How to style curly hair has been one of the most popular posts on Hair Romance, and certainly the most commented. A lovely reader posed a question in the comments that I am often asked so I thought I’d share the answer here. I know many of you want to know how to get your curl back after years of straightening and Tammy asks:
I used to have long spiral curly hair. Over the years of coloring, straightening I have lost the “good curl” that use to be in my hair how do I get it back? Have been reading what you do and have figured out some great ideas. When I try to wear it curly it’s just not a “good curl” anymore. It will curl just not pretty, kinda frizzy. Your curls are beautiful and what I am striving for instead of all the work in straightening. Don’t have the time for all that work! Thank you for any insight you can give!
Thanks for you lovely comment and question Tammy, and I have gone through the same problem so I have a few tips on how to find your curls again.
How to bring your curls back to life
After you’ve singed and straightened your hair for a long time (as I did) it’s hard for your hair to remember the curls that were once there. It takes a few steps to rescue your curls and bring them back to life.
1. Get a haircut
If the ends of your hair aren’t curly and you’ve been straightening for a while you may need a chop. Curly hair is also cut quite differently to straight hair, and a few layers will help your hair spring back into curls. Here are more tips on getting a great curly haircut. Not sure your hairdresser is great with curly hair? Here are ways to find a good hairdresser.
2. Treat your hair
While you’re in the salon getting a fresh hair cut, I recommend asking for a deep conditioning treatment. Curly hair is naturally drier than straight hair, and needs moisture to stop it looking frizzy. Plus, who doesn’t love a hair treatment? You may also want to give your hair a weekly deep condition at home.
3. Change up your routine
Your curly hair will need a new washing and styling routine. Check the labels on your current hair products and switch to sulphate-free products. Sulphates are essentially detergents that cause products to foam. While this feels “clean”, it’s actually stripping all the oils from your hair, which can aggravate your scalp and make your hair frizzy.
Choose a moisturising shampoo and conditioner for curly hair, and a curl cream or gel to shape your curls. It will take some trial and error to find the routine that works for your curls. Here are my tips for styling curly hair and there are great product tips in the comments of that post if you’re looking for more recommendations.
Good luck rediscovering your curls Tammy! I know they’re still there, and every time you wear them curly they will look better than the time before.
Have you brought your curls back to life after years of straightening? What’s you tip for reviving curly hair?
Pamela K Cornacchione says
I’m 51, I had beautiful straight hair up til I was 10 and my mom put a perm in that I didn’t want and so she had it chemically straightened and it never went back straight it stayed naturally curly and I learned to love it. My daughter thought I should dye it the new grey color because I’ve been dying it brown since I was 26 when I started going grey. So she had to use bleach on it before she used the grey and now I have lost my curls how do I get them back?
Hello! I’m still pretty young, but I remembered that when I was small I had curly hair, but now my hair is wavy, almost straight. My hair is bleached an it was fried for a while. I plan on letting it grow out and then continuing to dye it, any advice?
I’m 13 and just recently my hair has started to get wavy, I’m guessing 2A or 2B. I’ve always wanted curly hair so I hope it continues to grow more curly.
A problem I run in to it that my waves/curls easy fall straight after any manner of finger combing. I’ve been told to put gel or mousse in my hair. Will that really help or just make my hair crunchy.
My hair is also fairly long, around my mid-back. I’m not sure if cutting it will make my curls bouncier or if they would just disappear completely.
When I was younger I had spiral curls.Then I cut my hair when I was 8 ever since then my hair hasn’t been straight I want it curly again .are there any tips to get my hair curly again?
The same happened to me when I was 4 I had a beautiful set of ringlets but then when my hair got cut it turned into a swap of curly hair is frizzy and wavy and very annoying
I am still young and I never listen to my mom when she told me to take care of my curls and now is a frizzy wavy mess. what should I do?
Bianca Rocha says
My name is Bianca and when i was younger, like 13, my haird started to get waved, and even curly, but now i’m 20 and since September i had my hair cutted and my waves just dissapeared. I even tried to go to a specialist in curls, to cut it again, but she told me that my hair lost it’s waves. So, what can i do to get them back? I’m basically in denial, because i hate to see myself with straight hair.
Before kids i had beautiful curls. All I had to do was wash and style. Occasionally I used product like gel and or mousse. Now my hair is flat and gets barely any curl. I’m so sad I knew after having kids things would be different but my hair. Any tips to restore my natural curls. Oh I also do flat iron my hair but that’s rare I do it maybe 3 or 4 times a year if that. Thanks in advance ?
Great posts! Thank you for helping us out! My hair is naturally curly when I am near the ocean where the humidity is higher-when I go inland to the mountains or the the desert my hair is much straighter. But when it rains where it is normally dry BOING!! my curls come back which by the way I love!! What can I possibly do to retain these curls and waves while living far away from the coast??
Hair Romance says
add in an extra moisture step to your routine 🙂 try a mask onmce a week or a water based curl cream when you style your hair xx
I have questions about my gray hair… I was told that was the reason I’m losing my a lot of my curl… I have been working on getting my curl back from years of straightening, the lady I have been going to told me that because of all the gray I won’t get a lot of the curl back… anyone heard of this or can help with this??
I need some insight…
On Nov 20 & 26 2016 I had hair appts. 1 for a cut and another for streaks (I have 2 hairdressers). Then on Dec 8 2016 I had my hair straightened (iron) and in a pinch I used some really old hairspray/finishing product. I left if straight for 4 days. When I washed it, it was poker straight! (I only get my hair straightened maybe 2-3 times a year otherwise its always curly).
I thought maybe I had maybe dried it too much in my towel. So 3 days later I washed it again…nope still poker straight. After Christmas I bought Oplex 6 treatment and when wet I saw my curls! but when dried they disappeared.
Now its been approx 10 months…I have not straightened my hair at all. I only wash my hair 2x a week.And my curls are sort of there but FRIZZY and UNHEALTHY looking. And Nothing close to what I had for the tightness and shape.
Anyone have any tips? I miss them`
Hair Romance says
that’s a long time for your curls not to come back after regular straightening and not a keratin treatment. Had you coloured your hair before? Have you coloured your hair since then? I would go back to basics and follow your old routine and see how your hair goes. Normally a moisture treatment and olaplex really restores my curls after I colour. Have you gone back in to the salon to see if they can do an Olaplex 2 treatment on your hair? (Olaplex 3 is the take home version and 2 is the salon product) xx
I had colored my hair 1 to 2 weeks prior. And i have colored my hair 1 other time after (this past spring).
I haven’t changed my routine at all.
Can hair change from stress? I was planning a Christmas party and felt a little stressed during that time as well.
just sucks, miss my curls
Hair Romance says
yes, stress can affect our bodies and hair in different ways. My skin always breaks out when I’m stressed and my sister also loses hair when stressed. The good news is that if stress related, it’s usually easily reversed though it does take time xx
Hey I was wondering if I could get some advice; I have natural curvy hair, and over the weekend I had a weeding and got my hair straighten or waive shapes with blow dryer and iron, i have to say that I very rarely do it like once or twice a year and my hair is or in this case was not damaged, anyway, that was on Saturday today is Thursday and my hair is not curling!! I don’t know what to do ! This has never happened to me before ?
Hair Romance says
Don’t stress Emma, wash your hair and do a hair mask or treatment that’s hydrating. Your hair might take a wash or two to come back to normal xx
I got a v-shape hair cut recently with deep conditioning and my curls look much more better as there is less frizz and no more split ends.
I’m using natural curls pantene mousse and it really enhances my curls.
I realised the change in my hair and I wanted to thank you for the amazing tips and wish you e best with your career in the future.
How short must I cut my hair inin order to regain my curls? I miss them ao much! I have wavy hair now because of the brush I keep using, but I want my curly hair back. I have straightened it before, but I think I should go with cutting my hair to regain my curls. I have long hair that reaches to my lower back when wet. What do you think? How short?
Hair Romance says
Hi Dalia, it the ends of your hair aren’t that damaged, you may not need to cut much off. Sometimes our hair can forget to curl and if you wash and wear it curly more often, you’ll find the curls will get better every time. Good luck! (and PS. your hair sounds beautiful!)
I recently had my hair cut quite bit shorter than I intended and asked for. However, I thought that it was probably only a good thing that would make my hair look more healthy. The thing is that the haircut seem to have flattened my curls almost entirely. My hair would usually curl in the lengths and not so much at the top, so it’s like I just chopped of all my curls. I hoped that the shorter haircut would bring some life to the top of my hair, but what has happened is that neither my length nor my top is curly. My hair has changed a lot over the years – from very curly ringlets to softer curls to curly-wavy.. So now I’m actually worried that my curls might be gone for good. Do you have any suggestions as to how I can ‘find out’ whether my curls can be revitalized? And does it affect my hair’s curly pattern that I wear it in a bun most of the time?
Also, as concerns hormones – do you know whether birth control pills might affect the hair and its curly pattern?
Hair Romance says
Hi Signe, hormones definitely affect our hair so I would assume the pill would have an affect on our hair but nothing is proven (and I’m not a doctor 😉 )
Sometimes after a cut it can take a little time for our curls to settle. Try letting your hair airdry and wear it out a few days to see if that helps. Wearing your hair in a bun can stretch out your hair and make it seem wavy or straight instead of curly xx
I had really nice curls before but for around 4 years I’ve been straightening my hair. I now lost most of the curls and most of my hair is half straight, frizzy and volumed and half of it is curly. It does disturb the look so I would like to try to apply your method and hope that it works. 3 months ago i had a straight cut but I guess it didn’t work because the straight bits are still there. I hope to get a new hair cut soon and apply deep condition and follow the steps as well.
I possible can someone please name any good products that have been used and that I can rely on?
Hair Romance says
Good luck! It takes time but it’s worth it to get your curls back. I like the Shea Moisture range and Cantu – you don’t need a lot of products now. Just focus on a good conditioner and avoid heat styling your hair xx
Thank you for the reply. I am still 15 so it looks like, as I’m watching curly hair routine videos and everything in youtube, a lot of people realised the beauty of having natural curly hair at my stage although it was a bit late as the same thing that I’m going through happened to them as well. However, I am going to follow the steps and hopefully get to my curls again : )
Hopefully, if I get the results that I want, I’ll really will write a comment and really thank you so much for the great support.
By the way, at the moment I am using mousse to get my straight bits curly, it is working but I am not sure if its bad for my hair. It doesn’t seem to do anything other than give more volume and curls that look quite impressive, however I just wanted to make sure.
Hair Romance says
I’m so glad you’re embracing your curls now! Mousse is great for curly hair and you like the results, keep going. I’d love to hear how your hair goes, good luck xx
Don’t mind my grammar. I don’t normally comment on stuff online but Im pretty desperate at this point. Is it possible for hair to go from wavy to curly to wavy straight? I have died my hair before at least 4 times 3 times by myself. My first time going to the salon to dye my hair light brown blonde my hair was orange! I tried to make myself like it because I was afraid to continue to dye my hair. My Hair felt straw like I hated attempting to curl my hair. Long story short I let my hair grow out and continued trying to maintain my hair. I was slowly getting my curls back but I hated the orange hair and wanted to go blonde. My hair was ok and a little healthy for a few months but my curls started to loosen up more and become more of a 2c hair I thought getting cuts and trims would help get the blonde out and give me my curls back I was wrong. Every time I continued to cut my hair short and put layers into it , my hair became less curly and flat, my last cut was the end of February and I. Absolute hate it. The blonde is showing way less but layers on my hair now make my hair feel super thin and just sucks the life out my hair instead of making it more voluminous. I’m starting to believe that the only way my curls come back is when my hair is long, people tell me that I don’t make sense that if my hair is curly it should be curly, no matter what I do to it, but so than I don’t know why my hair does not curl at all like it used to. It becomes really curly on the ends but flat on top . I always end up putting it up cause I hate how thin it feels and looks. I feel like I tried everything and I’m trying to be patient and not use any heat but I’m so close to taking out the flat iron .
Hair Romance says
Thanks for commenting Essie and I feel your frustration. I colour my hair (and probably always will!) but it does affect my curls a lot. If you’ve had bleach damage and your hair is brittle, then your curls will struggle. I’d recommend an Olaplex treatment in salon, and there’s a take-home treatment too. This is a bond restorer and can help repair the centre of your hair. Good luck x
zion arkaah says
im a boy and i scurled my afro around six times then i cut it off a few weeks ago, now my hair just sticks up really straight and dosnt curl as much, its more like when you really stretch out a spring and it only has a few kinks but its straight at the same time
Jamir Graham says
I had naturally very unruly curly hair which i have always loved, wash and wear, , as it grew longer and i got older ( almost 60) the curl was not as good , so decided to have a spiral perm to give it some shape and style …. the hairdresser wrecked my hair and i came out with a dead straight hay stack that stood out at all sorts of angles and was broken and so badly damaged ( not to mention the bald patches ) that i cut it into a very short pixie cut and kept trimming over the months till all the dead ‘straw’ was gone with loads of coconut oil treatments to help my the scalp …
so now i have healthy shiny wonderful hair that feels great to touch and slide my fingers through …. only problem is it has grown out dead straight and just flops in my face, not a curl in sight , not even with a curling iron, it goes dead straight within a few minutes and i really want my wash and wear curls back any suggestions
Hair Romance says
Thanks for sharing your story Jamir and sorry to hear about the perm gone wrong. Our hair changes every 7-10 years so it may just be another phase for your hair. I would keep trying treatments and give yourself head massages and hopefully the curls will come back. Also check if anything else has changed that could affect your hair such as diet or medication xx
Jasmine Elsie says
I’ve been trying to grow out my hair but, it won’t seem to grow at all anymore. I don’t know what to do? When I was younger I had frizzy curly hair and when I was in middle school I started straightening it obsessively. Once I stopped abusing it with heat it grew out pretty quick and my curls even started to make an appearance again, however when I started my senior year I colored my hair a lot and as a result I had to cut my once waist length hair to my shoulders. Now it won’t grow past my shoulders. I usually only wash my hair once a week and keep it in braids while I sleep. I also keep it down as much as possible. My question is what else can I do I try and grow my hair out and bring back my curls without cutting it all off? And are they any DIY recipes that really work??
Thank you so much??