How to Manage Damaged & Dry Curly Hair
Whether it’s thanks to a recent encounter with a flat iron or a snowball of factors over time, heat damage and dryness can be a real drag for curly hair. But the more you know about how to care for your curls, the easier it is to bring them back to health—and prevent damage in the first place.
Is your hair damaged? If your hair feels brittle and behaves lifelessly (i.e. your curls won’t hold their definition), it’s most likely a result of damage from heat, chemical processing, or mechanical friction (think brushing, combing, or detangling roughly). Straight ends that won’t curl are a dead giveaway for damaged hair. Dryness may be a sign, but not always. Curls can be dehydrated without being damaged, but proper care is key to prevent more lasting effects. Follow this curl recovery game plan for your healthiest hair yet.
Use a gentle cleanser. Harsh shampoos disturb hair’s cuticle and strip moisture, leaving hair prone to damage. Look for a cleanser with a low pH and moisture-boosting ingredients to keep curls clean and healthy, too. (Plus, check out our guide on how to wash curly hair the right way. Try: Ultra-Nourishing Cleansing Oil Shampoo. This sulfate-free formula is gentle enough for all curl types, and helps to replenish essential moisture with a blend of antioxidant-rich natural oils (Açai Berry, Passionfruit, Meadowfoam Seed, and Rice Bran).
Hydrate hair daily. Curly hair’s protective cuticle layer is naturally lifted, leaving strands exposed to damage. Keeping the hair hydrated helps to seal this protective barrier and keep curls supple. Try: Moisture Lock™ Leave-In Conditioner is the perfect “base layer” of hydration for all curl types—use it to prime your curls before applying styling products.
Deep condition weekly. “To prevent breakage, deep condition curls at least once a week for maximum hydration and strength,” says Ayanna Augustine, Senior Stylist and Master Artistic Educator at Ouidad’s New York flagship salon. Try: Curl Recovery™ Melt-Down Extreme Repair Mask cushions strands with nourishing fatty acids as it helps to restore hair's protective lipid barrier. Another option designed specifically for kinky curl types, Curl Immersion™ Triple Treat Deep Conditioner replenishes ceramides to help hair retain moisture and strength.
Use a protein-based treatment 1-2 times a month. Take it from our founder and world-renowned curly hairstylist, Ouidad: “Just as you must eat to survive, so you must feed your hair—to maintain its health, shine, and manageability.” Try: Deep Treatment Curl Restoration Therapy. The first product created by Ouidad and a must-have for all curl types for over 30 years, this heat-activated treatment restores the moisture and nutrients that curly hair continually loses through its naturally lifted cuticle.
For extreme cases, make the chop. If your curls have been permanently relaxed or heat damaged beyond repair, cutting the damaged ends may be your best option. Find a stylist who understands your texture, and try these strategies to grow longer, stronger curly hair.