Curly hair can be tricky. I have always had really wavy hair, but after Amelia was born, my hair quickly turned into a ringlet-y, frizzy mess! Being a new mom, I didn’t have the time or desire to style my hair like I used to, so my day to day hairstyle became a messy top knot because I had no idea what to do with my new natural curls.
After a few months, I decided that I wanted to learn everything there was to know about taking care of and styling naturally curly hair. And if you know me, you know that I was going to find the best products for the least amount of money! There are lots of expensive curly hair products that everyone raves about, and I’m sure that they are just as good and maybe (probably) even better than the products that I use now, but I can’t quite bring myself to drop that kind of money on hair products!
Before I get into my routine, I think that it is important to talk about what kind of hair that I have. My hair is normally pretty oily and it is very thick and coarse. That being said, what works for my thick, curly, and coarse hair may not work for everyone!
Also, I am super duper excited to announce the launch of my Instagram account exclusively for curly hair! I will be sharing all of the products that I am using, my washday results, along with how I am refreshing my curls or styling my curls each day! Soooo, if you like what you are reading here, make sure to follow my brand new Curly Tay Instagram account which I have linked here for more consistent curly hair updates and tips & tricks!
Lastly, I need to quickly mention that I may receive a small commission from purchases made through some of the links in this post at no additional cost to you. I only talk about and promote products that I genuinely love and use on a daily basis. My hope that by sharing these products, I can help other curly girls find a routine that works for them as well!
So after many months of trial and error, I have finally found my perfect curly hair routine on a budget and I am so excited to share it with you!
1. Sulfate and Silicone Free Shampoo and Conditioner
When I started doing my research into taking care of curly hair, I kept seeing that sulfates and silicones were a definite no-no. Silicones are in a ton of conditioners and hair products. They basically create a coating around each hair strand of hair, giving it the appearance of being healthy and shiny. In reality, the silicones are blocking anything from getting in or out. Sulfates are used as detergents in shampoos and are needed to remove the tough silicones that are in so many hair products. The sulfates also remove any dirt and oils from the hair. This leaves the hair in need of major moisture to make up for being completely stripped of everything! This, in turn, causes the scalp to overproduce oil to try to make up for the loss of all of the natural oils. So, if you notice that your roots are extra oily and your ends feel extra dry, the cause is probably silicone and sulfates! This vicious cycle of silicones and sulfates is especially bad for curly girls because our hair tends to be drier than most other hair types. So, a major key to healthy curly hair is to ONLY put silicone and sulfate free products on your hair, including styling products.
If you use drugstore shampoos, conditioners, or styling products, chances are that they have silicones or sulfates in them. Look for words ending in -cone and -fate on the ingredient list on the back to find out for sure! It was really hard to find good quality sulfate and silicone free products that are not only low cost, but available for purchase at local drugstores or grocery stores. But alas, I have found my holy grail products for a freakin’ steal!
Since switching to silicone and sulfate free, I can go twice as long between washes (3-5 days instead of every other day) and my hair genuinely feels healthier and my curls are less frizzy and more bouncy and shiny!
This stuff is awesome! It’s the perfect intro shampoo to a silicone and sulfate free haircare routine! When I first switched to a silicone and sulfate free routine, it was hard to find a shampoo that left my hair feeling clean and not weighed down… until I found this stuff!
Major moistureeeee!! Before I found this stuff, I used to apply a conditioner JUST to detangle, rinse it out and then apply my actual conditioner. Now I apply this stuff and am able to easily detangle my hair once it is in my hair. I stopped brushing my hair before my showers and only brush it out in the shower after I have loaded it up with this conditioner! I will usually just run my fingers through my hair to detangle after I put in the conditioner, but recently I have found that it is soooo much quicker and easier to use a Wet Brush.
The ONLY time that I brush my hair is in the shower when I am detangling my curls with conditioner! This is another key to making the most of your curls! Brushing messes up your curl patterns and make them looser and straighter! I saw a hugeeee difference in how tight my curls were when I stopped brushing them!
Also, only use a microfiber towel OR a t-shirt to dry your hair! Normal towels can soak up too much moisture out of your hair, leaving it feeling dried out. And never ever, ever rub your hair with a towel! This creates frizz, tangles, and ruins curl patterns! Since this is a curly hair routine on a budget, I use an old t-shirt to squeeze out a little bit of water before putting in the styling products. I squeeze out just enough water to keep my hair from dripping. Then, I flip my head over and apply my products!
2. Deep Condition
Curly hair is inevitably the driest hair type, which means our hair type needs extra moisture! Deep conditioning once or twice a week has been a major lifesaver for me! Especially when I first started learning how to take care of my curls! My hair was soooo damaged by heat styling, hair dye, and just products that turned out to be absolutely terrible for my hair! Once I started adding a deep conditioner to my weekly routine, I immediately saw a difference in the overall health of my hair! Deep condition also gives me amazing curl definition and getting rid of frizz! My curls are always so defined, smooth, and springy after I deep condition!
If you have damaged hair this is absolutely what you need to repair your hair! This stuff works WONDERS if you are trying to heal and enhance your curls after mistreating them like I did for so many years!
If you don’t have damaged hair, this is the perfect deep conditioner for wavy, curly, or kinky curly hair! Like it’s name, the moisture literally melts into your hair!
For Thick Hair or Stronger Hold
I like to add more moisture to my hair after I wash it to reduce frizz and create more bounce to my curls! I gently scrunch a quarter size amount of this through my hair. This is also silicone and sulfate free!
When I first bought this, I thought that there was no way that this stuff would be any good, but I was oh so wrong! This stuff is amazing and pretty hardcore. That’s why I leave my hair really, really wet when I put it in! I scrunch it in with my hands after I apply the leave-in conditioner!
For Normal/Thin Hair, a Lighter, More Natural Hold, or Wavy Hair
I have just recently been trying this stuff out and it is just too good not to share! This will probably become my go-to product for the spring and summer! The formula is very lightweight, but it still gives my curls amazing hold without the crunch or heavy product feeling! I love how natural it makes my curls look and how quick and easy it is to apply.
When I use this product, I still apply the Cantu Leave-In first, but I apply it the exact same way that I apply the ECO gel and Cantu Leave-In combo. If your hair isn’t super dry or damaged, you could probably skip the leave in and only use the Cantu Curl Activator! I think that it would work perfectly for anyone with any texture at all to their hair, thin, thick, normal, super curly or wavy. I seriously am in love with this stuff you guys!
After I have applied my product(s), I scrunch out any water with the old t-shirt! I had to use these products quite a few times before I found the perfect amount to use, so just play around with these products until you find what works best for you! When all of the excess water has been scrunched out, I like to plop my hair into the t-shirt and wrap it around my head and leave it for about 20 minutes. I do this because I like to keep my wet hair out of the way while I get dressed and do my makeup for the day.
If you like to wash your hair before bed, you could leave your hair wrapped in the t-shirt or microfiber hair wrap until morning. This will protect your hair while you sleep and create lots of bouncy, shiny curls!
If you prefer a towel over a t-shirt here are some great microfiber options for you!
3. Air-Drying & Diffusing
My biggest piece of advice with drying is to NOT mess your curls until it is totally dry. Messing with your curls WILL cause frizz and WILL mess up your natural curl patterns. The only time I touch my hair while its drying is to flip my part from one side to the other a few times throughout the drying process. This helps add volume.
I sometimes let my hair air dry completely, but because I have thick hair, I usually don’t have the patience to sit around all day and wait for my hair to dry. Normally, I let it air dry until it’s about 80-90% of the way dry and then use my diffuser to finish drying it completely. Drying my hair with a diffuser adds soooooo much volume to my roots and adds a ton of bounce and shine to each curl! I like to flip my head over and then flip my hair to both sides to add even more volume while I’m drying! I also always, always, always use low heat and low speed!
Related Post: How To Diffuse Curly Hair
I love, love, love my Conair Dryer. It has so many heat and speed settings and is awesome quality for a super reasonable price. It comes with a diffuser attachment, but I personally prefer to use the Black Orchid Diffuser Attachment . The Black Orchid diffuser attachment is so much bigger than the diffuser attachment that comes with the Conair dryer. This means that the Black Orchid drastically cuts down on drying time and is perfect for thick or really long hair! To get the Conair Hair Dryer and The Black Orchid will fit together, you have to remove the little ring on the inside of the opening where the dryer fits into it. It is super duper easy to do!
The DevaDryer is the ultimate curly girl favorite! The diffuser attachment is shaped like a hand to gently cup the curls and reach the roots better than any other diffuser, which means this diffuser will give you extra, extra volume!
4. Scrunch out the Crunch!
When my hair is completely 100% dry, I like to flip my head over and scrunch my hair until I can no longer feel the crunchy gel (AKA scrunch out the crunch)! Then, with my head still flipped over, I will shake out my roots with my fingers to add more volume! Another little trick is to pull apart any thick, chunky curls into a couple of smaller curls to add even more volume. And that is it! My entire curly hair routine from wash to finished style!
If you are curious as to how I maintain my curls in the days between wash day, make sure to check out my Next Day Curl Post! I talk about all of my secrets to maintaining pretty curls and share the recipe for my super easy DIY Curl Refresher that works just as well or better than any curl refresher I’ve used and saves me sooooo much money because it includes products that I am already using in this curly hair routine!
If you are curly obsessed like me, make sure to follow along with me on Pinterest & follow my brand new Curly Tay Instagram account where I will be sharing all things curly hair!
If you have any questions, have some curly hair secrets that you would like to share, or have tried my routine, please let me know in the comments below! I would love to hear from my fellow curlies and wavies! I am also always looking for suggestions for new posts, so don’t be shy! Your wavy/curly wish is my command!
Thank you so much for taking the time visit my blog! It has been such a humbling experience to hear that my curly hair posts are helpful to you guys! Hair has always been a passion of mine and it makes me so truly happy to be able to share that passion with all of you! So thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart!