When it comes to styling and taking care of textured hair, it can often feel like a risky guessing game—especially when it comes to ingredients. Whether you have loose, bouncy curls or tight coils, finding the right product with the right combination of ingredients that will make your curls thrive can take a lot of research and trial and error.
We’re here to make that process a little less tedious by breaking down some of the most common curl care ingredients along with some product recommendations to fill the void in your routine. We also tapped celebrity hairstylist and Maui Moisture ambassador Alexander Armand—whose A-list client roster includes Naomi Campbell and Winnie Harlow—for his expertise and go-to curl tips.
Introducing your new friend Glycerin
If there’s one point we really want to drive home, it’s that moisture is bae, especially when it comes to curls. If you’re looking for a product that’s going to moisturize, hydrate or quench your hair, take a look at its ingredients list and make sure it contains our good pal Glycerin. Arguably the most effective humectant (an ingredient that is able to retain moisture while maintaining the integrity of the other properties in the product), glycerin is odourless, colourless and extremely hydrating—not to mention inexpensive, so the likelihood of you finding it in some of your favourite products is high. Incorporating a leave-in product or conditioner that contains glycerin will help to really lock in that moisture your hair’s craving.
The Maui Moisture Nourish & Moisture + Coconut Milk Conditioner and Weightless Oil Mist are both excellent examples of what glycerin can accomplish. The conditioner is Armand’s personal “holy grail product” that he deems essential for detangling and hydrating curly hair. This silent star combines already hydrating ingredients like aloe vera and coconut oil to not only give you the hydration your hair needs but also seal it in.
An oldie, but a goodie: Castor Oil
Now that your curls are healthy and hydrated, it’s time to focus on your hair goals. If thickening, lengthening, or repairing your locks is on the top of your list, look no further than castor oil.
“Castor oil has been a staple in the natural hair community since the beginning of time because of its many [natural] benefits,” Armand says.
As a fatty acid, it has been proven to boost shine, increase hair shaft flexibility, and is also antimicrobial. Not to mention it’s made up of 90 per cent ricinoleic acid, which is proven to promote blood vessel dilation and as a result, an increased flow of oxygen-rich and nutrient-rich blood to your hair follicles that will lead to increased hair growth.
Maui Moisture’s Thicken and Restore + Bamboo Fibre Shampoo is the perfect product if you’re looking to implement Castor oil into your daily hair care routine. While shampoos are often associated with being overly drying or stripping, this fortifying product is a blend of bamboo fibres, castor oil and neem oil designed to strengthen, restore and hydrate damaged hair.
Proteins = gains, right?
If your hair feels limp, brittle or has a lacklustre appearance, it could be a major indication of too little or too much protein, according to Armand. Because hair itself is a protein, if you use products that are too rich in protein, it can lead to stiffness and breakage. On the flip side, too little can cause your hair to be weak, fragile, and also lead to breakage.
“My rule of thumb is to use products that have nutrient-rich ingredients that provide protein, moisture and hydration,” says Armand. It’s important to find that perfect sweet spot and one way you can do so is by incorporating a protein-centric product into your regular hair care routine, such as Maui Moisture’s Lightweight Curls + Flaxseed Shampoo and Conditioner duo. Flaxseed is an excellent source of protein (inside and out), and using a lightweight cleansing and hydrating duo that’s a high source of it is a great way to integrate more protein into your routine without the risk of overprocessing.
The truth about alcohol
The use of alcohol in the natural hair care community has been a point of controversy for quite some time. While the dominant consensus is to avoid alcohol at all costs, believe it or not, not all alcohol is bad for your hair. Short-chain alcohols like Ethanol, Propanol and Benzyl (among others) definitely should be avoided because not only do they dry out your hair, they can also cause frizz. However, when certain alcohols are paired with hydrating ingredients, they can actually be quite beneficial and work as a seal for moisture.
According to Armand, one product that works wonders for type three and four curl patterns is Maui Moisture’s Thicken and Restore + Bamboo Fibers Conditioner. It contains Cetearyl alcohol, which is known for providing extra slip and also softens the hair to make it a little more manageable when detangling (much needed in a conditioner).
If you’d like to stay away from alcohol altogether, try the Heal & Hydrate + Shea Butter Conditioner that infuses the hydrating properties of Shea Butter and Aloe and gives you plenty of slip sans alcohol.
Wash day tips and tricks from the expert
Wash days can be pretty daunting for those of us with curly hair. In order for it to not be overly stripping, Armand recommends using a sulphate-free shampoo to cleanse in order to keep your curls hydrated.
If you’re new to the whole natural hair care game, Armand suggests using Maui Moisture’s Curl Quench + Coconut Oil line to get you started. You’ll find a product for almost each step of your hair care and can be assured that they contain all the right ingredients your hair craves.
The major key to healthy hair? “It essentially boils down to establishing a relationship with your hair and figuring out the products and regimen that works best for you,” he says. Like any good relationship, with time, effort, consistency and a little bit of trial and error, you can achieve the mane of your dreams.