Thin Curly Hair: A Lifestyle


blogger: Basia

I once read an article that said people with thin curly hair were lucky that their hair curled at all. If you’re wondering if repeatedly berating your hair with this little tidbit of knowledge while you’re trying to wrangle it into shape will make it feel remorse for causing you grief, it doesn’t.

I’ve tried.

Curly hair is difficult to manage, but it’s even more difficult when you’re in the percentage of people with thin curly hair. And I’m not talking hair that’s an ordinary thickness but is considered thin because people with curly hair usually have really thick hair. I mean actually thin hair. Where you feel like you have a hair on you but can never find it because the strand is too thin to be seen by the naked eye. The problem with having thin curly hair is that you find a lot of articles for dealing with curly hair, and a lot of articles for dealing with thin hair, but you can never find any articles about dealing with both together. Most articles just assume that everyone with curly hair has thick hair, and while a lot of curly hair is thick, there’s also a percentage of us who aren’t blessed with thick hair. Articles about thin curly hair are out there–I’ve looked–but they honestly haven’t been much help. Do you ever read an article that claims it’s for thin curly hair and then realize that it’s been written by someone who either has straight hair or has thick curly hair? It’s kind of the worst.

I have the type of hair that if I comb it after my shower and/or never put any product in it, it slowly begins to separate from itself and wisp around my head until I look like a wraith. It gets in my mouth and all over my eyes and while I do enjoy the double-takes people give me in a Am I hallucinating this ghost? kind of way, I prefer my hair to be much more manageable. I like my curls. No, that’s a lie. I love my curls, but they’re harder to deal with than regular curly hair. So I’m going to break down what works for me. It might not work for you, but you can at least rest assured that I do have thin curly hair and am still learning how to handle it.


Most articles you read about curly hair tell you not to wash/shampoo your hair every day. Connor doesn’t, and it works great for her. The problem with that when you have thin curly hair is that your hair can’t withstand having a lot of product put into it. It starts to gunk up. So you have to shampoo it. I shampoo my hair pretty much every day, because if I don’t it gets really gross, but you have to find what works for you. Maybe it’s every other day. Maybe only twice a week. Who knows! Like I said, find what works for you.

I’ve also noticed that I have to switch up my shampoo/conditioner pretty frequently, because otherwise my hair gets used to it and stops responding. I know that hair is technically dead, but sometimes I think that an argument can be made that curly hair is sentient. Because I have to switch up my shampoos and conditioners so frequently, my shower is pretty stocked with stuff. Here’s a quick breakdown of the products I keep in my shower and how I use them:

  • Curly Sexy Hair, shampoo & conditioner: I bought this on a whim because I was at Ross and it was cheap, and I ended up liking it enough to buy the giant bottles the next time I was out. It’s sulfate-free, which makes me wary, because the last few sulfate-free shampoos I’ve tried have not worked for my hair. It always ends up flat and stringy. But my hair honestly looks the best when I use this shampoo/conditioner combo. It’s funny, because I always feel like this conditioner doesn’t condition enough; my hair still feels pretty dry, even when I’ve let the conditioner sink in for my entire shower, but when I get out of the shower, boom. Hair miracle. Who knew.
  • Dove Quench Absolute, shampoo & conditioner: I’m going to be honest, this shampoo/conditioner smells a little bit like old lady, but I like how it works with my hair. My hair really does feel nourished when I use it, and it gives it a nice sleek look while still giving it that curl boost that I love.
  • Herbal Essences Totally Twisted, shampoo: This is a leftover from things I used to use. I actually really liked how this worked, and I didn’t feel like I needed to change my shampoo/conditioner every other day. My hair never seemed to become immune to it. The only reason I haven’t bought more is because I don’t have any room in the shower.
  • Head and Shoulders, shampoo + conditioner: I use this twice a week, after I get back from working out. I’m sweaty and my scalp is undoubtedly gross from combined product and sweat buildup, so I scrub this into my hair at least once–sometimes twice–before I use a different conditioner. I like the shampoo + conditioner combo because it’s less harsh on my hair, but I still need to use a conditioner on its own to get the full benefit. My scalp always feels really healthy after a good scrub with this.
  • Wen: Wen is still in its trial stages for me. I’m not sure yet how I feel about it or how it works. I’m also not using the recommended amount of pumps for my hair length, because I didn’t pay $30 for this stuff just to have it gone in three days because the box says I need to use sixteen pumps for medium-length hair. Anything more than six seems excessive for my hair.
  • Neutrogena Triple Moisture Deep Recovery Hair Mask: I use this once a week, sometimes more if my hair is really dry and damaged. I don’t even diffuse my hair very often because I just don’t have the time, but curly hair is naturally dry, and this really helps to keep my hair looking alive and healthy. It smells really good, too.
  • DevaCurls, low-poo & conditioner: I really like how my hair responds to DevaCurls, but I have to use it sparingly. I used it during my vacation, and the low/no-poo doesn’t clean my hair enough. I ended up with a kind of gross greasy patch in the back of my head by the last day, and I had to wear a baseball hat on the plane home. I couldn’t wait to get home and properly shampoo my hair. I only use this once or twice a week.
  • Comb: I only comb my hair when I’m in the shower. I never comb it out of the shower, and I never, ever brush my hair. The tangles would be too much to bear. Seriously.

I wash, comb, and style my hair upside-down, because another thing about thin curly hair–at least mine–is that it is so. flat. The top of my head doesn’t like to start curling until right around my earlobes, so everyone used to think I was artificially curling my hair every morning. No, folks, just suffering from thin hair. Thankfully, I remedied that by washing and styling my hair upside-down. I’ll get more into that when I talk about styling in a sec. I always wash my hair first when I get into the shower. Then I put in my conditioner and clip it up on top of my head and go about the rest of my business. At the end of my shower, I let it down, splash a little water, and comb the conditioner through. Then I finish rinsing the conditioner out of my hair and get out of the shower.

I put my hair up in a Turbie Twist towel, which I’ve been using for years and love. I hate the feeling of my hair soaking wet and dripping on my back (not to mention the floor and whatever I’m sitting on), so I wrap it up in the Turbie and moisturize/get dressed/etc. before letting it back down to style. That way it’s still pretty damp but not dripping wet, and it’s much easier for me to deal with that way.


I don’t have nearly as many styling products as I do shampoos and conditioners. That doesn’t mean they always work the way I want them to, but I work with what I have. I barely ever diffuse my hair–I just don’t have the time before work, and I don’t feel like getting up earlier just to use the hair dryer.

After I get out of the shower, I throw my hair up in the towel, like I said, and I get dressed. Then I patter back to the bathroom and take my hair down–still flipped upside-down. I hit it with my styling products, scrunch madly, then make my part with a comb and flip my hair back over. Unfortunately, this isn’t a foolproof way to do this, and I’m going to talk to my barber the next time I get my hair cut about maybe getting layers put in so that I don’t have to do this. I like the body styling upside-down gives my hair, but my hair is so thin that the simple act of flipping my hair back into the right position strings out any really great ringlets that have formed. So I have to shake my hair to either side of my head, spritz some more product, and scrunch some more.

You’ll probably notice when you flip your hair back over that you get this knotty clump in the back of your head. I usually put a hand back there and scrunch and sort of shake it out at the top, which usually works. This way I can also avoid another trap I used to fall into, which was that I always brought my hair to the front, so the back of my head just had my part and all of my hair gathered to the front on either side. I did not like how my hair looked from the back. Thankfully, styling this way has (mostly) fixed that problem. Here’s a quick rundown of the styling products I use:

  • Garnier Fructis Curl Shaping Spray Gel: I’ve been using this stuff since before high school, and it’s what’s always worked best for me. I use this first; I spray as liberally as I want and scrunch, then see how it looks and repeat the process if I feel like I need to.
  • Herbal Essences Tousle Me Softly Hairspray: This doesn’t have nearly as much strength or hold as the Garnier, which is why I use this second. It tends to round out the curls and make them less likely to get crunchy and stringy looking. Garnier is for the hold, this is for the fluff.
  • I also use Garnier Fructis Curl Sculpting Cream when I use a diffuser. I rake this through my hair when it’s still soaking wet, then scrunch a bit and throw it up into the towel. I scrunch a bit more in before I use the diffuser, and then I add a bit of either of my sprays if I think it needs an extra boost.
  • Aveeno used to have this amazing curl spray that I found one day at Big Lots, and I used it constantly, but then they discontinued it. I still have one bottle that I save for extreme hair emergencies. I can’t bring myself to part with it, because it works really well and also smells so good. I think you can still find some on Amazon, but I’m not sure if it’s the real deal or someone pulling your leg.
  • Sometimes I finish off with Pantene Anti-Humidity Hairspray, which works wonders. I don’t mind if the humidity gives my hair some extra body, but I hate the frizz. This fights the frizz really well.
  • Some people also swear by Jessicurl Rockin’ Ringlets and Confident Coils combo, and I’ve tried this twice now (once I tried Rockin’ Ringlets alone, the next I tried combining them), but it just didn’t work for me. My hair is too thin to handle being air-dried after I put a creamy product in; it just weighs me down. You can get free samples from their website, so I might get another set of samples and see if diffusing my hair instead of air-drying changes anything, but I’m not in a big hurry.

I think that covers it! Feel free to hit me up with any questions, and tell us how you manage your thin curly hair!


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