Kinky and curly hair differs from straight hair in many ways. It is often drier and requires different styling techniques, products, special care and expertise. But while caring for textured hair can be complicated because of the range of curl patterns and associated needs, that doesn’t mean caring for straight hair is a walk in the park either. Due to the harsh chemicals used in the straightening process, chemically straightened hair often requires significant attention to achieve and maintain smooth, healthy hair.
Shampooing is the first step in any maintenance routine. It is an important step, but more for your scalp than for cleansing hair strands; it is imperative not to overwork and scrub hair, but to gently massage the scalp to remove buildup and debris. In addition, the cleansing agents in shampoo can cause all hair types, but especially curly textures, to be dry and frizzy post-wash.
A great way to preserve hair’s natural oils and to combat frizz is to alternate between sulfate-free shampoos and co-washes, and to use clarifying shampoos sparingly. Sulfates are the lathering ingredients in shampoo that can dry out hair, so using a sulfate-free formula is a great way to gently cleanse fragile kinky, curly hair. A co-wash, or conditioning wash, works very well for non-straight textures as well. They remove product buildup at the scalp, but infuse moisture and slip so that wet coils easily glide through fingers for less breakage.
Conditioners are loved by curly hair and chemically relaxed alike, but often disregarded by naturally straight hair textures. This is a big no-no, regardless of hair texture. Conditioners replenish moisture and make it easier to comb through wet hair. They also help to reduce breakage and flyaways.
Finding the right conditioner for your texture is key. Straight hair should use a rinse-out conditioner post-cleansing, followed by a light detangler; this will help reduce frizz and flyaways once the hair is dry. For curly to kinky hair there is no such thing as over-conditioning. We recommend that kinkier hair types layer conditioners, starting with a rinse-out conditioner, followed by a detangler, moisture sealing oil and finally a leave-in conditioner. For chemically relaxed hair, weekly deep conditioning treatments are vital to maintain hair elasticity and strengthen tresses.
Finally, styling straight hair versus styling curly hair can be different but there are some common practices. If hair is chemically relaxed, a wet set will help maintain healthy hair and reduce breakage. Additionally, a daily oil moisturizer lotion or setting lotion is ideal to maintain softness, manageability and shine.
For all hair types, a thermal protector is vital when applying heat to hair (blow dryer, curling or flat iron), so that you don’t burn off natural hair oils. We recommend using a product with max 425°F protection. There are thermal products available with higher degree protection, but honestly, that level of heat should not be applied to hair.
For natural curl patterns, cold perm rod sets, twist outs and wash n’ gos are beautiful styles that require zero heat. Avoiding heat will help maintain natural oils and breakage. Achieving these natural styles is simple with the help of curling creams, lotions and activators. However, it is important to be mindful when using gels because the alcohol content can dry hair, so apply a cream or lotion first, or a cocktail with the gel, to protect the hair.