This Shit Rules: Curly Haired Goddess Products

Welcome to This Shit Rules, wherein members of the Autostraddle team open up to you about the beauty products they couldn’t live without.

I feel like my curly hair is both a blessing and a curse. Under normal conditions, it ranges thusly:

A. Queen Guinevere of the BBC's 2008 Merlin adaptation B. Lady Morgana, also of the BBC's 2008 Merlin adaptation C. Morgan Le Fay of the 1998 Merlin miniseries

Left: Queen Guinevere of the BBC’s 2008 Merlin adaptation
Center: Lady Morgana, also of the BBC’s 2008 Merlin adaptation
Right: Morgan Le Fay of the 1998 Merlin miniseries

I mean, honestly, I’d probably bang any of those options. But most of the time I prefer looking like royalty to looking like an evil witch. After 27 years, I’ve finally located a handful of products that get me in Queen Guinevere territory, like, 85% of the time. And for curly hair, that’s pretty good.


I woke up like this. Then I put a sparkly headband on and pondered what my first act would be as Queen regent of Camelot. …Yeah, I don’t know. I’ve just been watching a lot of Merlin lately. It’s fine.

Here’s what I use.

DevaCurl No-Poo, Conditioner, and Gel

I love DevaCurl! The “no poo” cleanser is better for my curly hair because it doesn’t use surfactants to make suds, which cause frizz. The conditioner is creamy and leaves my hair silky and moisturized. The gel is something I can pile on for control without worrying about flakes or stickiness. I used to use Ouidad (which is good too!) but I found I prefer DevaCurl’s sort of nice, light grapefruit-y smell.

The line is kind of pricey, but the shampoo (er, not-shampoo?) lasts a really long time. Or it does if you only wash your hair occasionally, like I do. (It keeps it your curls from drying out! It’s a thing!)

Buy It on Amazon: Trial Kit – 1 oz each of No Poo, One Condition and Light Defining Gel ($12.95)
Full Size – 12 oz each of No Poo, One Condition and Light Defining Gel ($49.16)

 Swissco Microfiber Hair Towel Plus Shower Comb


I generally use my fingers to create my part, but if you want to be more exacting than I am, a wide toothed comb like this is perfect for making straight lines. Do it while you’re still in the shower with to avoid disrupting your hair’s curl pattern once its already set.

Once out of the shower, a microfiber towel is awesome for keeping curls intact. Supposedly the texture creates less friction on hair and therefore causes less frizz. I’m not 100% sure if that’s why it works, but I was seriously so surprised by how much of a difference this made when I switched to a microfiber towel instead of a regular towel to dry my hair.

Buy It on Amazon: 1 towel + comb ($7.08)

 Tangle Teezer The Original Post Swimming Detangling Hair Brush

tangleteezerI have one of these in pink and it lives in my shower. The short, flexible bristles are perfect for detangling my hair without breaking it. The shape also feels nice in my hand, and it gives a lovely scalp massage.

Buy It on Amazon: 1 brush ($8.99)

Hot Tools HTBW1852 Curly-Q Tapered Nanoceramic Curling Iron


For curls that need a touch up, this is the best curling iron I’ve ever found. The tapered head makes natural-looking curls that blend right in with my real curls. I definitely don’t use it on a daily (or even weekly) basis, but when I need to make extra sure my hair looks good, this is my go-to tool.

Buy It on Amazon: 1 curling iron ($32.00)

Rhinestone Beaded Elastic Headband

Curly hair wants to be free! And sometimes, in spite of your most valiant efforts, it just will not do what you want it to. On days like these, I could use the curling iron to fix every last strand… but what I usually opt for is to pile my hair high atop my head and accessorize with a sparkly, beaded headband. I like it because it feels like I’m wearing a tiara, but it’s actually socially acceptable to wear outside of a sweet sixteen birthday party.


This look is best paired with a solemnly regal air and flashing eyes that strike fear into the hearts of men.

Buy It on Amazon: 1 headband ($6.99)

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Laura Mandanas

Laura Mandanas is a Filipina American living in Boston. By day, she works as an industrial engineer. By night, she is beautiful and terrible as the morn, treacherous as the seas, stronger than the foundations of the Earth. All shall love her and despair. Follow her: @LauraMWrites.

Laura has written 210 articles for us.


  1. so, recently I’ve been blow drying and straightening my hair because I’ve given up on trying make the curly work. but I will look into these products, maybe! I find that I miss brushing my hair whenever it’s curly though, and then if I do brush it when it’s curly it becomes a giant frizzy mess!

  2. ‘Curly hair wants to be free! And sometimes, in spite of your most valiant efforts, it just will not do what you want it to. ‘

    You speak SO many truths here!

  3. How did you know I needed this so badly! I just bought the tangle teezer last week after not brushing my hair since I grew it out, so around a year and a half. The rest will have to go on my Christmas wish list. And yes folks who go “Ew you only wash your hair once a week” can suck an egg. Validation from Autostraddle!

  4. All hail the curling wand! I never knew it was the missing link between Morgana and Gwen, but there you have it.

  5. I also really enjoy the bumble & bumble ‘curl conscious defining creme’- because my hair is plenty curly but also really fine, and lots of curl-maintaining products are too heavy for my hair.

    do any of yall do a deep condition? I just read about it, you get coconut oil into your hair and then wrap a scarf around it and sleep on it and wash it out the next morning- I use shampoo every few days on my hair, so this works for me, idk know how it would work with no-poo shampoo. but it makes my hair SO SOFT and smells like coconut and does beautiful curls the next day without intervention.

    my mom has pretty great hair but it is not curly and has the tiniest bit of wave but in the last 10 years or so she has become obsessed with curly hair, since her kids have hair that all ranges from wavy to tight curls, and she always gets into my hair products when I visit and then will buy them and be like “Look! My hair! Has more curls!” when I see her next, and I’m like….sure. ‘s cute.

    • Ooh. I do deep condition, usually by putting a ton of conditioner on my wet hair then putting a towel around it and letting it sit for an hour before rinsing. But I bet coconut oil would be even nicer (and cheaper!). I’ll have to give that a try. Thanks!

  6. Oh, curly hair. Mine is similar to yours, but a bit tighter curls. I hear you on the microfiber towel! To use it, I get out of the shower with soaking wet hair, flip my head upside down, and sort of collect the curls on the towel, which I have laid out flat on my bed. So I’m basically pressing my head upside down onto my bed/towel. Then I scrunch my products in while upside down (but off the bed of course), flip, and rearrange.

    I love Lush Blousey or Curly Wurly shampoo, and DevaCurl or Aveda Be Curly conditioner. Aveda Be Curly style prep is awesome, and when my hair is long (which it is not right now), the best product I have ever found is Joico Recoil. Amazing stuff.

    I am so into making my curls as good as they can be. Love this post! I am also really into products.

  7. Ugh, I’ve been meaning to get that tangle teezer. The last time I got my hair cut, I mentioned to the woman that my hair tangles crazy easy, and she said it was just because my hair needed cutting…she took that back after she cut my hair and it was difficult to run a comb through. I go through what seems like a ridiculous amount of leave in conditioner/detangler/coconut oil/whatever I can find post-shower.
    I’ve also been meaning to try DevaCurl. My hair is more wavy than curly, but there is SO MUCH of it and the texture’s weird, so curly-hair products tend to be the only stuff that works. I personally love Carol’s Daughter Cupuacu stuff, Cantu Shea Butter leave-in, unrefined coconut oil, and Mixed Chicks everything.

  8. So many Merlin references, I love it! :D And okay I may have to look into this microfiber towel situation. Also I don’t know if you have this problem, but one of the most frustrating things for me about washing my hair every few days is that my curls start looking stranger and stranger the more times I sleep on them without washing hahaaha. Man I wish I knew what to do about that. Mostly I just start wearing a hat after a while. :P

    • Having gone from hobbit to hagrid in a year and a bit I have gone through various between wash times as it’s got longer and longer the between time is longer. So that’s my take on the wash-sleep-weird curl cycle.

      • I feel like mentioning a hat in my comment summoned you from the ether! :P And yes, I have noticed that the shorter I cut my hair, the more frustrating it becomes, but that IS TOO BAD, HAIR, OKAY?? THIS IS HAPPENING.

        • Ha ha. I would love if every time hats were mentioned I could appear with pertinent comments. I kind of enjoyed the gamble of -how is my hair going to be when I wake up, will I need to wear a beanie today- I miss that rush.

  9. Wait, you’re telling me I could’ve got that anti-tangle brush thingie in PINK? Damn, wish I’d known that. Still, for something that makes my shower shorter by several normal-person showers, I suppose colour is a small quibble.

  10. Ohh Laura, I love your hair! I couldn’t handle my curly hair or found anything to keep it from getting all crazy.

    I just cut it short! You can still see it

  11. Ah! A fellow ‘curly girl’ I also use a no sulphates shampoo once weekly, co wash and leave in with a no cones conditioner, dry by turban style microfibre towel (where you drop not wrap) and also use the tangle teezer on my wet conditioned hair, been like this for over 5 years now and my curls are so much happier. :)

  12. OMG, I want me some curly hair. I have the straightest, and fine hair in the universe. And curly hair is so hot!!

  13. I’ve used DevaCurl No-Poo Shampoo and Conditioner on the recommendation of a very smart friend, and while my fro was a bit softer, it did nothing to make them more manageable sadly. Forever stuck with hair that’s been compared to expensive Persian rugs. :=/

  14. I second the Deva Curl line, as well as the micro fiber towel.

    My hair is curly, but has wavy/straight parts underneath/back of my hair WHICH DRIVES ME CRAZY! I only shampoo maybe 2 or 3 times a month, and use the conditioner every other day or two days or so. The gel i only use sporadically, because i’m not sure it helps/maybe i don’t know how to use it?

    My life revolves around trying to make my curls all work uniformly/i hate my straight bits.

    • Ok I’ve been wondering about this for months! When you go any length of time without washing your hair, do you use a shower cap? Or do you let it get wet in the shower? I’m dying to know ALL the non washing hair secrets of curly wavy hairs because I’m in favor of all for things lazy, and if lazy = better hair then everybody wins!

      So far I can’t go more than a day between hair washing, in part because I shed a good amount of hair, and it’s a little long now and since it’s wavy curly it stays in place, tickles my scalp, makes me itchy and uncomfy. I also get dandruff by the 3rd day, seems like my scalp produces a lot of skin? What do I do? How can I achieve washing it twice a month?

      • i get my hair wet every day, my hair gets all mashed up/straight/gross unless it gets wet.

        i don’t have any itchy/dandruff problems, just feels oily if i go more than two or three days without conditioning. i only shampoo maybe once or twice a month when it feels grody (technical term).

        really you should experiment as curly hair varies SO MUCH. i have yet to meet/see anyone who’s hair is just like mine, which makes me crazy because i need to talk to someone who has my hair, but theirs is better than mine! is it that too much to ask?

        First order of business is going to Barnes and Noble and reading Curly Girl Handbook, at least the sections that are important to your hair type. That literally changed my life. It is a short book, and i always take notes at B&N, and no one cares. In my B&N, it was with the health/diet section, in a spot i wouldn’t have thought of.

  15. My hair naturally grows in really tight curls, but I’ve pretty much been blow drying and flat-ironing it since I first cut it short three-ish years ago. Lately I’ve been thinking about going for an undercut, just sort of a strategic cutting sort of hairstyle. I want to wear my hair naturally again, but I’m not sure if it’ll work.

    • Although my hair is probably a completely different texture, I’ve found that an undercut works really well for my super coiled, super tight curls. I sort of let the fountain of hair overflow as it pleases, and having the sides short means it’s still low maintenance as far as styling is concerned.

  16. I have fairly fine curly hair. All the years and all of the products later I am a shampoo twice a week, daily leave in conditioner, and gel kind of girl. I only use Ouidad products because they and my hair are happy together. I have found what works for one curly person does not work for the next.

    I did, however, find that the cut will make the curl. I went to a woman who cut each curl individually (she is also a sculptor, so…) and it has made all of the difference in having many more good curly days.

    • YES. Part of my problem is the fact that i haven’t had a good haircut for my hair type in years and years and years. AND YEARS. I need to find a good curly hair stylist, but don’t know how to find one.

        • I would only recommend an Ouidad cut if you have really (really) thick curly hair. Otherwise it is an awful cut. If you have finer curly hair, I would recommend someone who cuts with the DevaCurl method.

          To find someone who cuts curly hair well is a challenge. Took me five years to find my lady and it was only through an amazing recommendation. Ask anyone who has a great cut. Curly people love to get compliments on their hair because lets be real, it is not everyday that we have great looking hair. I also go by the rule that I will only allow someone who has curly hair and wears it curly to cut my hair.

          Good luck!

  17. I haven’t tried the microfiber towel since switching to wearing my hair curly, but I use a cotton t-shirt instead of a regular towel. No fabric nap means nothing for hair to get caught on and frizz, it just takes a few extra steps of gently squinching the water out of the curls.

    • I used to use a cotton t-shirt as well, and the microfiber towel dries them much faster than a tshirt!

      • That is so handy to know; I was worried about the frizz. But the t-shirt is just not cutting it now that I live in a state with real winter.

  18. I have a sneaky suspicion that my hair is actually a lot curlier than I think it is, but my daily ritual of showering, hairdryer, possibly straightening and wearing hats has hidden this from me. I just don’t know how to work with the curls that I do get, so I get rid of them. One day I’ll work this out. One day.

  19. The Merlin references really make this article. <3 I can totally back up the microfiber towel, it really cuts down on the frizz.

    As a teenager, I tried basically every product that had the word 'curl' on it. I've never had better results than what I get out of mere apple cider vinegar & coconut oil. I wash my hair with the vinegar 2 or 3 times a week and do a deep condition every 4 to 6 weeks with the oil. I haven't had dry, frizzy curls in years.

    Although, you're right. No matter how you take care of your curls, they will always have a mind of their own.

  20. Oh, this looks good! Thanks a bunch; hair advice always welcome (this is me.

    I use and love CURLS UNLEASHED (yeah, even as a white girl), but their products are not perfect — or, not perfect here in the SF Bay Area most times, namely when it is not raining. Right now, with the drizzle outside, my hair is fantastic. :)

  21. I’m on a crazy Lush kick lately and have been loving their Curly Whirly shampoo and Retread conditioner. Would also be lost without the Lush R&B leave-in and the Garnier leave-in (which has such a great smell that everyone always comments on). Omg.

    *Also, these products are awesome for curly folks who color their hair!

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