How to Repair Damaged Curly Hair — My Curly Hair Routine

I’ve never been satisfied with my hair; the color, the texture, the length, I’ve fought it and experimented more times than I can count. After 15 years of constant coloring (like, literally every color), yearly chemical straightening, and all kinds of hair extensions and heat styling, I finally broke my habit and quit. Cold turkey.

I have surrendered to my hair. I’ve decided to embrace what God blessed me with: light sandy brown curly hair.

If you’re like me, you know what this level of surrender means…no heat, no dyes, no chemicals, no sulfates, no parabens, no harsh alcohols, no silicones, and a lot of patience, love, and self-acceptance. Below, I’m gonna share what I did (and continue to do) to repair my damaged curly hair.

Cut It

Yup. I dreaded this part, but I knew a good trim was necessary to improve the health and bounce of my hair. So I started out by cutting off anything that was damaged or split. You can’t fix what’s broken.

This part alone almost instantly brought some springiness back to my coils! Plus, I could actually finger-comb through my hair without getting stuck. So needless to say, I only cried about the haircut a little bit.

Deep Treat It

Deep treatments are vital for repairing damaged hair. I incorporate a weekly deep treatment to my hair regimen. I don’t have a specific day I do it or even one specific treatment. I just do it when I have time (and remember), and I give my hair what it feels like it needs.

If it feels extra dry and frizzy, I mix coconut oil, aloe vera juice, and honey together and apply it to my wet hair. I leave it on anywhere from 30 minutes to overnight.

If my hair feels rough and damaged, I may add an egg to this same mixture. If my scalp is super itchy and flaky (I have psoriasis too), then I also like to add a couple drops of tea tree oil and a teaspoon of ACV instead of honey and I give myself a relaxing scalp massage.

You don’t have to DIY. You can use any store-bought deep conditioning treatment, just make sure it’s curly girl approved (ie no sulfates, silicones, harsh alcohols, etc.)

No Heat

This one is pretty self-explanatory. If you’re trying to repair your natural curl pattern, you obviously want to avoid heat tools like the plague.

The only exception that I can relate to is if you’re transitioning and have some weird pieces that won’t curl like the rest of your hair, curl it to match but PLEASE use a good quality heat protectant.

I use this Chi Essential Thermal Protecting Spray on the very rare occasion I diffuse my hair, even though I do it on a cool setting. I’m just extra cautious and paranoid like that.

Wash It Right

Yeah, there’s a right and wrong way to wash, condition, and dry your naturally curly hair. First off, I wash my hair as little as possible. Gross, right? Not really, because my hair has adapted and it only gets oily and needs a good cleansing about twice a week. Get your hair used to NOT being shampooed daily, because you can strip it of those nutritious natural oils.

I use about a nickel-size amount of my Chi Essentials Replenishing Shampoo and massage it into my SCALP ONLY using my handy dandy silicone scalp massager. This thing offers some extra scrubbing power which I need because this shampoo is sulfate free, so there’s not a lot of lather.

I LOVE this Chi Essentials line because it contains aloe as a natural humectant that controls frizz and smooths split ends, pomegranate which stimulates the scalp and naturally balances pH levels, and vitamins from hibiscus that promote fuller hair. What more could you ask for?? I mean if it could also do the dishes, I’d marry it.

Every third wash, I replace my regular Chi Essential Replenishing Shampoo with a hydrating co-wash. So far, my favorite is this As I Am Coconut Cowash. It doesn’t weigh my hair down and it actually FEELS clean and hydrated.

Conditioner & Leave-In

As you’ve probably guessed, I’m obvi in love and loyal to my Chi Essentials line. So I use the Chi Essentials Moisturizing Conditioner. It packs a super punch of hydrating goodness, but it’s super lightweight. How lightweight is it, Caitlyn?? SO lightweight that after I shower, I use it as a leave-in. I rub a pea-sized amount in my hands and scrunch it into the ends and mid-shaft.

Curls need hydration. Like a lot. We curlies have naturally thirsty locks. So give those curls what they need every chance you get.

Minimal Styling

After showering, do not use a towel to dry your curls. I repeat: DO NOT USE A TOWEL. Towels cause frizz and tension and can pull or even break hair. I plop my sopping wet hair in an old tee shirt, and let it soak up most of the water from my hair for about 20 minutes.

Once my hair is about 70% dry, I scrunch a dime-size amount of the Chi Essentials Repairing Serum into my hair focusing on my ends. This beautiful hunk of liquid heaven is lightweight, smoothing, strengthening, moisturizing, healing, and smells freaking amazing! It’s literally all I use to style my hair. No gel, no mousse, no hairspray, nothing else.

Super Extra Bonus Tips

  • I don’t brush my hair. I detangle it with my fingers when I’m conditioning in the shower, but that’s it. Brushing can cause breakage and split-ends and frizz. Blech.
  • When I sleep, I put it in a super-high not-super-tight pony using a scrunchy to keep it from being rubbed around on my pillow and tangled. If you have a silk or satin pillowcase, that’s really the best option. I’m working towards being that extra.
  • Deep conditioning is extremely important. If you can’t do it once a week, aim for twice a month. Curls are naturally more porous and need extra moisture. Water them better than that half-dead fern in your foyer.
  • Caring for curls doesn’t need to be expensive or complicated. The products I use cost more than what you’d pick up at Walmart, but it’s because they’re higher quality and purer, more natural ingredients. And a little goes a really long way. Shampoo, conditioner, serum, co-wash — that’s all I use. Deep treatments? I use what I have in the kitchen. Keep it simple.
  • I don’t care how long or how thick your hair is, everyone should be using the same amount of shampoo. Why? The only thing you’re scrubbing is your scalp. The suds running down your hair as you rinse is plenty to get it clean. I promise.

I hope you found my curly hair routine helpful, and if you have one of your own curly hair tips, I’d love for you to share with me in the comments! If you tried anything from my curly hair routine and loved it (or not) let me know as well!

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