Long Curly Hair and the War on Frizz
The Rules of Engagement w/ JP
John Paul is a longtime follower, curly longhair, and college lacrosse player at Trinity College in Hartford, CT. He deals with tight curls on the daily and offered to share a few tips for our curly haired brethren.
The Daily Battle
Having long, curly hair can be a blessing and a curse for guys. It’s wild, burly and all natural, but at the same time it can be fiercely unpredictable and a pain to deal with. The enemy is frizz, and the war on frizz is real.
For most curly hairs this constitutes a daily battle, and the day you let your guard down is the day frizz wins, shutting down your operation in a Texas tornado of tendrils.
To avoid that unpleasant scenario, there are a few simple rules for men with long curly hair. Follow these to keep that bounce in your curl, feeling fresh and frizz-free.
Rule #1: Wash Less
One of the biggest early mistakes I made with my long curly hair was shampooing my hair every day, often multiple times, because I thought it was healthy for my hair. WRONG! If you have curly hair you should NOT be washing every day.
Shampooing strips your hair and scalp of natural oils which help to strengthen and moisturize your curls. These essential oils are your front line defense against frizz. Every time you wash your hair you strip these oils away, drying out your hair and leaving your flank exposed to the enemy.
Aim to wash your hair 2-3 times per week at most, preserving the oils your hair needs to stay strong, hydrated, shiny and frizz-free.
EPIC CLEANSE & IDEAL CONDITIONS
Rule #2: Wrap It Up!
One of the biggest mistakes you can make with curly hair is rubbing it dry with a towel. This leads to split ends, knots and tons of frizz. Instead of rubbing your hair, wrap it up in a towel or better yet a soft t-shirt.
Personally I just use a regular towel. I simply bend over, drape my hair down towards the floor, place a towel on the back of my skull and drape it over my head towards the ground. Then I twist the towel around my hanging hair and tuck the “wrapped” locks behind my head.
Using this drying method helps you in a couple ways. First, you want to avoid the friction and static buildup caused by rubbing it dry, that’s a virtual frizz machine.
Also, when you leave it to air dry, the moisture evaporates leaving your hair dried out. Using a towel or t-shirt wicks the excess moisture from your hair without exposing it to air.
Rule #3: Use a Leave-in Cream or Pomade
After 5-10 minutes with your hair wrapped up, gently unfold your towel and let your hair down. With your hair still slightly damp, apply your leave-in cream, starting with the tips of your locks (which are most prone to dryness and messy frizz) and then throughout the full lengths, including your scalp. Let the cream dry in your hair.
Life rule: never put product on your hair when it is completely dry. Trust me on this.
Don’t have leave-in cream? Styling pomades, water-based gels or creams can also work, but try to stay away from gelly-based gels. Hard gelly gels can tear your hair when you try to comb it and make your locks too stiff. Make sure your gels are WATER based. I recommend using products with argan and/or macadamia oil in particular.
All of these products tend to be a little pricey at the register, but they go a long way. You only need a couple drops of your product when you apply it to your hair, so you won't go through a whole bottle in 2 weeks (most of these last me 2-3 months).
These products should offer good results for guys with long curly hair, when I used them they did not act up on me, cause knots, or frizzing, so in the long run you will save money from not having to buy multiple different products that don’t work.
Here are some products I’ve had success with:
American Crew Forming Cream
Biolage Matrix Gelee (all purpose) Styling Gel
Macadamia Natural Oil: Healing Treatment
Rule #4: Let Your Hair Down
This is super important. After you apply your leave-in cream, let your hair down for a bit and let your locks hang loose. Putting your hair in a knot or tail immediately after putting the cream in will cause frizz and make your hair look like Bob Ross after a steam bath. Make sure you let your hair down and let it dry before tying it up.
Carry The Fight On
Those are the rules for long curly hair, men.
It’s true, long curly hair takes far more maintenance than straight hair. But we should embrace it and be proud of the little genetic variation that gifted each of us with a luscious waterfall of ringlets.
Stay vigilant, and never let your guard down. Follow the rules and you’ll dominate in the war on frizz.
Thanks for the blog, it is very helpful. There are very few good curly hair men Brand in India.
Happy to help Saisha, what kind of products do you need for curly hair in India? – Chuckarino
Hello, I’ve been watching and learning from your YouTube channel for over a year and I love the content. Glad y’all have a couple guys on talking about curly hair and our struggles! This is my 3rd time having long hair and because I’m armed with knowledge I’m enjoying it more than ever. I’ve seen some of the tips in the post and comments I utilize as well, but I may repeat them here. My hair is 4 years long Currently hangs to my nips while curly in the front and just getting past shoulder blades in the back, all this is dependent on humidity and how I’ve dealt with my hair at the time. I’ve grown It out from the high side fade haircut that’s still so popular with about 6 months growth on top, doing that was great because the top was much longer than the sides and back and allowed me to tie it up out of my face pretty early on without the loose ones at the hairline, that is furthest from a tie up location. Bad thing was my sides and back did not catch up to the top so after a year I had to cut the top to match the rest, but I still left the front a little longer.
Next thing I wanted to share is curly hair grows just as fast as straight hair. It just more fragile! Here’s a list that will help your hair not end up breaking as easily, and will help with the frizz as well.
Use products that are sulfate free.
Reduce the amount of times you shampoo. Use only warm water and rinse with cold this will close the hair cuticle and help it stay smooth and not tear. You can cleanse your hair without shampoo! I stopped using it altogether. Conditioner, warm water and finger friction will do the job, use finger tip pads to scrub on scalp. If you have dandruff use some sugar on scalp to break up the dry skin on your scalp. Now if I got used motor oil in my hair I’d be reaching for shampoo, or maybe dawn soap. But for regular sweat, dust, pollen, hair products, smells that get absorbed by your hair do not require shampoo. We got along just fine without it for thousands of years.
Use a w i d e Tooth comb to detangle IN the shower with lots of conditioner to help with hair slip. I can’t imagine brushing my hair ever or using a comb on dry hair and not cause damage. Start at the bottom and work your way to the top. Pay attention to the sounds and tension, forcing the comb or fingers through and hearing it rip through is killing your gains! Take it slow. Work out the knots instead of muscling through them!
A leave in conditioner is a must! Apply it in the shower after squeezing excess water out of your hair in the shower. Use the scrunch method after working it through.
Use an old tshirt or a microfiber towel to dry because a terry cloth is too rough. Squeeze the hair. You can also plop your hair into the t shirt or microfiber towel and tie it up to help dry it faster. I often have to use a hair tie to keep the fabric on tight.
Air drying the rest of the way is the standard for maintaining a good “ clump “ of hair that will form the curl or ringlet or spiral depending on your hair type. I have all three types within my hair it seems. But sometimes time is an issue and you might need to speed things up. I have used a hair dryer on low with lowest heat setting on new growth near scalp and cool setting for length and ends. I always hold a section of hair straight out to help stretch the curl a bit while drying, this helps me control the airflow from just blowing my hair around all Willy Nilly. A defuser might work for you, my hair is so thick and dense I didn’t find it useful. I have found sitting with my hair hanging down in front of a fan helps dry it as well.
Don’t touch your hair much during the day. Leave it alone so you don’t mess with the curl pattern. If I’m driving with windows down I put a lose hair tie on around the bottom of the length to keep it from blowing all around, getting frizzy and tangled.
As mentioned use a silk or satin pillow case. The best cotton with highest thread count will still pull at the rough texture of curly hair and will also absorb the natural oils we want to keep in our hair. I saw someone mention a satin shower cap type thing and that sounds like a good idea. ( also hats worn in the day can also break your hair follicles and or dry them out. A polyester blend might be better than just cotton and try not to take it off and on too much)
Well that’s for keeping it from breaking. The only other good tips On fighting the frizz I have I’ll put below and I’ll try to be brief ( I have trouble with that as you can tell )
If you want to really keep your hair under control use a hair gel with no alcohol. Sounds weird but trust me on this one. After you’ve put your leave in conditioner and worked it in before getting out of the shower put a dollop of hair gel in your hands, rub them together and tilt your head forward and apply the gel using prayer 🙏🏻 hands sandwich the hair section between your hands and slide it down to the ends and repeat on each section. Then use t shirt or microfiber towel like I’ve written above. This works best when you air dry and you really need to leave your hair alone so the gel drys and gives the clumps or curls or ringlets a “shell casement”. If done right the worst humid day won’t cause your hair to go puffer fish. Yes the gel gives the hair a stiff crunchy not soft feeling but people are looking at, not touching your hair. If, after work or your event you can break the casement by shaking your hair out a bit with some help with your hands.
I found a product called Cantu on amazon that is a Shea Butter coconut curling cream. Says on bottle it defines, moisturizers and helps strengthen strands. I love it. Smells like the beach.
And works miracles on hair if you haven’t got it wet in a few days. A little goes a long way. My hair tends to lose the curl pattern by day 3 or so from pulling it back and just looks unkempt. When I use this product I put it in and tie my hair up in a high ball to sleep in. putting it up in the highball, gather the hair into a tail on top of head and twist all of it in one direction, tightly over and over till it wants to fold in on itself. Then use a longhair.com brand hair tie and secure it. Just don’t make it so tight it’s pulling your hair from your scalp too much. You can create bald spots forever by pulling hair back too tightly. ( female gymnasts or ballet dancers have this issue. This goes for the cornrow, or fancy on scalp viking braids as well, too much tension damages the follicular matrix under the skin ).
When I wake up in the Morning and take it down, it kinda looks like I’ve had some fancy blow out at a salon lol but I then just shake it out, thus losing some of the fancy, and wear as normal which is usually the thor half tie up. The part that hangs down has a nice thick wave pattern, and the top is nice and flat, no frizz.
If anyone read all of this thank you, you’re a trooper! Good luck to all you long hair warriors out there.
Thanks for the awesome tips Ryall! Glad to have you here amigo.
Great tips. I’m 14 months in with curly hair. Sure, it’s more work than straight hair, but it is absolutely worth it. We curly maned longhairs have it good with our thick locks. Personally I’m in a rush most mornings, I don’t have time to wrap and dry, so I use the scrunch technique, then apply argon oil to my damp hair, sometimes a styling creme too. Regarding brushing, personally I find that it makes my hair super frizzy when I brush it, so I’ll either brush it at the end of the day or before my morning shower, that way I can tame it again when I dry it. At the moment my routine is to only shampoo twice a week, but I’ll rinse every day so that it’s damp for oiling. I’m experimenting with conditioning every day too.
Keep up the awesome work, guys. Love your content and cause \m/
El Rizado! Excellent man, appreciate you sharing your routine! We will continue mate, thanks for tuning in and keep lettin it ride.
Nice and simple! Thanks!
Aloe Vera gel is the best styler for curly hair. So hydrating and great at combating frizz. After shampoo, conditioner and detangling my hair, I rake a hair cream through my curls and smooth over aloe Vera gel and directly scrunch. I manage to have good second-day curls. Dry combing or brushing mean death to our curls. Stick to finger detangling, which is great for length retention. Sleep on satin and always put your hair in protective styles before bed.
Nice! Thanks Nishka!
I wash/condition once a week. In between, I use a really cheap WalMart plastic shower cap during a shower. These also work really well with a pre/post-shower conditioner. I am a 65 YO silver now at 16 mo. growing out. I use Main ‘N Tail in the shower and Fructis Marvelous as a daily conditioner. My breakage and frizz is greatly reduced, and my comb-over looks much much better after only a couple of months. Hair is soft and very manageable. Very nice.
For the awkward stage guys, GET A HAIRCUT! But only by a real professional stylist, not a Barber. Any hair on your neck that will grow into your tail in the next couple months should be kept, but it pays to clean up your neck. Everyone will notice ! I use a very little dot of styling gel to pull those loose strands up into (almost) my tail. Works like a charm and have had many compliments on my “cleaning up”. Can also use the gel to settle any side locks still a little too short.
PS. Money short? You can use Olive Oil on your hair without any worry about odor, just don’t use too much. AND, if you have extra WalMart shower caps, put your sandy beach sandals or shoes in them to keep from spreading the sand in your closet or luggage.
Thank you Mr. Dad from Kansas! Appreciate the solid tips—especially the shower cap trick.
I’ve been planning on giving my hair the chop this week, with one of my main issues being upkeep, as well as the awkward stage, but I’m once again on the fence about this after stumbling onto this!
Any advice on what I should do?
(I’m walking in totally blind to growing it out, after previously shaving it down completely for years)
Yo dude, you’re not far away! If you haven’t read it already, I hope this post provides you with everything you need to power through the awkward stage with courage and commitment.
Awesome post yo the frizz is the enemy! I have the same hair type and leave-in conditioners work great on the curly locks. Paul Mitchels “The Conditioner” is my go to and it smells manly as ever ??
I was about ask about curly hair, and voila, I see this in my mailbox. Awesome. Thanks for this info. I recently started using argan oil like you mention and it makes a world of difference.
I’m also interested in hearing experiences/suggestions about when to comb/brush, and how to sleep with your hair. I’ve seen youtube clips where they suggest you wrap your hair when going to bed (usually in silk/satin) to help with reducing frizz etc. Thoughts?
Yo Daniel! Glad the argan oil is working for you, and we have more tips for curly hair coming down the pipeline.
Check these out for combing and brushing, why you shouldn’t brush wet, and how to sleep with long hair without suffocating.
A word of caution, the brushing tips are more for straight hair. Again, more on curly hair coming soon, but most reports indicate they don’t brush at all, only maybe finger combing while in the shower with conditioner in your hair.
Stay tuned amigo, pow!
caution, el Rubio !!!
you relate that many curlylonghairs use only fingers to comb their hair; i’nt agree with that practice, for curly hair make much knots, and a good daily detangling is absolutely necessary, or they will turn hairy rastafarians….
i’ve meet that problem on curly ladies, and the detangle was very difficult, with some breakage
We can always count on your for good advice Chamane! Thanks for writing in as always. Merci ami!
The hair at the back of my head gets quite tangled and knotted if I don’t do some form of regular detangling. Right now I try to run my fingers through it often during the day, but that breaks the curls and cause quite a lot of volume which leads to more knots and frizz 🙁 So, I am thinking now that I should just daily detangle it and leave it. What I’m not sure about is _when_ to detangle and _how_. Should I do it before I wash on dry hair or on wet hair with conditioner? I have a thick tooth comb that I use as well. I used to brush my hair too (to spread the oils etc) but I don’t do that anymore.
excuse for i’ve not seen your comment before
i’ should use leave in conditioner detangler ( with a cationic tensive name XXXium) on a brush to daily detangling then let quiet the hair for the day
avoid the too greasy shampoos and conditioners
you can also wash with a low shampoo ; a good formulation is the Yves Rocher low poo with lauryl glucoside ( non ionic mild tensive) and two quats ( cationic, detangler, antistatic)
caution: if your hair tend to be greasy, don’t use for the produce contains fatty alcohols
it’s better to détangle on wet hair after used a detangler conditioner ( in the States, much conditioners are no detanglers…)
I actually use a satin cap myself. My hair is about shoulder length and it’s really thick and coarse, so it’s definitely not as long as El Rubio’s or the same hair type, but it works really well for me. It’s basically like wear a silk-lined swimming cap to bed, but it’s nice and loose and really comfortable. Like El Rubio said, utility over form!
Do you perhaps have a link to the kind you use? I can’t seem to find any, and I am a bit embarrassed to ask in some of the salons. I tried sleeping with the t-shirt wrap and that seems to help in reducing knots etc, but I know that silk is much better so I am really keen on trying that out. My hair is just over should length. Do you tie your hair in a sort of bun or pony tail before you put the cap on?
Daniel, My hair is thin & fine with an approximate bustline length. Following the “Keep It Simple, Stupid” idea, I just Tie a cloth around my neck by its diagonal corners. A handkerchief works fine for me. Its a lose hold on the hair which generally requires only some finger combing of the ends in the A.M. It’s not perfect, but it is cheap, simple, fast & reasonably effective.
Thanks for the advice, bro. I can’t seem to tame these curls.
I don’t see the shame in a curly mane. Then again, where I live is practically 0% humidity year-round.
You guys always have great advise. Every guy should grow there hair out.
This helps a lot thanks man!
most of the frizz come from static electricity, against it, use a leave-in conditioner with cationic surfactants ( usually, the name finish ” ium”)
one of my female testers with very curly hair had a good result with that home made conditioner
vegetable butter 25g, stearamidopropyl dimethylamine 5g, vinegar 8%vol 10 ml, geogard 221 20 drops
put a little in the wet hands, then the hands on the hair; a few minutes, then rinse
much french hair blogger does control the curly hair with spray water 70%, aloe vera gel 15%, water from rice cooking 15% and preservative
as i live in France, it’s easier to make home made cosmetics; we have the greatest purchaser on the world..
Thanks for the info! I have the same hair type–it’s definitely a struggle, lol.