Think outside the beauty box



May 11, 2022

How to maximize your curls

Julia Roberts

Credit: Ron Galella, LTD - Wire Image/ Getty Images

Keeping your curls happy can feel like a never-ending task, whether you’ve never quite managed to get your curls to do what you want them to, or your go-to products just aren’t hitting the mark anymore. And trying new products can feel kind of daunting too. But we’re not about monotony here, and having curly hair shouldn’t mean that you can’t have fun and add new products to your routine when you feel like it. You need to be mindful of your hair’s needs and know what to look for in products, though! 

So what exactly are you supposed to be looking for when adding products to your curly hair care routine? We’re rounding up how to read the label on hair care products so you can get the most from your curls before sharing some of our favorite products designed specifically for curly hair.


What’s on the label

1. Alcohols

Not all alcohols are created the same. In this case, you’re going to want to know your drying alcohols from your fatty alcohols. Generally, you will want to avoid drying alcohol because curly hair needs hydration. Here’s what to look for:

  • Worth trying:

  • Worth avoiding:
    Alcohol denat


2. Scalp care ingredients 

Scalp care, much like skincare, needs to be tailored to each individual’s needs. People with curly hair tend to have a drier scalp, so ingredients designed to reduce oiliness should be avoided. Sodium chloride (aka salt), salicylic acid, and even coal tar are all common ingredients in hair care products designed to help with scalp skin concerns. But they can be super drying. Instead, look for natural hydrating ingredients from vegetable glycerine to honey to soothe a dry scalp.


3. Fragrances 

Needing to be mindful of the fragrances in your hair care products doesn’t mean you need to have dull-smelling hair. It just means that you’ll want to avoid synthetic fragrances and opt for natural ones instead. The easiest way to be sure your hair care is free from synthetic fragrances is by looking out for natural, organic products that will be free from drying chemicals, including fragrances.


4. Irritants

There are some things you will obviously want to avoid when it comes to selecting your hair care. And you would be forgiven for expecting these ingredients to simply not show up in products that are going to go on your scalp and hair. But still, there are ingredients that can be used in hair products that can cause irritation, and should be avoided if you struggle with an itchy, dry, or flakey scalp. These include formaldehyde, parabens, and sulfates. Each of these ingredients can cause irritation in different ways though, so let’s unpack them:


Although it may not be outright named on the label, you should look out for methylene glycol and glyoxylic acid which can both turn into formaldehyde when exposed to high temperatures. The chemical can cause skin irritation, and aggravate allergies. It can even cause hair loss if you repeatedly expose your scalp to the chemical without realizing what’s causing the irritation.


Parabens are one of those ingredients that we tend to know from seeing labels claiming to be “paraben-free”. They’re used by manufacturers to keep hair care products free from bacteria and mold so they can be stored for longer. But they can cause irritation, too. If you want to keep your routine free from parabens, look out for ingredients including methylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben on your products’ labels.


Sulfates work by removing oil and dirt from your hair, which in theory is helpful, but not so much if you have curly hair. Keeping moisture levels up is key to maintaining healthy-looking curls, so stripping oils back can be super counter-productive. To avoid sulfates, you’ll want to look for products that don’t include these ingredients on their labeling: Lauryl Sulfoacetate Sodium, Lauroyl Isethionate, Sodium Lauroyl Taurate, and of course, anything that includes the term ‘sulfate’.


Daily Polished favorites


1. Shampoos


Virtue Curl Shampoo


Virtue® Curl Shampoo

Why we love it…

Formulated to find the perfect balance between cleansing and hydrating, the Curl Shampoo will leave your hair feeling nourished before you even get a chance to condition it. Enriched with Keratin, the shampoo leaves hair looking gorgeously glossy and bouncy. Best of all? It’s suitable for any type of curl.

I N Pure Plenty Shampoo


I-N Pure® Plenty Shampoo

Why we love it...

Scalp care is super important when you have curly hair, particularly when it comes to avoiding thinning. I-N Beauty’s Intelli-Cell™ technology uses pea sprout stem cells to stimulate growth and reduce thinning right at the root. The shampoo bottle has a direct-to-scalp applicator to help you deliver the nutrients exactly where they’re needed, too.


2. Conditioners


Living Proof Curl Definer


Living Proof Curl Definer

Why we love it…

Curl Definer is a leave-in conditioner that’s rich in hydrating oils, and it smells fantastic! It’s best suited for people with loose curls or wavy hair and is available in full-size and travel-size formats so you can keep up with your routine on the go.

Ouai Free Curl Cream


OUAI Free Curl Cream

Why we love it…

The leave-in curl enhancing cream will leave your hair shiny and your curls defined, and you can forget about frizz completely. The formula has been designed to work well on all curl types, making it a go-to recommendation for us!


3. Masks


Briogeo Curl Charisma


Briogeo Curl Charisma

Why we love it…

Curl Charisma is the perfect go-to when you feel like your hair needs an extra dose of nutrients to feel fabulous. Whether it’s because of changes in your hormone levels, stress, or even just spending lots of time at the beach, sometimes your hair just needs something more. Put it on wet hair and leave it for ten minutes before rinsing to give your hair the boost it deserves.

Adwoa Baomint Moisturizing Curl Defining Cream


Adwoa Baomint Moisturizing Curl Defining Cream

Why we love it…

You know all the good things we mentioned that you should look for in curly hair care? This leave-in mask has them all! You can use it for wash ‘n’ go’s, twist-outs, braid-outs, or rod-sets, so whatever you want to do after you wash your hair, you’re covered.


4. Tools and gadgets


You Go Naturals Pleated Sleep Turban


You Go Natural’s Pleated Sleep Turban

Why we love it…

Not only do YGN’s Sleep Turbans come in a brilliantly bold range of colors, but they are also lined with silk, meaning you get the benefits of sleeping on a silk pillow and of using a protective hairstyle to keep your curls looking their best.

Kristin Ess Wide Tooth Detangling Comb


Kristin Ess Wide Tooth Detangling Comb

Why we love it…

Pairing style with function is what beauty tools should be about, and this comb does just that. If you like de-tangling your hair in the shower, this comb is a must. It’s gentle but effective, and its gold design will look super cute in your bathroom in between uses.