DRY, LIMP CURLS? This could be why.

Are your curls, coils or waves feeling dry? Are they appearing limp and flat, while lacking definition and sheen? Maybe it’s time to invest in a clarifying shampoo.

Shampoos, specifically shampoos on the clarifying-end have been commonly feared by curlies and coilies, as we have been conditioned to believe that the “stripped” feeling acquired by the product contributes to “dryness”. In actuality, many curlies and coilies are simply not familiar with how their hair feels when it is clean, mistaking the feeling with dryness.

Now, don’t get me wrong, there are certainly shampoos which dry out your hair, but there is a difference between “dry hair” and “stripped (clean) hair”. In order for our curls and coils to allow hydration and moisture into the shaft, we must start on a clean slate… this is where a good clarifying shampoo comes in.

Those of us with curly and coily hair textures will be able to relate to the struggle of trying to get our hair to lay the way we want, or to form the level of curl definition that we want. So, often, we turn to layering oil/butter-based leave-ins, hair creams and gels, to create the style we are seeking… but then suddenly wake up to dry, limp and possibly greasy-feeling curls. This is due to a buildup of product on the hair cuticle, caused by an overload of non-water-soluble, heavy products which simply cannot penetrate the hair shaft. Overly-moisturising textured hair can be just as damaging as not moisturising the hair at all. Applying too many moisturising products, moisturising hair too often, or even deep-conditioning too often & for too long at a time, can cause the hair cuticle to swell, making the hair limp, overly soft and susceptible to breakage, as the hair’s integrity is lost. It is very important to have balance and to be careful not to overdo moisture.

It’s not always easy to feel buildup on the hair, especially as it typically masks as dryness, causing some to believe more moisture is needed. However, the often overlooked hero is actually the trusty clarifying shampoo. A clarifying shampoo will lift the hair’s cuticle, allowing water in (water is your best friend!!!!) and making space for your conditioning and styling products to properly penetrate the hair shaft. The result: smooth, defined and bouncy curls!

A fantastic shampoo to start with is the Flora & Curl Coconut Mint Scalp Refresh Shampoo, which is available at Saint Curl. This shampoo includes soothing and stimulating ingredients such as peppermint, tea tree, rosemary & eucalyptus oils, as well as balancing & clarifying willow bark extract. While this shampoo will give your hair and scalp a much-needed deep clean, it also includes nourishing ingredients such as aloe vera & jojoba oil, with scalp relieving lavender water & lavender oil. All of these beautiful ingredients make for a soothing, stimulating and hydrating experience, as your curls are clarified and balanced at the same time.

Now… is there a right and wrong way to cleanse the hair? There sure is!

It is recommended to wash curls and coils every 4-8 days, depending on your hair texture, scalp health and hair density, and also fluctuating depending on the weather, as humidity and dry air have a sizable impact on how long your hair will last. Here are the main steps:

  • When preparing to cleanse the hair, allow as much time as needed for your hair to become fully saturated with water, gently separating your curls under the water, while starting the process of smoothing, squeezing and finger detangling (all under running water).
  • Once, your hair is saturated, squeeze a dime-sized amount of shampoo and begin emulsifying the product between your hands. Once you have a nice lather in your hands, distribute the product from roots to ends, smoothing the products through all of your strands (not just your scalp, as your hair has build-up too!), while gently finger detangling with the shampoo. Once your strands are saturated, focus on your scalp, gently but firmly massaging the product over every inch of your scalp using the pads of your finger tips (never the nails!).
  • Thoroughly rinse once this step of the process is completed. Now, some of you will find you’re not done yet. For you, it’s time to repeat the process, as the first shampoo may not have fully cleansed your hair. How can you tell? Your hair is clean when the shampoo maintains its foamy lather throughout the wash. I wash my hair every 4-6 days and, each wash-day I’ll begin by cleansing twice with a clarifying shampoo, and again once more with a balancing shampoo. One of my favourite balancing shampoos is the Curls Cashmere & Caviar Hair Bath, which is also sold at Saint Curl!

At first, it may feel as though you are “drying” your hair, but you are actually “stripping” it of product, oil & sweat build-up, as well as pollution and environmental damage. Stripped hair is the goal when cleansing, otherwise you haven’t successfully cleaned your hair, which further contributes to build-up, and leads to dry undefined curls.

A little more on avoiding dry, limp curls

Finally, it’s important to note that textured hair needs “hydration”, before “moisture”. A common misconception within the textured hair community is that moisture = hydration and vice versa, however they are different things. Hydration is acquired through water and humectants, while moisturising products create a seal to lock in this hydration for longer lasting results. Styling curls and coils on soaking wet hair is the best way to achieve longer-lasting definition, softness, sheen and overall health. Opt to wet the hair when styling, before applying a cream or styling product on top, to lock in hydration to penetrate the shaft, therefore, alleviating dryness. If you style over dry hair, you won’t let any hydration get in.

So, a couple of key points to note:

  • Shampoo is your friend and you need to effectively clean your hair in order for your other products to successfully work!
  • Hydration is KEY to healthy, happy and thriving curls! Your moisturising products seal in the hydration, for longer lasting results.


 Hi! My name is Ben Esber, I have 3c/4a coily curls and I am extremely passionate about healthy and effective curly/coily hair care. I grew up hating my curls, but once I began implementing the correct technique, combined with quality products made for my hair, I fell in love with my curls! I would love to share some of my knowledge and experience in the hopes of helping other curlies and coilies struggling to find love for their curls and coils :))

Follow me on Instagram: @benesber


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