FP Girls Share Their Curly Hair Secrets

Update: This post originally ran August 8, 2013, but we wanted to bring it back for any of you curly-haired beauties who may have missed it!

We often get requests from readers for us to do beauty posts that focus on curly hair. Those with natural curls know that curly hair behaves much differently than other types, and must be treated accordingly! To get some insiders tips on the matter, I looked no further than the curly-haired beauties right here in our home office.
Today, 5 Free People employees are sharing their secrets on how they care for their curly locks.


“On days I wash my hair, I comb it straight while wet. Next, I flip my hair over and, with a little bit of hair mousse on both hands, I scrunch my hair and then use a bit of hairspray. I then flip my hair over, scrunch (not adding any more mousse), and hairspray again. I put my hair back up in a towel to let it dry a bit, which is a perfect time to do my makeup. Then I take my hair out of the towel, add a little more hairspray, and blow-dry using a diffuser (which usually comes with all hair dryers). On days I don’t wash my hair I just fill up a spray bottle with water, spritz it on my hair a little and blow-dry my hair a little more with the diffuser for more volume! Don’t tell too many people — it works curly magic miracles!” – Cheryl


“My curly hair routine… Especially for this wild mane, it definitely takes some TLC!!! 

I normally go a day (sometimes two days) between washing… I wash my hair with Living Proof No Frizz Shampoo and Conditioner. My #2 backup is Bumble & Bumble Curl Conscious Smoothing Shampoo & Conditioner.

My essential products:
Living Proof Nourishing Styling Crème
Vavoom Height of Glam Volumizing Foam (I can’t live without this product!)
Bumble & Bumble Curl Conscious Reactivating Mist

Styling tool: Blow dryer with diffuser is a MUST. Drying my hair can be a process, it usually takes about 15 minutes.

Finish off with Matrix Volumizing Hairspray – the BIGGER the BETTER!!

There you have it: my hair secrets revealed.” -Holly


“All I do is wash it and then I sleep on it.  I am super low maintenance, I buy my shampoo based on how good it smells!” -Rachel


“My routine is pretty simple – less is more!

I have a lot of hair, but the individual strands are pretty fine so I only shampoo once a week/as needed… Most of the time I just use conditioner so my hair stays soft & weighed down. This also helps maintain the shape of my curls & minimize frizz.

I don’t use any special shampoo/conditioners on regular basis… I feel like it’s what goes in after you are out of the shower that makes the difference… But occasionally I’ll pick up a bottle of Fekkai’s full volume conditioner. This makes my hair super soft & shiny but it’s too heavy for everyday use.

I’m addicted to Chi & Moroccan oil products. Chi’s silk infusion serum is the best thing I’ve found for my curls. I apply a generous amount to wet hair & let air dry. That’s really all it takes, but I have a habit of playing with my hair throughout the day so sometimes I need a little Moroccan oil (only on dry hair) to keep things in control. Plus, I love the smell of it!   

When you have hair as curly as mine, I think it’s very important to embrace it. I go back & forth between straight & curly in the fall – spring, but in the summer it stays curly. I’ve learned the hard way (over & over) that you cannot hide from humidity – when you keep it au natural it just gives you more volume. :)” -Jill

Diane, Angelina

“I wash my hair with sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner (I used the Ouidad line, in particular).  When I’m done, I ‘towel’ dry my hair with an old t-shirt; it sounds a bit odd, but it decreases frizz that a regular terry cloth towel would cause! Other than that, I usually just scrunch my hair around the roots (see gif below) and let it air dry.  :)” -Diane

“My hair is an unpredictable creature, so I keep my routine pretty basic for my sanity. I hop in the shower, use a sulfate-free shampoo, use a little leave-in conditioner to help retain some moisture, and then shake it out with my hands. After that, I let nature take its course and see what happens — every day is an adventure, in that sense! My most important curls tips, though? 1) Never brush your curls while dry and 2) EMBRACE THEM!” -Angelina


Do you have any tips for taking care of curly hair? Please share!

More beauty tips from BLDG 25.

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9 years ago

Thanks for this focus! We curly haired girls often get forgotten.

9 years ago

I love all of their hair! So fun! Great tips as well.
I have super curly hair as well, and I just use head and shoulders (apple scented) shampoo and conditioner, (although I’m looking for something with fewer chemicals, that’s more clean living). I only wash my hair like every two days, and I wash in the evening so it dries overnight. I squeeze out excess water with an old Tshirt (totally not weird Diane, it really does eliminate frizz!) and put it in a braid to sleep. In the morning, I just wake up and I’m good! Oh, and I don’t remember the last time I brushed my hair, not even wet.

xo, Juliette Laura

9 years ago

I use only a microfiber towel on my hair. I comb my hair while Im still in the shower. Then scrunch in my styling products (i use Jessicurl). I then bend forward and wrap my hair in a microfiber towel on my head for at least 10minutes. After taking my hair out of the towel, I keep my hands off my hair. This is the key to keeping the frizz to a minimum. Once a week I do a apple cider vinegar rinse after shampooing, then my usual conditioner. It makes my hair super curly.

9 years ago

Love this! Thanks for doing a post for curly girls!!!
I try to wash my hair with shampoo every 3 days or so, and just wet it every morning in the shower, add a little leave-in conditioner (I’ve found that the more conditioned my hair is, the curlier it is!) give at a scrunch or two, and out the door I go!

<3 dani

9 years ago

I also dry my hair in an old t-shirt to help eliminate frizz. I tend to wash my hair about twice a week and do an apple cider rinse once a week or if my hair is especially unruly lately. I condition my hair regularly and always leave a little in to help control and tame my curls. I have very curly and very long hair that’s pretty fine and sensitive to heat so I rarely straighten and prefer to air dry my hair as much as possible. My favorite shampoo and conditioner are from Inteligent Nutrients. They smell amazing, are sulfate free and are so rich and creamy without weighing my hair down or causing product build-up. A little bit goes a long way which is important for me since I have so much hair. For styling product I just use Moroccan oil but I’m curious to try some other hair oils out as well.

9 years ago

I have naturally curly to wavy hair that’s heavy so the weight of my hair pull everything down, but I found a product a few months ago that I love! It’s aveda be curly curl controller that’s sold at a lot of salons. My fried recommended it to me and I’ve been hooked ever since! It lengthens my curls to more like beachy waves naturally! You only need a like a dime or nickel sized amount and my hair is pretty dang long! So the bottle lasted me close to 3 months.

Sabra Horne
9 years ago

My hair is very curly and short right now. I cannot wait for it to grow out again. So much easier to wear my curls when its longer. Doenst look to afro like. lol
I never brush my hair. I wash and condition every 3 to 4 days since my hair has more of a course feeling to it. I let it dry through the night and just wet it in the morning to style. Because it’s short I find myself straightening it alot but once it gets to a longer length I’ll be rocking the curls more. :) Thanks for all the tips ladies.

9 years ago

I’m a super low-budget, low-maintenance kinda girl. I have a TON of long, thick, curly hair….I wet my hair all the way through every other day or two with a deep conditioner and shampoo with anything sulfate-free once a week or so, adding a packet of sugar in the raw. I only comb when it’s soaking wet, then rinse out some of the conditioner, add a little bit of a lighter conditioner to leave-in, scrunch in some gel (usually Kinky Curly), THEN wring it out with an old t-shirt instead of a towel. If I don’t have to be anywhere immediately I put some clips in the top to let it dry with some body….but usually I’m rushing out to the car, which I use as a transportation device/giant blowdryer when it’s cold out. On days when I’m not wetting it all the way, I spray it with a refresher (mix a little of your conditioner with water and lavender ess. oil). I get pretty much everything I use for my hair at Target for a fairly reasonable price. I used to get “curly cuts” but now I do it myself (try it, don’t be scared!). NaturallyCurly.com has some good tips too.

Maria L.
9 years ago

Ah, how good to see we curlies are not forgotten! For me, the key is no shampoo, seriously! I only use a sulfate free herbal cleanser every ten days or so. Usually I just wash with an organic herbal conditioner, scrunch an organic, alcohol free gel while it is still dripping wet, and let air dry. It really works for me.

9 years ago

I have the most random curly hair! Some pieces are ringlets, some are barely a wave. But what works for me is: shampoo every other day, (I’m part Italian, so otherwise my roots get really oily) deep condition only on the end of my hair (again, bc otherwise all the oil plus conditioner really weighs down my roots) then I put a nickel sized amount of coconut milk (by organix) through the ends. Then just scrunch and let the curls happen where they want to! :)

9 years ago

my tips are :

— shampoo less
— scalp massages to promote positive natural oils
— argan / moroccan oil <3
— conditioning curl mists like Frizz Ease 'Dream Curls' or Ouidad's Botanical Boost spray
— light hairspray to lock in all the moisture
— air dry, try to squeeze extra water out of hair

thank you for featuring naturally curl hair!

9 years ago

Awesome post! It took me years to master my curls so I love sharing my secrets with other curly girls.

Routine: Shampoo once or twice a week to avoid dryness. Condition often and use a wide tooth comb in shower to detangle. Let the conditioner stay in hair for about 5-10 minutes while in the shower and rinse it 80% out. Ring hair with hands (DO NOT USE A TOWEL) then smother hair in a light mousse or gel and let it air dry if possible or diffuse gently until 75% dry. Once the curls are completely dry shake them out by flipping your head upside down and shaking your hand through your hair ONLY near your scalp then set the curls with a strong hairspray. They’ll be good for 3 days.

Products: If I’m going low budget Tresemme Moisture Rich shampoo & conditioner w/ Finesse mousse and set with Tresemme Extra Hold spray. If I’m going high end Paul Mitchell Extra Moisture w/ Ouidad climate control gel and set with Paul Mitchell Extra Body spray. (both of these products work the same but I prefer the Paul Mitchell b/c it smells better!)

9 years ago

my tips are :

— shampoo less
— scalp massages to promote positive natural oils
— argan / moroccan oil <3
— conditioning curl mists like Frizz Ease 'Dream Curls' or Ouidad's Botanical Boost spray
— light hairspray to lock in all the moisture
— air dry, try to squeeze extra water out of hair

thank you for featuring naturally curly hair!

9 years ago

I learned something new from the post and even more from comments, thank you everyone here!

As for me, co-washing (not using shampoo and going with a good handful of conditioner instead, not brushing, washing your hair once a week or even in 10 days) might really work! But it takes time for your hair to adapt for it, and it’s so hard to wash it all off your hair. I also don’t do a bun with a towel, just dab dry. I never brush my hair, I use my fingers instead, and I also let it dry through the night like many others do – it gives the most defined curls that look moisturized, and minimum frizz. I don’t do much styling, but sometimes I use some hair cream to define several locks.

9 years ago

Hey Rachel – Go Bills!

9 years ago

Thank you for these tips! As a woman with hair that seems to get more and more curly with age, this really helps! In the summer — especially on those rare, hot Pacific Northwest days — I will wash my hair every 2-3 days and I use Head and Shoulders once a week only at the scalp. For general washing, I use a sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner (currently L’Oreal’s EverCurl, which is the most amazing product I have tried) and scrunch the roots after rinsing. When I get out of the shower, I gently press a towel or t-shirt against my hair to absorb the excess water and let my hair air-dry until it’s damp. When it’s almost dry, I apply a very small amount of leave-in conditioner (Neutrogena Triple Moisture) to the ends of my hair, tip my head back and shake it slightly. After that, I leave it alone or I will twist it up into a bun or a braid to get a little extra definition. If I am sunbathing or spending a lot of time outdoors, I will take my Focus21 SeaPlasma All-Purpose Skin and Hair Moisturizer/Re-Hydrater with me and spritz it all over my body to keep cool and moisturized and drench my hair in it periodically to keep my hair from drying out in the heat of the sun. (I recommend using a sweatproof/waterproof/sport sunscreen with this for maximum sun protection.) To prevent frizz in the colder months, I apply a small amount of olive oil and leave-in conditioner to a spray bottle of water and spritz my hair as needed. When the humidity is low and my hair starts to resemble a finger-in-a-light-socket look, then I will spritz with the water/oil/conditioner mixture and gently straighten my hair, which leaves it smooth and shiny.

9 years ago

Coconut oil, coconut oil, coconut oil. The end. Makes all the difference.

9 years ago

Moroccan oil curl cream is amazing. Don’t use to much!!!

9 years ago

diane has the best advice for curls and the healthiest looking curls as a result of it!

i’ve been on a steady regiment of Sulfrate Free Conditioner ONLY (shampoo and bubbles are the death of curls).
brushing only in the shower.
t-shirts to soak up excessive moisture and only a very little bit of salon-grade gel or mousse made specifically for curls.

in my experience, DevaCurl has the most consistently good products. pricey but because i don’t use it every day it’s not that bad.

9 years ago

i have wavy/frizzy hair and I use a sulfate free shampoo and conditioner. i comb my hair in the shower and once out of the shower, leaving hair damp i apply a avocado and olive oil leave in conditioner style elixir by 2chic, they sell it at whole foods. i live in florida so we have a lot of humidity and that really kills my hair but since ive used this product it works wonders! and i also do one night a month of leaving coconut oil in my hair which is awesome!!

9 years ago

I like to use Redken Instant Polishing Prep + Redken Curvaceous Ringlet on my curly hair. I let my hair air dry and while it’s drying I twirl random strand around my fingers to encourage the curls. I LOVE NOT HAVING TO BLOW DRY MY HAIR!!!!

9 years ago

I absolutely love this post! It does feel like curly girls are forgotten sometimes:) I’ve fought my curl all my life, but now, having a 2-year old and very little getting ready time, I finally have embraced them! So – this is my usual routine: I use bumble and bumble – gentle shampoo and super rich conditioner (generally I wash my hair every 3-days or so). My “trick” is to put the after-shower product in when my hair is SOAKING wet. I use a dime-nickle sized drop of morroccan oil and then a nickel-quarter sized drop of Bumble’s Styling Lotion for EACH side of my hair. If I have time, I twirl pieces of my hair into curls – this helps create a really and frizz-free style. Otherwise I just air dry and go – even diffusers give me too much frizz! In between washings, I’ll use a curling iron or straightner to “fix” my curls and am also a HUGE fan of dry shampoo :)

9 years ago

Low-maintanence is the way to go! Similarly to Diane, I believe the less you do and the more natural you go, the healthier the curls!

1. I never brush/comb my hair. Only when washing (every 2-3 days) I “comb” out my hair with my fingers.

2. I only use all organic shampoo (no conditioner, it makes the curls too heavy and they fall out): Avalon Organics Biotin B-Complex Thickening Shampoo (might as well add some natural volume!)

3. I squeeze out as much excess water in the shower then with my towel (or old tee!) I flip over, ruffly dry the under side for about 3 seconds then gently scrunch the tips upward toward the scalp a few times.

4. Now this is the ultimate secret, and I swear it works the best… I use Weleda Skin Food to seal the deal. Using less than a dime size dollop, I rub it between my palms, then with my hair flipped I scrunch the curls upward toward the scalp. I try to get all the tips without getting the lotion too close to the scalp (it will look greasy!). Having the lotion on the ends helps the strands to dry more evenly, otherwise the tips tend to dry first causing them to splay and frizz out!

5. Air dry! (With some scrunching) I try not to change the temp/climate too much during this process. Either let it dry inside (especially if it’s cold or raining outside), or let the natural air and sun finish the job.

So fun to read everyone’s process! Good luck and happy hair!

9 years ago

I’ve had tons of complements on my hair over the years, and there definitely is a secret to it. I tend to get “triangle head” if I don’t get volume on my roots, so most of my process is about letting my hair dry without the thickness weighing it down. I’ve found curly hair has the best shape when it has a normal amount of natural oil to it, so it’s important to not shampoo it every day, which strips the hair of its natural oils and contributes to hair follicles over-producing oil. I shampoo every other day and condition every day (but not too much conditioner or that will weigh down hair as well, and never on my roots). Over the years I’ve tried many shampoos, and I used a suds-free shampoo called DevaCurl for a long time, and highly recommend it. Recently I’ve been trying the sulfate free kind. I also dye my hair A LOT so the Ojon Color-Sustain weekly treatment works wonders. P.S. the DevaCurl also prevents color fade as well :)
I towel dry as much as I can (I like the towel turbans you can get at a drug-store or whatever), and then flip hair over and apply some product. Again, I’ve used tons of products over the years, but overall I like mousses and spritzers the most (def not creams and gels). I don’t like mousses that make your hair crunchy, and I’ve found the Bumble and Bumble products are pretty nice at avoiding that (curl conscious holding foam). As for sprays, depending on what kind of curl you want, I also like the Bumble and Bumble products. The Surf Spray is really great for beachy-waves.
When drying hair, always always use a diffuser (I like the really big ones), it dries hair faster and more efficiently and allows for curls to form rather than get blown out. Diffuse until dry, then, if you have bangs like me, blow out the bangs with a round brush.
This step is my special secret: I use small plastic hair clips (you can get like 12 piece sets at drug stores for cheap) and pin up scrunched sections. This works best if done overnight or whatnot, my best curls come from leaving my hair pinned like this for about 5 hrs, so sometimes I sleep on it. But I’ve been able to let it set for 45 minutes before and its come out just fine. This time frame varies with what kind of curls you have and how thick your hair is, and how well it takes shape. But generally this step provides the best curls and volume, sort of the same idea as sleeping on rollers but instead they are plastic clips. I take the clips out, and tease the roots just a little. Then I use a holding hair spray and all done! Been doing this for like 8 years and it’s never failed me! :D
Happy scrunching!

9 years ago

The real secret to manageable curly hair? get a keratin treatment. I got my first one and my hair has been a.ma.zing.ly manageable. My hair didn’t lose its curl either– it just lost its involuntary frizz. It can still frizz if I brush out the curls, or after braids). Not even kidding tho, it was like realizing that you can dye over grey hairs rather than having to always part your hair on the left to hide the grays. Then you take the leap, and think “why have I been living with this frizz unecessarily for all this time?”