The Best Hair Care Routine for Every Hair Type
Did you know there are four different types of human hair? Whether the strands on your head are straight, wavy, curly or coiled, each type requires a specific hair care routine to ensure its optimum health.
Characteristics like texture, density, porosity and how thin or thick your hair might be should all be considered when determining how to treat it and which products to use. To determine the best hair care routine(1) for you, make sure to first.
Basic Hair Care Routine
Most hair care routines include, at minimum, the following steps:
- Shampooing and conditioning
- Styling and protecting
Depending on what your specific concerns might be and the condition you're trying to treat, you could add a few additional steps to this routine. For instance, you may want to use a scalp treatment if you're battling dandruff or add a deep-conditioning mask after spending a lot of time in the sun.
Routines for Your Hair Type
Once you've determined your hair type, follow the corresponding tips below to make sure it's looking and feeling its very best.
Straight Hair Routine
Straight hair is considered the Type 1 of hair. If your hair is straight, you may be more prone to oiliness and have to wash it more often than with other types.
Cleansing and Conditioning
- Look for products that will give you a deep cleanse and target oiliness, dirt and grease at the scalp.
- Aim to wash your hair every two to three days, or sooner if necessary.
- Choose a sulfate-free shampoo to avoid drying out your hair and scalp.
- Volumizing conditioners can be especially helpful for straight hair since it can be lacking in this department.
- If you're going to use a dry shampoo, choose a product that will help absorb the oils from your scalp while also doubling as a volumizer. Use it in moderation to avoid buildup, as this can lead to your hair being weighed down.
- After you wash your hair, dry it lightly with a towel.
- Less is always more when it comes to straight hair. Choose lightweight or two-in-one products to avoid weighing down your hair. For instance, you could look for a texturizing spray that also provides hold, rather than using two separate products.
- Applying a heat protectant to your hair is essential before using any heat tools in order to prevent damage.
Wavy Hair Routine
If your locks are wavy, you have what's considered Type 2 hair. Your routine will be similar to that of straight hair and require less moisture than curly hair. You'll also want to avoid using heavy products that can weigh your strands down.
Cleansing and Conditioning
- Feel free to take longer in between washes or as needed.
- Look for a conditioner that will help retain moisture without holding your hair down. Check the label and avoid products that have too many oils or heavy ingredients.
- To detangle your tresses, use conditioner in the shower.
- For an extra shot of moisture, use a deep-conditioning product whenever you feel your strands could use some extra love.
- Use a microfiber towel to dry your hair and eliminate frizz.
- To keep your wavy texture intact after washing, avoid combing, raking or scrunching your hair with your fingers.
- Apply products with the flat palm of your hand, starting at the midsection of your hair. Do not put any products near your scalp as it can contribute to greasy build-up.
- Air-dry your waves for an effortless look or apply a heat-protecting product if you want to use any heat tools to style it.
- For extra definition, choose mousse over a gel since it tends to be lighter on hair.
Curly Hair Routine
Curly hair is referred to as the Type 3 of hair. Moisture is essential to the curly hair care routine. In recent years, many people have emphasized more natural approaches to maximizing curl, using a process called the curly girl method.
Cleansing and Conditioning
- Curly hair types can already be more prone to dryness, so make sure to avoid any shampoos that can exacerbate this.
- If you're following the curly girl method, sulfates are not allowed at all in your hair care routine. In addition to causing both hair and scalps to dry out, sulfates can be a mixed bag for other hair types, depending on the person.
- Consider co-washing, which involves using conditioner only. This helps avoid drying out the hair, which can happen from using shampoo.
- Choose a conditioner that's designed to add moisture back into your hair. While the conditioner sits in your hair for a few minutes in the shower, detangle your strands with a wide-tooth comb.
- To really hydrate your curly hair, make sure you incorporate deep conditioning into your routine once a week.
- Use a microfiber towel to dry your hair, especially because curly hair types are more prone to frizz.
- Apply a leave-in conditioner for an extra shot of moisture as needed.
- Start styling your hair while it's still wet.
- Use either a gel or mousse product, depending on your preference, and scrunch it into the ends of your hair.
- You can choose to either air dry your hair or use a blow dryer, ideally on the lowest heat seating and with the diffuser attachment. If you blow dry or touch up with other heat tools, make sure to apply a heat protectant before you start.
Coily Hair Routine
Coily hair is known as Type 4 hair and can be taken care of using a similar routine to curly hair. Moisture is extremely important in taking care of coily or kinky hair, which is also known as the Black hair care routine.(2) This hair type is the easiest to damage, so you'll want to treat it as gently as possible.
Cleansing and Conditioning
- To avoid drying out your hair, avoid any shampoos that contain sulfates. Similar to curly hair, coily hair is already prone to dryness.
- For extra hydration, look for moisture-adding products that are high in water concentration or humectants.
- Try to wash your hair only once or twice a week. If you need to wash it more often, use a conditioner (no shampoo) in between regular washes.
- To provide extra moisture, condition your hair before you shampoo it. Regardless of when you add the conditioner to your hair wash regimen, make sure you're also detangling your hair during the process.
- The more coily your hair is (4b and 4c are the coiliest types), the more you may benefit from using a leave-in conditioner.
- Aim to use a deep conditioner once a week.
- After you wash and condition your hair but before you style it, consider using the LOC/LOG method.(3) This acronym stands for the order in which you apply these products:
○ Liquid: This can be a leave-in conditioner
○ Oil: This includes hair oils.
○ Cream: This may include either cream products or butters
○ Gel: You might apply this styling product instead of a cream, depending on how you wish to style your hair.
- Limit using heat as much as you can. If possible, let your hair air dry, but if you must use a blow dryer, use a diffuser attachment on the lowest heat setting, the same way you would style curly hair.
- Choose protective styles for your hair like braids, buns, twists and knots.
When it comes to hair care routines, there's no such thing as a one-size-fits-all regimen. Even though there may be some similarities between different hair types, it's important to know which of the four categories applies to your strands. Once you've determined this, you can tailor your routine accordingly and ensure your hair gets all the TLC it needs.
1. "Tips for Healthy Hair," American Academy of Dermatology Association. Accessed February 10, 2022. https://www.aad.org/public/everyday-care/hair-scalp-care/hair/healthy-hair-tips
2. "Black Hair: Tips for Everyday Care," American Academy of Dermatology Association. Accessed February 10, 2022. https://www.aad.org/public/everyday-care/hair-scalp-care/hair/care-african-american
3. "Hair Care Routine for Coily Kinky Hair 4a-4c," The Wild Curl. Accessed February 10, 2022. https://www.thewildcurl.com/blogs/go-curly-hair-blog/kinky-coily-hair-routine