Tightly curled hair really does have its own share of challenges. Because the spirals and bends of the hair shaft are so tightly wound, it’s no surprise this type of hair is very dry by nature since the sebum produced on the scalp has little to no chance of traveling down the strand.

I work with this type of hair quite often and use the following techniques in my salon to reach optimum levels of hydration:

1) Pick the Right Product Ingredients
A common belief is that very tightly coiled hair that is naturally dry by nature needs to have a ton of very heavy conditioners applied to it. And that’s great–IF that tight coil happens to contain hair strands that are coarse in texture. If those hair strands are fine, however, then overloading the hair with heavy moisturizers will lead to further issues.

Fine hair–which is quite common in tightly coiled hair–frequently seems dry when, in fact, it is easily over-moisturized. When I talk with any of my fine-haired clients about this, we inevitably share this “A-ha!” moment as they realize they’ve been feeding heavy moisturizers into hair that is often already over-moisturized. For any fine-haired girls with curls, regardless of wave pattern, products with a lot of heavy emollients are usually best avoided in favor of those with proteins.

Conversely, coarse hair naturally manufactures an overabundance of protein within the hair shaft on its own, so this is the type of hair that needs those heavy creams and butters and oils and emollients. Stay away from products with proteins, as putting protein on top of your already protein-heavy hair is likely to dry you out into a wicked, straw-like mess.

Picking the right kind of product for your hair type is the MOST important step!

2) Get Wet!
No matter what the curl pattern, products are easier to apply to the hair when it is soaking wet. A basic principle in trichology–the science and study of hair–is that “moisture attracts moisture.” A wet substance will always be more attracted to another wet substance than it is to a dry substance, so apply your products to clean, very wet hair for best results.

3) Focus on Small Sections
Use your fingers to distribute generous amounts of product through small sections of your hair, starting at the nape and moving forward from there. Massage the product firmly into the hair shaft, working from scalp to ends, GENTLY finger-combing out any tangles as you go. If you decide to use a comb, try to do so only during the initial conditioning phase and not while putting in your leave-in or styling products, as you will disturb the natural curl pattern that way. Work gently, but quickly, and re-wet the hair if it becomes too dry to easily distribute product.

I find as the hair becomes more hydrated with use of proper products, this entire process will usually become easier over time!