How Do You Moisturize Curly Hair?

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Curly hair is naturally dry, especially if you have tight curls or coils, or natural hair. Keeping your curls moisturized and hydrated can be a battle, and it’s all about learning about how your hair retains moisture and finding the products that work best for you. 

To moisturize your curly hair, try not to shampoo too often, you can also try co-washing, which is using a conditioner to wash your hair rather than shampoo and conditioner. 

Shampoos often strip our hair of their natural oils. Try to wash your hair just once or twice a week, or even less frequently than this if possible. It will take some time for your hair to adapt, but it’ll do it good in the long run! 

You’ll also want to use a deep conditioning mask or leave-in conditioner to enrich the hair with moisture. Use a true moisturizer that has water as the 1st or 2nd ingredient. 

Water is important, and adding water to your dry curls is an easy way to add moisture. Limit the use of heavy oils and butter – these are good for occasional use but don’t rely on them every day as it’ll just lead to build-up. 

You can also sleep on a silk or satin pillow or use a silk or satin bonnet. These limit moisture loss and will also help with frizz due to reduced friction. 

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How can I hydrate my curly hair at home?

There are several ways to hydrate your curly hair at home. 

#1 Pre-bed moisturization 

Applying a mask or leave-in conditioner to your hair and allowing it to work while you sleep will help moisturize your locks and will minimize morning frizz. If you can contain your hair in a silk bonnet/wrap or use a silk pillowcase – even better. 

#2 Use natural oils to hydrate your hair

Coconut, avocado, and olive oil are all great moisturizers – they can actually penetrate the hair shaft to hydrate from within, while others, like castor oil, seal moisture in from the outside. 

#3 LOC (leave-in, oil, cream) or LCO (leave-in, cream, oil)

The LOC method or LCO method is a layering technique used for maximum moisture retention. It’s typically used in the initial curl styling stage after you wash your hair, but can also be used for a moisture refresh. 

Depending on your hair’s porosity, you can tweak the routine to suit you, but the idea is that you start with the lightest product — like a liquid leave-in — and gradually build-up to the heaviest product like a curl cream or butter. 

#4 Use a deep conditioning mask/treatment 

Apply a deep conditioning mask or treatment once a week to your hair after shampooing, and leave on for 15 minutes to allow the product to really penetrate the hair’s shaft and provide ultimate hydration. This is also a good time to comb your hair with a wide-toothed comb to minimize tangles and frizz. 

What can I do if my curly hair is dry?

One of the first things to do if your curly hair is dry is to pinpoint why it’s dry. If you’re using hydrating products and they don’t seem to make a difference, it could be time to look elsewhere. 

Lifestyle changes, or simply the climate, can disrupt our curls – particularly if we go from months of mainly staying indoors to getting way more sun exposure. 

Also check when you last got your hair trimmed, as a simple solution could be chopping off those dry ends. 

You should also check your hair products are curly-girl friendly, as sometimes they can do more harm than good. You should avoid products with sulfates – these are what give shampoos their foaming properties that leave your hair squeaky-clean, but they also strip the hair of moisture. Instead, why not try co-washing – where you wash your hair with just a conditioner – or opt for a gentle, cleansing oil wash instead.

You should also avoid using heat, and if you do, make sure you use a good heat protectant. Even diffusing your curls can leave them exposed to heat damage, despite the heat being spread out rather than concentrated. 

Is coconut oil good for curly hair?

Coconut oil is one of nature’s best beauty secrets. 

Unlike most oils, coconut oil penetrates deep into the hair shaft to hydrate from the inside out, rather than simply sitting on the surface. It will also help increase shine, softness, and manageability while keeping frizz at bay.  

Coconut oil can be used in a myriad of ways: 

It works well as an overnight moisture treatment. Apply it on the ends of fine or wavy hair and leave in, or distribute all over if you have thick curly or coily hair. 

The next morning, shampoo, condition, and style your hair as usual. One shampoo should sufficiently remove the oil, but you can shampoo twice if you need to. 

Alternatively, you can use it after washing your hair as a leave-in conditioner, or use it between washes as a serum. 

Coconut oil is great for taming frizz and adding shine. It’s also great if you’re trying to grow longer, thicker hair as it prevents breakage and retains moisture. 

Is mousse or gel better for curly hair?

If your curls are fine or loose, mousse may be a better option. Mousse has an airy, light texture but still provides some sculpting ability. 

Gel can be heavier and will work better on thicker or very curly/coily hair. It may weigh thinner hair down, though you can get some lightweight curl gels. 

Mousse is great for providing volume and bounce to your curls, while gel is good for definition and hold. Therefore, mousse may be a good fit for looser waves or bouncy curls, while gel is ideal for tight curls and coils. 

What is the best hair mask for dry curly hair?

DevaCurl Melt Into Moisture Conditioning Mask

This mask from DevaCurl rehydrates dry, brittle natural curls and detangles them to unveil soft, shiny hair.

It can be used once a week or as needed and works on wavy, curly, and coily hair textures. Formulated with matcha butter, sweet almond oil, and beetroot extract, this mask works to rehydrate curls and leave them soft and silky to the touch. 

Carol’s Daughter Coco Creme Curl Quenching Deep Moisture Hair Mask

This buttery mask is packed full of Mango Seed Butter, Shea Butter, and Coconut Oil to replenish dry, frizzy curls and coils. It’ll leave your hair feeling stronger, shinier, and touchably softer, and adds definition to curls and coils. 

  • Extreme Moisture Mask: Our hair mask gives a buttery dose of replenishing hydration, offering an extreme moisture experience - leaving hair feeling stronger, shinier and touchably softer
  • Extra Moisture For Curly Hair: Quench the thirst of extremely dry hair with Coco Crème Sulfate-Free Shampoo, Creamy Conditioner, Velvet Cream Hair Mask, and Moisture Butter for hydrated, defined curls and coils
  • Coco Crème For Naturally Curly Hair: Created for naturally curly hair, from the short-cropped 4c curly hairstyle to 1c waves, we use the ingredients your curls crave, like Mango Seed Butter, Shea Butter, and Coconut Oil
  • Carol's Daughter Curly Hair Products: Whether your curls are coiled, kinky, or loose, we make products for curly hair of all kinds, including curl custard, gel for curly hair, shampoo, conditioner, and hair oils for natural hair growth
  • Made With Love: Carol's Daughter was born in a Brooklyn kitchen in 1993 and made with a mother's love and encouragement; Today we carry a full line of hair care products and body and skin care products

Maui Moisture Heal & Hydrate + Shea Butter Hair Mask

The Maui shea butter hair mask is a great budget option and works well on wavy to tight curls and medium to dry moisture levels, as well as damaged hair. This mask contains a rich blend of natural ingredients including 100% aloe vera as the first ingredient, nourishing shea butter, coconut oil, and macadamia oil to quench your hair’s thirst. 

  • Shea butter hair mask & leave-in treatment
  • DEEPLY QUENCH and REPAIR CURLS: This 12-ounce container of Maui Moisture Heal and Hydrate and Shea Butter Hair Mask deeply quenches and nourishes dry, damaged hair to help repair and soften curls and mend split ends
  • 2-IN-1 COARSE, CURLY HAIR CARE: Ideal for wavy to tight curls and medium to dry moisture levels, the in-shower hair mask doubles as a deeply hydrating leave-in conditioner that is suitable for daily use and safe on color-treated hair
  • UNIQUE BLEND WITH ALOE VERA: The rich blend of this restorative vegan hydrating mask treatment contains 100% aloe vera as the first ingredient along with nourishing shea butter, coconut oil and macadamia oil
  • NOT ALL MOISTURE IS THE SAME: The gentle and nourishing formula of this sulfated surfactant free haircare system is vegan, free from silicones, parabens and mineral oil, and contains no synthetic dyes

Shea Moisture Deep Treatment Masque for Dry

SheaMoisture is a favorite among the curly community, and this deep treatment masque is blended with raw shea butter and natural botanicals to help restore natural lipids to damaged, dry, and curly hair types. 

It works well for curlies from 3A through to 4C and is formulated with no silicones, sulfates, parabens, phthalates, mineral oil, or petrolatum.

  • SheaMoisture Raw Shea Butter Deep Moisturizing Hair Masque is a hair treatment that moisturizes and conditions dry and damaged hair
  • This deep conditioner smooths, conditions and fortifies follicles while providing healing moisturization for hair
  • The SheaMoisture Raw Shea Butter hair masque is perfect for transitioning chemically treated hair, damaged hair, and natural hair
  • Formulated with Raw Shea Butter, Sea Kelp and Argan Oil, this deep conditioner hair masque infuses hair with a powerful dose of moisture and nutrients
  • All SheaMoisture hair care products, like this hydrating hair mask, are sustainably produced with natural ingredients and are Cruelty-Free
  • This SheaMoisture hair mask is formulated with no silicones, no sulfates, no parabens, no phthalates, and no petrolatum

Moisturizing Natural Curly Hair Routine