How to Wash Curly Hair Properly: Your Guide to Dazzlingly Clean Curls

Curly hair requires gentle care and a touch of finesse. Discovering the secrets to fabulous curls is like uncovering your hair's unique love language – beautiful, distinct, and wholly yours.

Embracing natural curls goes beyond style; it's a celebration of individuality and character. Remember, washing curly hair is more than just about cleanliness; it's a crucial step in maintaining moisture, preventing frizz, and defining those gorgeous curls. If you're on this journey of embracing and enhancing your curly locks, you've found your perfect starting point with us!

Here's your step-by-step guide to washing curly hair the right way, with tips compiled by the experts here at Color Wow.

First things first, how often should you wash curly hair?

The frequency of washing curly hair can vary greatly depending on individual hair type, scalp health, lifestyle, and personal preference. Unlike straight hair, curly hair doesn't typically need to be washed as frequently because the natural oils from the scalp don't travel down the hair shaft as easily, which means curls generally don’t get oily as fast.

loose waves, classic curls and tight coils

Here are some general guidelines:

  • Loose Waves (Type 2): People with loose, wavy hair might find that washing every 2-3 days works well for them. Their scalp may produce more oil than those with tighter curls.
  • Classic Curls (Type 3): Those with classic curls often do well with washing their hair 1-2 times a week. This helps maintain moisture levels without stripping the hair of its natural oils.
  • Tight Curls and Coils (Type 4): For those with tight curls or coils, washing two or three times a week is usually sufficient. Their hair tends to be drier and benefits from the natural oils.

Ultimately, the best approach is to listen to your hair. If your scalp feels itchy or your hair looks oily, it's probably time to wash. If your hair feels dry and frizzy, you might be washing it too often.

Is cold or hot water better for curly hair?

When washing curly hair, it's best to use a combination of water temperatures. Start with lukewarm water to gently open the hair cuticle, allowing for effective cleansing without stripping away natural oils. 

After conditioning, finish with a cold water rinse to seal the cuticle, lock in moisture, reduce frizz, and enhance shine. This approach balances the scalp's need for cleanliness with the curls' need for hydration.

Your curly hair wash routine sorted: our top product picks

curl wow snag free pre-shampoo detanglerApply a pre-shampoo detangler like Curl Wow’s Snag Free.

This detangler adds major slip to curls before you shampoo for tangle-free washing, less breakage and a deeper, fresher clean.


curl wow hooked shampooWash with Curl Wow’s Hooked Shampoo.

This residue and sulfate-free formula features a proprietary Procapil® blend to help “anchor” strands at the root, preventing excessive shedding or hair loss from styling stressors (braids, weaves, extensions). It also leaves curls’ surface film-free and optimally prepared to receive leave-in hydrators + moisturizing stylers.

cocomotion curl conditionerCondition with Coco-Motion Lubricating Conditioner. Formulated with Profaxil-18 Complex™, it breaks up Marula Oil and Coconut Oil particles, enabling them to penetrate hair and lubricate hair’s internal protein chains.

ry, dehydrated, brittle, “static” curls are transformed into curls with fluid motion, silky texture, bounce + elasticity 


curl wow floetry serumApply a serum like Flo-etry Vital Natural Serum.

Powered by their proprietary Profaxil-18 Complex™, it breaks up Jojoba, Pequi, and Coconut Oils’ large particles to micro-disperse these rich oils throughout hair strands, from lengths to ends for super hydrated, juicy, healthy-looking curls.


curl wow shook sprayTo finish, use a curl-enhancing spray like Shook Mix + Fix Bundling Spray.

This unique ”mix-to-activate” bi-phase formula features one-part powerful, natural hydrating oils + one-part  breakthrough curl-bundling polymers for bouncy, defined “naked curl” results.

How to dry curly hair

how to dry curly hair

Drying curly hair properly is crucial to maintaining its health and to enhancing its natural pattern. Here's a step-by-step guide on
how to dry curly hair:

  • Gentle Squeezing: After washing, avoid rubbing your hair with a towel as this can disrupt the curl pattern and cause frizz. Instead, gently squeeze out excess water with a microfiber towel or a cotton T-shirt.
  • Use a Leave-In Conditioner or Curl Serum: Apply a leave-in conditioner or curl serum to help hydrate your curls and reduce frizz. Distribute the product evenly using your fingers or a wide-tooth combCurl Wow’s Flo-etry Vital Natural Serum’s rich-oil blend moisturizes strands from root to tip for instantly plump, plush, juicy curls. This is one of Kendall Dorsey's (our Curl Creative Ambassador) favorite products! 

    "This serum is loaded with jojoba, pequi, and coconut oils + Profaxil 18 Complex™ to deliver the rich moisture curly strands typically lack. Instantly, curls are hydrated and healthier-looking…de-frizzed and glossy, from length to ends,”
    he says. You can learn more about the product below!
  • Scrunch Your Curls: Gently scrunch your hair with your hands or a microfiber towel to encourage curl formation. This technique helps enhance the natural curl pattern.
  • Air Drying: Whenever possible, let your curls air dry. This is the most gentle method and helps prevent heat damage. Simply leave your curls alone and allow them to dry naturally. To find out how to avoid frizz when air drying, visit our guide.
  • Diffusing: If you need to dry your hair faster, use a hairdryer with a diffuser attachment. Set the dryer to a low heat setting to minimize damage. Tilt your head forward and gently place sections of your curls into the diffuser bowl, moving it around your head until your hair is dry. This method helps maintain the curl shape and adds volume.

How to refresh curls without washing

how to refresh curly hair

Not got enough time to go through the whole curly hair wash routine? No problem! Refreshing curly hair without washing is a great way to revive your curls and extend the time between wash days. Here's how you can do it:

  • Finger Coiling or Twirling: After misting, use your fingers to reshape and define individual curls that have lost their pattern. Twirl them around your finger to encourage the curl to reform.
  • Curl Refreshing Products: There are products specifically designed to refresh curls. These can be sprays, gels, or mousses that you can apply to your hair to help redefine and boost your curls. Shook Mix + Fix Bundling Spray is perfect for refreshing your curls. Its powerful hydrators + crunch-free polymers will bring bounce back for perfectly defined, glossy, frizz-free curls. Kendall says, “I love Shook for so many reasons. It’s all about hydration, hydration, hydration!"

  • Gentle Scrunching: Once you've applied your products, gently scrunch your curls with your hands or a microfiber towel to encourage curl formation and remove any excess moisture.
  • Diffusing: If your curls need a little extra help to dry or regain their shape, you can use a hairdryer with a diffuser attachment on a low heat setting. This can help to enhance volume and definition.
  • Pineapple Method: At night, gather your curls loosely at the top of your head (like a pineapple) to preserve their shape and prevent flattening while you sleep.
  • Silk or Satin Accessories: Use a silk or satin scarf, bonnet, or pillowcase to reduce friction and frizz, keeping your curls intact for longer.

So here’s to the magic of curls - may your spirals always be bouncy, your frizz be minimal, and your confidence shine as brightly as your beautiful locks. Keep loving and caring for your curls, and they’ll reward you with a crown of natural beauty. Until next time, keep rocking those fabulous curls with pride!

Read more about curl care on the Color Wow Blog:

  • How to style curly hair
  • Why do my curls feel so dry?
  • What are the causes of thinning curly hair?