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How to maintain and style curly hair

06.01.2022 | Haircare

The root of whether your hair is curly or straight goes deep. First and foremost it’s decided by genetic make up which then transcends into your family tree, ethnicity and cultural origins.

On a physical level, the hair follicles are different if your hair is curly or straight. Curly hairs have oval or asymmetrical curved follicles, typically in an S shape which continue to regenerate in this way over a person’s lifetime. The follicle defines the hair shape through initial production but the cell behaviour in fibre production also contributes to the shape of each strand. Straight hairs are round and have cells that align in a straight and ordered way whereas curly hair has elliptical strands allowing it to curl.


As with most of your physical features, curly hair can be attributed to your genetic makeup and can therefore be considered as something inherited from parents. The genes are like a map for both skin and hair alike as a predetermined ‘type’. This in turn determines how these features manifest in appearance as well as how we physically develop and age over time. Our hair can still be influenced by environmental factors but the baseline is set from birth. 

Curly hair in particular is a more dominant gene over those which create straight hair and, in a straight/curly combination from parents, it is curly that is likely to be visible in their children either physically or carried down through further generations.

As with our skin, temperature and climate can have an influence on how hair behaves. For example, in humid climates curls can become frizzy and bigger and require more moisturising and hydrating treatment. Likewise, hormonal changes, ageing and health conditions can also impact the appearance of curly hair in terms of thickness. In these instances you can layer scalp/hair treatments to target concerns as well as curl-nurturing qualities. 


Curly hair can tend to be dry as the natural oils our scalp produces struggle to travel down the full shaft of the hair follicle due to the curly pattern. This can cause curly hair to appear dull, bounceless, and undefined and make it trickier to care for. When building a hair routine, it’s important to embrace your curls and choose products and practices to support this hair type. 

SHAMPOO & CONDITIONER: It’s important to choose a shampoo and conditioner designed for curly hair. Opt for natural oils and a milder cleansing element with more nourishing and moisturising properties. If your hair is particularly coarse or dry then you could experiment with only conditioning on some washes or applying conditioner prior to shampoo to protect the strands. Also, try leaving conditioner or hair treatments in overnight for extra nourishment. 

WASHING SCHEDULE: Depending on your curl and coarseness level, you can adjust the frequency you wash your hair to ensure it’s not getting too dry. Balance this with ensuring you’re cleansing your hair from the build up of styling products. We recommend not washing daily to preserve natural qualities. 

KEEP IT COOL: Cooler water temperatures can help your hair to retain moisture as the heat won’t strip the follicles or strands of naturally produced oils. 

BEAT THE BRUSH: Use the right tools - try a wide tooth comb versus brushes and finer combs which can cause damage, disrupt the curl patterns and get tangled with bigger, bouncy hair. Wait until hair is dry before detangling to prevent causing damage. Start combing from the ends and work your way up to the roots to help retain natural texture. 

SOME LIKE IT HOT: Heat styling with devices such as diffusers and tongs can boost the bounce and definition of natural curls but regular use can also dry out already dehydration prone locks and cause long-term damage. Use preventative measures such as heat protection sprays to create a shield for your strands. Air drying curly hair is preferable for maintaining natural, frizz-free locks.

NATURAL OILS & FATTY ACIDS: Natural oils are rich in Vitamin E and fatty acids which help lock in moisture to the hair and can tame the frizz which can come with curls. 

BEDTIME BEAUTY: Loosely tying or wrapping hair at night can avoid damage or stress to the hair from friction when rubbing against the pillowcase. Try using a silk pillowcase for a luxurious and frictionless sleep which is good for your hair and skin or wrap in a silk scarf that won’t absorb the natural oils like corser cotton does.  


Curly hair brings its own combination of requirements when it comes for protection, styling and maintenance. From tackling dryness and frizz, to defining ringlets - here’s The INKEY List essentials for curly hair: 

For curl definition and managing kinks, coils:


A weightless cream which helps define, nourish and protect curls. Curly hair has more bonds of an amino acid called cysteine: the more bonds between hair, the curlier the hair is. Curly hair also tends to be quite dry and in need of moisture and hydration.

We have developed a unique technology that helps define and prolong curls' bounce and their natural shape by targeting the hair bonds, whilst providing hydration too. This weightless serum has been formulated to also help reduce, protect and strengthen hair against chemical damage and tame frizz. 

Taming frizz & flyaways:


A lightweight serum formulated with optimized high and low molecular weight Hyaluronic Acids, helps to hydrate, reduce frizz and brittleness to improve shine, whilst helping to protect hair from the impact caused by environmental pollution. Applying to damp hair allows the product to draw in and hold onto the water, maximising the moisture in the hair.

Hyaluronic acid is a classic ingredient, traditionally known in skincare for its highly hydrating properties. Lack of hydration in the hair can be caused by a number of things, including over washing, water temperature being too high, using heated tools without heat protection or humidity. When your hair becomes dry, the hair cuticle is rough and open, causing hair to lose moisture and become frizzy.

Want to find out more about caring for your curls? Or discover your personal hair recipe with the askINKEY team here.

Photo of Written by one of our askINKEY skincare advisors

Written by one of our askINKEY skincare advisors

Our askINKEY team are available 24/7 on our live chat. A friendly bunch, all experts with deep product knowledge, ready to make skincare as simple as possible. Whether you are an ingredient expert or starting your journey, no question is too big or too small, no judgement or jargon, we’re here to help and be part of your journey.