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  • Writer's pictureKimberly Diaz

New Curly Wavy Girl!? Start Here!

Updated: Jul 11, 2023

A photo of a girl with naturally curly hair. On the left is a photo that says 2020 with curls that are looser and not defined. On the right is a photo that says 2021 with shiny, frizz free, bouncy curls.
My curly hair after one year of love and care!

Hola! I'm Kimberly - a 30 something Latina from NYC. About two years ago, I decided to take care of my naturally curly hair... and it's turned into an amazing journey of self love and acceptance.

In the process of taking care of my hair I learned a LOT - how to style curly hair, the best curly hair routines for me, which curly hair products are best.... and I also wasted a ton of money in the process buying things I didn't need! I wanted to share what I've learned with other new curly girls and decided to put together my curly wavy starter pack. This post is full of curly wavy hair tips to help you embrace your natural curls.

This first debuted on my Instagram back in 2021 but I've built it out into a full guide based on the most common questions I get from new curlies.

For new curly girls everything can seem overwhelming, so I've broken this guide down to 3 main curly hair tips:

  1. Stop focusing on your curl type

  2. Focus on technique > products

  3. Invest in the right curly hair tools

Read on to learn more and let me know what questions you have in the comments!


Stop focusing on your curl type

Odds are you've seen a curly hair chart like this before. Maybe you have obsessed over if you're a true 2c or 3a... or maybe that's just me :) While curl type can provide a general understanding of the overall pattern of your curls, factors such as hair density, porosity, and texture have a more significant impact on the results you'll get with your waves and curls. So what is hair density, porosity, and texture? Let's dive into it!

Hair Density

Hair density refers to the number of hair strands per square inch on the scalp. It can be categorized as low, medium, or high density. Hair density affects styling choices, product application, and overall volume. For example, high-density hair requires careful product application to ensure even distribution. With the abundance of hair strands, it's important to apply products thoroughly from roots to ends. This may involve sectioning the hair to ensure every strand is coated. Low-density hair, on the other hand, requires a lighter hand with product application to avoid weighing it down. Using smaller amounts of product or opting for lightweight formulas can help prevent hair from looking flat or greasy. Check out this TikTok I posted explaining how to figure out what hair density you are!


Hair porosity refers to the hair's ability to absorb and retain moisture. It can be categorized as low, normal, or high porosity. Porosity levels affect how well hair retains moisture, how prone it is to dryness, and the effectiveness of products used. Understanding porosity helps determine the appropriate hair care routine, product selection, and styling techniques to maintain optimal moisture levels and overall hair health. There are a lot of tests you may read about online to test your hair porosity (the water test, for example), but they aren't accurate. I was able to diagnose my hair porosity with help from the curly guru, Manes by Mell.

To make things even more complicated, you can have different hair porosity types on different parts of your head! I have mostly low porosity hair, with some normal porosity sections.

Hair Texture

Hair texture refers to the thickness or diameter of individual hair strands and is typically categorized as fine, medium, or coarse. Hair texture affects how hair looks, feels, and responds to various styling techniques. You can determine your hair texture by looking and feeling it.

There are 3 main types of hair texture:

  • Fine Hair -Fine hair strands are generally thin and delicate. When held up to the light, fine hair may appear translucent or almost see-through. It can be more prone to breakage but often feels lightweight to the touch. In general, if you have fine hair you want to look for products that are labeled "light weight". Mousses and foams may be better than gels for your hair.

  • Medium Hair - Medium hair strands fall somewhere between fine and coarse. They have a moderate thickness and are the most common hair texture. Medium hair strands are more visible when held up to the light and have a balanced combination of strength and flexibility.

  • Coarse Hair - Coarse hair strands are thicker and have a more substantial diameter. They often feel rough or wiry to the touch and are more visible when held up to the light. Coarse hair tends to be stronger but may require additional moisture and conditioning to keep it manageable.


Focus on technique > products

There are a lot of blog posts and influencers swearing they found the best products for curly wavy hair - and don't get me wrong, the right product is SO helpful. That being said, I've found that 99% of the time, your technique is so much more important than the curly hair products you are using.

That's why, for at least the first 30 days of your curly hair journey, I recommend using the same curly hair products every time you style your hair. Honestly, make it 60 days if you can! By using the same products every time, you are going to practice different techniques to see what works best for you. That way, you can tell that bomb curly wash day was because of your styling method not because of some product you were influenced to buy (speaking from experience here!)

Here's what you'll need to get started. I've linked several options across different price points that have worked for me. I've tried all of these and can confidently recommend them as great options to try. Disclaimer: I may earn a small commission if you use these links below.

  • Sulfate Free Moisturizing Shampoo - Moisturizing shampoos clean your hair without being too stripping and can help reduce frizz. Look for sulfate-free versions which are gentle enough for your curls and waves.

A picture of AG Hair curl fresh sulphate shampoo

use KIMBERLY20 for 20% off!

A bottle of LUS sulfate free curly shampoo

  • Clarifying shampoo - Styling curly hair can mean using a lot of curly hair products, which can cause build up. A gentle clarifying shampoo is great for removing product build up and ensuring a healthy scalp. Sulfates are a-ok in clarifying shampoos, just don't use them regularly! I generally rotate between my moisturizing and clarifying shampoo.

A bottle of Kinky Curly Come Clean Clarifying Shampoo for Curly Wavy Hair

Twist Curly Hair Clarifying Shampoo
  • Curly Conditioner - Odds are you have one of these already, but curly hair is dying for moisture! Get yourself a great curly hair conditioner to moisturize those tresses! I have found that using the same brand of shampoo/conditioner works best for me. Cosmetic chemists know which ingredients work together so by using the same brand you reap those benefits!

AG Curl Fresh Curly Hair Conditioner

use KIMBERLY20 for 20% off!

A bottle of 4U By Tia Moisturizing Conditioner for curly hair

  • Leave In Conditioner* - Most curly girls need a leave in conditioner. If it's hot/humid/summer where you are, I recommend a spray leave in so your curls aren't weighed down. If it's cold/winter, I'd switch to a cream leave in conditioner. For some curly wavy girls with very fine hair, you may want to experiment with skipping the conditioner entirely!

Bounce Curl Leave in conditioner for curly wavy hair

Curls blueberry bliss leave-in conditioner

  • Product for Hold - A gel or mousse helps hold your style so it lasts multiple days. I strongly recommend starting with a gel especially made for curly hair because I often get the best hold with a gel.

a bottle of kinky curly leave in conditioner and gel (curling custard) for curly wavy hair

Verb curl foaming mousse
  • Oil - A hair oil can be applied at different stages of your curly hair routine. My favorite way to use a hair oil is at the end of my wash day to "scrunch out the crunch". Oil and water don't mix, so sealing your hair with an oil is a great way to create a barrier between humidity that can cause frizz!

For the first 30 days, use these products and these products only! You'll focus on application techniques (like raking, glazing, and brushing) and styling techniques (like scrunching, brush styling, and finger rolling) to see what works best for you.


Invest in the right tools

You need a few great products to help you focus on styling techniques. If you're just starting make sure you have these in your curly hair toolbox

  • Microfiber Towel - Microfiber towels soak up extra water, speeding up your drying time without creating any friction that traditional cotton towels can cause. In a pinch? An old t-shirt also will work just fine!

Woman wearing a microfiber towel

  • A hairdryer and diffuser - During your first month, you'll experiment with diffusing and air drying. Overall, I am team diffuser - it gives me the *best* results consistently. Before I upgraded to my Dyson and Shark hair dryer, diffusing would easily take 1 hour or more, which was way too much time for me. I recommend saving up for a great hair dryer if you have high density, low porosity hair like me! If I was in the market for a new dryer, I'd absolutely buy the Shark Hair Dryer again - it's ~50% the price of the Dyson and just as good. Don't forget to add the diffuser attachment to your cart!

  • A detangling and styling brush - I use a detangling brush to detangle my hair dry or in the shower (some girlies prefer a wide tooth comb). I recommend getting a brush that can double as a styling brush like The Tangle Teezer. You may also want to experiment with a brush like the Denman Brush - but note this brush is just for styling and can be rough on hair if you use it to detangle, so make sure you also have a proper detangling brush.

pink hair brush

  • Sleep Protection - DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP! Your curls will last longer with sleep protection. I wish I focused on this more during my curly journey. A silk/satin scarf or bonnet will help extend your wash day and make refreshing your curls a breeze. I like this set below because you can use the scrunchie to put your hair in a pineapple (loose ponytail on the top of your head) before putting on the bonnet so your curls stay in place all night!

Stay tuned for the next curly girl starter post where we go into the techniques you'll practice. Drop your curly questions in the comments!

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Jul 06, 2023

Thank you so much for this looking forward for the next one🤍


Jul 04, 2023

Thanks you for this blog! 💕


Jul 04, 2023

So much great information!

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