Our Do’s and Don’ts of Brushing Curly Hair

Megan Dominion

Having curly hair is a blessing. Think about all the thousands of styling tools, gadgets & products that have been invented to create temporary curls for straight-haired folk. From perms to hair curlers, trust us when we say: they want what you have!

Did you know that a lot of people don’t even KNOW that they have curly hair? Some people only develop curls after puberty or other hormonal changes. Some people have curls their whole lives and don’t know because (and this is real) they’re not brushing it correctly. Think about it: As a tween, you were probably taught to brush your hair and then dry it with mom’s hair dryer – losing all your hair’s natural integrity! OR, you didn’t brush it at all and went running around to play – leaving you with a head of frizzy waves. This is partcularly common with people with type 2 hair. Brushing dry curls or waves is a BIG no-no, so let’s quickly chat about brushing rules and techniques.

Curling Iron on Straight Hair

Hair Tools

How to brush curly hair

  • You should only brush curly or wavy hair when it’s wet, and preferably with a wide-tooth comb, paddle brush or detangling brush
  • Ensure that your hair is wet (not damp) and well conditioned when you start brushing. The best time to brush your hair is in the shower when you have your conditioner in your hair. You can always switch off the shower while you do this to save water
  • Brush your hair from the bottom-up, detangling large knots with your fingers to help
  • Only brush sections of your hair at a time to minimize damage
  • Be GENTLE and patient with your hair, and take your time

Also read: Why your hair is taking forever to dry!

Should you brush curly hair at all?

The short answer is yes. Your hair needs to be detangled in order for your curls and coils to be ‘free’ to create a beautiful curl shape. If your hair is very porous, damaged or in recovery – then a great leave-in conditioner or mask will help to detangle your hair if you are brushing it after your shower or hair wash.

You can also try finger-combing your hair in the shower while your conditioner is on to help clear some knots out. If your hair is soft enough, your fingers should do the trick! But for optimum scalp health, using a brush is a good idea on top of massaging your scalp while you shampoo your hair.

Brushing curly hair

How to care for wet curls after brushing

Once you’ve brushed your hair, you can start adding your favorite hair styling products, creams, gels and potions. Generally we recommend you to only add these AFTER you’ve brushed your hair as you don’t want to lose product in the brushing process. But I would be lying to you if I told you I didn’t use my hair brush to style my curls once all my products are in. As always, play around and find out what works best for you and your hair. And don’t forge to give your hairbrush a rinse or wash if you’ve now got product in it from using it to style your curls.


Once you’ve added your products, you can plop, diffuse or air dry your hair. And remember our golden rule for brushing curly hair is to never brush it dry, only when wet! Wishing you many ringlets and waves!

Read next: the Do’s and Don’ts of Going to Bed with Wet Hair or browse our hair blog for more hair tips, tricks and advice!

Megan Dominion

Megan Dominion is SILKUP's Managing Editor. She's been down both the curly hair and skincare rabbit holes many times and loves that there's always something new to learn; a new science, method, product or personal experience.