From frizzy waves to curly locks!

I first discovered that my "frizzy hair" might just be curly hair waiting for a little TLC during my freshman year of college. In an effort to hurry up my shower routine, I found some "frizz reducing" gel that I would scrunch into my towel dried hair before running off to my first class of the day or hitting the hay. One morning, I woke up and let my messy bun of hair down only to find a few hidden curls. Inspired, I made a short-lived attempt to bring out more curls but I was soon introduced to the flat iron and all curly girl progress ended right there.

I still love the run-my-fingers-through-it softness of blown out hair but as my fellow curlies know, blow outs only hold in the right temperature, right humidity, and right conditions which is especially disheartening to girls like me who tend to feel their daily confidence tied to how their hair is cooperating.


I've never really had time in the morning to DO my hair so I've always been on the lookout for quick fixes (like this Revlon brush which I still totally recommend if curly just isn't your thing!) but now, especially as a mom of a mobile infant, I've gotta be able to run out the door without spending a lot of time primping. Inspired by my bff and her curly girl transformation, I set out to find a solution that would work for me. My requirements for my curly routine were:

  • simple to achieve and upkeep
  • do it myself without major product investment
  • as all natural as possible (which is better for your hair and skin anway!) 
  • wouldn't be destroyed by more frequent washings triggered by runs and intense workouts
Here's the thing though... I really really strongly dislike learning from videos. I finally watched a couple because all of the other information out there was really mostly in video form (and I'll link to the one I found most helpful at the end of this post) but I wanted to write this up so that anyone else looking for curly help in written and photo form might find a little assistance here and not get so frustrated they almost give up (like I almost did!).

It's important to remember though that what works for one curly may or may not work for you. There's a TON of information out there (check out the Curly Girl Handbook which I borrowed for free on my Kindle but you can also purchase it) about types of curls and hair porosity and all of the science around caring for your gorgeous locks. This method and combination of products and routine is what has worked best for me so far and has made the most of products I already had and ingredients I keep around.

Phase 1

In my effort to keep it simple, I decided to try some curly gel (Ouidad Climate Control was the one my bff recommended so I started there) and a microfiber hair towel. In this phase, all I did was:

  1. Squeeze out some of the water in my hair after a usual wash (shampoo and conditioner)
  2. Squeezed and scrunched in the hair gel
  3. Plop hair into the hair towel keeping it scrunched and then twisted the towel over it

Note that I did not twist my hair into the towel and instead I left it in one big pile on the top of my head. This took a little working but I didn't want to stretch out whatever natural curls my hair was going to give me. During this first step into curly girl life, I also started a few other new things that are recommended regardless of your hair type:

I also tried out the Denman brush which so many curlies recommended but it just wasn't for me. Give it a shot though as it might work with your hair!

The result was some waves and very loose curls and I thought that was going to be it. I had seen spirals in my hair before but figured my hair was now just too long or had changed too much to really be curly so I kinda just hung out with this pattern for a while.

Phase 2

I'm glad I didn't give up though (mostly thanks to a lot of encouragement from my bff!! xoxo)! A photo of Lisa Moscatelli (@curly_n_fab on IG)  with her before and after made me dig in a little more because her "before" was the most like mine of any other curly girl I'd seen! Longer hair. Prone to frizz. Always showed some level of wave or curl potential but just lots of frizz without the right process. Her "after" was what I wanted... a head full of beautiful, defined curls. Yes PLEASE! I've linked to her video below that helped me more than any other videos I've watched but I have tailored it a little and made my own routine.

Once every 7-10 days (I call this my "full" or "reset" wash):

  1. Cleanse with apple cider vinegar spray (recipe below).
  2. Shampoo root to end with Ethique shampoo bar for oily hair (no coconut oil so no additional weight!) and rinse well.
  3. Condition root to end with Carol's Daughter Black Vanilla conditioner, finger comb to detangle and rinse well.
  4. Split hair into 4 sections and, 1 section at a time, spray the whole length of the section with Carol's Daughter Black Vanilla leave-in conditioner spray then, using the "prayer hands" method (rub some gel between both hands and then put hands on either side of the section of hair to smooth Ouidad hair gel along the whole length. 
  5. Then I pull smaller pieces of hair (usually about 6-10 per large section) and finger-curl each of them. Yes, I do all of this still in the shower before I move on to the rest of my in-shower routine.
  6. Once I've finger-curled all of my hair, I scrunch out an excess water and put all of my hair into a shower cap while I finish showering.
  • I've found that I get the best curls when I do this at night, diffuse it on low heat, low speed (I use this blow dryer and diffuser) to about 40% dry and then sleep with a satin sleep cap over my hair and with my satin pillowcase.
  • A little note about diffusing: I've gotten the best results from flipping my hair and kind of diffusing "upside down" so I can maintain some volume at my roots...otherwise I tend to end up with a really flat look.
I didn't make a video because Lisa Moscatelli (@curly_n_fab on IG) did an amazing job on her video with LUS brand products. Be sure to check it out here: https://youtu.be/Ligooj3u-00 to see the techniques I described above (but keep reading for more on my "in between full wash and reset days" maintenance)!


I cannot believe I woke up like this!! My hair was still a little damp at this point but holding curl really well!

Overnight results with a lil extra diffuser love to get my hair 99% dry.
Look at that spiral though!!!
Wash and diffuse all in one day without overnight drying -- still pretty good (just not quite as much volume)!!
I NEVER thought I'd go curly for photos but I'm so so so glad that I did!!!

No shower days (as often as I can because over-washing is a very real thing for me!)

  1. Generously spray Refreshing Hair Spritz (recipe below) from root to end (over shower floor to avoid making bathroom floor sticky!)
  2. Diffuse at the root through the ends as normal
  • I try to touch my hair as little as possible even though that's not easy. It's super important for my hair that I sleep with the satin sleep cap and pillow case to maintain my curl when I'm planning to just refresh and go the next morning!
  • If my refresh is looking a little flat, I use these clips to loop and clip sections close to the root after spritzing but before blow drying. I then plop all of my hair into the satin cap until I'm ready to reveal my look for the day at which point I take off the cap and unclip all sections at the last minute. 
Refresh Day: I woke up like this thanks to my satin hair tie, sleep cap, and pillowcase.

Refresh Day: after a generous helping of Refreshing Hair Spritz
Refresh Day: diffused and on my way!

Any washes in between

If it's not a full cleanse, shampoo, and reset wash day but I really need to wash my hair (helllooooooo sweaty workouts), I use a cowash in place of the cleanser and shampoo but other than that, the process is the same:
  1. Cowash root to end with As I Am cowash and rinse well.
  2. Condition root to end with Carol's Daughter Black Vanilla conditioner, finger comb to detangle and rinse well.
  3. Split hair into 4 sections and, 1 section at a time, spray the whole length of the section with Carol's Daughter Black Vanilla leave-in conditioner spray then, using the "prayer hands" method (rub some gel between both hands and then put hands on either side of the section of hair to smooth Ouidad hair gel along the whole length. 
  4. Then I pull smaller pieces of hair (usually about 6-10 per large section) and finger-curl each of them. Yes, I do all of this still in the shower before I move on to the rest of my in-shower routine.
  5. Once I've finger-curled all of my hair, I scrunch out an excess water and put all of my hair into a shower cap while I finish showering.
Cowash day before diffusing

Other tips / tricks

  • I've found it really hard not to throw my hair back in a messy bun in the morning while getting ready so on days that I really want to preserve my curls but still need to get things ready for the day, I put the sleep cap back on until we're out the door and sometimes, until I'm about to get out of the car. I found that keeps my curls best without getting my hair caught in the action. 
  • I work out regularly so tying my hair up is important but there's a balance between getting that high pony or messy bun and not pulling out and damaging curls. My favorite hair ties are:
    • Snapee hair ties - perfect for when I need a tighter pony because I can snap / unsnap it around my hair instead of pulling and stretching curls through a typical hair tie.
    • Gimme hair ties - the standard ones (I use the ones for long hair) are so nice and soft and stretchy that I can get a great ponytail or messy bun without creasing my hair and the satin one is great for when I want to tie it up to sleep without causing damage. I recommend the starter kit if you're like me and prone to leaving hair ties errrrrrywhere. 
  • Clips are my new best friends! When you just want a half-up look or to comb it all back, clips hold hair back well without requiring you to pull your curls through a hair tie at all! I love this banana clip for a long, full pony that looks fancier than it is.
  • It's taken me forever to find a workout-worthy wide headband but I finally found one! This multi-style wide headband stays in place while I sweat without flattening out my roots or giving me a headache.
  • Check out my IG highlights: Going Curly for tips and tricks as I figure out more!

Hair Recipes

Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Rinse


Add all ingredients to a glass bottle and shake well before each use. Use to cleanse hair of product build-up every 7-14 days.

Refreshing Hair Spritz

  • 9-12 drops of lavender oil
  • 9-12 drops of ylang ylang oil
  • Distilled water (I just boil water and then let it cool)

For extra curl pop and hold, you can also include in your hair spritz:

In a glass spray bottle (always use glass for essential oil recipes!), combine oils and optional aloe vera. Fill the rest of the bottle up with distilled water and lightly spray your hair, as needed, throughout the day. For a morning refresh, spray generously and diffuse on low / no heat. Be sure to shake well before each use.



Products listed throughout this post:

Phase 1:

Satin pillowcase: https://amzn.to/2KSHQ0E
Ethique shampoo: https://amzn.to/2ZhkbMm
Satin sleep cap: https://amzn.to/2ZhkKWL
Premium satin pillowcase: https://amzn.to/2HuLk8T
Denman brush: https://amzn.to/2LlA7sa
Hair towel: https://amzn.to/2ZhkW8r
Blow dryer with diffuser: https://amzn.to/2TN9ZdC
Ouidad hair gel: https://amzn.to/2ZjX7MZ

Phase 2:

As I Am Cowash: https://amzn.to/31Xv0VV
Carol's Daughter Black Vanilla conditioner: https://amzn.to/2HkLwam
Carol's Daughter Black Vanilla leave-in conditioner spray: https://amzn.to/2KM8vNT

Other tips and tricks:

Banana clip: https://amzn.to/2ZM4vks
Snapee hair ties: https://amzn.to/31R9JwO
Gimme hair ties: http://tiny.cc/gabigimme
Multistyle wide headband: https://amzn.to/2zQDn9q
Diane Double Prong Clips: https://amzn.to/2ZMMYc5

Recipes:

Spray bottles: https://amzn.to/2NAauXp
Aloe vera gel: https://amzn.to/2HsyoAg
Apple cider vinegar: https://amzn.to/3260okX

This post was not sponsored in any way. I may earn from qualifying purchases made through these links at no cost to you but I promise, I wouldn't recommend anything I don't love or trust. Please do not feel obligated to purchase through these links!

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