Shannon of UK Curly Girl is a natural curly hair blogger, YouTuber and owner of 'O So Curly'. She's a huge fan of natural beauty and hair products, and a self-proclaimed 'product junkie'.
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Shannon of UK Curly Girl is a natural curly hair blogger, YouTuber and owner of brand 'O So Curly'. She's a huge fan of natural beauty and hair products, and a self-proclaimed 'product junkie'.
With a gorgeous head of curls herself, she's previously shared her favourite curly hair accessories and deep conditioners with us, so we thought we'd ask her to share some pointers to think about when buying a conditioner for curly hair, too!
Need a curl cream to add to your hair care routine? Check these out!
The looser your curls the less oil and cream-based products you need! Looser curls should avoid heavy oils as it creates a build-up and weighs the curls down (resulting in less volume and definition).
If you have this hair type, I would recommend that you opt for more water-based products, look out for ingredient lists with glycerin and aloe vera which will give both great slip and moisture without the heaviness!
Some bestowed with curls like to use light oils to seal in moisture and prevent frizz. At the same time, thick products can weigh your ringlets down, so it can be difficult to find a balance between too heavy and too light.
The tighter your hair texture, the more moisture you will need! The more kinks in your strand make it harder for our scalps natural oil to make it down the hair shaft (hence why curly hair is more prone to dryness than straight hair).
If you have this hair type I recommend that you opt for leave-ins and styling creams that are strictly for moisture, usually including shea butter and coconut oil. These will make sure to moisturise your hair enough to prevent frizz and dryness after styling.
Natural oils with an affinity for hair protein such as coconut and babassu oil have been shown to penetrate the hair shaft, reducing swelling and preventing protein loss. These oils are excellent for all curl types, but especially for porous or damaged hair. Shea butter is great for increasing curl elasticity, while jojoba oil is a liquid wax that resembles sebum, and castor oil is excellent for shine.
Explore the best curly hair products for men here!
Z shaped curls require heavier creams, oils and butters to lock in moisture as it's highly prone to dryness. Applying products in the LCO or LOC (Liquid, Cream, Oil) method will really help to moisturise each strand and lock in the moisture to last you throughout the day and few days before you need to refresh.
Porosity is the degree of how open or closed your hair cuticles are, and how well your hair can take in and keep moisture. It's another important way to determine what kind of products to use. Spray a section of your curls with some water: if it gets wet quickly, you most likely have high-porosity hair. If the water droplets stay on the surface, you probably have low-porosity hair.
Low porosity means that your hair’s cuticles are close together, so they do not absorb hydration easily. Therefore, as products may not be absorbed completely, avoid heavyweight conditioners which might cause buildup. Products with lots of protein, such as keratin, are known to make low-porosity hair feel brittle and dry, so exercise caution.
I have low porosity hair and often suffer with product build-up, meaning I have to deeply cleanse my scalp once a week! If you have low porosity hair you are better off using water-based products, instead of oil-based. The water will help to feed the cuticles whereas oil typically sits on top of low porosity hair causing dryness and build up (due to it not penetrating the hair cuticles).
If you have medium-porosity hair, your hair probably has a good balance of absorbing and repelling hydration. However, you will still need to experiment to find the right balance of moisture and protein in your conditioner; using too much of one or the other could make hair frizzy or brittle.
High porosity hair is open to product and welcomes it! This means that applying heavier oils and protein will be a breeze, so take advantage as you can moisturise your hair with ease. Due to the ease of product/moisture absorption into your hair, you will want to balance this out with protein-based products to maintain strength because too much moisture can become damaging, strangely enough!
If you cannot be without these silky silicones, go for water-soluble alternatives such as dimethicone copolyol, or those which start with PEG, which will not cause buildup. Other ingredients people with curly hair should avoid in conditioners include sodium laureth sulphate (SLS), paraffin, mineral oil, and strong alcohols (such as isopropyl alcohol).
Silicones are a huge no-no! Growing up I remember so many products "for curly hair" would make my curls look great at first but they would soon dry up, create frizz, noticeable flakes and build-up. They are something to steer far away from especially if you desire moisture and definition from your hair products.
Humectants are most beneficial for your hair in mild weather as they hydrate hair by drawing water molecules from the air. In humid weather, humectants can attract too much water, causing excess frizz and volume, especially in high-porosity hair. Whereas in cold and dry weather, humectants may attract moisture from the hair instead, leading to damage and dryness.
These anti-frizz serums are sure to tame the wildest of frizzes!
Humectants are amazing for giving moisture to dry hair, which is most of us curlies! Deep conditioners and masques infused with natural humectants like honey are perfect for when your hair needs some extra moisture.
However, you'll need to steer clear of humectants when the climate is overly humid or dry. Instead, use plenty of moisturising emollients such as oils and butters to keep your hair healthy and happy!
You know a conditioner has good slip if it has a mix of emollients and cationic surfactants. Common emollients include natural oils, shea butter, and cetearyl alcohol. Cationic surfactants include behentrimonium methosulfate and behentrimonium chloride.
Without slip where would we be?! A huge tangled mess! Opt for products with slip if like me you have very curly and thick hair, it makes the detangling process much easier - and faster, allowing your detangling comb/brush or fingers to slide through any knots with ease, preventing breakages.
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Frizz Ease Dream Curls Curl-Defining Conditioner
Rich Creamy Nourishment for Bouncy Defined Curls
Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen & Restore Conditioner
Contains Castor Seed Oil and Jojoba to Restore Moisture and Strength to Your Locks
Wave Hello Curl Defining Conditioner
An Affordable Vegan Hair Product With 97% Natural Ingredients
One Condition Original
A Staple Product From the Pioneer of the Curly Girl Method
Nourish & Moisture + Coconut Milk Conditioner
A Lightweight, Softening Coconut-Based Conditioner
Faith in Nature
Totally Silicone-Free and Packed With Essential Oils
Quenching+ Coconut Curls pH Balanced Conditioner
Coconut Heaven for Soft, Light, and Defined Curls
In Control Anti-Poof Moisturizing and Softening Conditioner
Defrizz Your Curls With Shea Butter, Olive Oil and Keratin
Be Curly Conditioner
Botanical-Based Nourishment for Wavy Locks
Shea Butter Hydrating Cream Conditioner
A Budget-Friendly Conditioner That's Incredibly Creamy
Added ingredients such as Irish moss and sea fennel also help to soften and smooth your curls. What’s more, this 97% natural product is on the more affordable side considering the amount of beneficial ingredients used.
Softness and definition are enhanced while frizz is kept to a minimum, leaving you with beautifully soft and shiny hair. It's worth mentioning that it does contain silicones such as amodimethicone as well as some alcohols which means those with easily-weighed down curls may want to proceed carefully.
With plenty of conditioner throughout your hair, gently detangle with a wide-tooth comb or your fingers. Don’t mind if lots of hair comes out! Leave the conditioner in for a few minutes in order to make sure it penetrates each hair.
When rinsing, leaving some conditioner in your hair will help to define curls and weigh your hair down, whereas washing all the conditioner out will give more volume. After finishing, gently scrunch the extra water out with a micro-fibre towel or cotton t-shirt, and style. Et voila, beautiful moisturised curls!
The best way to apply conditioner to your hair is in sections! I spent years applying conditioner on top of my hair all in one go (just slapping it on) without any water and expecting moisturised and defined results.
This is a huge mistake that can be fixed if you simply section your hair in 2-4's (or more if you have thicker hair) and apply some water and conditioner per section, detangling as you go. It's similar to if you straighten your hair without sectioning it, you never get the sleek/straight results without taking your time and reaching every single strand.
Written and researched by Brigid Bernard
No. 1: John Frieda | Frizz Ease Dream Curls Curl-Defining Conditioner
No. 2: Shea Moisture | Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen & Restore Conditioner
No. 3: Noughty | Wave Hello Curl Defining Conditioner
No. 4: DevaCurl | One Condition Original
No. 5: Maui Moisture | Nourish & Moisture + Coconut Milk Conditioner
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