And it's specifically designed to do exactly that.

By Erin Reimel
Updated September 24, 2020
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ERIN REIMEL

After years of treating my hair as if it was some hair type in between straight and wavy, I've discovered something huge: I actually have curly hair. Needless to say, this revelation was a shock and completely changed my approach to my locks, as well as forced me to rethink my product lineup. 

Thanks to quarantine, I’ve had plenty of time to practice different techniques — some routines have garnered more success than others, but the best products I’ve tried so far were made with exactly my hair type in mind. On my journey to finding my best curls yet, I had the opportunity to test Ouidad's new Curl Shaper collection — and I'm so glad I did. The line is designed for curly and wavy hair types that struggle with definition and bounce and are easily weighed down by heavy products (🙋‍♀️).

Since swapping my go-to products with Ouidad's new line, my curls have seriously never looked better. If you've been on a mission to get your curls in formation, I'm here to share what's worked wonders for my tresses. Ahead, an easy step-by-step guide to how I nail swoon-worthy curls with just a handful of products.

Step 1: Co-Washing My Hair

Left: Photo: OUIDAD

Let me start by saying that I’ve always been a diehard shampoo user. Prior to using the Ouidad line, every single time I washed my hair, you better believe I reached for my shampoo bottle. While this act made me feel squeaky clean up top, hairstylist Irinel de León, a Ouidad brand ambassador, encouraged me to break my habit. Shampooing often (read: more than a couple of times a week) can actually remove the natural oils from hair that keep strands healthy and strong (not to mention, it can dull colored tresses). Now, when I feel like my hair has a lot of buildup or my scalp needs a deep clean, I shampoo once a week with the Ouidad Curl Shaper Good As New Moisture Restoring Shampoo (Buy It, from $12, ulta.com) — and that's it. The gentle formula still feels hydrating so my curls don't feel dried out, even after I cleanse.

Another confession: I stopped using conditioner in my teens for a few years because I thought it was weighing my fine hair down too much (this memory still makes me cringe). But de León told me that I was actually doing myself a disservice since co-washing (or cleansing solely with any conditioner and no shampoo) would instead give my locks so more life, because it infuses extra moisture into the hair. (PSA: All conditioners have cleaning agents, but they just doesn't lather like shampoo.) While I had always been under the impression that co-washing was for people with thick coils, I gave it a shot with the Ouidad Curl Shaper Double Duty Weightless Cleansing Conditioner (Buy It, from $18, ulta.com), and was blown away when it didn’t leave my tresses feeling greasy or heavy. 

De León also pointed out that the formation of curls starts during the co-washing step. “If you struggle with limp curls, your application techniques matter a lot," she says. The first thing you want to do is detangle your strands by raking your fingers through hair when it’s coated with conditioner; then, scrunch your hair as you rinse, adds de León. The scrunching motion is key to training your curls to form. (Related: The Best Leave-In Conditioners—Plus, Why You Should Be Using One)

Step 2: Defining with Styling Products

Left: Photo: OUIDAD

After rinsing the conditioner out, my instinct is usually to squeeze all the water out of my hair and throw it up in a towel, but de León told me to pump the breaks. “Applying products to your hair when it’s sopping wet makes your curls clump together, so you get a lot of definition once it dries,” she says. “You want to hear the squish of water as you scrunch it.” Per her advice, before I even step out of the shower, I warm a few pumps of the Ouidad Curl Shaper Memory Maker 3-in-One Revitalizing Milk (Buy It, from $12, ulta.com) in my palms, and scrunch it through sections of my hair. The Revitalizing Milk is a lightweight leave-in conditioner that helps smooth strands and fight frizz. While scrunching, I can see the spirals start to form.

“Don’t forget to apply nourishing products at the crown of your head because the hot water hits that area the most and it can dry out your scalp and hair,” says de León. After the milk is distributed through my hair, I take a microfiber towel and gently squeeze the excess water out of my hair using the same technique — cupping sections from the bottom and lifting them up toward my scalp as I squeeze. After, I take a nickel-sized amount of the Ouidad Curl Shaper Volumizing Jelly (Buy It, $26, ulta.com) and scrunch that into my ends to get even more definition. Yes, I am a professional scruncher these days. (Related: The Best Curl Creams for Every Curl Type)

Step 3: Drying with a Diffuser

When I started on this journey to find my natural texture, my intention was to air dry my hair more often and wean off using my curling wand every other day. All that heat damage is just another reason why my curls were always limp. (Heat from hot tools is especially bad for curly-haired folk, since it breaks the bonds that make hair appear curly or relaxed, and curls are unable to reform.)

Instead, de León recommended I try diffusing my hair with a blow dryer to add extra volume and bounce, reduce frizz, and create a more defined curl pattern. A diffuser (Buy It, $21, amazon.com) attaches to your blow dryer and changes the air flow — so instead of hot air being aimed at one part of your hair, the flow is a wider circle of air.

“It’s best to use really low heat and low speed — you need to be delicate and slow. Just cup the hair [in the diffuser] and hold it in place in sections," de León instructs. I began doing this almost every time I wash my hair and it’s made a world of difference — my hair has so much more body than I ever thought possible.

Step 4: Refreshing Second-Day Curls

OUIDAD

Making my hair look just as amazing the day after I wash it has always been a struggle. I sleep on a silk pillowcase to minimize the friction between the fabric and my hair overnight, but my curls still get crushed. De León suggested I start wearing my hair up in a high pony with a silk hair tie, which has definitely kept my curls tangle-free and has helped them remain more defined the next day.

In the morning, I spritz the Ouidad Curl Shaper Bounce Back Reactivating Mist (Buy It, from $12, ulta.com) all over my locks and scrunch them up with my microfiber towel again and, yes, my curls actually bounce back. The mist (which has a milky consistency) adds tons of moisture back into my hair, which helps my curls reform into little spirals. If I need a little extra volume, I’ll diffuse it for a few seconds with cool air. “When you hit it with the diffuser on day two, it makes all the difference,” says de León. (Related: I Tried the Curly Girl Method and It Totally Transformed My Hair)

Trying to find the best cocktail of products to define and revive my fine, curly hair has been a bit of a guessing game, since many products for curly strands are made for coarse or thick tresses. But this line has really changed things for me, since it adds just the right amount of hydration and hold without going over the top. I can honestly say I’ll be using these for a very long time.

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