A Guide on What, How & When To Use Staple Products

what products to use for curly hair

Any curly veteran will tell you that there are 5 specific types of products any every natural should have in her arsenal to promote healthy hair. Any guesses? They include: a shampoo/cleanser; conditioner; daily moisturizer/leave-in; oils and butters; and a styler (optional). Below are are tips on what to use, how to use, and when to use each.


There are many factors to consider when determining how often you should shampoo your hair including climate, lifestyle (active/non active), hair length, hair texture etc. There is no one answer to the question “how often should I wash my hair?” Your washes should be based on what works for you and your hair.

However, a good rule of thumb would be to start with biweekly washes, and determine whether or not you need to wash more frequently or less frequently based on how your hair responds. You can always feel when it’s time to wash your hair (and scalp).

As far as the type of shampoo to use, sulfate-free is always a good way to go. Sulfate-free shampoos will thoroughly cleanse the scalp and hair without drying and stripping your curls of their naturally produced oils.


Conditioning after cleansing, and deep conditioning regularly, is critical to curly hair care. Whether or not your conditioner is all natural is up to you, but if you are buying products with some synthetic ingredients look for water, fatty alcohols, and oils (such as jojoba, argan, and/or coconut) on the ingredient list.

As for deep conditioning, like every other element of natural hair care, determining when to deep condition is completely unique to you and the needs of your hair. As a rule of thumb, you can aim for every other wash or at least once a month. For the most part, when your hair is feeling or looking limp, dry, sensitive or vulnerable, it may be time to deep condition.

To get the most out of your deep conditioner, heat it up. Section your hair into 4 parts, apply conditioner evenly throughout each section, put on a shower cap and sit under the dryer for 15 minutes. No dryer? No problem! Wrap a warm towel over the shower cap and voilà!


You want to have a water-based moisturizer handy for daily hydration or as needed in between wash days and conditioning sessions. Our curls crave moisture – do not neglect this need. When using your moisturizer, focus on the ends of your hair (the ends are the most weak, vulnerable and oldest part of you hair) and do not slather product onto your scalp (this will inevitably lead to product buildup, which is not the goal here people.)

You can also use moisturizers as a styling cream for low manipulation styles like twists.


Including raw oils and/or butters (like shea butter) into your product arsenal is completely optional. For me, most raw butters and oils are way too heavy for my 3B curls, but many naturals swear by them. Carrier oils such as the familiar and ever-popular castor oil, coconut oil, and olive oil each have unique hair (and skin- bonus!) benefits.

Essential oils such as tea tree oil, and lavender oil have benefits for common scalp ailments. Choosing which oils(s) and/or butter(s) to include in your curl cocktail is again, dependent on the needs of your hair, and your hair texture.

As I mentioned before, some butters may work wonders for adding and retaining moisture on thicker, or kinkier hair, but have proved to be a bit too heavy for my looser curls and waves. You can get any one of these oils and raw butters at your local natural food store, or beauty supply.


Styling your curls is the most fun part of a hair care routine, especially when you’ve found a style that works for your hair texture. The versatility of our curls also means we can achieve a curl pattern completely different from our natural curl pattern.

Whether it’s beach wavy curls, a spring wash and go or a defined twist out, using a styling product will help you achieve the best look. Just remember, the more you manipulate and style your hair, the more you’ll need to follow the steps above to keep your hair at it’s healthiest.

Understand that our curls come in all different shapes, and sizes. There is no one way to care for them. Learn what your hair needs and likes, and treat it accordingly. You can always change your products up to see how your curls react to different combinations of products or you could try using one product line designed to work together. Curls Understood recommends Paul Mitchell’s Curls line…


From left to right: Spring Loaded Frizz-Fighting Shampoo; Spring Loaded Frizz-Fighting Conditioner; Full Circle Leave-in Treatment; Twirl Around; and Ultimate Wave.

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