How to Get Shinier, Longer Hair by Annie Fairfax
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How to Make Naturally Curly Hair Shinier & Smoother

Before I learned how to care for my hair, I used to think it was frizzy, unruly, and unmanageable. I have naturally curly hair, far curlier than you might expect, and throughout my life, very few stylists have managed to cut it properly. It took quite some time and lots of trial and error to discover that most hair care prsimply weren’t meant for my hair type. I have medium-thickness curly hair (3A – 3C, depending upon the location, it’s much curlier and tighter at the nape of my neck) that can take a lot of effort to keep hydrated and shiny. If you have hair like mine and want to learn how I figured out what was best for it, I hope these pieces of advice will serve you well.

How to Get Shinier, Longer Hair by Annie Fairfax

Above: Lunya Cotton Silk Henley

I was teased rather badly from a young age for my “frizzy” hair, and I used to hate that my hair was naturally curly. Even people I considered friends would say mean things about it, that it was “wild,” or worse, people would touch it without asking. Strangers would come up to me and run their hands through my hair when I was a kid and ask me rude questions about it, and it made me wish I could have sleek, straight hair like everyone else I knew. In high school, I began changing my relationship with my hair.

I started to research hair types, curl patterns, and the needs of people with naturally curly hair, and I learned that while my hair needed far more care and attention than my friends with stick-straight hair. That didn’t mean there was anything wrong with it. I wish I could go back in time and console the little girl version of myself who used to look in the mirror and hate her curly, wild hair and freckles and tell her how beautiful she was, but since I can’t, I wanted to write this post for anyone who may feel the way I used to feel. You are beautiful exactly as you are, and with a little extra effort, you can embrace your curls and love your hair, no matter what you choose to do with it.

How to Make Naturally Curly Hair Shinier

Learn Your Hair Type

Once you know the exact hair type you have, it will become much easier to care for. I was trying to use hair care products meant for straight hair, but I didn’t see the results I wanted. It was like trying to bake bread using a hair dryer instead of an oven – it would never turn out right. Once I accepted that I needed to use specialty products to improve my hair’s health, I was able to improve my feelings about my hair.

I recommend taking this hair quiz to understand your hair type, porosity, curl type, curl pattern, density, and curl width. When it asks you to create an account, you can just scroll down to the bottom of the page and “skip this step” to see your results without submitting any information.

For reference, my results from the above quiz were:

Curl Pattern: Curly
Curl Type: 3B
Porosity: High
Density: Medium
Width: Medium

Fishful Thinking Lilly Pulitzer Rivera Dress at The South Carolina Aquarium & Sea Turtle Care Center Photographed by Luxury Travel Writer Annie Fairfax

Above: Fishful Thinking Dress

Shampoo

Before shampooing with a clarifying shampoo to remove buildup, I wet my hair thoroughly with purified, filtered water. I switched our showerhead to this one that uses a charcoal filter to remove chlorine, heavy metals & other contaminants to ensure the water I’m washing my hair with is as clean as possible. Look into your home’s water quality. If you have hard water, you may need to go with further remedies to make your water more gentle on your hair and skin.

While shampooing, I use a scalp massager that’s less than $10, which helps increase blood flow to the scalp, ensures my scalp is as clean as possible and stimulates hair follicles to grow faster but stronger too. Not only have I noticed that my hair growth has increased, but it’s also extremely relaxing and a nice addition to my self-care routine. Using it gently in circles with a light to medium pressure feels phenomenal.

Conditioner

After thoroughly rinsing the shampoo from my hair, I apply conditioner from the hair about chin down and clip it up for the remainder of my shower. Leaving conditioner on my hair as long as possible helps it absorb as much as possible. I like to mix up the types of conditioner that I use or sometimes mix together so that my hair receives a variety of nourishment. Like our bodies, hair needs an assortment of nutrients to stay healthy and strong, particularly if your hair is naturally highly porous like mine. I like to use in-shower hair masks several times each month too.

Before rinsing out my conditioner with cold water to seal the hair root, I use a wide tooth bamboo comb or brush to remove tangles from my hair very gently. My hair tangles easily and if I don’t brush it out while it’s slick with conditioner, it isn’t easy to comb out. When doing this, I’m very careful not to pull or snap my hair because hair is very fragile when wet. When done carefully, this makes keeping my hair tangle-free much easier.

Above: Hedge Tennis Gear & A Breezy White Maxi

Hair Oiling

Out of the shower, I gently press excess water from my hair by hand and with an organic cotton tee shirt and use hair oil to help seal in moisture. Then, I apply a generous amount of my favorite hair oil, starting at the ends of my hair and working my way up. When I use other products like leave-in conditioners (this one is great for fighting frizz) or moisturizers, I apply those first, layering them to better nourish my hair. I use this hair oil, this oil, and this oil on my ends.

Hair Masks

Once a week, I use a hair mask to give an extra boost to my hair. I do a bit more frequently in the wintertime because the air is so dry. The nice thing about hair masks is that you can use them as often as necessary and you can make your own. I like to mash an avocado, add a quarter cup of manuka honey, and 1/2 cup melted coconut oil. I mix this up, apply it evenly to my hair and let it sit for an hour or more. My husband and I do this together while we watch a movie, making our hair SO shiny! There are plenty of other DIY hair mask recipes online for every hair concern.

Brushing

I mentioned how I brush my hair in the shower, but any other time I have to brush my hair, I do so slowly and gently, and not more than necessary so I won’t hurt my hair. I love this organic hair detangler spray to help make my hair easier to brush.

Above: Ramona Caftan & Cashmere Loungewear 

Drying

I let my hair air dry as often as possible, but when I do have to blow dry it, I use this blowdryer that is designed not to damage hair. Avoid using a rough towel to dry hair, as it can rough up the hair cuticle shaft itself, making it appear frizzy and less shiny.

Heat Tools

Since my hair has multiple curl patterns and curl sizes, I like to curl my hair, so it’s even looking. I use the lowest heat setting possible to avoid stress or fry my hair. This T3 curling iron is my favorite because they work exceptionally well, and the numerous heat settings ensure that my hair doesn’t become damaged.

I have baby hairs around my face, and I use a mini-straightener to style them so that they aren’t damaged by a hotter, larger straightener that doesn’t offer as much control. Plus, mini-straighteners let me get closer to the root of my hair to avoid crimps near my scalp.

Hair Cuts & Trims

I don’t cut my hair frequently because I find most hair stylists damage my hair because they don’t understand how to care for naturally curly hair. I do trim it about once or twice a year, and I use sharp hair-cutting scissors at home to trim any split ends that come up once a season or so.

Above: Linen Dress in Charleston, Tie-Shoulder Top at Grand Hotel, How to Grow Long Hair

Use a Shine Spray

I like to use a shine spray on top of everything else that I do to add more shine. I used to use Drybar’s, but after learning how many harsh chemicals, artificial colorants, and mysterious fragrances were in it, I switched to Innersense’s and it works even better for my hair.

Other Advice To Make Naturally Curly Hair Shiner

Sleep on a silk pillowcase. This will help keep hair sleeker and shinier and prevent damage while you sleep. It’s also great for preventing wrinkles, and they keep both hair and skin hydrated.

Eat healthy, nutrient-rich foods. Just like it’s impossible to build a house without the correct materials, our bodies need vitamins, minerals, and protein to create healthy, strong, shiny hair. Vitamins, raw juices, and nuts like macadamia nuts contain fatty acids that help make hair strong.

Ensure your hair products don’t have sulfates or other harsh chemicals that could weaken or dry hair.

If you have a trusted hair stylist, ask them what shine-enhancing treatments they offer and do your research on your hair type’s compatibility with the treatment(s) they recommend.

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Above: Pink Floral Juliet Dunn Dress & Peach Juliet Dunn Dress

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6 Comments

  1. We have similar hair, great tips!

  2. Grace Lipscomb says:

    Great tips on hair oiling – thank you!

  3. Anonymous says:

    These are great tips. You have beautiful hair!

  4. Megan Lilly says:

    Thanks for the tips!

  5. Ashley King says:

    Love the scalp brush idea! I’ll have to try it!

  6. Danielle F says:

    My hair is very similar! Buying a wide toothed bamboo comb now!