How to wash & condition curly hair

Since curly hair is extremely dry, it is best to avoid washing your hair every day. You have to create a schedule that balances off sweat and grime on one hand and hydration on the other. What works best for my hair (with my daily gym visits) is washing every 2 or 3 days – be it with a shampoo or co washing. I always wash my hair at night because it dries taking its own sweet time which gives me well defined curls the next morning. Here is a step-by-step process on how to wash and condition curly hair.


I use only anti-dandruff shampoos. I don’t use the shampoos that come clubbed with the conditioners. I have not seen them doing any special miracle as opposed to using the conditioner alone. On my hair they don’t “Repair split ends” or “Provide volume boost” or the worst claim, “Tame frizz & dryness”. To me a shampoo is only for one purpose – cleaning. Be it cleaning dirt, grime, sweat or dandruff…a shampoo cleans. I experiment with many anti-dandruff shampoos.

  • I take about 20 ml of the shampoo into a mug and dilute it with water. (Directly pouring the shampoo onto the scalp can badly dry out the hair.)
  • Then I pour it onto my hair working up a lather concentrating only on the scalp.
  • Whatever drips off from the scalp is enough to clean your hair length. This is more important with curly hair because it has very little oils off its own.
  • There is no need to ‘rinse and repeat’ – it will only strip off whatever little oil your curls have.

I shampoo rarely, probably once or twice per month either to get rid of any product build up, or to do a thorough cleaning if my hair was exposed to too much dirt (like when traveling), or if my hair looks too greasy and limp. For regular cleansing, I prefer co washing.

2.Co washing

Co washing is to use just a conditioner to clean hair. Most conditioners have small amounts of cationic surfactants in their ingredient list and they are enough to clean hair. Read everything you need to know about co washing here – Co washing curly hair – What, Why, How.


This is perhaps the most important part of a curly hair regimen. Since curly hair is the driest form of hair, we need to rely on external hydration. I keep rotating between conditioners which are rich in oils and butters.

  • I make sure my hair is dripping wet. Water helps the conditioner do its job.
  • I take a BIG palmful of the conditioner and apply it all over my hair detangling it with my fingers as I go. To make work easier, divide your hair into 2 or 4 parts and condition and detangle it one at a time concentrating on the mid length to the ends. Run your fingers through your hair and detangle it using the conditioner’s slip. If any part feels very rough or tangled, rub on some extra conditioner.
  • Next I apply some conditioner onto my scalp and detangle the crown area. (I do not avoid the scalp as is popularly advocated because that would just make my scalp area very frizzy.)
  • Lastly I repeat the same with the hair between the scalp and the mid length.
  • Now you can run your fingers from your scalp through the ends with ease. All the hair strands must be soaking and coated with the conditioner by now and should feel soft to touch.
  • I put my hair up with a jaw clip. Then I wash my body. Now, the conditioner can do its work for a good 5-7 minutes.
  • After that I wash my hair. I gently use my hand to wash off the conditioner for about 1 minute. Not more than that. You want some to remain in your hair.

Here is a video of my curly hair routine showing how to wash and condition curly hair.

I have recently begin to love the Squish to Condish method for conditioning my curly hair- It helps hydrate curls, promotes curl clumping and you don’t need a separate leave in. This will leave your hair with the right amount of conditioner it needs as a leave in conditioner. Here’s the detailed post – Squish to Condish – The best conditioning method for curly hair

Check out the List of curly hair products in India to know the products I currently use and “How to dry curly hair” and “How to apply products and scrunch curly hair“. And here is a post with my full curly hair care routine – My curly hair routine .




    1. Indu, you can refer this post – My current curly hair products ( I have mentioned the link in the above post itself)

  1. Hi Anjana ,
    Is it necessary to shampoo every time we wash our hair?
    I mean we can just co wash and just use shampoo once in a week right?

    1. Yes absolutely Ashly! You need to shampoo only when you feel like 🙂 And if you can totally ditch the shampoo, better!

  2. Hi Anjana,
    I oil my hair with coconut oil atleast once a week cos my hair is really dry. What is the hair wash routine if you oil your hair and how often do you oil yours? Thanks! Awaiting your reply 🙂

  3. Hi. So i have a doubt. You shampoo. Then you co-wash
    And then you again condition? And for normal cleansing days you so wash and condition? How is that different? Do you use 2 conditioners? And also could you explain the procedure of deep conditioning? Do i shampoo them deepcondition and leave it on for 30 minutes then again wash and condition?. What if i use a DIY deep conditioning mask of egg, oil and avocado. How will the procedure be?

    1. Roshni, I shampoo once in 1-2 weeks. On other days I only co wash. Shampooing or co washing has to be followed with conditioning. You can use a cheap conditioner for co washing and a rich moisturising conditioner for conditioning. Co washing emphasizes on the scalp while conditioning emphasizes on the hair(Read the difference in the methods in the respective posts). For deep conditioning, shampoo-apply deep conditioner-wait-cowash-condition. For oil based deep conditioning, apply deep conditioner-wait-shampoo-condition. Hope that clears your doubts 🙂

  4. Hello! Umm.. I’m an Indian 🙂 and I’ve got curls like yours. I wish to know how many times do you shampoo, condition and co-wash your hair in a week, usually.

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