Curly Hair—My Favorite Tips and Budget Friendly Hair Products for Fine Curls

Posted March 11, 2024 by in Beauty

It took me a long time to embrace my curly hair—over 30 years! It wasn’t until the pandemic that I started going au natural with the hopes of reviving my natural texture. It took some time, but I was finally able to get my hair to a much happier place after years of keratin treatments and over-processing.

Now that a couple years have passed, I haven’t entirely abandoned heat styling, but I do try to let my hair air dry three times a week to embrace my texture—my 2C curls are very thankful for this. The main reason why it took me so long to embrace my natural texture was because I could never find the right products. Growing up, most products available for curly hair were extremely heavy and they weighed my hair down. Just because someone has curly hair, does not mean it’s not fine. Thankfully, many brands have emerged in the past ten years that cater to a variety of different curl types and textures.

Below are some tips as well as budget friendly hair product suggestions for those that have fine curls. More specifically, 2A, 2B, 2C, and 3A curls:

Know Your Curl Type

To start, it’s very important to know your hair type. This will come in handy when you’re searching for the right wave and curl products for you. You’ll do your curly hair a disservice if you go for products that are too heavy or too light for your needs. You can read more about the different curl types here and here.

About My Hair

I have fine hair, but I have a lot of it. I would describe my hair as being 2C. Below is a photo for reference:

DJ and blogger Amanda Raye Siguenza with a Curl Friendly Haircut for her 2C hair texture
*I went to see Angel at Spoke and Weal in Los Angeles (I highly recommend him). My color was done by Sandra who is also wonderful.

Get the Right Haircut

If you’re trying to work with your hair instead of against it, you’re going to need the right haircut. I straightened my hair for years using a blow dryer followed by flatiron, so when I went in for haircuts, I always asked for a hairstyle that was made for straight hair, and I would always leave with a smooth blowout. Last summer, I decided to get a haircut meant for me—not a haircut that was meant for a hair type I didn’t actually have.

My stylist, Angel, used a diffuser to dry my hair so he could see my natural texture before beginning the cut—I loved the end result. It was also the first time I have ever left a salon with my natural hair texture.

Have the Right Tools

Having the right tools are just as important as having the right products. Just because you are trying to work with your natural hair texture, doesn’t mean you won’t be using a blowdryer from time-to-time. This is where the diffuser comes in. Most blowdryers comes with them, so if you have a blowdryer, you should already have one hiding somewhere.

While a big splurge, I highly recommend the Dyson Hair Dryer—it is the best blowdryer I have ever used in my life. It also works very fast, and I feel it prevents heat damage. I have the OG Dyson, the one that came out out about 8 years ago, and it’s still going strong, so it’s worth the price. On a more budget friendly note, I also have the Conair Cordkeeper Dryer. It’s less than $20 and it has also treated my curls very well over the years. It’s the dryer I bring with me on my travels.

Besides having the right heat tools, you also want to be using the right combs and brushes for your curls. I love using the Wetbrush for detangling and wide tooth combs.

Tip: When using a diffuser, use high heat and low air to prevent frizz.

My Favorite Budget Friendly Products for Fine Curly Hair

While I love to occasionally splurge on hair products, I’m all about affordability and products that won’t break the bank. I’m currently loving Esha Natural, Kristin Ess, and Not Your Mother’s for my fine 2C curls. You can find Esha at Walmart and Amazon. Both Kristin Ess and Not Your Mother’s can be found on Amazon and at most drugstores—I usually purchase mine at Ulta.

  1. Kristin Ess Weightless Shine Leave In Conditioner$11.99 This is my favorite detangling spray and I have purchased multiple times. It never weighs my hair down.
  2. Esha Natural Curl Moisture Leave-In$12.99 I usually use this right after detangling my hair with the product mentioned above. I’ll then let my hair air dry. Once my hair is about 50% dry, I’ll spray the Beach Babe sea salt spray to set it. This product is great for those who have 2C and above.
  3. Kristen Ess Sea Salt Air Dry Mousse $15.00 I use this product a lot in the summer. Usually the days that I only condition my hair since my hair can get very dry in the summer due to the sun and the chlorine from the pool. It helps my natural texture come alive. I think this product is best for those that have 2A-2C curls. If you hair is very dry, you may want to consider using a leave-in or a hair oil prior to adding this as it can take shine away, making your hair look dull.
  4. Not Your Mother’s Beach Babe Sea Salt Spray$6.99 – I use this almost daily and I highly recommend it as a second-day curl reviver and to set your curls after they have fully dried.
  5. Kristin Ess Weightless Shine Curl Defining Jelly$15.00 – I use this as a day two curl reviver. I’ll brush out my curls, spray them with water to make them slightly damp, and then I’ll add this product to perk them back up. I then finish off my hair with Beach Babe.
  6. Wet Brush Coconut Oil Infused Detangling Hair Brush$10 – This is what I usually use to detangle my curls to revive my curls on day two. I use the traditional Wet Brush or the ventilated brush right out of the shower.

Experiment with Travel Sized Products First

If you’re just starting to experiment with different hair products meant for curly hair, I highly recommend you start off with travel sized products. Just because they work on my curls, doesn’t mean they will work for yours. It does take time to find what works for you, and the last thing you want to do is purchase full-sized products that don’t end up working out. Unfortunately, Kristin Ess doesn’t have travel sized products available, and if they do, it’s not very often. Esha and Not Your Mother’s on the other hand do. Consider purchasing the Esha Natural travel kit to try a variety of their products. My favorites are the leave-in, the curl smoothie, and the heat protectant spray.

Not Your Mother’s sells many travel sized items (shop Amazon or go to Ulta for them), so try Beach Babe as a travel size first (it’s only $3.99).

Other Tips and Tricks for Fine Curly Hair

  • Don’t wash your hair every day. This will dry out your ends. With fine hair, you likely experience dry end and oily roots. To combat this, utilize dry shampoo and if you must get your hair wet, don’t use shampoo and put conditioner on your ends only.
  • Use silk pillow cases to prevent frizz at night.
  • Don’t overdue it with protein—many products meant for curly girls contain protein, which can help strengthen your hair and repair broken bonds, but too much protein can make your curly hair brittle and dry. So make sure you read the labels and have both protein and non-protein products. The last thing you want is protein overload. This Reddit thread is also helpful if you think you have too much protein in your hair.
  • Find a stylist that specializes in curly hair.
  • Clarify your hair once a month (this can help if your hair has too much protein) and do weekly deep conditioning treatments with a hair mask. If you’re on a tight budget, I really like the hair mask from Trader Joe’s. I’ll add a few drops of hair oil to make it more intense when my hair is feeling extra dry.

I spent too much of my life pretending my hair wasn’t curly. I used a flat iron on my hair every single day, but I’m so happy with my hair transformation, and now that I’m so close to becoming a mom, I’ll be embracing my curls even more.

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