This guest post was written by Kelly. You can visit her on Instagram at @2bornot2bwaves for more great curl tips and styling advice. Thank you, Kelly, for sharing your curl wisdom!
It can be one of the hardest things as a curly girl: choosing the best product lineup for your hair. But many curlies make the mistake of trying to choose their products based on their curl pattern ALONE. While your curl pattern is one way to identify your hair, it actually tells you nothing about how to choose your products.
Below are two photos: the navy t-shirt is "vacation hair when I don't know my environment" and the purple sweater is "vacation hair when I understand my environment."
So let’s dive in to the things that are going to help you find the products you need.
Things to Consider When Choosing Curl Products
1. Your porosity, density, and width
You may have heard of these stats before, but let’s break them down.
Porosity is your hair’s ability to absorb water. High porosity means your hair gets wet fast, and can dry fast. Low porosity means your hair won’t absorb water as easily. It can take awhile to get fully wet or fully dry. This is all due to the strands, cuticle, and damage level. Typically, damaged hair has a higher porosity and healthy hair has a lower porosity.
Why is this important? Higher porosity typically needs products with more protein. As well, hair that is damaged through bleach, heat, or chemical treatments will require other treatments, like protein, bond builders, or deep conditioning.
High Porosity Product Suggestions:
- Inahsi Naturals Rescue & Repair Bond Strengthening Shampoo and Masque
- Curlsmith Bond Curl Rehab Salve
- Olaplex No. 3 Hair Perfector
Low Porosity Product Suggestions:
Density means how many hairs are on your head. Your density can be high, medium, or low. A very easy test is to just look at your scalp. Do you see it through your hair? If so, you have low density. If you can’t see your scalp at all, you have high density. This statistic may not tell you a lot about what products to use, but it will tell you how much to use.
Width is an individual hair texture – it can be fine, medium, or coarse. Coarse hairs will prefer products that are heavier, while fine strands need lightweight stylers. Look for butters or oils in your ingredients. These are what gives products weight. Use them on coarse hair, avoid them for fine hair.
Fine Hair Product Suggestions:
Coarse Hair Product Suggestions:
2. Your water quality
The water in your area can be hard or soft. There are many tests you can purchase to determine your water quality, but a Google search of your city’s water quality (e.g., "Calgary water hardness") can give you a quick answer.
If you have hard water, you will need to clarify or chelate more often.
Clarifying ingredients can include sulfates, but can also be less harsh, such as sodium olefin sulfonate. Use a shampoo with these ingredients more frequently to prevent product build-up. Chelating goes a step further, and is meant to remove mineral build-up. Look for the ingredients tetrasodium EDTA or apple cider vinegar for removal of minerals. Follow up your wash with a rich conditioner to make sure you aren’t drying out your strands.
Product Suggestions for Hard Water:
- Malibu C Hard Water Wellness Shampoo
- Inahsi Naturals Soothing Mint Clarifying Shampoo
- Jessicurl Deep Conditioning Treatment
Having soft water means you can go gentler on your cleansing, but your hair can easily become over moisturized. Don’t use too many creams or leave-ins, avoid deep conditioning often, and balance out your washday with more protein.
Product Suggestions for Soft Water:
3. Your humidity levels
Humidity can really mess with your hair if you aren’t using the right products! When the air is humid, look for the ingredient glycerin in your stylers. Glycerin is a wonderful humectant that provides tons of moisture for your hair in dry climates, but can turn you into a giant frizzball in humid climates.
One lineup you’ll want to try in humidity is 123gel (CW says: check out #123gel on Instagram for inspiration). Layering gels - leaving at least your last gel glycerin-free - can provide more hold and structure to your hair for those humid days.
In dry climates, you’ll want to make sure that hair is prepped with a moisturizing leave-in or cream. The dry air will steal what moisture you have in your hair, so a richly hydrating product will lock it all in.
Product Suggestions for Humid Environments:
- TreLuxe Hi! Definition Curl Defining Styling Gel
- Ouidad Advanced Climate Control Heat & Humidity Gel
Dry Climate Product Suggestions:
4. Your desired results
Of course, none of this matters if your desired results aren’t taken into consideration. Once you learn about your hair type and what your needs are, you can customize a perfect routine for yourself.
If you’re a fan of volume: a mousse or foam near the roots will give volume. You can use it alone or within a styler lineup. Choose a foam for a weightless, moisturized finish, and choose a mousse for more hold.
Product Suggestions for Volume:
If you’re a definition lover: go for gel! Not just one gel, maybe even 2 or 3. In this scenario, you can consider other definers like serums, custards, or crème-gel hybrids.
Product Suggestions for Definition:
- TreLuxe ReFlex Curl Styling Serum
- AG Hair Liquid Effects Extra Firm Styling Lotion
- LUS Brands Love Ur Curls Irish Sea Moss Gel
If you prefer a loose, lived-in look: select a single styler that is touchable, has a little hold, and wears nicely with no crunch.
Product Suggestions for Touchable Styles:
If you need longevity for days: this is the time for layering your products! If you don’t want to be constantly refreshing, select a styler lineup of at least 3 products. And a little extra protein can’t hurt, either! Choose gels with a hard hold and use lots of water when applying them.
Product Suggestions for Long-Lasting Hold:
Now that you know what to look for in your products, have fun creating the perfect washday lineup!