Low humidity can wreak havoc on looser curls, leaving them limp, lifeless and without definition. After much experimentation, I’ve developed what I call the LESS method to create bouncy, hydrated ringlets that last all day.

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This simple routine is comprised of the following:

Leave-in

Encourage

Steam

Scrunch

Loredana B., who lives in Southern California, has been using this method for several months and credits it with bringing back her 3a curl pattern. “My hair is so curly and soft, and it feels so much healthier,” she says.

For best results, use products that do not contain glycerin (as — in very dry climates — this humectant can take the moisture from your hair and put it into the air. Glycerin has the opposite effect in humid climates.).

A gentle cleansing shampoo or co-wash.

A moisturizing conditioner. I love Curl Junkie’s Curl Rehab for its great slip and detangling capabilities—and it doesn’t weigh hair down.

A rich-and-creamy leave-in conditioner like Beauticurls, another Curl Junkie gem.

A facial steamer. Any lightweight, portable model will work.

You will also need a cotton t-shirt or microfiber towel and, if desired, a wide-toothed comb or Denman Brush.

Before beginning the LESS Method, gently wash your hair, concentrating on the roots. Use your fingertips to massage your scalp. Rinse your hair thoroughly, preferably with your head flipped upside down. Apply your hydrating conditioner an inch from your scalp and work it through to the ends of your hair. Use your fingers to detangle, or you can use a wide-toothed comb. If you have thick and/or high-density hair, you may wish to condition in sections, clipping up each section as you complete it. Allow the conditioner to remain on your hair for several minutes, and then carefully rinse it out with tepid water.

The LESS Method

Leave-in

Apply your leave-in conditioner on soaking wet hair, from the roots to the tips. Use a generous amount (for example, I use a palmful for my hair, which skims my shoulders when wet). For longer hair, use more. Your hair must be completely coated with the leave-in conditioner. I recommend using a Denman brush to get every strand. Brush the leave-in through each section, smooth with your fingers, and repeat 2-3 times. At this point, your hair will start to clump.

Encourage

In this step, encourage your curls to form using your preferred technique (shingling, twisting, scrunching etc.). If you have any straight pieces remaining, moisten them with water, and coax them into curls.

Steam

Ensure that the steamer carafe is filled with fresh water, turn the steamer on, and allow it to heat up until it starts emitting steam. Steam helps the leave-in conditioner to penetrate the hair shaft, imparting moisture to thirsty strands. It also encourages curl formation, and enables your curls hold their shape without the aid of a styler (which can often weigh hair down or make it look crispy in arid air).

Scrunch

Steam one area of your hair at a time by re-positioning the steamer or moving your head (do not lift the steamer and place it over your hair). Slowly and carefully scrunch the hair that is being steamed, holding each scrunch for six to seven seconds. Do not rub the hair together or break up the curl clumps.

At this point, your hair will have good definition. Using the t-shirt or towel, carefully scrunch out any excess water. If you use hair clips to lift your roots, apply them. You can now diffuse your hair or let it air dry.

Refreshing Second--or Third-Day Hair

You can use a similar approach to refresh your hair.

In a spray bottle, combine one-part leave-in conditioner to three parts water. Shake to combine.

Turn on the steamer, allow it to heat while you gently mist your hair. Part or arrange your hair as you would normally wear it.

Scrunch and twist pieces of your hair while steaming it.

Allow your hair to completing dry before fluffing and picking it out.

If you give the LESS method a try, let us know if it works for you! Share your experiences in the comments section below. And if you’d like more tips, check out this article: How to Moisturize Your Hair in a Very Dry Climate.