This post is inspired by the multitude of questions I get about hair that isn’t coming out so great – these questions are key to figuring out what’s going wrong!
Imagine I send you a picture of my hair on a bad hair day and ask, “what am I doing wrong ☹️” – without additional context into my routine, it would be impossible to know! (Yet sadly, that is what my DMs look like). But for a new curly, it can be difficult to know what details are important and why. In this post, I go through all of the questions you need to be asking yourself and the reasons why they’re important.
Table of Contents
- Do my hair goals align with how long I’ve been wearing my hair curly?
- Are the results I’m experiencing a new problem? When did it start?
- Am I using the right products for my hair type
- Am I using the right amount of product?
- Am I using ANY products with protein????
- Am I styling in a way that’s suited to my curls?
Ask Yourself: Do my hair goals align with how long I’ve been wearing it curly?
Consider how long you’ve been wearing your hair curly when evaluating your hair goals. Are you two weeks in and expecting the same results that I’m getting? Do you have a history or bleach or heat damage? These factors can have a real effect on how your curls come out.
Acheiving healthy, happy curls takes time. It takes time to heal/grow out any damage you may have, and it takes time to really learn about your hair and what it likes.
It may seem overwhelming at first, but trust me – it gets easier!
Ask Yourself: Are the results I’m experiencing a new problem? When did it start?
If this is a new problem, consider:
Have you clarified recently?
You can experience build-up even if you are using products meant for curly hair. A clarifying shampoo is a great way to give your curls a reset.
Using the same products over and over again? Are you taking protein/moisture balance into account in your routine?
In my experience, many curlies are not using enough (or any!) protein in their routine and may experience unwanted results because of it. Consistently using products that are highly moisturizing or high in protein can cause your hair to get overloaded, but is easily fixed with treatments or product rotation. Keep swiping for more info!
Is it gross out?
Extreme weather – that which is ultra-humid or super dry – can throw your hair for a loop. For more info + what products to use when, check my Dew Points video on YouTube!
BONUS QUESTION: Have you moved recently? Hard water?
A new move is already a stressful experience…no need to add bad hair days into the mix! If you’ve recently moved and are not getting the results you’re used to, check to see if your area has hard water. It may be necessary to add a chelating shampoo to your routine such as Ion Hard Water Shampoo.
Ask Yourself: Am I using the right products for my hair type?
A common comment I get is from those with finer hair types who are using products full of heavy ingreadients like shea butter and coconut oil – in many cases, this is a one way ticket to weighed down hair!
Remember that finer hair types prefer more lightweight ingredients – this means fewer butters and oils, whereas coarser, thicker hair types may love these ingredients. My hair is on the finer side – to see my go-to lightweight products, check my Favorites highlight!
In addition, I always recommend that new curlies use 1 moisturizing product (a leave-in OR a cream, not both) + 1 gel.
Ask Yourself: Am I using the right amount of product?
It’s hard to give a broad generalization about how much product you should be using as everyone’s needs are different. In addition, the amount of product you can use may vary by product – there may be one gel that you can absolutely pile on, and another that you must use sparingly for good results.
Here are the typical amounts I use when testing new products. Note that my hair is on the finer side. I adjust based on how my hair feels once it’s dry:
- Leave-In/Cream: Pea to a dime-sized amount for my whole head.
- Loose gel (ex. I Create Volume, Ouidad Climate Control): Nickel size per small section
- Sticky, thick gel (ex. Aussie Instant Freeze, Inahsi Custard): 3-4 quarter-size amounts for whole head
- Mousse: 2-3 golf balls for whole head
Ask Yourself: Am I using ANY products with protein?
Protein in hair products can lend strength, structure, and shine. It can patch weaker sections of the hair shaft and add “stiffness” to curls. My hair cannot get enough of protein and will get limp/frizzy if I don’t use it, so I always keep an eye out for it in my stylers!
- Amino Acids
- The word “hydrolyzed”
- Not always, though! This word just means to break down via a chemical reaction with water.
For more information on this topic, including an in-depth look at why you need protein in your routine, how to find it on an ingredients list, and how to keep your hair balanced, check out my Protein/Moisture balance post!
Ask Yourself: Am I Styling in a way that’s suited to my curls?
In these photos, I used the exact same products but different styling techniques. On the left, I raked my hair downward while upright. On the right, I followed my brush styling technique (on Youtube, link in bio). Huge difference! Experimenting with different techniques and following the routines of those with similar curl patterns to mine was immensely helpful in building my own routine. For me, one of the biggest game-changers was making sure my hair was wet enough while styling as well as flipping back and forth for volume.
More info in this post!
For new curlies, trying to decipher why your hair is behaving in a certain way can be frustrating and confusing. Use these questions as a framework to guide you through any speed bumps, keep in mind that 9/10 of all questions I receive are from people who are using little to no protein in their routine… Here’s to more good hair days!