Everyone’s hair texture is different—and even the term curly hair can vary from person to person. As such, products are certainly not one-size-fits-all. I enlisted help from some of the lovely curly-topped editors in the office (each with a different type and texture) for advice on how they maintain their ’dos.
Keep reading for a firsthand account of the best way to manage a wide variety of naturally curly hair.
Kate Winick, Social Media Manager at Who What Wear
“I have fine hair with relatively loose curls (type 3A if you are a fan of the curly hair charts), and I have been a Devachan evangelist since I was 13. I’m now 30 and their line is the only thing that's consistently worked for me. I stick to the original items from the DevaCurl line—NoPoo ($20), One Condition ($20), and the Light Defining Gel ($20), and I scrunch my hair with Aquis’s gentle and absorbent Microfiber Hair Towel ($21). I use a wide-tooth styling comb from Ricky's (RickyCare No-Frizz Wide Bar Comb, $7) to get knots out while I'm conditioning, but I am not really brand-loyal about that.
DevaCurl is perfect for me because it's moisturizing but not heavy—my curls get too weighed-down and will fall and look sad with more heavy-duty products. I recommend it to anyone who complains about hating their ‘in-between’ hair—not straight or curly, just wavy and frizzy—because those people generally have looser curls like mine that just aren't getting enough moisture. Switching to a regimen designed for curls will bring them to life!”
Victoria Hoff, Associate Editor at Byrdie
“I have über-thick waves that are prone to dryness and frizz, and it has taken me YEARS to get the delicate balance of products just right. (It sounds super dramatic, but it's really true.) One of the things that made a huge difference for me and my curls is giving up shampoo and switching to a cleansing cream, which cleans out dirt and oil without stripping and drying out my hair whatsoever—holding onto enough natural oils is key for defined, glossy, frizz-free curls! I've tried a bunch, but Christophe Robin's Creme Lavante ($49) is far and away my favorite—it really gets my roots and scalp clean while conditioning my locks perfectly.
“After showering and towel-drying with a micro-fiber towel, I work in Hairstory's Hair Balm ($36) with my fingers to shape my curls and lock in moisture as they air-dry. (I don't use heat tools on my hair, so this is key for defined waves.)"
"When he cut my hair short, stylist Mark Townsend informed me that mousse is back in a big way, and it would be the best product to use on my curls. He's right—the new mousses are nothing like the crunchy, wet-looking ones we used back in the day, and instead provide flexible, invisible hold and volume. I still mostly use my hair balm, but when I'd like to style my hair to show off even more curl, I use Sachajuan's Hair Mousse ($31) after showering instead.”
Hallie Gould, Senior Editor at Byrdie
“I have fine hair but with lots of curly texture. My hair can be easily tamed (usually with a blow dryer and curling iron), but recently I’ve been more apt to let it run wild. Sometimes you just have to let it do its thang, you know? While I’ve had my fair share of scrunch, gel, and crunch in the past (yikes), I finally figured out the correct products to keep in my arsenal. I use Shu Uemura’s Cleansing Oil Shampoo ($58) to really clarify my scalp. That way, I don’t have to wash again for another week.
Over-cleansing can often dry out your hair, and because curly hair is naturally dryer than other textures, I try to wash as little as possible. Post-shower, I squeeze out the excess water and brush with Mason Pearson’s Large Popular Mixture Bristle Brush ($205). Yes, I agree shelling out a cool $205 for a hairbrush is steep, but it makes a difference in the way my curls form. It stimulates the scalp and encourages growth (always a plus) and distributes the natural oils from root to tip. Again, because I have dry, color-damaged hair, it really helps.
After detangling, I apply Shu Uemura’s Essence Absolue Nourishing Protective Oil ($69) from mid-shaft to my ends. I spend a lot of time really working the product in to each strand so it soaks up the formula. It’s light, smells great, and actively penetrates into the hair follicle. I try to keep it simple, so that’s the only product I use. Plus it does a lot of heavy lifting on its own. I brush my hair out again after applying and let it air-dry. Sometimes on very humid days I’ll add another dose to my ends once it’s 100% dry.”
Giselle Childs, Copy Editor, U.S. and UK
“I've been using Not Your Mother’s Kinky Moves Leave-In Conditioner ($6) on my just-washed hair for the past few months and I'm really into it. Because my tight and dry 3B-ish curls like to frizz (#rude), I need a product that smooths and defines but still lets the curls do their thing; this one checks all the boxes. Best part? It's super affordable and has a cute heart-shaped top."
"I first spotted Free Your Mane's Glitter Pomade ($20) at Anthropologie because I'm attracted to all things glittery and the sparkles caught my attention. I purchased it on a whim but am SO glad I did. It's the perfect consistency to use for a slicked-back ponytail, and it really tames my baby hairs and frizz without being too sticky or goopy, allowing me to get the dramatic look I'm going for: business in the front and party curls in the back. I'm happy to say I use it all the time.”
Emelie Burnette, Copy Chief
“I use sulfate-, paraben-, and phthalate-free shampoo (because frizz) and conditioner. I just started using Hask’s Charcoal Clarifying Shampoo ($6), and it's awesome for the price plus not as heavy as DevaCurl."
“I scrunch out excess moisture with my hands, dab with a microfiber towel, then use Aveda’s Be Curly Style-Prep ($24) curl-enhancing serum when my hair's still soaking wet.”
What's your favorite product for curly hair? Sound off in the comments below!