Curly Hair Care (Nora’s Routine // 16 months)

It’s been a bit since I’ve written for my blog. It’s been a bit since I’ve written anything at all (besides the occasional Facebook post). Life is busy with my two busy little ones. The best kind of busy of course! But busy nonetheless. I feel like we’re always on the go and nap times rarely overlap for very long. So you could say that I’m not exactly drowning in free time.

I’ve come to realize, though, that if I keep waiting for my ideal time to write…kids both napping, quiet house, sunlight streaming through the window, perhaps a light breeze, cup of coffee resting beside me…it just ain’t gonna happen. So instead, here I am, sitting on the floor of Nora’s room, typing this post on my phone as she crawls literally all over me and pulls the blinds down onto my head.

I’m writing, though, THAT’S WHAT COUNTS! And at least I’m by a window. Even if I could maybe do without the blinds smashing into my head.

The reason I feel like it’s so important that I write today is summed in two words: CURLY HAIR. I’ve been meaning to write something on this topic for awhile now but alas, the whole waiting-for-unobtainable-picturesque-writing-conditions was happening and I kept putting it off. But I’d really like to keep a running summary of Nora’s curly hair journey — or, more likely, this straight-haired mama’s journey in figuring out how to care for her daughter’s really curly hair.

To be fair, in my research of this topic I’ve come to discover that my hair is not actually straight like I always kind of thought. It’s pretty wavy in fact and, with some work, actually has a few random ringlets underneath. But it’s nothing compared to the gorgeous (albeit, strong-willed) curls sprouting up from all angles of my daughter’s head. And, besides, I’ve been treating my hair like it was straight all my life anyway so I came to this situation — a truly curly baby girl — with absolutely no experience and NO idea what I was doing.

The first sign of curl, Nora at 1 month old.

I researched here and there when I noticed Nora’s very first curls (“Hmmm, that’s odd,” I thought. “Her hair doesn’t lie flat.”). I picked up a few good tips…NEVER dry brush curly hair. DON’T EVEN THINK about washing it every day, or even every other day (unless something really gnarly gets gunked up in there). TOWELS = FRIZZ. Skip the shampoo and moisturize, moisturize, moisturize with conditioner instead. And for goodness sake, DO NOT RAKE YOUR FINGERS THROUGH THE RINGLETS. Unless, of course, you enjoy the look of a dandelion.

When Nora was about 9 months old I picked up a container of Shea Moisture Kids Coconut Hibiscus Curling Butter Cream (phew! that’s a mouthful) and used it for containing the frizz. But still, I was way out of my element. I didn’t know what I was going to do once Nora’s hair got a bit thicker and longer.

(Some of my first attempts at using product in her hair pictured below)

Luckily a friend of mine (who has really curly hair) introduced me to the Curly Girl Method before the stakes were very high with Nora’s hair. This friend (bless her!) added me to the Facebook group for the Curly Girl Method and I devoured the information. I read everything posted in the albums, scrolled through tons of posts from real life curly girls, and moved on to YouTube to learn more. I cobbled together information on everything from the general rules of the method (no silicones, no sulfates, no parabens, no high heat) to products and techniques. And I’m still nowhere close to having it figured out!

Nora at 11 months.

I’ve since read “Curly Girl: The Handbook” by Lorraine Massey, which is where this whole method stems from. (Side note: I would highly recommend it to anyone wanting to learn about healthy hair care in general, but especially to those with curly or wavy hair. Or those like me who have a child blessed with beautiful curly locks that you desperately wish to bring out the best in.)

Baby curls just waiting to bloom! Nora at 8 months.

Fortunately everything I was using in Nora’s hair was already “curly girl method approved” so I didn’t have to change much. I switched out her shampoo for a co-wash (aka “conditioner wash,” which is more hydrating for curls) and added a leave-in conditioner (which was the thing that made the biggest difference of all). I kept the Shea Moisture curling butter cream.

Getting the hang of things! (12 months old)

Her hair routine is very simple with just one product plus a leave-in conditioner, and I’m planning on sticking with it for as long as it works. But I do realize that curly hair is an ever-changing glorious beast so I’m sure I’ll be following up with this series whenever we switch things around.

I want to keep track, in part, for my own benefit in case I have another child someday with equally curly hair and I need to reference back to products and techniques I enjoyed. But I also want to do this in case it can help anyone else struggling to find something that works for their curly babe. Much of the information I found in my initial research was either for older kids, or for babies with multicultural hair. Some of the tips still applied but Nora’s hair is totally different in texture and curl type (and thus, its needs) and the technique is way different on a baby with very little hair versus a child with long, thick hair.

So here it is, Nora’s hair routine. If you’ve read this far I am both honored and impressed. 😂 I know I can be long-winded about things I care about but I do hope this information is helpful to someone else just starting out on their curly journey!


Background Info

  • Hair density: very fine
  • Curl type: 3a/3b with what I think are some cute little 3c’s by her neck (more info on finding out your curl type can be found here)
  • Porosity: medium/normal from what I can tell
  • Protein/Moisture Levels: balanced
3a curls on top, 3b all around
3c curls by her neck

Wash Routine (once or twice a week)

  • Fully wet hair and cleanse with As I Am Coconut Cowash if she needs it, otherwise skip to the next step…
  • Condition with a pump of Not Your Mother’s Naturals Curl Defining Conditioner (pink bottle)
  • Use fingers to detangle and work conditioner through. Then use a mini Wet Brush to comb and disperse the conditioner evenly throughout her hair.
  • Slick it back and twirl it into one large curl (she looks like a 1950’s greaser at this point) and let the conditioner sit and do its thing for a few minutes while I wash her body.
  • Rinse some of the conditioner out but leave enough in to keep it feeling smooth.
  • Gently pick up small sections of hair (which has been slicked flat by water) and twist them a bit to get the curl formation back all over her head.
  • Pat dry with clean t-shirt or other cotton material.

Product Application & Styling

**If starting with dry (aka fuzzball) hair…I spray her hair with water until very wet, gently grabbing small sections of hair in my hands and pulling up and out to smooth the curls back into their natural clumps and lift the hair from sticking to her scalp. (Sort of the roping technique, modified for short hair.)

  • Spritz in 4-5 small sprays of Not Your Mother’s Leave-In Conditioner (yellow bottle) to soaking wet (or at least very damp) hair, concentrating on the back/thickest parts of her hair.
  • Pull up gently on sections of her hair and twist to re-clump the curls into their natural pattern. (Finger coiling technique)
  • Take about a dime-sized dollop of Shea Moisture Kids Curling Butter Cream and emulsify it in palms then use a combination of the roping technique + finger coiling to make sure every curl is covered. **I avoid raking my fingers through her hair as this separates her curls too much and makes her hair poofy when it dries.
  • If she’s still sitting nicely after all this (hahahahaha good one) I will finger coil more of her curls to get them into bigger curl clumps.
  • Air dry until it’s like 110% dry, then fluff out the curls (scrunch out the crunch technique, but for short hair) and separate a few of the finger coiled curl clumps to add more volume.
The spring factor is real, y’all.

That’s it! It kind of seems like a lot written out but it really only takes about 5 minutes on no-wash days. Maybe a little longer when I have to chase her around the house applying product haphazardly as she giggles and wiggles her little self away.

Again, we only use the one product (Shea Moisture Curling Butter Cream, I don’t count the leave-in conditioner as a product) and it’s providing enough hold for now since her hair is still baby-fine.

The more I research and learn, the more in love with curly hair I fall — especially the curls on my daughter! Her hair is everything she is…wild and free-spirited and strong-willed and unique and tons of fun. And…absolutely beautiful. I hope, one day, she sees her curls as a gift to be so thankful for. I’m glad that I get to be the one to remind her just how lovely they are.

Until next time, friends! Stay curly.

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