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How To Get Curly Hair For Black Men

Curls don’t style themselves – it’s the kind of thing that guys with straight hair just don’t understand. Figuring out how to get curly hair for Black men is a learning curve, but the results are worth the time investment.

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How To Get Curly Hair For Black Men

The fastest way to turn waves and frizz into curls is to take care of your hair properly, and use product designed to enhance your curls: 

Think of curls as an investment — for healthy, full curls, you’ll have to change your normal hair routine and products. 

  1. Get The Right Shampoo (And Conditioner)

You probably have first hand experience with how drying shampoo feels against your hair and scalp. Not all shampoos are made for curly hair, and even fewer are made for Black hair and skin. 

I recommend a coconut oil shampoo, or really any shampoo that’s packed with moisturizing ingredients. You’ll still get the cleaning power that your scalp needs, but it won’t dry out your hair, putting you on the path toward defined curls instead of frizz or waves.

And don’t skip out on conditioner! Regular conditioning and weekly deep conditioning help your curls stay curly. Avoid conditioners with sulfates.

  1. Keep Your Hair Moisturized

Black hair is known to lose moisture quickly. Aside from using conditioner on a near-daily basis, you’ll want to add products to your routine that keep your hair hydrated so that your curls stay intact.

Lots of Black stylists and YouTubers lean toward hair oil as the right solution for dry hair. Hair oil coats each strand to lock in moisture. It also encourages curls. Some of the best hair oils include ingredients like avocado or castor oil, shea butter, and vitamins.

Another big part of keeping your hair moisturized is not washing your hair too often. It’s a mistake that lots of Black guys with short hair make – you won’t really notice those drying effects until you try to grow out some curls.

  1. Use Products For Curly Hair

If your hair struggles to curl nicely (especially if it’s long), you probably need a holding product. Hair gels work fabulously on Black hair. They’ll add shine and definition to your curls, helping your hair form strands.

Just don’t use gel every day, and wash it out thoroughly so that it doesn’t leave residue on your scalp.

  1. Dry Your Hair Correctly

The way you dry your hair could be messing up your curls. Some guys have luck with air drying, but for more control, use a blow dryer with a diffuser attachment. The diffuser looks like a spiky bowl, and it diffuses the air so that your curls can form naturally without too much direct airflow.

If you use a blowdryer frequently, dry on a cold setting to avoid heat damage. 

  1. Let Your Hair Grow Out (Or Shorten It)

There are two things that can make it really hard to get the curls you want: shrinkage or weight. 

Black hair can get so curly and textured that it shrinks toward your skull. If you want curly hair that stands up and has bounce, you may need to grow out your hair more to account for that shrinkage.

On the other hand, some guys really struggle to style long hair. It’s heavy, and getting the curls to stay can be a challenge. Taking some length off can make it easier for you to style your curls.

(We’ll talk about how to style short curls and long curls down below.)

  1. Cover Your Curls

Once you have the curls you want, defend them! Get a bonnet, silk pillowcase, or durag so that they don’t fall out when you go to bed at night. Keeping your hair covered will protect it from tangles that can lead to split ends and frizz.

How To Get Short Curly Hair For Black Men

Don’t be daunted by the number of steps – once you have your game down and know what your hair likes, it takes as little as 5-10 minutes to get short curly hair. In the meanwhile, be patient, and try a few of these tactics:

Start With Wet Hair

Wet hair gives you the perfect blank canvas for curls – it’s moldable. You can start with fresh-out-of-the-shower hair, or use a spray bottle to wet down your hair. Either works.

Use A Moisturizer And/Or Texturizing Product

Use an oil, cream, or gel on your damp hair so that your hair can start to form locs. Whichever you choose, put a small amount in your hands and spread it evenly through your hair. The product helps strands stick together and curl. 

Curl By Hand Or Use A Curling Sponge For Black Hair

To push your curls to the next level, twist them by hand or use a curling sponge. If you use a sponge, rub it in a circular motion over your hair. The pores in the sponge will trap curls and twist them for you. A sponge is great if you don’t have anyone to help you curl the hair at the back of your head. 

Dry Your Hair Gently

Some guys can get away with air drying from here and going about their day, but to make sure your curls form the way you want them to, use a blow dryer with a diffuser to dry your curls.

Finish With A Holding Product

If your curls feel loose once they’re dry, or if you’re worried about them falling out, finish off your look with hairspray or gel. This is not a necessary step for most guys, and it’s not something I wholeheartedly recommend, but it’s an option for a handful of men.

How To Get Long Curly Hair For Black Men

Most of the steps for getting long curly hair are the same as those for getting short curly hair. The big difference is that you need to be patient. Long hair will take longer to dry, and it’s easier to mess up your curls in the meanwhile.

Try a few of these tricks to make the process easier:

Use Mousse Instead Of Gel

When you have long hair, one of the biggest challenges is evenly distributing all the products you use through every strand of hair. In that regard, mousse is a lot easier to work with than gel. I’ve found that it doesn’t have as strong of a hold, but the ease-of-use is worth it for lots of guys.

Try Hand-Curling

Sadly, a curling sponge won’t work on long hair. Go through your hair and find the strands that need some extra help twisting up. Twirl them around your finger, or use curlers or a hair elastic to secure the curls for a few hours before you let them out.

Don’t Air-Dry

Air drying often goes wrong for guys with long hair. It gets weirdly fuzzy or the curls get misshapen. To ensure that you get the curls you want, use a blow dryer with a diffuser attachment to dry your hair completely.

Frank Edwards is a men's grooming & style expert who is "internet famous" for being able to simplify complicated grooming routines into easy, yet effective rituals any man can do. As a professional analyst, he has spent years researching the biggest brands, products, experts, best practices, and breaking news in the space. He takes this analysis, tests it out on himself, and then documents everything in his writing. As a result, his experience-based articles are considered by some to be the gold standard in men's grooming and men's style.