How to Make Your Curly Hair ‘Polished’ for Work

curly hair

The notion that curly hair isn’t “professional” or “polished” permeates just about every mainstream women’s magazine. Whether it’s a “dream” wedding spread or office style advice, straight hair abounds.

Aside from being racist and culturally illiterate, the anti-curly sentiment encourages ladies to become beholden to lengthy hair-drying and straightening rituals.

In an effort to streamline your look — and push back on this problematic standard for women — here are five products that will leave your curls truly “polished,” from two ladies with very, very polished curls.

UnWash Bio-Cleansing Conditioner

UnWash Bio-Cleansing Conditioner

If you have curly hair, chances are you rely on a variety of oils (natural or otherwise) to keep it looking lovely. When it comes to choosing shampoos and conditioners, you’re often faced with stripping your hair’s oils for the sake of cleanliness only to replace them with a synthetic product.

Cleansing conditioners aim to keep hair soft without stripping the natural oils that make curls pretty.

With the UnWash bio-cleansing conditioner ($36), you don’t need to “set” your curls with any follow-up product; they just remain intact from washing. Although it’s on the pricey side, UnWash saves both time and money in that you don’t need to buy or bother with shampoo, gels, creams, or any other products, depending on your texture and preferred style.

If you still feel like your hair needs more “clean,” you can opt for the UnWash anti-residue rinse ($32) instead, or in addition to, the conditioner.

Grow Gorgeous Cleansing Conditioner

Grow Gorgeous Cleansing Conditioner

The Grow Gorgeous cleansing conditioner ($18) is very light and gives curls more of a springy, freshly washed look — and it lasts for days. If you wash your hair only a few times a week, you can maintain this same regimen with Grow Gorgeous.

Because this conditioner doesn’t weigh down hair, we recommend pairing with other regular creams, gels, or sprays you might already use to retain the shape of your curls.

Giovanni Tea Tree Triple Treat Shampoo & Conditioner

Giovanni Tea Tree Triple Treat Shampoo & Conditioner

We hate few things more than “enriching” curly hair conditioners that actually make our already weighty hair feel heavy and greasy.

For those curly-haired ladies who can’t imagine ditching their shampoo and conditioner regime, Tea Tree’s products ($18.10 for the set) are lightweight, especially the conditioner. Use as you would in your normal shampooing routine and definitely pair with after-shower products.

TRESemme Hydration Lotion Creme

TRESemme Hydration Lotion Creme

If you have kinky or Shirley Temple curls, this TRESemme hydration lotion creme ($15.99) is THE product you want in your arsenal. After you’ve washed and towel-dried your hair, apply immediately. You’re using this product to set your already perfect curls; the cream will keep them intact and prevent frizz.

Depending on your hair length, apply a dime-size dollop to your palm and twist through each individual curl (or the ones that are the most prominent). Obviously, if you have long hair this will take forever. Welcome to curly hair maintenance.

Sebastian Whipped Creme Mousse

Sebastian Whipped Creme Mousse

Yes, we get it — mousse isn’t a thing anymore. But we swear by Sebastian Whipped Creme mousse ($11.49). After you wash your hair, let it get about halfway dry. Then comb a blob of the stuff into your hair, twirl hair into tight coils, and let it dry for a few hours. Once it’s dry, you can leave or comb out the ringlets into soft curls. It’s a time commitment for sure. If they stop making this product, we will shave our heads.

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The End of Hair Straightening

The End of Hair Straightening

The notion that curly hair isn’t “professional” or “polished” permeates just about every mainstream women’s magazine. Whether it’s a “dream” wedding spread or office style advice, straight hair abounds.

Aside from being racist and culturally illiterate, the anti-curly sentiment encourages ladies to become beholden to lengthy hair-drying and straightening rituals.

In an effort to streamline your look — and push back on this problematic standard for women — here are five products that will leave your curls truly “polished,” from two ladies with very, very polished curls.