(Originally published in Suite101)

Below are basic suggestions to care for curly hair.

Taking care of curly hair can be tricky. Though curly hair is the most versatile type of hair, it ranges from mermaid waves to the classic ‘fro, and learning how to take care of it can be a process of trial and error. However, there are certain rules all curly-haired girls should abide by.

Fall in love with your conditioner – Some stylists suggest not using shampoo at all. This is because many shampoos have alcohols that dry your hair and strip it from its natural oils. You can forgo the shampoo and just wash with conditioner, which will be gentler on your hair. You may experience some oiliness for the first couple of weeks, but that’s just your hair adjusting to its new routine.

Or… Just be good friends with your conditioner – If you can’t bear breaking up with your shampoo, then pick a shampoo that is made specifically for curly hair. Bumble and Bumble and Rusk are two great brands made for curly hair, or if on a budget, try L’Oréal or John Frieda. Even better: Avocado is great for conditioning hair. Mix it with a spoonful of Extra Virgin Olive Oil and let it sit for a half an hour. You should try to deep condition your hair once a week.

Invest in quality styling tools – Brushes can tear hair, so you should stick to combs. If you must use heat styling products, invest in quality products made of 100% ceramic. For blowdryers, try Conair. For flat irons, try Corioliss, which you can find on Amazon.com. They’re pricy, but it’s a great investment.

Get regular trims – Curly hair has low porosity, which means that it doesn’t absorb as much water, and it’s dryer. Dry hair means split ends and breakage, so you should be consistent about getting a trim every six to eight weeks. Your hair needs this to stay healthy and to avoid worse splitting.

Approach with Caution – If your hair is prone to tangling, try conditioning your hair and combing out the tangles with a wide-tooth comb while in the shower. Also, if you must pull hair back, don’t tie hair back while it’s still wet or use rubber bands, which can snag or pull hair.
You might find your hair tough to handle, and might consider relaxers or perms. Although these chemical treatments will make styling easier, make sure you speak to your stylist about the pros and cons, because these chemical treatments may cause irreparable damage. After all, you deserve the best hair ever.