Hair

Taming the mane: A guide to managing natural curls

model with curly hair

In a complicated relationship with your #curlyhair? We feel your pain sis.

We absolutely adore natural hair but we’re so (so) done with unruly curls, which is why we’ve decided to pool our knowledge and write the *ultimate* guide to managing curly hair: Including deets of our fave routine; a few of our stylists’ top product recommendations and some neat tricks to help you own those gorgeous natural curls…

Frizzy hair? Cancelled. Tugs? Defeated. #TeamSupercuts forever.

What’s the deal with curly hair?

Some mornings you wake up to a mane of insta-worthy curls so 🔥 they’d make Beyonce green with envy. Other days? Well, lets just say that naturally curly hair can have a mind of its own, and it can get *seriously* messy when it wants to. 

No matter how careful you are to comb each strand into its perfect alignment – or how many silk pillowcases you invest in – there’s still a 50/50 chance that you’ll roll out of bed to find that your hair’s decided to knot itself together. Or frizzed up into something that vaguely resembles a pom pom. And don’t even get us started on triangle hair…

Luckily there *is* a fix.

Talking to some of our top stylists, we learned that 99.99% of curly hair problems are actually caused by excessive dryness or the absence of natural oils. See, the helical shape of curly hair makes it much harder for moisture – and your scalps’ natural sebum oils  – to work their way down to the tip.

Combined with the harsh chemical detergents found in most modern shampoos, this slight structural difference makes it incredibly easy for your hair to dry out: Cracking the cuticle layer, and leaving you prone to frizzy, brittle or locks. And then you have to factor in all of the heat damage caused by styling tools, or super-drying styling products….

This means that upping your moisture levels really is key to taming that mane, and achieving some seriously snatched curls.

It’s dead easy to re-moisturise your hair too.  We’ll walk you through the fine detail below, but the basic gist involves:

  • Axing all of the harsh, drying shampoos
  • Washing your hair less
  • Picking the right conditioner
  • Using a hair mask on the reg
  • Switching to hydrating/frizz busting styling products

And yes, we know this sounds like a *lot* of effort RN. But trust us, taking the time to switch up your routine will seriously up your curl game. For more detail, check out the sections below:

Choosing the right shampoo

First things first, shampoo. If you’re anything like us, shampoo is probably the foundation of your hair care routine, but a bit of research reveals that *most* shampoos actually do more harm than good. Particularly when you’ve got #curlyhair.

Why? Well, the short answer is that – in order to make your hair feel squeaky clean – they use harsh chemicals that strip away everything, including your hair’s natural oils. This leaves the outer layer of your hair exposed to the atmosphere, causing it to crack open and release all of the precious moisture hiding in your hair’s cortex.

That’s not to say all shampoos are bad though. Pro hair brands like KMS, Sebastian and TIGI have managed to create alternatives that lift away dirt *without* stripping away those all-important oils.

The very best options also contain ingredients that are designed to help you manipulate the pattern and alignment of your hair strands while they’re wet; banishing frizz locking those long, elegant curls in place as your hair dries

Finding one of these shampoos is deffo the first step to achieving 🔥 curls, and our favourite option is probably KMS’ Tame Frizz Shampoo. This wonder-product has an incredibly gentle formula that’s designed to leave your hair’s natural oils untouched. It’s also loaded with frizz-fighting formulas that are designed to keep your curls looking healthy and well-organised.

You’ll probably want to use it once every other day (at most), but it’s strong enough to keep your hair looking beautifully well-kept and it’ll put a quick stop to all that irritating frizz…

KMS Tame Frizz Shampoo
Click to shop the KMS Tame Frizz Shampoo

Choosing the right conditioner

Chances are that you’ve spent the last 10 years listening to people tell you that conditioner has to be used sparingly. Or rubbed into the tips of your hair to avoid a greasy looking crown.

We’re going to fly in the face of conventional wisdom here though: For curly hair, we think conditioner is actually your best friend. You should lather it onto every single strand of hair, and you should forget all about the risk of overuse.

Wondering why? We’ll try to explain. Good conditioners are actually super-nourishing, and use a variety of oils and to drive moisture deep into your hairs’ inner cortex, where it can repair damage and keep your curls looking 100% glossy and well nourished.

The oils found in good conditioners also help to smooth down your hair’s cuticle layer, which prevents moisture from evaporating once you’re out of the shower and (drastically) cuts down on frizz. If you’ve already got oily hair, you *might* start to notice a bit of build up, but you can quickly cut down if that happens and we think the benefits of conditioning properly deffo outweigh the risks…

Ofc you’ll still need to find a good conditioner – particularly if you want in on all of that deep conditioning action. Our top pick is definitely TIGI’s Bed Head Karma Sutra Cleansing conditioner, which is packed with Babassu and Brazil Nut oils.

These natural ingredients will help to detangle and smooth your hair, as well as providing a heaped dose of extra moisture. They’re also combined with gentle, cleansing ingredients that help to wash away any of the dirt missed by your shampoo – which is ideal if you’re doing like we advised, and switching to a gentler option.

TIGI BedHead Calma Sutra Cleansing Conditioner
Click to shop the TIGI BedHead Calma Sutra Cleansing Conditioner

Best of all though, TIGI’s Karma Sutra conditioner is 100% free from sulphates and other harsh chemicals, which means it won’t strip away any of your hair’s natural oils. In short? A total steal, and a must-have for natural hair of any type.

To use, squeeze out a generous amount, and massage it into your hair – starting at the roots and working your way down to the tip. And yes, we do mean start at the roots. Trust on this one.

Once you’ve massaged it into your hair just wait for a few minutes and then wash it out. Using lukewarm/cold water for your rinse can help to seal your hair’s cuticle layer and pump up the moisture, but that also means subjecting yourself to a seriously unpleasant experience so we’ll leave that decision up to you.

What about co-washing?

Co-washing (also known as the CG method or Curly Girl method) involves ditching shampoo entirely, and just using conditioner for every wash. Some gals swear by this method – and you should deffo feel free to experiment if it appeals to you – but we’re not 100% sold on the idea of going no-poo.

Yes, super-strong shampoos will have a detrimental effect on your curls. And yes, conditioner is your best-friend. But even a cleansing conditioner like TIGI’s Bed Head Karma Sutra can’t compete with the grime-busting power of a gentle shampoo, and while it is definitely good to avoid harmful detergent chemicals, we’re not convinced that you can get clean and well-nourished hair without some sort of dedicated cleanser…

That said, we’re always open to hear from you so if you’re a staunch advocate of the CG method and you’d like to share your story, make sure you hit us up in the comments.

Choosing the right styling products

Last but not least, let’s talk styling products…

Often seen as a bit of a luxury, the right styling products are actually a must-have for #curly hair. Choose ‘em right and they’ll actually transform your mane; eliminating frizz and helping to keep your curls looking nice and defined.

Styling products can be super hard to pick though. Particularly if you’re not clued into the lingo, and don’t know your hydrating creams from your moisturising mousses…

To help you out, we’ve pulled together a selection of our fave options – including a couple of top-notch creams and some salon-quality sprays.

TIGI Bed Head On The Rebound Curl Recall Cream

First up, Tigi’s (unbeatable) curl recall cream. Enriched with a bevy of moisture-enhancing ingredients, this stuff is designed to add definition and shine to your curls. It works by encouraging individual strands of hair to bond with each other; reducing frizz and boosting the intensity of your natural waves. We found that it also helps to keep your curls looking smooth and supple too, which is a bit of a bonus.

It’s dead easy to use too: You literally just need to squeeze some out onto the palm of your hand and work it into damp hair. Presto. Curls tamed. You can thank us later. 👍

Click to shop the TIGI Bed Head On The Rebound Curl Recall Cream

TIGI Bed Head Foxy Curls Contour Cream

Another top-notch product from the boffins over at TIGI, this cream is designed to smooth down your hair’s cuticle layer. In doing so, it brings fantastic definition and shine to your curls; completely eliminating frizz and helping to create that glossy, salon-fresh look we’re all dying to achieve.

Like the curl recall cream we mentioned above, it’s also dead easy to use: Just work a small amount to the roots of wet hair, and stroke down for some seriously snatched curls. We absolutely love this stuff, and it’s a great quick-fix for unruly curls of every description.

TIGI Bed Head Foxy Curls Contour Cream
Click to shop the TIGI Bed Head Foxy Curls Contour Cream

KMS Curl Up Bounce Back Spray

This stuff’s a little different. First off, it’s a spray. Secondly, it’s designed to rescue dropped curls which means you’ll probably be spraying it onto dry hair. The results speak for themselves though. Enriched with a frizz fighting formula, it instantly redefines your natural curls; adding texture and definition while you’re out and about.


This handy little spray also offers 72 hour hold, which makes it an absolute must-have in our eyes. Particularly if you’re like us, and spend most of your day stressing about the sudden onset of some seriously frustrating frizz…

KMS Curl Up Bounce Back Spray
Click to shop the KMS Curl Up Bounce Back Spray

L’Oreal Professionnel Tecni Art Compressed Fix Anti-Frizz Hair Spray

Speaking of curl-friendly hair sprays…

This stuff is an absolute dream. Doubly so if you’re cursed with untamable frizz. It’s a super mild hair spray that’ll lock your hair in place for up to 72 hours, and it’s one of the best options if you’re trying to keep your curls nicely defined.

This super-spray is also one of the most beginner-friendly sprays we’ve tried. It leaves absolutely no residue, it brushes straight out and you can literally spray it on before you walk out the door for effortlessly well-defined curls. Bam. Mane Tamed. Literally irreplaceable stuff.

L’Oreal Professionnel Tecni Art Compressed Fix Anti-Frizz Hair Spray
Click to shop the L’Oreal Professionnel Tecni Art Compressed Fix Anti-Frizz Hair Spray

Still struggling to tame the mane?

Learning to manage curly hair takes serious time and effort. It’s definitely worth it for that all-natural look, but you shouldn’t expect instant results and you should definitely prepare yourself for some missteps along the way.

Hopefully this guide will help you get the ball rolling, but if you’re struggling to fight the frizz (or detangle those knots) we’d recommend popping into your local Supercuts salon. Our expert stylists will be more than happy to chat about caring for your curls, and they’ve got a wealth of hands-on knowledge that’ll help you on your way.

You’ll also find more curl-taming products on our online store.

Above all else, stay positive and remember that it’s 100% worth the effort.

 

Wanna show off your #naturalhair?

If our guide has helped you to tame the mane, we’d love to hear about it (or see some pics of your #curlyhair). Just drop us a message here or tag us @supercutsuk so your posts show up in our feed.

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