How To Manage Curly Hair

ips on how to manage curly hair

This post is part of a series where I answer questions from my readers. If you have a question that you would like me to answer, please feel free to leave it in the comments below. Other posts answering reader questions can be found by clicking here: Reader Questions.

Cath asked a couple of questions in an email and one of them was “how do I manage my daughter’s hair!” Three out of our five children have curly hair. And it is not the few waves type of curly hair. It is the kind of curly that would grow a great afro if you are that way inclined!

Our first curly hair child, only had short hair when he was born, so the curls weren’t noticeable, but my daughter came out with loads of curls. Midwives would come and to see us when we were in hospital as “the other midwives said we have to see this baby’s curly hair”. And since that moment, her hair has always been a topic of conversation. But I have straight hair and this curly hair business was a bit of a shock to me.

Over the years I have learned a few things along the way, but if you have curly hair or have kids with curly hair and have some tips on how to manage curly hair, I would love it if you would leave them in the comments!

Tips On How To Manage Curly Hair

Use Leave In Conditioner
I spent lots of $$$s trying all sorts of detanglers and sprays to try and make combing her hair easier, but found none of them really worked. A friend Melissa (who has curly hair herself) suggested one day that I should try a leave in conditioner and it has been the best advice I have ever received. I use Paul Mitchell – The Conditioner, it is a little on the expensive side, but it by far the best that I have tried. Leave in conditioner works really well as it reduces frizz and manage knots.

My daughter washes her hair in the bath and then I apply a generous amount of conditioner to her hair and comb it through in sections. I only do small sections at a time, as I find if her hair has been out, it is incredibly knotty. When I do each small section, I hold the top part of the hair firmly, to prevent her feeling any pulling that occurs when I comb through the knots.

If her hair hasn’t been plaited, then it will take me close to 15 minutes to do her hair. If it has been plaited then it is only a 5 minutes job to run the comb through.

Use An Afro Comb
The curly hair obviously is from my husband’s family. His mother has curly hair and so does his nana. My mother in law gave me our first afro comb (and many more since) and I swear by them as the best tool for combing curly hair. Brushes and traditional combs are too rough on the curls. I find they straighten them out and make the curls look flat.

Let It Dry Naturally
The curls never form as well and it can frizz when using a hair dryer to dry off her hair. Curly hair also seems to dry quite quickly, so if I am going to comb conditioner through, I need to do it pretty quickly after she is out of the bath.

Never, Ever, Ever Comb It When It is Dry!
Frizz central is all I get and there is nothing other than washing it, that will return it to a non frizzy state.

Less is Best
I only wash and comb my daughter’s hair twice a week (under normal circumstances). In between these times, other than tying it into a pony tail if it is not plaited, I don’t touch it at all!

Hair Accessories
Thick hair elastics without metal work much better for tying up curly hair. Scrunchies work well as a hair accessory that my daughter can use to tie up her hair herself.

What are your tips on how to manage curly hair?


  1. says

    Wow, thank you so much! My daughter is 3 1/2 and her hair is really curly, she hates when I try to comb her hair and usually I don’t just let it try naturally as you said and I don’t comb it until the hair is washed again. The other day I was thinking that as she grows, I will have to start treating it, but had no idea how. I will try Paul Mitchel’s product and that comb.

    Thanks again!

  2. Victoria says

    I find that using the brush on its side to use the bristles to ‘guide’ the hair into the ponytail, without brushing all the way through to the ends, just to the part where the hairband will be, works best for neatness without frizz.

    • Victoria says

      ooh and I forgot to add: brushing against your hand rather than into the air avoids tangle pain – also holding the hair at the root, and starting at the bottom, then moving towards the root, section by section. I use a plastic wide bristled brush.

  3. Rae says

    My (now) 14yo daughter has thick curly hair. I no longer brush it, and leave it all to her, but the thing I found best was johnsons & Johnsons spray in /leave in conditioner. It’s a strawberry scented product, looks like and I would recommend it to anyone with curls. It was the only thing that allowed me to brush her hair all the way through. Too many tears made me hunt for the best and cheapest product and this is pretty reasonably priced.