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Ask any person who is under the age of 17 and they’ll tell you that the summer never seems to last long enough. Just when they get used to sleeping in, hanging out with friends at the mall, and breaking in their latest summertime fashions, the back-to-school commercials start appearing.

For the girls with curly hair, this is a bittersweet experience. On one hand, it’s a time to play around with some new ‘dos; on the other, it also means not being able to pull their ringlets in a pineapple for days on end. Now it’s time to rock some actual hairstyles, which means it is also time to do some actual (daily) maintenance.

If you’re not looking forward to tender heads, frizzy manes and early morning matted bed hair, here are some surefire ways to make rockin’ back-to-school hair much easier than it was last year.

Get a Good Trim

Is your hair not responding to products or techniques the way it used to? Chances are you're overdue for a trim. Right before school starts is a great time to dust those ends and make sure your curls are in their best shape before your schedule gets super busy. Just make sure that you see a stylist who specializes in curly hair so that yours will look healthy and voluminous instead of heavy and flat. Got no clue where to go? Check out NaturallyCurly's Salon Finder. It contains a database of stylists around the country who will keep your curls tight and right, plus reviews from other curly girls. 

Deep Condition Weekly

Another way to keep your curls looking fresh, full, and well-defined is to deep condition your hair once a week. Do it right after shampooing, when you know you’ve got 15-30 minutes to let it penetrate your hair shaft (with the help of a plastic bag). A good place to start is with TRUE Intense Treatment Masque, MIXED CHICKS Deep Conditioner or NEUTROGENA Triple Moisture Daily Deep Conditioner.

Start Reading Labels

There are literally thousands of hair products—all of which promise to make your hair look its best. Whether you’re looking for the right shampoo, conditioner, mousse, pomade or gel, start paying attention to what's on the ingredient label. Many curlies avoid products that contain sulfates, silicones or parabens. Some curlies find that sulfates dry their hair out and that silicones can coat the hair and weigh it down over time. There are also many curlies who enjoy the results they get when using them. It's up to you, just make sure you start paying attention to how your hair behaves with certain ingredients.

Prep Your Hair Every Night

During the summer, you have more time to fuss with your hair. During the school year? You’ve got to make the most of your morning's minutes. One way to avoid having to detangle (and potentially damage) your curls is to properly prep your hair at night. For starters, either put your hair up in that pineapple you were so fond of all summer or create some big two-strand twists. Then wrap your locs up in a satin bonnet or scarf. If you know that you’re a “wild” sleeper, bring in some additional reinforcement by sleeping on a satin pillowcase too. If you do this every night, you should be able to prep your hair for some much-needed z-z-z’s in 15-20 minutes tops. Plus, you won’t have to wrestle with your hair all morning either.

Experiment on the Weekends

No one said you had to resort to styles that only consist of ponytail holders and headbands. In fact, one of the coolest things about having curly hair is you can play your texture “up” or “down”. Just make sure to not use 6:30am on Monday morning to experiment. Use your extra time on the weekend to try out new looks instead. That way, if something doesn’t look quite right, no one but you has to know it.

If you follow this cheat sheet of ours, your hair will be ready to go back-to-school…even if the rest of you isn’t!