Forget wash and go, for men with curly hair, getting the right products is a must. But when it comes to telling your conditioners from your curl creams, it's hard to decipher which ones will really work for you. Should you go silicone and sulphate free if you have dry or frizzy curls? What are the best afro and Black haircare products?
Our guide is here to answer all these questions and more, plus, we'll share our ten favourite curly hair saviours from Boots, Amazon, Tesco, and eBay. From hair oils to pomades and shampoo to styling gels, this article will ensure you keep your curls looking fresh!
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Table of Contents
Not sure where to start? In this buying guide, we're here to help you find the right products for each step of your haircare routine. Read on to find out the secrets to maintaining a thick and healthy head of curly hair!
If you were hoping for an all-in-one wonder product to tame your mane then unfortunately you're out of luck. You need to equip your arsenal with suitable haircare products for each stage, from washing to styling. Here's what you need to know!
The first stage of any man's haircare routine should be washing your locks. How regularly you do it is up to you, but for curly gents we recommend no more than once every three days. As you will learn throughout this article, retaining moisture is key and over-washing will strip the hair of its natural oils.
Some may even advise you to skip this step entirely. However, properly cleansing your hair is important for removing any built up grime and styling products. That said, when picking your shampoo there are some ingredients you will want to avoid.
Sulphates are used in cleansing products to produce lather or foam. The most common being sodium laureth sulfate, sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), and ammonium laureth sulfate. These ingredients are bad news for curly hair as they too strip the hair of natural oils, leaving it frizzy and dry.
Once you've washed your hair, you'll want to follow up with a good conditioner to rehydrate your hair and lock in moisture. The conditioning stage is crucial for ensuring soft, shiny curls and the product you pick could potentially make or break your haircare routine.
Wash out conditioners are a quick and easy go-to product for post-shampoo hydration. If you prefer to go au naturel when styling your hair, you may want to try a leave-in treatment to help maintain and protect your curls.
Conditioning masks are ideal for damaged or dyed hair as they tend to be more nourishing. By being left on longer, moisturising ingredients have more time to fully penetrate each hair.
Some great hydrating ingredients to look for in your conditioner are shea butter and humectants such as glycerin and hyaluronic acid that draw in moisture from the air. However, proceed with caution when using conditioners that contain silicones, as these can potentially weigh down your hair making it appear greasy and limp.
Curl creams are used for styling, detangling and defining the natural curl pattern of your hair. Unlike gels or mousses, curl creams penetrate the shaft to add moisture to the hair, preventing it from feeling crunchy or sticky.
Aloe vera is a key ingredient to look out for in curl creams. Aloe vera plants have a naturally sticky, gel-like pulp which, when applied to hair, provides medium hold, locks in moisture and washes out easily.
You should run the curl cream through the lengths of your hair while it's still damp, after your shampoo and conditioner. A particularly good option for those with longer tresses, using a curl cream can help to stop your hair from tangling and matting together.
The finishing products you choose will depend on your hair texture, style and what you want to achieve.
Use a serum to add shine and gloss to your hair. You'll want to use your serum sparingly, so seek out ones containing natural oils like argan or jojoba oil to get more power for your pound, while achieving a healthy, lightweight sheen.
Pomades and gels are great for perfecting your 'do as they will allow you to add a bit of texture and shape to more structural cuts. Just make sure to choose ones that are water soluble. This will not only prevent product buildup on the hair, but it means you'll be able to easily rinse it out if you accidentally go overboard.
Hair curl patterns can be broadly categorised into types. Understanding your curl type will help you to find the right products for your hair. To help you discover yours, here are the basics of each type.
If your hair falls in loose waves rather than tighter ringlets or coils, then you’ve likely got type 2 hair. Type 2 hair isn’t as dry as other curl types making it the most resilient against frizz and breakage.
However, that also means that many curl taming products are going to be far too rich and dense for your hair. You’ll want to ease off on the heavy conditioners and overly oily products and choose lighter hydrating products instead.
Spiral or corkscrew curls that follow either an “s” or “z” pattern fall under the category of type 3 hair. Depending on how fine or thick the strands are, and the length of your hair, you may find that it can become quite dry and fuzzy, which is never a great look.
Another issue type 3s often face is knots and tangling. To combat hair woes, seek out products with medium moisturisation and ones designed to define curls and help with detangling.
Type 4 hair is defined by tightly coiled or kinky hair. While this hair type has the greatest advantage when it comes to holding style and shape, it’s also prone to becoming extremely dry and brittle.
For type 4s, you’ll want to pick products that are highly conditioning and designed to nourish and protect the hair. Products that contain natural oils are a good pick, but if you see sulphates, forget it!
If there is one piece of advice to take away from this article, don’t brush your hair! Well, you might be asking, how exactly do I get the knots out then? Lucky for you, there are a few styling tools suitable for teasing out tangles without turning your curls into a birds' nest.
Using a wide toothed comb while your hair is wet will gently loosen any knots without tugging or breaking the hair. It's best to detangle your hair during the conditioning stage of your wash, as the conditioner will create more slip, helping the comb to glide through your curls.
For particularly long or fine hair that knots easily, consider a detangling spray, which is similar to a leave-in conditioner and can be applied to clean, wet hair. Lubricating ingredients in the spray smooth down the cuticle, reducing friction and making individual strands less prone to sticking together.
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Love Curl Conditioner
Best Conditioner for Soft and Defined Curls
Perfect Hair Day Shampoo
A Gentle Sulphate-free Shampoo for Cleansing
Raw Shea Butter Restorative Conditioner
Best Shea Butter Product for Curly Hair
Our Top Pick for Hair Styling
Bumble and bumble
Curl Pre-Style / Re-Style Primer
Save Time Styling With This All-In-One Primer
Coconut & Monoi Curl Defining Gelee
A Hydrating Gel-Like Styling Cream
Pantene Gold Series
Intense Hydrating Hair Oil
Give Your Long Hair a Healthy Shine
No. 6 Bond Smoother
Fight Frizz on a Molecular Level
Olive Oil Styling Gel
Professional Styling at a Drugstore Price
Coconut Curling Cream
A Deeply Hydrating Curl Cream for Coarse Hair
If you decide to only buy one product for curly hair, make sure it's a conditioner! Conditioner is the cornerstone of any curly hair routine and with the right one, you'll find the rest of the styling process becomes a breeze.
Davines LOVE curl conditioner has picked up quite a cult following thanks to its impressive ability to hydrate hair and control frizz. Use this after your shampoo to refine your natural curl pattern, protect and add shine, with or without any other hair products.
Properly cleansing your hair is vital for preventing dandruff and overall scalp health, which is why we recommend that you don't skip this stage and opt for a curl-friendly shampoo instead.
Although not strictly a 'curly hair' shampoo, our top shampoo pick is Living Proof's PHD. Due to the sulphate- and silicone-free formula, it'll get rid of any gunk without stripping the hair of its essential oils. It also polishes each strand to make hair appear fuller, which is ideal for those concerned about thinning hair.
If you've had enough of dry, flyaway hair, then it's time to make shea butter your go-to ingredient. A natural emollient, shea butter is a type of plant fat that creates a barrier along the shaft of each hair to lock in moisture and defend against the elements, without weighing down your hair.
That's why we recommend Shea Moisture's restorative conditioner. The formulation contains just the right amount of shea butter to thoroughly nourish curls and can be used as both a wash-out and leave-in treatment.
Layrite's Superhold Pomade is hands down the best styling product for curly hair. It has top class hold and control, washes out easily and smells great!
Whether you're styling a pompadour, a 1980s Kid 'n Play flat top or just want to give your hair a bit of shape, this pomade offers incredible versatility. Its got a good balance between gloss and matte, adding texture to the hair with just the right amount of shine for more casual day-to-day looks.
While we still can't promise you that all-in-one wonder product, Bumble and bumble's curl primer cuts down the need for multiple post-wash products in one spritz. Spray it directly onto clean, damp hair for detangling, defining and leave-in hydration.
A top tip for guys looking for a quick styling fix; if between washes you notice your hair isn't looking as fresh, you can use this primer on dry locks to instantly reset your curls!
If you're looking for an alternative to gel, we recommend this curl cream from Design Essentials. It provides lightweight, transparent curl definition and frizz-free hold that doesn't feel crunchy or sticky.
Suitable for all hair types and textures from loose waves to tight coils, it's formulated to improve moisture retention. Which means soft, hydrated curls without the worry of overloading your hair with conditioners.
If you have lengthy locks, then you should consider including a hair oil in your routine. As it's difficult for oils from the scalp to travel down coiled strands, it's easy for your lengths to become dry and brittle.
Haircare can be expensive, which is why we like Pantene's Intense Hydrating Hair Oil as an affordable option for controlling frizz and adding gloss to curly hair. By smoothing a couple of drops down from your mid lengths to the ends, you can maintain a healthy mane while avoiding split ends and breakage.
If after bleaching your hair it now has both the look and texture of dried ramen noodles, all is not lost! Before you start searching for the top 10 best hair clippers, you might want to try Olaplex's Bond Smoother instead.
Unlike other conditioning products, this leave-in treatment repairs the protein structures of the hair to prevent further breakage and helps restore the shaft to its former glory.
Our favourite of Eco's professional styling gel range, this water-based product offers maximum hold with the added benefit of hair and scalp hydration. Unlike many other gels, their olive oil enriched formula is alcohol-free, making it significantly less drying for softer curls.
You can apply this gel directly to both wet and dry hair, just be aware that once it's set your 'do will be locked in place. So proceed cautiously to avoid any hair raising results!
Cantu's Coconut Curling Cream is a godsend for those with coarse hair. Most hair texture issues are the result of insufficient hydration, which is why this styling product contains shea butter and 12 nourishing plant oils for soft and shiny, deeply moisturised curls.
While the high percentage of moisturisers may be ideal for dryer hair types, type 2s may want to give this one a miss. Unfortunately, this curling cream can be a bit heavy, especially if your hair is particularly fine or you plan on using alongside other styling products.
Now that you have possibly amassed a range of products for your hair, you need to be able to use them in the correct order to get the results you want. Here is a quick step-by-step guide for styling curly hair.
If you've been washing your hair daily, now's the time to change up your routine. How often you wash is going to depend on your personal hair type and lifestyle, but ideally you should avoid washing your hair more than four times per week.
After wetting the hair you can go ahead and add your shampoo. Rub it in back and forth, rather than in a circular motion, to scrub away any dirt or grease without tangling the hair or bunching up your curls.
For loose and wavy hair, apply your conditioner to the lengths only. However, for tighter curls and kinky hair, you may find it beneficial to add a bit nearer the roots. This is because the tighter the coils, the harder it is for natural oils from the scalp to travel down the shaft, which is why these hair types tend to become dryer.
Post-wash, the first thing you'll want to do is squeeze out any excess water without disturbing the curl pattern too much. You can do this by gently scrunching your curls towards the scalp.
While it's still damp, this is when you will want to add in any leave-in conditioning treatments, thermal protection, detangling sprays or curl creams. Follow the directions for use stated on the packaging and try not to go too overboard if it's your first time using a particular product to avoid overloading the hair.
Now, you have two options; you can either let it air dry or use a hair dryer for heat styling. The one thing you should absolutely not do is grab a towel and start furiously rubbing at your scalp. All that will do is fluff up the hair, making it frizzy and undoing all your work thus far.
If you've got short hair, good news, you can just leave it alone and wait for it to dry naturally. So go make a cup of tea and come back for step 4.
For longer hair, you may not want it dripping down your neck and back. To speed up the process, grab an old cotton t-shirt and wrap up your curls. It may look a bit silly, but the cotton fabric will soak up the excess moisture without any static or frizz.
If you choose to blow dry your hair, get a hair dryer with a diffuser attachment. These will get your hair dry in no time, without disturbing your natural curl pattern.
If you're styling your hair using a pomade, scoop out a fingertip-sized amount and rub it between your palms to warm it up. With open fingers, run your hands through the lengths of your hair to shape it however your prefer.
Avoid getting product on the scalp as it will weigh down the roots and cause your hair to become greasier faster. If a pomade is too rigid, you can try styling your hair following the same method using a curl cream instead for a lighter hold.
Wondering which other products in your grooming regime could do with an upgrade? For more advice and recommendations, follow the links below.
Remember, there's no shortcut to looking good. By taking the time to devise a proper haircare routine, using the right products, you're setting yourself up for success. We hope this article has helped make hair woes a thing of the past!
Author: Wren Mann
No. 1: Davines ｜Love Curl Conditioner
No. 2: Living Proof｜Perfect Hair Day Shampoo
No. 3: Shea Moisture ｜Raw Shea Butter Restorative Conditioner
No. 4: Layrite ｜Superhold Pomade
No. 5: Bumble and bumble ｜Curl Pre-Style / Re-Style Primer
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