16 mistakes you might be making in your curly hair routine

I get a lot of mails from my readers saying that they are doing everything but their curly hair still seems to not cooperate – it’s still frizzy and unruly and dry. As I troubleshoot with them, I thought of putting together the most common mistakes that I’ve seen in the different curly hair routines. Right from washing to styling curly hair, here are some mistakes you should be avoiding.

Start your curly hair journey today ! – Start Here

Mistakes in cleansing curly hair

  1. Shampooing/co washing too often – Shampoo not more than once in 2 weeks and co-wash not more than 3 times a week. More than that is too much for curly hair to handle.
  2. Rubbing on hair in a rough manner – Apply the shampoo/conditioner in a smooth manner. Do not rub side to side. Use the tips of your fingers to gently massage your scalp.

Mistakes in conditioning curly hair

  1. Same point as above. Do not rub aggressively – Even while rinsing, gently lift hair to let water flow and remove excess conditioner. Do not rub.
  2. Not using enough conditioner – You should apply enough conditioner so that your whole hair is covered and it feels velvety and saturated. Your hair should be dripping in conditioner.
  3. Not using enough water – There should be enough water on your hair so that the conditioner can work in unison with the water to smoothen your hair and moisturize it. If you feel like there’s friction while detangling, just pour more water (if you already have used a lot of conditioner).
  4. Not detangling thoroughly – If you don’t detangle thoroughly in the shower, no amount of technique or product will help your hair look good while styling. You hair should be 100% tangle free.
  5. Not leaving some conditioner in – Do not wash away your conditioner completely. Leave at least 10-20% in your hair to condition your hair.

 Mistakes in applying products(creams/gels/serums/leave ins) and styling curly hair

  1. Not using a styling product – Products help lock in moisture and provide curl definition. Check this – Beginner friendly products : Curly Hair Starter Kit
  2. Raking (running your fingers through your hair) while applying products – Raking is needed in the shower to remove tangles. But outside the shower, don’t run the product through your hair using fingers. This will ruin your curl pattern and prevent clump formation. Smooth the products onto hair like in a prayer position (hands) or take product in your palms, flip your head over and directly scrunch it. It’s usually each clump that needs product, not each hair strand. Note : If you are type 3b and above, raking may actually help with better product distribution. Give it a try.
  3. Applying products on not so wet hair or worse, on dry hair – Water helps the products do their job. And your hair is best styled when it’s wet because it is most manipulable at that time. Also, you need to lock moisture in so that your curls look hydrated even after they dry. Make sure your hair is really wet while applying products and scrunching. If your hair is not that wet, it may also cause frizzing.
  4. Not using enough styling product – Most bottles say “use 2 pumps” or “use a coin sized amount”. No, that’s just not enough for curly hair. There should be enough product(I use a lemon sized amount) to fully cover each curl clump from top to bottom. This will help in sealing moisture, providing hold and combating frizz. Wavies/fine haired curlies/low porosity hair can do with lesser product.
  5. Not using a gel – Gels are absolutely great to tame frizz, to provide curl definition and encourage curl clumping. I use gels like there’s no tomorrow and it’s a must have for me when it comes to my hair routine. I use a lemon sized / palmful of gel depending on the hold of the gel. Afraid of hard crunchy gels? Read this – Curly hair gels : Everything you need to know

Mistakes in drying curly hair

  1. Rubbing your hair – Rubbing the towel on the hair over and over to make sure there’s no water dripping ruins the curl definition and induces a great amount of frizz. Simply wrap a cotton tee on your hair to absorb excess water. Or scrunch your hair using the tee to absorb excess water. Or try plopping. Remember, water is your friend.

Other mistakes

  1. Combing or brushing hair once it is dry
  2. Running finger through it once it is dry
  3. Detangling in between wash days

 All 3 disrupt the curl clumping and pull them apart.

I hope this list helps you avoid any mistake you may be making in your curly hair routine 🙂



  1. lol .. i do half of the things mentioned here 😁😁 … so on top of the head u just apply the serum and rest of the hair scrunch ?im still curious .. u workout everyday right? so how do clean ur scalp everyday?because i shampoo every time after a workout and my hair is frizzy as hell

  2. I find some of this information to be helpful for some hair types more than others. Every curly girl has a different curl pattern, hair porosity, thin or thick, etc.
    For instance: You noted that using “2 pumps” or as directed on the bottle of styling products is not nearly enough for curly hair. Unfortunately, for those with low porosity hair (also, some wavy/looser curl pattern hair types), using anymore than 2 or so pumps of styling product will simply leave their hair greasy or crunchy. This can also depend on the product, as well. When I use more than a quarter-sized amount of DevaCurl’s StyleCream & Wave Maker, my hair looks like a grease ball and my curls do not form correctly. Whereas with some other products, my hair looks fine with 2 quarter-sized pumps.

    There were a couple of other things listed in your post that may work better for some curly girls more than others, but overall there was a lot of great information. Everyone just needs to test different types of products and methods out to find what works for their individual curly hair. 🙂

    1. Yes I totally agree. It happens to me too with richer products like Cantu coconut curling cream or OGX coconut curls butter 🙂

  3. I rake through my hair when I apply product because my roots can be conditioned more easily then. And I still detangle my hair in the styling/condtioning step. Despite raking, I still remain my clumps. But I can try the scrunch method between (co) washes.

  4. Some great tips, here I really struggle with my curly hair and never know why. I have watched your video and have taken note of each step – fingers crossed that my dry, frizzy hair will soon be gone!

  5. I have wavy hair maybe something between 2b and 2c, but I also have pcos which means if I don’t wash my hair everyday it’ll fall out. I tried to go without washing my hair last year and it did indeed fall out and now I’m having trouble re-growing it. What do you suggest for someone like me?

    1. Hey Alex…Washing will not affect hormonal hair loss. The reason you feel so is because the dead hair strands from each day don’t fall off easily until you comb or wash your hair and just sit in between your curls. So when there is a gap of say 4 days after your last wash, all the dead hair from the last 4 days fall off all at once onto your bathroom floor making it look like you lost a lot of hair on that day.

  6. Awesome, I do all these methods, you’re info is spot on. It does make a difference in the gels or creams you use, so test them all. Thank you.

  7. I’ve always had very short dry frizzy hair, even on good days my hair would frizz up ,scrunch up, and look incredibly thin, my hair is a loose spiral curl and is shoulder length, do you have any recommendations for growing my hair or keeping it from getting dry? *i don’t use any heat on my hair and wash it every other day*

  8. I love all the information here- need to rehaul my entire curly hair routine…Since I live in Dubai I keep having to deal with the heat and the AC and my hair gets into one hot mess- any suggestions for me?

    I also work out 4 times a week…

    I oil once a week and i’m pretty sure no amount of co washing will get rid of that parachute coconut oil.. correct?

    Thanks in advance for your help!

    1. Hey Anjana! How about using a scarf to protect your hair from the heat and AC? For some people cowashing removes oil – give it a try.

  9. Hi,

    I have recently started using the curly gurl method (using sulphates and silicones) after stumbling upon your blog. But i am doing something wrong, as my hair got definition and became frizz free but ended up looking unnatural – they were not hard or anything but looked unnatural despite of me breaking the cast using the scrunching method (they also looked sort of wet). Though when i refreshed my curls on the third day using conditioner mixed with water and using the squish to condish method they turned up to be perfect. Not sure what i did wrong on the wash day- maybe i applied too much hair gel -or dint apply it correctly – can you please help. I used the schwarzkopf taft marathon looks 48h long-lasting hold 6 power gel.

    I followed all the other steps to the T, i am confused on the gel application and plopping part – is the gel to be applied post removing the plop or before ? also the plopping has to be kept overnight or only for sometime (20 mins or so) and then the hair should be allowed to air dry? I washed my hair at night.

    1. Sounds like an issue with too much gel. Gel should be applied on dripping wet hair. Plopping can be done for as long as you want to – there’s no fixed time

  10. Hi Anjana,

    Anuja again. I have been following this method. However i have been noticing that instead of individual curls as yours or in the reader testimony section- mine tend to stay together and form ringlets – is my hair type different ? or am i doing something wrong?

  11. Hi Anjana! I’m very new to embracing my curls and I have question I don’t think I’ve seen covered… do you avoid putting your hair up at all–eg, pony tail, braids, clips? I have a lot of hair and when it’s hot out I like putting it up to cool off, is there a certain way this should be done? Thank you! Tricia

    1. I put my hair up in a pony while working out using a strong plastic claw clip. I braid if it’s day 3 or day 4 because braiding spoils my curl definition.

  12. I have a lot of problems regarding my curls…I have a lot of hair loss …applied a lot of product..although no affect…help

Leave a Reply to Neethi Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *