Articles By CurlySuzy


Dear Curly Suzy: The sulfate and non-sulfate issue is confusing me. I am trying to start a shampoo free routine and I have no idea what the harsh sulfates are? Please help!

Dear Alice: Here is a handy dandy list of sulfate information to work from.

Harsh sulfates to avoid in cleansers:


  • Sodium Laureth, Myreth, Lauryl Sulfate



  • Ammonium Lauryl and Laureth Sulfate



  • Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate



  • TEA Lauryl Sulfate



  • TEA-dodecylbenzenesulfonate



  • Sodium Alkylbenzene Sulfonate



  • Ammonium or Sodium Xylenesulfonate


Gentler, very mild sulfates in cleansers:


  • Sodium Cocyl Isethionate



  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate



  • Sodium Socoyl (or lauryl/lauroyl) Sarcosinate



  • Ethyl PEG-15 Cocamine Sulfate



  • Dioctyl Sodium Sulfosuccinate



  • Sodium Lauryl Glucose Carboxylate


  • Methyl Cocoyl or Lauryl Taurate - mild, derived from coconut fatty acids



  • Sodium Cocoyl Glycinate


Thanks to our CurlChemist, Tonya McKay Becker, for help formulating these lists.

Dear Curly Suzy: I was recently reading about clarifying for the shampoo free method.. and well, with my last purchase I bought the Elucence moisture conditioner and shampoo. Is that shampoo OK for clarifying?

CURLS Shampoo

Dear Jeannie: The Elucence Moisture Balancing Shampoo isn't really a clarifying shampoo. It is a great cleanser but will not remove huge amounts of build up.

Here are some clarifying shampoos that we carry:

You can also do an apple cider vinegar rinse. Rinsing with apple cider vinegar will help balance the pH of your hair and remove the buildup. Here is a recipe:

Mix 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of apple cider vinegar into 1 cup (250 ml) of warm filtered tap water. After shampooing you can rinse with this.


It is still hot in Texas. The only hints of fall are the apples and pumpkins at the grocery store. Putting a pumpkin on my front porch is not going to work at the moment. It would be a baked, mushy pumpkin in a matter of days. So, to embrace fall, and in honor of October being apple month, I am buying all the varieties of new apples. They say an apple a day keeps the doctor away. An apple a day can also keep the frizz away.

Here's a few reasons why apples are good for you and a few more reasons why they are good for your hair.

Reason #1

The apple-derived ingredient Pyrus Malus (apple) fiber is used as a conditioning agent in hair products.

Reason #2

Rinsing with apple cider vinegar will help balance the pH of your hair and remove any buildup on your hair shaft. Rinsing will also close the numerous cuticle scales that cover and protect the surface of each hair shaft. The result is a smoother surface, which reflects more light, and so your hair is shinier, smoother and easier to manage.

For recipes and more information about apple cider vinegar, click here.

Reason #3

Apples contain an essential trace element called boron. Boron helps with bone density and can therefore help to prevent or to decrease the effects of osteoporosis.

Reason #4

Apples contain phytonutrients, which are antioxidants that can help to combat the effects of bad LDL cholesterol.

On average, apple contains more antioxidants than a large 1,500 mg dose of vitamin C.

Reason #5

As well as being full of goodness, apples contain no sodium, no fat and no cholesterol.

Dear CurlySuzy: Have you ever seen or heard of curly hair losing its curl?

I'm 27, no children, not preggo and have what I believe to be 3b curls. I've been growing my hair out to get my natural color back. I recently chopped it to take away a big chunk of color and thought my hair would have more volume since it's short. But the 3-4 inches of natural color I have seems to be more straight than the rest of my hair. I will add that I was born with straight hair and as I hit puberty, it turned wavy then curly.


Dear Cynthia: Sometimes when you cut curls they do go into shock. Weird, I know, but true. The curls can be lifeless and confused for a few days following a hair cut . They should get with the program soon, though.

You might consider using a mousse. Sometimes mousses can activate curls in a more powerful way than other styling products. You could try these over a leave-in conditioner or on their own.

Most mousses dry with a glaze or crunch. They are meant to be scrunched out. These three mousses survive the scrunching exceptionally well.

Out-of-the-Shower Tips

  1. Gently pat your hair dry.
  2. Try not to rub or scrunch hair. Any friction on the hair will get the frizz started.
  3. Curl Like Us Cloths are a good towel for that. The instructional video on the product page is great!
  4. You can also use an old t-shirt (no texture is what you want).

Drying Tips

  1. You will want to use a diffuser on your hair dryer to really get your curls activated.
  2. Try not to touch your hair at all while it is drying, as that causes frizz and destroys curl formation.
  3. Dry curls until they are almost dry (80%-90% dry).
  4. When your hair is completely dry, gently scrunch a few times for soft defined curls.

I am sorry that your haircut wasn't what you intended. I feel like there is hope, though. Please keep me posted.


Honeydew melon, honey cake, honey buns, honey on my toast. Honey on my hair? Won't that be sticky? What about insects? Can it really be the right ingredient for curly hair?

Since it's September, and September is National Honey Month, we thought we'd offer up some fun facts and tips about this fantastic natural ingredient.

Honey is a natural humectant: This means it attracts and holds on to water molecules. This makes honey a great treatment for dry, damaged hair. Honey can be added to cleansers, conditioners, deep conditioners and oils. Or you can look for products that contain honey. Honey for your hair works best combined with other ingredients.

If you want to know the science behind honey in your hair, read this great article, Buzz About Honey, by's curly chemist Tonya McKay Becker.

Honey recipes for your curls

Pre-Cleansing Honey Conditioner that will nourish and moisturize your curls and scalp.
Ingredients: 3-6 tbsp. of honey, 1-2 tbsp jojoba oil or olive oil and a few drop of favorite essential oil.
Directions: Mix all ingredients. Apply in sections to your hair and massage into your scalp. Leave on for 15 to 30 minutes before rinsing out. Follow with your favorite cleanser and conditioner.

Read more about essential oils

Honey rinse for beautiful curls

Ingredients: 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup almond oil, 1 tablespoon of jojoba oil and 1 tablespoon of honey (Do not use more honey than this or you will have sticky hair)

Directions: Mix and put on your hair. Rinse with warm water. Presto, moisturized beautiful curls.

Want more honey recipes for your curls? Check out's recipes area.

Guidelines for choosing essential oil:

  • Dry or coarse hair: sandalwood, lavender, and geranium.
  • Chemically damaged hair: sandalwood, lavender, frankincense, or geranium.
  • Blond hair: lemon, geranium or chamomile.
  • Gray hair: sage, rose, lavender or geranium.
  • Hair loss: rosemary, juniper or lavender.
  • Dandruff: rosemary, eucalyptus, tea tree or cedar wood.

Favorite products that contain honey

Carol's Daughter Mimosa Hair Honey

Curl Junkie Hibiscus and Banana Honey Butta Leave-In Conditioner

Darcy's Botanicals Avocado Honey Twisting Cream

CATWALK TIGI Oatmeal & Honey Treatment Conditioner

MYHoneyChild Honey Hair Creme

John Masters Organics Honey & Hibiscus Hair Reconstructor

Oyin Handmade HoneyWash

Oyin Handmade Honey Hemp Conditioner

Beecology Honey Botanical Sulfate Free Shampoo

Read more about the Beecology line.

Dear CurlySuzy: I noticed cetearyl alcohol in some of the products. I thought any alcohol was drying to the hair and not good for naturals. I’m a 4a.

Dear Angela: The alcohol thing can be confusing. There are good alcohols and bad alcohols.

Here is some information about alcohols:

GOOD (fatty) alcohols

Cetyl Alcohol: This is a fatty alcohol that is derived from coconut and palm oils. This alcohol is an emollient. It makes hair and skin softer.

Stearyl Alcohol: Another fatty alcohol. Stearyl alcohol is often used in conditioners and shampoos and acts as an emollient (softener).

  • Cetyl Alcohol*
  • Acetyl Alcohol
  • Sterol Alcohol
  • Stearyl Alcohol
  • Lauryl Alcohol
  • Lanolin Alcohol
  • Stearic Acid*

*: see sidebar.

BAD alcohols

  • Menthanol
  • Ethanol
  • Propanol
  • SDA40
  • Alcohol Denat
  • Specially Denaturated Alcohol
  • Isopropyl Alcohol

I hope this helps. Check out this article for even more information about alcohols.

Suzanne SchroederDear Curly Suzy:

My hair has been natural since July 2009. I need a good shampoo, conditioner, leave-in conditioner and another products to make my hair more manageable. Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated. I have in my cart, Elucence Moisture Balancing Conditioner, Darcy's Botanicals Pumpkin Seed Moisturizing Conditioner. I'm tired of buying products that are not making my hair more manageable. I need your expertise.

Dear JoAnne:

The Kinky-Curly combination is a good one, but it can be a very tricky process to get them to perform well.

The Kinky-Curly Curling Custard is the tricky product in the combo. It does not work well if you use it with any other products. The Kinky-Curly Curling Custard only works well with the Kinky-Curly Knot Today.

The Kinky-Curly Knot Today is one of the greatest leave-in conditioners out there and it can be used under any styling product.

Kinky-Curly combination tips:

  1. Apply the Kinky-Curly Knot Today on very wet hair (if it is not wet enough, your hair will dry sticky).
  2. Apply Kinky-Curly Curling Custard evenly in sections to very wet hair (if it is not applied evenly, you will get frizz).
  3. Smooth the Kinky-Curly Curling Custard into each section from roots to ends.
  4. If sections start to dry out, spray water into hair and then add more Kinky-Curly Curling Custard.
  5. Thicker, tighter curls need more product and loose wavy curls use less. Use more product for very controlled curls and use less product if you want more fullness and body.
  6. Allow hair to air dry, do not touch hair while it is drying or it will start to frizz.
  7. When dry gently scrunch out the crunch.

The Elucence Moisture Benefit Shampoo and Moisture Balancing Conditioner are both really nice and you can’t beat the price. There are a few other shampoos and conditioners you might look at that are also very moisturizing.

Satin Pillowcase

Dear CurlySuzy: I have what may seem like a really silly question. As far as pillowcases and hair ties are concerned, is polyester as effective as silk or satin? I have satin pillow cases but I've had the hardest time finding satin hair scarves (besides the ones that only cover the top portion of your head and ties around the back). Nonetheless, I found some scarves that "look" like satin but says 'polyester' on the tag. I'm not sure if this questions is appropriate for since it's more about fabric info than hair! I've read a few forums on the website but it seems no one really knows for sure!

Dear Alicia: There is a lot of confusion out there about this issue. I will try to be as clear as possible.

  1. Satin is a weave, not a fabric. A satin weave has no visible interlacing pattern. That is what makes satin smooth and shiny.
  2. Polyester, acetate and silk are used for a satin weave.

  3. Silk is the natural and most expensive fabric used in a satin weave. Silk thread is very smooth and produced by the silk worm.
  4. Polyester is a synthetic fabric that is used in a satin weave that is more affordable. This fabric does not breathe as well as silk.
  5. Acetate is another synthetic fabric that is used, but the quality might be compromised.

The next issue is a charmeuse satin weave. This type of satin weave is softer and lighter in weight.

  1. The front side of the fabric has a satin finish whereas the back has a dull finish. It can be made of silk or a synthetic polyester.
  2. Silk charmeuse is more expensive. It is softer and more delicate.
  3. Polyester charmeuse is cheaper and can often withstand machine washing, but it doesn't breathe as well as silk.

In making your choice between silk or polyester satin, the the issues to consider are price and durability. I hope this helps. Please email me if you have any questions about all of this.

The pillowcases we sell are a charmeuse satin polyester. They come in a variety of colors and are very durable.

Summer is winding down for many of us. Bikinis and sandals move aside for boots and scarves. My fall fashion choices are ready but my curls are not. They have definitely felt the heat, salt and chlorine from the summer months. My hair is a little weary and ready for a quick curl vacation full of R & Rs before autumn gets here.


Detangle and condition with gentle care.

Q: My hair is tangling more easily now and my curls are losing definition and shine, help!

A: Sun, salt and chlorine can all be drying. The clarifying shampoos to remove chlorine and product build up can also dry your curls out as well. Add all these things together and you have dry, hard to manage curls. Begin the recovery by carefully detangling in the shower with a wide-toothed comb and lots of conditioner.

Pumpkin Seed Moisturizing Curl Conditioner

Pumpkin Seed Conditioner


Deep Condition your hair once a week for 30 minutes to add lost moisture to your curls.

Q: Is it best to use a protein-rich deep conditioner?

A: Proteins can temporarily repair the hair and/or protect it. Occasionally proteins will build up on some people’s hair, especially on healthier hair. In this case, use a protein-free conditioner. Examples of proteins include silk, soy, wheat, keratin or individual amino acids (components of proteins).

Protein-free deep conditioners

Protein-rich deep conditioners


Give your scalp and hair the lost oils and moisture it is craving after the summer months.

Q: What oils are good for my hair and scalp?

A: Botanical or plant based oils are the most restorative.

Avocado Oil

Contains vitamins A, D, E and potassium.

Coconut Oil

keeps moisture in hair

Jojoba Oil

Contains vitamin E and antioxidants


Make an appointment for a new cut and color for the autumn season.

Q: I plan on a new versatile curly haircut this Fall. I also want a cooler tone for my new hair color. Do you know of any salons that specialize in curly hair? Also, what can I do to help the new color last longer?

A: Check out Salon Reviews for your local curly hair specialist. To help your new color last longer use a sulfate-free cleanser. They are milder than regular shampoos and will help preserve your color.

Dear CurlySuzy: I just recently realized that my fine medium blond hair is really Type 2 wavy. I have always wanted curly hair so I am elated. The problem is I have had such a difficult time styling it in the past that it kept getting shorter and shorter and now many layers with texture for volume. It looks awful and I don’t know how to style it! I know the growing will be difficult but could you give me a few hints on how to style it while it grows? Any help would be appreciated.

Dear Sylvia: Growing out curls and waves is a challenge. Here is a link to our picture gallery for some style ideas. This is a great place to get ideas for styling during the growing-out phase.

I will give you some product suggestions below that will help keep your hair moisturized. That is the key to being happy with your curls and waves. The more moisturized the curls and waves are, the less they will frizz. Don't worry; these products will not weigh your waves down. Also I will give you a link to one of our new bloggers who has wavy hair. Her articles are fun to read.

  • AG Re:coil Curl Activating Balm

    This is a curl cream that is very concentrated. Use a very small amount on wet hair and then scrunch it in. Air dry your hair or use a diffuser on your hair dryer. Your hair will dry with a glaze, so gently scrunch out the crunch for soft waves.

  • AG Foam Weightless Volumizer

    I really like this product as well. Follow the same same styling instructions as above.

  • DevaCurl B'Leave-In

    I like this leave-in conditioner, it is good for a light styler.

  • Kinky-Curly Knot Today
  • MOP Leave-In Conditioner

    These are great leave-in conditioners that are heavier than the one above.
    They are super for when you need extra frizz control and they will work well under curl cream or mousse.

Total 3 results.

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