How to get the absolute best out of your natural curls and UK product guide.
This post has been a long time in the making. It’s taken years of experimentation to finally feel like I have control over my hair. My hair is wavy but not curly in that fetching Sarah Jessica Parker way, more like some wool that that the cat played with then sat on. For many years I just wore a bun or for special occasions I would straighten the life out of my curls. Not any more, I’ve figured out how to make my curly hair a lovely feature. With bouncy textured hair being so fashionable, now is the time to embrace your inner curly girl.
*This post is updated
How to make the most of your natural curl- The Techniques
Even if you just have a bit of a wave these tips will definitely work to bring out the best in your hair. So I’ve taken all of my inspiration from The Curly Girl Method. Check out the site, there’s a lot of information to take in. (Just for those in the know, my hair is thick and coarse with a 2c curl pattern).I used the principles for a few months and didn’t notice any improvements so after tweaking the products and techniques I’ve figured out precisely what to do to get shiny defined curls and it really only takes minutes-
- Chuck these products– anything that contains Sodium Laureth Sulphate, silicone, alcohol. This isn’t easy. I’ve spent hours in Sainsbury’s poring over labels. Most of the Curly Girl information is aimed at Americans so I’ve had to figure things out myself largely. It involved googling lots of chemicals. The next chapter of this post contains a list of all the curl safe products that you can easily find in the UK.
- Only wash your hair when needs be- The longer you leave your hair between shampooing, the better. Of course you may shower every day and get your hair wet, but resist temptation to lather up on the daily. Use conditioner instead. I have two conditioners in my shower and one sulphate free shampoo. One deep conditioner for days I need to shampoo and a lighter daily conditioner. This conditioner only technique is called co-wash, you basically wash your hair with conditioner.
- Don’t brush– I haven’t brushed my hair in months. I comb the conditioner through my hair with my fingers to get rid of knots, but that’s it.
- Rinse– This is where I made my tweaks that really took my curls to the next level. When you’re done in the shower and your hair is still full of conditioner step aside, turn the shower to cold and rinse your hair with your head tipped upside down. Then turn the shower off squeeze some of the water out and don’t move…
- Product– I’ve found my holy grail product that has just the right amount of hold (see below) and it lives in the shower. With my hair sopping wet and my head still upside down I grab a small blob and scrunch it into my wet wet hair, at the same time squeezing water out.
- Don’t use a towel, for the love of god– Towel drying curly hair is not a great idea, it fluffs it right up. You’re best off plopping or using a microfibre hair turban. (I use this one from Soap and Glory, it’s generous in size, soft and coats £8)The curls must be left to dry naturally without disturbing them in any way. If you you live in a warm country this is no problem. I don’t happen to live in a warm country but I just do my hair thing as early as physically possible and let nature take its course. I’m on the hunt for some sort of magic hairdryer that doesn’t bugger up my curls.
Basically curly hair is like a special snowflake and if you fuss with it, it’ll throw its toys out of the pram and ruin your day. All my hair styling goes on in the shower and after that I just touch wood and hope for the best.
Like I said, there is wealth of resources for American curlies, but it’s harder to find product information elsewhere. So you have to get wise to product labels. The phrase “natural ingredients” means nothing. Choosing products that make the most of curly hair is surprisingly difficult. Cosmetics companies make claims about products making hair bouncy and shiny but unfortunately these are lies and most hair products contain ingredients that are likely to make wavy and curly hair frizzy.
Ingredients To Avoid If You Have Curly Hair-
Sulphates (seen on ingredients labels as Sodium Laureth Sulphate and Sodium Lauryl Sulphate) strip hair of its natural oils and dry it out. It will also strip colour from hair, so if you dye your hair, going sulphate free is a good idea. Sulphates will dry the scalp, so cutting them out will help with persistent irritation.
Silicones are added to hair products because they give products a pleasant slippery feeling, but (especially if you only use Sulphate free shampoo) they will build up on the hair cuticles and weigh hair down.
Waxes and non natural oils such as mineral oil, petrolatum and beeswax should be avoided.
Alcohols, like isopropyl alcohol, can be very drying and are best avoided, apart from some moisturising alcohols like cetearyl alcohol.
A full list of good and bad ingredients can be found on BritishCurlies.co.uk, it’s best to check this list if you’re not sure.
How to Make the Most of Your Natural Curl- Product Recommendations
Sulphate Free Shampoo from UK Supermarkets
These are few and far between. For example The Tresémme Naturals and Botanique range looks promising, the conditioner is silicone free but the shampoo contains sulphates. The only sulphate free silicone free shampoos that I could find in UK supermarkets are these-
I will update if I ever I come across suitable SLS free shampoos in the supermarket. It’s far easier to find Sulphate free products online and in drugstores like Boots and Superdrug.
Sulphate and Silicone Free Conditioner from UK Supermarkets
It is easier by far to find Curly Girl safe Conditioner than shampoo at the supermarket.
- TRESemmé Perfectly Undone Weightless Silicone-Free Conditioner 500ml £5.49
- Tesco Own Brand Provitamin Conditioner 300ml 90p Bargain!
- Garnier Ultimate Blends Sleek Restorer Conditioner 400ml £4.49
- L’Oreal Paris Elvive Extraordinary Clay Conditioner 400ml £4.49 (not CG friendly- contains isopropyl alcohol, but no silicone)
- Schwarzkopf Gliss Ultimate Volume Conditioner 200ml £2.13
- Herbal Essences Conditioner Clearly Naked (0%) Shine 400ml £3
- Faith in Nature Conditioner £9.99 from Ocado, Oxfam and some Tesco’s
- Carino Tea Tree and Coconut Conditioner 49p from Aldi
Curly Girl Friendly Hair Styling Products From UK Supermarkets
- Umberto Giannini Curl Jelly Scrunching Jelly £7 for 200ml- This is a styling product, you might find it in the larger Tescos.
- Wilkinson’s Own Brand Extra Hold Gel 80p for 500mls
- Wilkinson’s Own Brand Firm and Extra Firm Hold Mousse £1 for 300mls
- Wella Shockwave Volume Mousse (this one specifically)£2.50 for 200mls
- Tesco Extreme and Everyday Styling Gel- 55p for 300mls
- Pantene Pro V Natural and Medium Definition Curl Mousse– £2.95 for 200 mls
- L’Oreal Kids Super Pear Tangle Tamer– £2 for 150mls
Sulphate and Silicone Free Free Haircare from UK Drugstores
Take your search a bit wider and there are a plethora of choices.
- Kind Natured– Available from Boots. Kind Natured contains no sulphates, no silicone, no parabens, no petrochemicals across their range. It’s also very affordable at around £5 a piece. A good solid CG friendly choice.
- Professor Scrubbington Magically Foaming Shampoo and Conditioner £3.99– All natural and totally affordable shampoo from Boots.
- Shea Moisture– A wide range of curl friendly products with a slightly bigger price tag- about £11 for a shampoo. Available from Boots
- Cantu– A mid range brand based on Shea Butter for all sort of curls and kinks, from Superdrug
- Boots Botanics 0% Sulphate range– £3.99 shampoo and conditioners exclusively from Boots
- Maui Moisture– Silicone and Sulphate free hair care for all hair types, £8.99 each. Available from Boots
- Liz Earle Botanical Shine Shampoo and Conditioner– Haircare from the well known creater of the all natural Hot Cloth Polish, a bit pricey at £12, check it out at Boots.
- Soap and Glory Shampoo £5.50 from Boots exclusively.
- Noughty– Shampoos and conditioner range that’s entirely free from nasties, from Superdrug, costing around the £7 mark.
- Yes to… Haircare– award winning shampoo and conditioner with natural ingredients from Boots
- Twisted Sista– Affordable range of styling products designed for curl- £5.49 each from Superdrug (some of this range is not CG friendly, check ingredients)
- Faith in Nature– Sulphate and Silicone Free conditioners costing £9.99. From Superdrug
- Boots Curl Crème– Previously reviewed by moi, this is a little wonder with a cult following. £1.99 (!!) for a big old tub, it’s perfect for defying curls, but it doesn’t offer long term moisturisation. Read my review here Update- I have it on good information that Curl Crème is not truly CG friendly due to the amount of isopropyl alcohol in it, so it could be drying with prolonged use)
Another good place for suitable products for curly hair is pound shops and bargain shops like B&M. Check out-
- Provoke Touch of Silver Colour Care Conditioner around 99p
- Argan Oil Conditioner around 99p
- XHC Shimmer of Silver Conditioner £2.19 ish for 200mls
- Inecto Pure Coconut Oil Conditioner around 99p for 500mls
Sulphate and Silicone Free Haircare Online Finds
A couple of random things that I’ve come across and liked that fit the curly bill.
- Bouclème– A British haircare company with cute packaging and curl friendly principles. Price point- £19 for 300mls from Bouclème
- Rahua– Super expensive (£38 for a conditioner) haircare from the rainforest, for when you fancy a treat. Rahua Is pronounced Ra-Wa.
- Hair is Fabric from Deciem– Here’s a review I did recently on HIF. It’s a broad range of Cleansing conditioners costing around £30 a tube.
My current product line up is Kind Natured Shampoo once or twice a week. I use the Rahua conditioner on the days I shampoo for extra moisture, and the Shea Moisture Weightless Crème Rinse every other day. My styling product of choice is the Cantu Shine and Define Custard, it gives the perfect amount of hold.
I hope I have given you some useful inspiration. If you have any movement in your hair then the Curly Girl Method is worth researching. If you don’t have a natural wave but find your hair gets frizzy, or your scalp is dry going Sulphate free might be extremely beneficial. It’s been surprisingly difficult compiling this list, I’ve gone half mad reading ingredients lists.
If you have any great product tips for managing curly hair in the UK, please let me know in comments.