1 Curly hair.

Now for the Day 2 or Day 3 Hair


If you have long curly hair, and plan on not *washing* your hair the next day, it’s important that you sleep with your curls protected.

You don’t have to get all crazy about it but if your hair is long enough, you want to do a very high loose ponytail so your curls sit safely at the top of your head.


This way the curls are relatively intact the next morning and you can restyle it without having to *wash* hair again.

The next morning, take your hair down…


It’s not terrible…but definitely bedhead.

For Day 2 and Day 3 Hair, I use this product…


Shea Moisture CES (Curl Enhancing Smoothie)

(I PROMISE I don’t own stock in Shea Moisture, I just love all their products that I have tried).

Take a small glob of the CES  and smooth it over hair to get tame down any dry or frizzy sections.  Some sections of hair will likely need to be re-twisted.  Add a little gel and water to those sections and if the CES doesn’t help form those stubborn curls.



After I’m done smoothing out my hair it looks something like this…


At this point, it’s still a little wet and I try to leave it alone while it dries.  The end product is this…


On Day 2 Hair or Day 3 Hair, I often use a claw clip to loosely hold my hair back. Some days my curls last and I’m able to wear my hair down just as I do with Day 1 Hair.

For my hair, I *wash* it every 2 to 3 days.

So that is it for my curly hair styling tips.  It was a quick run down through years of trial and error.

Part 3 of the 3-part series is next, where I cover haircuts for naturally curly hair.


110 thoughts on “Curly Hair Styling Tips”

  1. My hair is very afroey on top and curly at the bottom what’s the best tip u have to get rid of the frizzy hair on top x

    • I think most often the frizzy is due to hair being very dry. I’d moisturize and avoid any conditioners with silicone in them! You could even try to style your hair with just leave-in conditioner (gel is drying to the hair because of the alcohol)

  2. My curly hair has always been dry and never grows long long. I started using coconut oil on my ends almost a year ago and my hair is almost to my butt. I have never had such long, healthy hair and I know its because of the coconut oil. I use just a bit on my ends and dry areas like at the sides.
    I also use a tshirt and scrunch my hair dry to get the moisture out without adding frizz from a towel.
    For the ladies asking about Julies bun….make a ponytail and twist elastic around it twice (or just once depending on thickness of hair), on the last loop through (so for me, my third) I pull the pony tail through kind of upside down (?? hard to explain) so the ends of the pony are facing up on my crown not down. And I dont pull through all the way, the loop gives my CH a nice bun look and the ends that I didnt pull all the way through make a nice ring of curls all around the bun. You can also try separating the front of you hair (crown to forehead) and leave that out of the bun, do your bun, they use the front piece for framing and pinning around the bun. Helps you to place curls all over.

    • Thank you for sharing Shannon! Really appreciate your tips and you being able to verbalize how I do my high bun! Blessings!

  3. Julie,

    When getting a hair cut how do I get the hairdresser not to cut my length to get the shorter layers; while still maintaining my length. They say they can’t layer up top short because it is so long in the back and will get puffy/frizzy?


  4. Hi Julie-found you on Pinterest and love your information. My daughter and I both have curly hair and for the last year I have finally started to embrace my curls (at 40) . I read the Curly Girl book and it changed my life!! My hair is best I let it air dry, I was at night bc it takes so long to dry. Have you tried plopping or any other forms of sleeping with wet hair? My daughters hair looks great by doing two braids but it doesn’t work as well for me bc my hair is more fine.

  5. Hi there! Great tips – just wondering if you put pomade or any kind of sculpting was as a finisher or any other product. I wore my hair curly today and haven’t done so in a year because I have been so disenchanted with my haircuts and to be honest, blowdrying and straightening it are hideous for the health of my hair but it is easier than trying to fight my curls. I have a lot of shrinkage – 3B curls and just recently had a pretty substantial cut to give it life! I have a shorter layer – but one that is not as obvious when it is curly – but definitely when it is straight – so feel I have the layer part right – but feel like an old lady with a perm with my shrinkage…but waiting for my hair to get some weight. Sorry – got sidetracked there – but would love to know if you put anything on it after the steps you already described. Thank you so much!

  6. Hi Julie! The triangle hair/head ‘do: I have been calling The BEN FRANKLIN. I have beautiful, thick hair that I have been trying to tame for 35 years! 10 years before that my mom cut my hair short too. I was always the new boy at school. (Military family, moved alot). Wanted desperately for Marsha Brady’s hair. No more!!!! I am taking this article to my terrific, young stylist and ask her to just do it. I’m so ready! I have been blow-dryer-less for years, and twisting, and washing ever other day…coconut oil etc. I am going to try the Shea Moisture products for sure and SHORT LAYERS!!!! Thanks! I hope you are still outer reading this! Heathre.

  7. I just found your posts. My hair has become curly as I’ve been going through menopause. Since it used to be stick straight, I have no idea how to care for it. Your 3 posts are a blessing! I am going to try your recommendations. Thank you!

  8. I really enjoyed your info on curly hair—especially the part about proper cutting. Triangle head is an epidemic that needs to be wiped out! Now that I am older (52) the long hair is out. I now sport an asymmetrical bob that really works well for thick curly hair. Also, Cantu is a great product for curly girls (my mom & daughter use it as well). Amazon has it, & in stores it’s in the ethnic hair section.

  9. Pingback: How To Style Curly Hair In The Morning Without Washing - Kandangin Ideas

Leave a Comment