Image courtesy of Peter Coppola Beauty
Image courtesy of Peter Coppola Beauty

Moisture loss, damage, detangling and maintenance are four major issues curly clients experience. Learn about the varying causes for these curl concerns and what you can do to help combat them.


Concern: Hair clumps in sections during the shampoo and conditioning process.

Friction when washing

Hair is at its most fragile when it is wet or damp. Water breaks down the natural hydrogen bonds in hair, which is the reason curls loosen up and lose their shape when wet.

Karrie Fonte, Macadamia Professional associate vice president of education

“Use a pH-balanced moisturizing shampoo that is conditioning enough to allow for some slip,” says Karrie Fonte, Macadamia Professional associate vice president of education. “After shampooing, apply conditioner and distribute through hair with a wide-tooth comb. This will help detangle and evenly distribute the conditioner.”

Forgetting to pre-detangle

Scott Musgrave, curl specialist and owner of Curly Hair Artistry

“Removing tangles before adding styling products is mandatory to avoid breakage,” says Scott Musgrave, curl specialist and owner of Curly Hair Artistry. “Use your fingers as a giant comb and pre-comb the hair before cleansing to remove hair that accumulates in curls.”

Not enough moisture

Keila Rokkan, Verb stylist

“If you are not using the proper shampoo and conditioner, stylists can create an even worse tangled mess when washing the hair,” says Verb stylist Keila Rokkan. “After shampooing and conditioning with something that is hydrating, rinse and use a light detangler, like Verb’s Leave-In Mist, and a wide-tooth comb to gently work through the hair.”

Brushing dry hair

Nick Stenson, Matrix artistic director

“Curly hair needs a little TLC,” says Matrix Artistic Director Nick Stenson. “Brushing dry hair causes breakage, reduces manageability and depletes shine. Wash and condition hair with products that renew moisture, such as Matrix HydraSource Shampoo and Conditioner, which help optimize balance. Detangle curly hair after each wash with a wide-tooth comb and a good detangling spray like Matrix HydraSource Detangling Solution.”

Other causes: Use of dehydrating products, split ends, very dry hair, overly porous hair and sweating.


Concern: Hair appears dull, is prone to dryness and loses vibrancy easily.

Abraham Sprinkle, Keratin Complex artist

Environmental factors

Changes in atmospheric temperature, weather and humidity, all contribute to hair looking and feeling dry. “The key to keeping textured hair hydrated is layering products and applying them where the hair strand is most in need,” Fonte says. “Start with Macadamia Professional’s Weightless Moisture Leave In Conditioning Mist from scalp to ends after every cleanse to help protect from everyday stressors, detangle and add moisture. Follow with a treatment oil from the mid-lengths down where the hair tends to be more porous and dryer. If using heat styling tools, add a layer of heat protectant to wet hair with a blowdry lotion to lock in moisture and prevent future damage from the dryer, flatirons and curling wands.”


Cleansing hair too frequently can result in the removal of natural oils. “Cue the moisture treatments and leave-in conditioners,” Rokkan says. “A daily conditioner will not be enough. Try using a hydrating mask for 10-20 minutes and make sure you are always using a leave-in like Verb’s Leave-in Mist. Also, have your client check their water supply to see if they have hard water—water high in mineral content. If so, recommend a water filter.”

Image courtesy of Aveda                                       Image courtesy of Verb Products

Prescription medication

If your client takes prescription medication, it can affect the hair strands and give hair a dull appearance.

Melanie Day, stylist and owner of You’ve Got Curls Hair Loss Center

“I would suggest using a very mild clarifying shampoo, which still has a healthy amount of moisture and won’t strip the hair,” says Melanie Day, stylist and owner of You’ve Got Curls Hair Loss Center. “This should only be done on an as-needed basis. When hair is clarified, go back in with a hydrating shampoo along with a hydrating conditioning treatment.”

Excessive use of heat styling tools

Heat tools, if any, should be used at a minimum on a low setting to avoid burning the hair.

Shari Harbinger, DevaCurl vice president of education

“Use a botanical cleanser, conditioner and styler to add moisture to the hair and scalp,” says DevaCurl VP of Education Shari Harbinger. “A hair masque will give added hydration to thirsty curls.

Over-processed hair

David Thompson, Mizani artist

“I would recommend Mizani’s Fiberfyl Fiber Strengthening Treatment to care for any over-processed and damaged hair,” says David Thompson, Mizani artist. “This treatment acts as a strand-by-strand restorer. Formulated with five percent filloxane, a molecule that penetrates the hair fiber as a liquid, transforms into a flexible solid that fills in weak areas with a protective shield to provide damage protection without hardening. Finally, I would apply a leave-in conditioner and also style refresher; if hair needs added moisture during the day.”

Other causes: Dehydration from chemicals, harsh products, the sun, chlorine, poor diet and /or high-porosity hair.


Concern: Curls are limp, lifeless. Hair looks straw-like and breaks easily when manipulated.

Split ends

When hair is curly, it is difficult to recognize and see split ends. A schedule of regular trims with textured clients will result in less breakage and shedding. To help repair weak strands, a deep condition is key.

“Use a penetrating intense treatment like Mizani Supreme Oil Satin Crème Moisturizing Mask, which is rich in natural rice bran, argan and avocado oils; will help protect from dryness and brittleness while leaving hair soft and supple,” Thompson says.

Improper cleansing

Textured hair is prone to tangles and if stylists aren’t gentle they’ll rip, tear and cause breakage.“Curls are delicate and need to be handled with care,” Fonte says. “Using a conditioning cleanser or a co-wash product is best for curls. Macadamia Professional’s Ultra-Rich Moisture Flawless Cleansing Conditioner is perfect for this type of hair. This product allows stylists to condition and deliver much needed moisture to the strand while gently removing daily impurities without over-stripping and drying. Once a week, use a traditional shampoo and follow with a treatment mask like the Nourishing Moisture Masque to strengthen and repair.”

“The key to keeping textured hair hydrated is layering products and applying them where the hair strand is most in need.”—Karrie Fonte

Thermal abuse

Image courtesy of Mizani

At this point, a haircut is in order.

“Communicate with your client about how much length you would like to cut, but be open to listening to her concerns about how much she would like to keep,” Rokkan says. “If your client is concerned about length, try a dry cut; you will have more control and be able to see better about how much of the dead ends should be removed. After a healthy cut, continue to do moisture treatments and be gentle with the hair. Try to limit the use of heat tools.”

“Communicate with your client about how much length you would like to cut, but be open to listening to her concerns about how much she would like to keep.” —Keila Rokkan

Hair: John C. Simpson for Goldwell

Lack of protein

Hair is approximately 91 percent protein and is made up of long chains of amino acids. To maintain optimal health, naturally curly hair relies on a proper balance of proteins, nutrients and oils.

“I recommend using a protein treatment once or twice a month for hair that is breaking off,” Musgrave says. “Mop Top Deep Conditioner has a bit of protein for structure to damaged hair. Jessicurl Deep Conditioning Treatment has a lot of moisture for hair that needs hydration but not the structure that protein can offer.”

Product build up

“Detox with a sulfate-free cleanser,” Harbinger says. “Scrub vigorously and rinse thoroughly. Then use a lightweight moisture masque on the mid-lengths and ends only. Take a break from manipulating the hair. Try letting your curls dry naturally.”

Other causes: Chemically treated hair, improper at-home maintenance, lack of moisture and not getting regular cuts.


Concern: Curls lose their definition, volume and appear frizzy after the client leaves the salon.

Friction when sleeping

Using a soft, scrunchie-like hair-tie, show your client how to gather her hair and position it on the crown for a high pony. The outer layer of hair will protect the surface curls, eliminating frizz. Clients can also wrap the hair at night with a satin scarf to help prevent moisture loss. Avoid fibers such as cotton, which will absorb natural oils and leave the hair dry.

Image courtesy of Keratin Complex

Excessive drying

“Letting hair dry naturally is best but if necessary and using a diffuser, dry to 90 percent only,” Fonte says. “Removing too much moisture will cause frizz. You can then use your fingertips at the scalp and in small circular motions to create lift but never pull through the curls. Lastly, to lock out the moisture and lock-in the style, mist the entire head with an anti-humidity product. Brand new to the Macadamia Professional line is the Anti-Humidity Finishing Spray. It will never weigh down curls and will add an invisible barrier to protect and maintain curls all day long.”


“To maintain second-day day curls avoid using a brush and opt for finger-brushing instead,” says Keratin Complex Artist Abraham Sprinkle. “To help diffuse second-day texture, use a texturizer like Keratin Complex’s Sweet Definition Texturizing Sugar Mist. For best results mist lightly all over hair and, using a slight touch, scrunch or push into areas that need revamping with fingers.”

Other causes: Incorrect product selection and application, roughing the cuticle during the drying process, over-use of heat tools, and temperature and humidity.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, Click here.

Read more about