If you’re blessed with voluminous, curly hair, you’re also cursed with the burden of caring for it. All the long-curly-hair men out there know this tradeoff well.
It's hard enough to have a good hair day on your own, much less when the weather wants to turn your long, curly hair into a big, bloated bird’s nest or a droopy, greasy mop. Plus, there’s the fact that having this type of hair requires extra knowledge and far more products in order to keep things under control.
“One of the biggest problems that curly-haired people have is that they don’t use the right products for their hair type,” says hairstylist Carlos Arriola of Mexico City. Arriola himself has long, curly hair, and helps his clients manage their own. So it’s not just that your hair gets too dry and frizzy, or too weighed down with your products. “A lot of the problems can be avoided,” he says.
Here are his tips for the long-curly-hair men out there, including the products he uses on himself and his clients (which include quite a few celebrities and models).
Hair care and products for long, curly hair
Managing your curly hair starts with hair care – the products that clean, hydrate, and nourish your hair, rather than style and control it. (Though they play a supporting role in taming and styling.)
Arriola advises his clients to wash and condition their hair every third day. There’s a sweet spot to it, in that it reduces the number of days you suffer through the dry poofiness that shampoo causes (since it can lift the natural oils from your scalp that help nourish the hair).
“I like when it is a little bit oily, like a third-day kind of wear. I still use dry shampoo or products that preserve moisture in between washes, and so I have clean hair without having to wash. Your hair produces oils, and these natural oils are extremely good for your hair’s moisture levels. Some people prefer to wash every day, but I say no.”
He also says that the types of products you use on your curly hair might need to address your exact hair type – like coiled curls, bleached hair, colored hair, or waves. But one thing all curly-hair shampoos and conditioners have in common is that they are extra nourishing and add large amounts of moisture into the ends of your curls – since it is difficult for your scalp’s natural oils to make their way to these curled-up tips. (It’s easier in straight hair.)
On this third day, Arriola uses a shampoo, then a conditioner (never use them together), and lastly a leave-in cream conditioner after the shower.
R+Co curl shampoo, $29 at Nordstrom
R+Co curl conditioner, $29 at Nordstrom
Ouidad leave-in conditioner, $26 at Sephora
And then, he says, if your hair is really dry or frizzy, you can also do a hair-mask treatment once a week after the shower to deep-condition and plump it full of nutrients. Apply it to clean, wet hair and rinse it out (after the advised amount of time). Then continue with your regimen as normal.
Living Proof hair mask treatment, $43 at Ulta
Tangle Teezer detangling brush, $13 at Amazon
Aveda paddle brush, $28 at Nordstrom
If you want to detangle it dry, use a comb, which will prevent breakage. But don’t force it – always respond to your hair’s stubbornness and proceed with caution. You might need to wet it in order to detangle it. Here’s a comb Arriola likes:
Evo wide-tooth detangling comb, $20 at Amazon
Obviously, if you get overly sweaty or are in a smoky environment, you may need to break this rule. We’ll mention dry shampoo later for those in-between days, as well as Arriola’s styling tips for the more weighed-down, less-freshly-washed days.
Styling products for long, curly hair
Odds are that you won’t want to use a hair dryer, unless the thing you seek is lots of volume and texture. If that’s the case, then first apply a heat-protectant spray to your hair – which is also a frizz and humidity shield that prevents your hair from over-drying outside.
It’s good to apply this heat protectant first, regardless of whether you use a blow dryer or not. These are two that Arriola loves:
Redken anti-frizz, heat-protective leave-in cream, $24 at Ulta
Moroccanoil heat protecting spray, $30 at Sephora
If you do want the volume from a hair dryer, be sure to add the diffuser attachment on the end of the nozzle, so that you can evenly and safely distribute the heat to your curls. An ionic dryer will also prevent excess damage by allowing the cuticle to dry from the inside out. Here’s a hair dryer that we love (which is also Arriola’s go-to).
Dyson ionic hair dryer + diffuser, $399 at Sephora
If heat isn’t your enemy for the day, it’s still wise to apply a primer to your curls, just to ready it for all of the products you’re about to apply. You can often rely on the same heat-protectant products since they are anti-frizz and anti-humidity, but some advertise their priming powers, too:
Bumble and bumble curl primer, $28 at Sephora
Next, you’ll want to apply your styling cream (often a leave-in conditioner), as well as an anti-frizz oil or gel. Some great options, from Arriola:
Redken anti-frizz hydrating hair oil, $28 at Ulta
Bumble and bumble anti-humidity gel oil, $30 at Sephora
Bumble and bumble moisturizing oil spray, $34 at Sephora
And here is his advice on how much to use and when:
“On the first day, after washing, I use a leave-in cream, followed by an oil. Once it’s dry (air dried), I go through it with my fingers, see if the hair is a little crunchy. If it is, I put in a little more oil just to soften it. If I want the hair to be a little bit bigger, I let it air dry and then break through it with my fingers before applying hair spray.”
“On the second day, I use dry shampoo to get rid of the excess oil at the roots of the hair. I then put a little bit of styling cream or leave-in conditioner again, or some oil. But it’s a smaller amount on the second day than the first day.”
Dry shampoo helps soak up excess oils from the scalp on those days between washes. Be sure to tousle the hair a bit so that it doesn’t leave any white residue. Arriola uses this one, which he says smells fresh and doesn’t leave behind any residue in the first place:
IGK dry shampoo , $27 at Sephora
If you’re still struggling to get your hair to cooperate, you might just need to visit the stylist. “A lot of people think they hate their curly hair, but they really just hate their hair cut,” Arriola says. A stylist will help you texture and layer the hair so that it sits better, responds to your commands, and poofs out less.