The Ultimate Curly Hair Care Routine: How to Keep Your Curls Healthy and Strong

Here’s exactly how to wash, protect, and keep your curls looking as beautiful as ever.

Curly hair has a mind of its own. Take it from me – I’ve been a curly girl since I was born and my bedhead has not always been pretty.

Before I put any serious consideration into how I cared for my curls, waking up in the morning always proved to be an adventure. On good days, I woke up and my hair looked like a picture out of a magazine, no styling necessary. On other days, well…let’s just call it a train wreck. 

Since I realized my “do nothing but expect great things” attitude towards my hair wasn’t cutting it, I invested time trying out curly hair products, talking to stylists, and reading up on how best to wash, protect, and grow curly hair well. 

Throughout the years, I have developed a solid routine to keep my curly hair healthy, strong, fast growing, frizz-free, and more. Today, I would like to share it with you!

The Ultimate Curly Hair Care Routine:

Step 1: Shampoo Your Curls Once a Week

Once a week?! That’s disgusting, you may be thinking. 

But hear me out: over-washing curly hair can dry out your hair tremendously, leaving you with brittle, rough strands. Further, it can irritate your scalp or cause excess dandruff, which nobody wants. 

Quite honestly, you may find you can go even longer than once a week without washing your hair; 2-3 weeks may work better for you. I find that by Sunday, after 7 days of not washing my hair, my curls feel a bit oily and dirty, so it’s time for a wash. Experiment with your curls and see what duration works best for you! 

When shampooing, focus on applying the product on your roots. Combing it through your ends is fine, but the roots are the most important areas to have the shampoo work through! This will ensure the product cleans up any oil or dirt that may have accumulated on your scalp since your last wash. 

I have tried out many different shampoos, but here are the three best curly hair shampoos, in my experience:

Sebastian Drench: Ulta | TRESemmé: Target | Project Beauty Hairgurt: Amazon

Like I said, these are the three best shampoos for curly hair, and I’ve tried more than my fair share of them. The Sebastian Drench is my personal fave, even though it’s a bit expensive. I find that it, and its corresponding conditioner, make my hair feel the most hydrated and moisturized. 

However, the TRESemmé Luxurious Moisture and the Project Beauty Hairgurt are both fabulous curly hair shampoos in their own right, as they both smell amazing (which is always a plus!) and leave my hair smooth and clean. 

The biggest takeaway from shampoo shopping is that you are looking for a brand that hydrates your locks, keeping them from getting dry, coarse, or brittle. 

So, find yourself a good shampoo for curly hair, but don’t wash too often!

Step 2: Condition, Condition, Condition

Conditioning curly hair is huge. Conditioner keeps your hair soft, shiny, and tangle-free. If it’s a good conditioner for curly hair, you shouldn’t need more than a grape-sized amount, and once you apply it, you should be able to work your fingers through your curls easily. 

I condition my curls almost every time I shower. This typically turns out to be conditioning 5-6 days a week. I am typically a night shower-er, so, if by the evening my hair feels healthy and hydrated, I will simply let the warm water run through it. Most days, however, I feel like my hair needs a little pick-me-up, so I make sure to condition. 

When conditioning, focus the product on the middles to ends of your locks only. If you work conditioner into your roots, your hair will look greasy and flat once your hair dries. 

Below are my three favorite conditioners: 

Sebastian Drench: Ulta | TRESemmé: Target | Renpure: Ulta

My hair stylist swears that the Sebastian Drench Conditioner is the best conditioner for curly hair, and I can see why. The tiniest amount of this conditioner goes a long way. My hair feels so incredibly soft and luxurious after using this product.

The TRESemmé Luxurious Moisture Conditioner and the Renpure Coconut Milk Conditioner are perfect alternatives if you are looking for more affordable options. All three curly hair conditioners provide nourishment and vitamins to keep your strands strong and tangle-free. 

Step 3: Apply an After Shower Cream

AHH these are my absolute favorite products to share with you all. I consider them THE best hair products for curly hair. I have found some after shower products that have revolutionized my curls.

These products are amazing — they’re total must-haves. They nourish your locks, define your curls (no more weird wave/straight/curl messes!), and volumize your hair! After I apply one of these products and let it dry, my hair looks like I just strolled out of a salon every time. I can’t sing their praises enough.  

Here’s how to use ’em: after showering, comb through your locks. Then, apply a quarter sized amount of one of these products all throughout your curls, from roots to ends. 

These are my top 2 picks for the best after shower creams for curly hair: 

Briogeo: Sephora | Marc Anthony: Walgreens

Both of these products are to die for. And if the pros I listed above weren’t enough, both of these products provide essential nutrients to your hair, making sure your locks are healthy and shiny. 

The Briogeo Curl Charisma uses rice amino and avocados, leaving out the icky sulfates, silicones, and parabens that will damage your hair! The Marc Anthony Volumizing Crème is equally as impressive, as it is infused with keratin (a fibrous protein), argan oil, shea butter, and more. 

Make sure to stock up on these creams to make your curls looking perfectly glamorous! 

Step 4: Apply a Hair Mask Once a Month

This step is by no means crucial, but it is nice to give your curls some extra love once in awhile especially if you apply heat often. 

Hair masks can be leave in or rinse out, like this Hair Butter shown below: 

Quenching Coconut Curls: Ulta

The purpose of hair masks for curly hair is to rejuvenate your curls, hydrate dry strands, and tame frizz. They also leave your locks bouncy and shiny. 

The Quenching Coconut Curls Hair Butter is my personal favorite hair mask for curly hair, but you can easily make your own DIY hair mask for curls with ingredients from your kitchen, like this one:

• Coconut Oil Mask: Apply 1 tbsp of coconut oil to the ends of your hair. Gather your hair into a low bun and cover with plastic wrap. Leave in for at least 30 minutes, or sleep with it! Wash it out in the shower once you’re done.

If you want some more hair mask ideas, check out this post for damaged hair masks or this post for avocado hair treatments!

Step 5: If You’re Going to Use Heat, Protect First

Though hair masks aren’t crucial, heat protectant sprays are. 

If you like to give your curls some extra oomph with a curling iron/wand, flatten them with a flat iron, or blow dry them with a hair dryer, your locks need to be protected.

Unprotected curls given excessive heat can result in damaged hair that doesn’t grow quickly, flat curls that can’t breathe well, and, again, dry strands. Furthermore, adding a protectant makes your hair shiny and soft (which, if you haven’t already guessed, is really important to me!).  

This is my favorite heat protectant spray for curly hair, like, ever: 

TRESemmé Heat Tamer: Ulta

This TRESemme Heat Tamer spray is a great heat protectant spray for curls. Just spray it on and it will moisturize and prevent your hair from getting damaged. It smells amazing, too.

Protect your curls before you apply heat, they’re worth it! And, if you can, limit your heat use; your curls are beautiful just the way they are.

Tell me your thoughts!

There ya have it, a 5-step curly hair routine to help you keep your curls perfectly, well, curly. What do you think? Are you going to be trying out these products? How do you keep your curls fresh and healthy? Let me know in the comments below. I look forward to hearing from you!


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