In the curly world, we hear the same thing all the time, “but my curl just isn’t like your’s!” Whether it’s frizz, stringy curls, straight roots, straight on top, unpredictability, or anything else, curlies have dealt with it. You name it, and there’s a story of a journey.

SO… In this article, you’ll find the story of what not to do with curls. What are the things we’re doing that’s keeping our curl from reaching its full potential? Who’s excited??

DON’T BRUSH YOUR CURLS

Let’s start off with the most basic “what not to do” with curly hair. It’s so simple. Just don’t brush out your curls. The only time a brush should ever touch your curls is in the shower while conditioning. Even then, fingers do just fine.

Yes, I know. “You NEVER brush your hair??” Nope! Not if styling it curly is the goal.

Curly hair is like learning a different language. All you need to do is come at them with a new mindset and let go of the “language” of straight hair. Yes, brushing your hair is beneficial for straight haired peeps, but with curls, it’s not needed. Trust me, your scalp should get all the exfoliation it needs from a good wash and fluff of the root.

TRY TO AVOID SULFATES, SILICONES, AND PARABENS

Sulfates are what cause that bubbly lather when shampooing that we all love. Buuuut… those lovely bubbles are an enemy of natural curl. The alcohols that cause the lather strip hair of its natural oils and dehydrate the curl, which can cause frizz, stringiness, and breakage. Sulfates are found in the ingredients list and usually end with “-ate.”

Silicones coat the hair to give it a nice slip and shine, but THEY NEVER LEAVE!! Sulfates are required to remove silicones, so if you aren’t using sulfates, then the silicones just build up on the hair and weigh your fragile curls down. On the ingredients list, silicones usually end in “-cone,” “-xane,” or “-col.”

Parabens are a preservative that keeps bacteria from growing in your product, but they’re really nasty for the body. Some studies have been done connecting parabens to cancer. Not to mention, parabens will also dry out your curls and create a frizzy mess.

DON’T RING THE WATER OUT OF YOUR HAIR OR USE A TOWEL

When styling straight hair, you wash itl, ring out all the water, then towel dry. With curls… that’s a NIGHTMARE. Curls thrive off water. Water is what gives them their bouncy, luscious shape with minimal frizz. So if you squeeze all the water out, it will dehydrate your curls and they will be stringy and frizzy.

Towels also break up curl families and create frizz. The best way to get a beautiful curl is to apply product to soaking wet hair — use the product to lock the water in — then use a microfiber towel or old tshirt to scrunch the product in and squeeze out any excess water.

DON’T MANIPULATE YOUR CURLS

Curls can be compared to two different things — plants and people.

First, plants need plenty of water, some nutrients, and sunlight. Just like plants, curls need plenty of water, some nutrients (protein), and sunlight. The sunlight may be debatable, but let’s be honest, everyone could use a little sunshine in their life.

Second, curls are a lot like people. If you manipulate them and force them to fit some mold, they will fail. They’ll become discouraged and never reach their full potential. However, if you give them just a little encouragement, accept them, and let them be free to form into what they are naturally, they will thrive.

DON’T WASH YOUR HAIR TOO OFTEN

Curls need to be hydrated and moisturized. Washing hair strips it of all things that are hydrating and moisturizing. If curls get washed too much, they will lose all their juice. So… do you like the juice?? I know I do!

Try washing your curls once a week, twice a week at most. If you have to wash more often, only use a cowash!

DON’T USE HOT TOOLS

Okay, “never say never,” right? Sometimes, you have that one curl that literally went stick straight and it just needs a little assistance. But like I said before in number 4, don’t manipulate your curls.

Hot tools are master manipulators. They may solve the problem for the day, but they disrupt your curl’s journey to becoming its best self. If you give your curls the freedom to live their own curl life, they will flourish!

DON’T EXPECT PERFECTION

Society has constructed perfect, little molds that we are expected to fit into. When you think about the most beautiful girl, what do you picture? Big, beautiful, blown-out curling iron curls? Skinny but with muscle definition and a thigh gap? Long legs? Big lips? No wrinkles? No gray hairs? How much of that is actually realistic??

None of it! The idea of perfection permeates the beauty world, and anything natural just doesn’t fit into that idea.

But, natural curl is a reflection of overcoming perfectionism.

The more we let go of having to be perfect (without failure), the more we can embrace our natural curl — our organic, authentic selves. Natural curl isn’t just “cute” or “pretty” or “awesome!” It’s a symbol of breaking down perfectionistic barriers.

Embracing natural curl is an outward expression of embracing one’s natural self, unapologetically.

It’s about stepping outside of the paradigms around us and accepting who we are as individuals.

It’s about letting go of that perfect picture of beauty and embracing the peculiar, quirky aspects of yourself.

Embracing natural curl is about letting go of perfection and letting yourself be free.

Curls can be complicated, or they can be really simple. It all depends on the journey you choose to take. For me, though, it’s easier just to love my natural self and let my curls be free.

Hi I’m Sydnee, but you can call me Syd. I’m a freelance writer with a passion for all things natural — natural living, natural curl, and, well, just nature!