I've done posts on my curly hair routine before, but I'm still experimenting and learning (and probably will be my whole life), so I thought I'd do an update. I get asked all the time how I do my hair, or how I get it to "do that," and unfortunately mostly the answer is just that it grows out of my head like that. Any product I use (which is minimal) is really just there to get the curls to behave in a way that isn't crazy, or at least in a pretty-crazy way.
After I cut my hair short, I really wanted to start caring for it, since I'd been treating it a bit more harshly than usual during the prior two years, lightening it to red and then having it pink & teal for a few months. I wanted to nourish it and give it a break from the processing, especially because someday I think I would like to go back to being a redhead, and I'd like to have healthy hair to begin with when I do.
I've completely stopped using shampoo with sulfates in it, as sulfates are absolutely terrible for curly hair. Of course, most of the hair information out there is not geared toward those of us with curls, so growing up I just used any shampoo out there. No wonder I had such a hard time wrangling my hair as a kid/teen. I have just a bit of some Tresemme shampoo left that I use very sparingly, only on days where I can tell my hair is really gross, because the sulfates really strip the hair of moisture. I recently got Beautiful Curls Shea Butter Curl Activating Shampoo, which has no sulfates, and before that I used Dr. Bronners soap as a shampoo and it worked fine too, and has no sulfates. Really all I need when it comes to shampoo is something to get the sweat/grime/product out that has built up, so something basic like Dr. Bronners works totally fine. If I feel like my hair doesn't need shampoo, I'll just skip it and go straight to conditioner. I'm washing my hair more frequently now that I'm working out regularly, so I need to wash the sweaty grossness out. Since I don't want to dry out my hair excessively, skipping the shampoo is a good way to get clean, healthy hair without making it dry.
I currently use Beautiful Curls' Conditioner for curly to kinky hair. It's a bit heavy for my hair, so once I finish it off, I'll use their Conditioner for wavy to curly hair and see if that's lighter. I like to put my conditioner on before I shave and stuff, so I let it soak in for those minutes where I'm doing other showering duties. Then I use a brush or wide tooth comb to get the tangles out of my hair with the conditioner in it. This is literally the only time a brush EVER touches my hair. Once the tangles are gone, I rinse out the conditioner and shower time is done.
I'd like to get a towel better suited to curly hair (such as a super absorbant microfiber towel), since terry cloth is known to be not so great for drying curly hair, but I usually just throw my hair into a towel-turban and let the towel try to absorb some moisture while I put on body oil/moisturizer. I try to keep styling product minimal, so my hair doesn't get weighed down with junk. I don't like to wash my hair more than a couple times a week, so having less product in it makes this much easier. I sometimes put Argan Oil in my hair. I have quite a few different random products I've acquired over the years that I occasionally use (curl defining sprays, frizz reducing spritzs, curl creams, hairspray), but lately I've been liking going really minimal and almost never put any sort of product in it. I've learned that in order to make my hair bigger, keeping the product down is key. If my hair is dry, it'll try to seek out moisture in the air, which means it gets bigger. For some curly girls, I know that this can result in lots of unwanted frizz, so it's definitely something that might not work for you. I like my hair to be pretty big (in high school once, a kid said that I was 90% hair, 10% body, haha). If I want it to be a bit bigger for a party or something, I'll throw my hair upside down, spray some hairspray in it and give it a bit of a backcomb at the roots.
I always blow dry, mostly because air drying takes forever, but also because I feel like I have more control over what my hair does when I blow dry it. But really, having a wet head for hours is lame. I blow dry with my hair flipped upside down over my head using my hand as a sort of scrunch/diffuser. I don't like to get too crazy moving the blowdryer around a bunch either, since less friction=less frizz, which means better curl definition. I blow dry until my hair is completely dry, and sometimes until it is mostly dry and then clip it up into two sort of "balls of curls" on each side of my head with those claw clip things. I do this so that the hair can try to air-dry without the weight of the water stretching out the curls, making them more limp.
Then I usually will get ready with the clips in and when I'm done, take the clips out, blow dry it for a few more minutes and then I'm done. It should be noted that I have almost never washed and dried my hair in the morning. I always wash my hair either at night or in the afternoon because the time it takes to wash/condition/detangle and then dry (especially when it was long) is too long to do before starting the day. Also, I'm NOT a morning person and I'd much rather sleep in than have pretty/clean hair that day. I'd much rather do it at night when I have the time and energy. I also usually keep my bangs curly, though sometimes they are being jerks and I take the straightening iron to them to get them to behave. Though sometimes I've found that if I part my hair on the other side and flip my bangs to go the other way, they'll look right.
So there ya go! I tried to be pretty thorough in describing my routine, but if you have any questions, or need any clarifications, just leave a comment and I'll see if I've got an answer. I've been using this routine for the past few months. I should probably also mention that I cut my own hair and the last time I cut it was just doing a fringe trim, so it's mostly just my short cut growing out at this point. I like to layer my hair with shorter layers on top and longer layers underneath to keep my hair from being too triangle-y in shape (I'm sure you curly girls out there know what I'm talking about). If you want to check out my previous hair routine posts, click here!