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Curly Nikki

The Curl Whisperer on Moisture

By January 27th, 202112 Comments

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!


  • Anonymous says:

    Thanks for all the posts. I have cut my hair off in the hopes of going all natural, but I broke down and put a texturizer on my hair for about 1-2 minutes, and I will not feel guilty about it. It looks cute. Anywho, curls milkshake left my hair dry, so I am currently just using an aloe vera gel conditioner

  • Tiffany Anderson says:

    Unfortunately, I don’t have many tips on shrinkage! To get a looser curl pattern on my own hair (I have a spiral ringlet wave pattern commonly referred to as ‘3C’), I rake my products in rather than scrunch, which loosens the curls for me so they are longer and not as tightly wound. That might disturb the wave pattern for someone with a tighter coil than me, however, so twist-outs might be the best bet. I’d love to hear some other suggestions.

    Nexxus Emergencee is a quite popular protein pack for many fine-haired curlies I know, who use it to strengthen their hair and give themselves a good protein treatment. Just make sure you remove all residual traces with a gentle, curly-friendly cleanser so you don’t feel dry.

    Keeping it balanced is a real challenge for any of us…even girls like me who are medium-textured and can support a wide range of product ingredients. If you are fine-haired, just bear in mind you will almost always need some level of protein in your hair since your hair naturally does not have the protein structure support of a medium- or coarse-textured girl. It IS all about trial and error for all of us, even though it can be frustrating at times…I just do my best to embrace it as a privilege for being “naturally glamorous” (LOVE that phrase, Nik!) :)

    Yogurt is a good protein treatment for those who might be sensitive or allergic to soy, wheat or silk proteins. Not every type of protein is right for every curly girl, so if yogurt protein works the best for you and your particular hair type, then that’s exactly what you should use!

    My blog link is :)

  • Anonymous says:

    great stuff! what’s the link to tiffany’s blog?

  • ChiChi says:

    You know what…I told a friend that I have fine maybe even medium strands, but thick hair. Maybe I am over-conditioning my hair, also. I flip flop too much. One day, I think it’s moisture. The next day, I think it’s protein. I’ll get it right eventually. As they say, it’s all about trial and error.

  • Anonymous says:

    Another tightly coiled/kinky fine-stranded sister checking in…I always knew my hair loved water but this is the first time I’ve made a point of watering my hair every night before bed. It has really made a difference…in fact if I skip a night I can feel the difference. I will either use plain water by itself (if I already have a heavy product in), water followed by a heavy product, or a watery leave-in, and then put my hair in fat twists or fat plaits, which I then take out in the morning.

    I have to disagree on the protein recommendation, though…I had to seriously back up off (silk, wheat) protein for a few months because it was drying out my hair. I now do a yogurt DC every other week and that seems to work pretty well.

  • Anonymous says:

    my hair is medium to fine and i thought i was protein sensitive but it seems like my hair likes a little protein now that its over moisturized. How do i keep it balanced? I am afraid to do dt now.Curl whisper when i am ready for someone to do my hair i am coming to see yo u!

  • Anonymous says:

    I too found out that i was overmoisturizing my hair. I didnt think that was possible. always had well defined tight spirals but they started to look so limp and my hair was way too soft . I was using very little protein. I was using aubrey honeysuckle rose to cowash and then I would use it to dt and then as a leave in plus curls milkshake and sometimes curls whipped cream. Now i am using aubrey organics glycogen balancing conditioner and my hair feels stronger

  • Anonymous says:

    i'm going to try some protein b/c my hair was responding really well after a cut by yodit and now it's going crazy. she shocked me by letting me know that i have fine strands. i was ready for a debate but she broke it down. she said i have a lot of strands and hair but that the strands are in fact fine. who knew! her hair which is a big fabulous afro is considered coarse b/c her strands are much thicker but i have a much tighter curl pattern than she does. i'm really enjoying the curl whisperer segmetns, cn! any recommendations for protein ladies & curl whisperer? but i need my hair to remain soft b/c it draws up super tight, quick, fast, and in a hurry.

  • Coilz and Curvez says:

    Thanks for the tips!! I also have tightly coiled hair and fine fragile strands!! I dicovered that my really loves water…simple as that!! As I discovered more of my hair cravings I see that I can moisterize my hair with a product based on water and then seal with an oil or a butter. But if I put too much oil or butter my hair will not look nice or shiny really more lumpy. I found the qhemet biologics karkady tea replnishing mist is really good for my hair and since I have HIF disease (hands in fro)…lol ;-)I dont like my hair to be really oily…

    I was wondering if you have tips of shrinkage. I my hair shrinks like hell!!I mostly do twist outs against shrinkage.I used henna but did not help and banding but did not like the effect.And I rather don’t use heat.
    So if you hav any tips please help!!

  • Anonymous says:

    This happened to me too. I was over moisturizing my fine strands when I had my ah-ha moment. Protein helped to put me back on track and I can’t use too many products.
    This is a great article that will definitely help out fine haired curly’s.


  • Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the tips! My hair is a big fan of shampoo bars and light leave in conditioners. It does not like heavy products/oils/moisturizers/pomades except castor oil.

    Thanks again!

  • A. says:

    This is SOOOOOO true. I’m one of those tightly curled fine haired sistahs. I figured that I was over moisturizing on my own one day when I tried the twist and curl with HEHH, KNOT TODAY, Lustresilk and Shea butter. My hair wouldn’t dry and when it did it looked like it was in shock. It just hung there limp and lifeless. I’ve learned that my hair doesn’t like more than two products at a the most three and I have to be careful about the ones I pick. If I use a leave-in I can’t use anything else but a sealer like coconut or castor oil or Qpr Mango Butter.

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