10 Secrets to Styling Naturally Curly Hair

See photos, tips, and product recs.

Zendaya at the 5th annual Beautycon in Los Angeles/Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images 

It's a universal truth: women with stick straight hair eventually seek curly texture and women with curls lust after straight looks. The best thing you can do for your hair—and your peace of mind—is to make the best of your natural texture.

If you were born with super curly hair, you may find it aggravating at times when it frizzes up in certain climates or doesn't respond well to your styling methods; however, there are several things you can do to manage the integrity and health of your curls and have great hair days every day.

Secret #1: Embrace Your Natural Curl

If you're in a hot, humid climate, you might as well put away your flat iron. You might spend hours straightening your hair, only to step outside and have your hard work ruined.

Unless you're willing to undergo expensive, permanent straightening treatments, if you live in a humid climate, you have to embrace the curls. If you go natural, your hair will be healthier, you'll save time not drying or straightening hair and you'll stand out in a sea of straight hair women.

Secret #2: If You Want to Go Straight, You Can

With a little bit of muscle or chemicals, you can achieve straight hair. You can either do it yourself with a good brush, a blow dryer, and a flat iron, or you can get a professional blow-dry.

If you're seeking a semi-permanent straightening solution, you have a few options, though not without their controversies. For example, Brazilian keratin treatments still remain popular today, though while they help achieve straight, sleek hair, Brazilian Blowout brand products were found to contain 11.5 percent formaldehyde which the FDA has classified a cancer-causing chemical. It's important to research the ingredients your salon is using before getting a treatment.

There's also temporary Japanese hair straightening methods, which really make your hair stick straight. You can even straighten your hair yourself using—it's true— perm solution and a wide-toothed comb.

Secret #3: Invest in a Ceramic Flat Iron

If you want to go straight on occasion, invest in a great ceramic/ionic flat iron and blow dryer—it's much less time-consuming with great lasting results, giving your hair better heat quality which helps sustain your curls in between styles.

Secret #4: No, You are Not Destined for a Life Full of Frizz

As you likely know by now, humidity can wreak havoc on curly hair. Curly hair tends to be dry and therefore vulnerable to humid air—it simply wants to soak up moisture. This causes cuticles to expand, which causes frizz.

The secret to keeping frizz at bay involves moisture, moisture, moisture. To keep hair properly moisturized, you need a few hair products including: sulfate-free shampoo, a leave-in conditioner, a deep conditioner, and an anti-humectant styling product or leave-in product. If you have curly hair, these should be staples in your bathroom cabinet. All either keep the hair moisturized or protect the cuticle from environmental moisture.

Secret #5: Deep Condition at Least Once a Week

If your hair is susceptible to dryness, frizz, or dandruff, keep away from products with alcohol and treat hair to a deep conditioning hair mask at least once a week. Consider natural oils as well: Taking a few drops of natural oils like neem oil, amla oil, coconut oil, argan oil, olive oil, and jojoba oil are all also great when used together or by themselves. Place the oil in your palm and massage with your fingers into your scalp and hair. Brush the oil through the hair with a natural bristle hair brush, then put a shower cap on and sleep in it. Finally, wash the oil out in the morning.   

For more information on frizzy hair, see How to Take Care of Naturally Curly Hair.

Secret #6: There are Right Ways & Wrong Ways to Use a Blow Dryer

The blow dryer can be a curly girl's nightmare if used improperly. To avoid poof, let hair air dry as long as possible, then blow dry hair with a diffuser. Hold the blow dryer under hair, cupping (not squeezing) curls in your palm up folding the hair accordion-style as you dry hair.

If you don't use a diffuser, aim the blow dryer nozzle downward, in the direction hair grows.

Secret #7: Don't Throw Out Your Brush

It's actually a myth that you can't brush curly hair. While some women swear off even a comb (in favor of finger-combing) stylist Eva Scrivo writes in her book, Eva Scrivo on Beauty, that brushing your hair can be a miracle-maker. Brushing hair for two minutes a night helps distribute natural oils from scalp to hair, Scrivo writes, making it "smoother, more manageable, less frizzy, softer, and shinier."

Yes, your hair will likely pouf up into a mass of curls after brushing, but Scrivo says this is okay. Simply wait until just before bed to brush and refresh your hair in the morning.

"Whether you are plagued by frizz, dryness, split ends or even hair thinning, nightly brushing with a natural-bristle brush will help to alleviate if not completely cure the condition," Scrivo writes.

Secret #8: How to Distribute Product Through Hair

Most women apply product to the top of their heads which can weigh hair down, Scrivo writes in her book. The best way to apply product is to start in the back where hair is thicker. You can then work the product through the sides and at the top of the head. Add small amounts of product as you make your way through sections of hair.

You can comb or brush the product through, or massage it into the hair with your fingers by applying a finger-comb method.

Secret #9: Headbands are an Excellent Choice When You're Short on Time

For curly-haired women short on time, a headband can be a lifesaver. If you pull hair back in a band while it's damp, it's a great way to "flatten" hair at the crown, leaving the curls at your hair's ends. Later you can pull off the hairband and you'll have gorgeous body.

Secret #10: Get the Right Haircut

There are so many secrets to getting the right haircut for your naturally curly hair. For instance, you should avoid bangs, longer hair works better than shorter and it's a myth that you need a specialist in curly hair to cut yours.

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