Tightly Curly Technique, 6 Months Later

Written by The Tembas on January 30th, 2011

It has been six months since I started using the Tightly Curly technique on my toddler, developed by Teri LaFlesh and written about on her website and in her book “Curly Like Me“. I had no idea how to manage Esther’s hair and this technique seemed to be a good place to start. All this time on the method and we are still going strong. Having a child with super-curly hair is no picnic, you are going to have to spend time on it no matter what. However, the tightly curly method definitely gets you the best results for the least amount of time and for the lowest price. To see the step by step instructions you can read my first blog post on the subject. Here are a few lessons and photos to show how things are going now.

1. I have switched from the Tresemme conditioner to Aussie Moist. I like the smell a little better and it is a little thicker. Good hold with her hair. Both are really cheap and can be bought everywhere.

2. I can’t emphasize the importance of satin pillow cases enough! We have them on her bed pillows and on the car seats. It really helps prevent the matted fuzz on the back of her head.

3. I braid her hair most nights but lately have been lazy and not prepping it for bed. There is so much conditioner that builds up over time, it usually can be fixed in the morning.

Esther's bed head when she didn't get braids the night before

Esther's bed head when she didn't get braids the night before

Whether I use braids or not, I either spray it  with a water bottle if she isn’t getting a morning bath or lightly wet it in the tub.

Esther's hair lightly wetted

I then add a good glob (but not a big handful) of conditioner to it.The big handful is reserved for the twice a week super-condition and comb out.

A small amount of conditioner to spruce up the hair in the morning

If the hair managed to get frizzy overnight I have to brush it out, but if it stayed relatively intact then I just run my fingers through it for a few minutes to separate all the curls and break a few light snarls.

Esther's hair with the conditioner finger-combed in

Then I leave it alone. No touching it!! If you tinker with it while it is drying  it will become frizzy. With putting in braids overnight there is a benefit of being able to use less water with the conditioner because the curls aren’t as nappy in the morning and they are easier to style. This is a plus in this cold, damp city where it takes forever for hair to dry. When we were in Tanzania it was fantastic! Her hair dried in minutes. The other benefits of braids overnight is that the hair is a little softer looking when it dries after restyling it since you are able to use less water and conditioner.

Here is the hair about halfway through drying. Again, no touching! :)

Esther's hair about halfway dry. It looks a little jeri-curl but don't touch it! Wait to lightly fluff itafter it dries

Finally, here are pictures of her hair after a full day of playing, riding around in a car seat etc. The car seat does have the satin pillow case where her hair rests which helps prevent the rats nest in  the back. I also have been using barrettes a lot more these days. Nothing screams “I’m a Girl!” like a couple flowers pinned in in your locks. I am amazed at how pink her outfits can be and still have people think she is a boy.

Esther's hair after a full day

Esther's hair after a full day of abuse. Looking pretty good!

Another photo of Esther's hair, using a flash to see the details in the curl


11 Comments so far ↓

  1. msjonea says:

    Super pretty, those curls are beautiful!!

  2. Katrina says:

    Her hair is beautiful!! I wish I would of thought about putting something over my daughters seat in the stroller her hair would get soo frizzy in back so I stopped leaving her hair down, but now I’ll have to try that. About people thinking shes a boy thought made me laugh though to many times have people done that to my daughter one time when she was 2mo. I had her in a Pink dress and a woman asked if she was a boy! Another time I had her covered in a purple blanket that had girl stitched on it and people still asked lol I even folded it so you could see the ‘girl’ stitching and people still didn’t get it!! I just don’t understand it

  3. Trisha Kazan says:

    Thrilled to find a link to this on Chocolate Hair Vanilla care via Keep me Curly…I LOVE my 21 mo old’s natural curls. Your daughter’s hair looks nearly identical to hers,and if possible I’d like to ask some questions. A lot of the detailed tips I’ve seen for ’4a/4b hair types’ don’t seem to work quite right. Do you have a forum for asking questions??

  4. leslie says:

    I love your daughters hair!! So cute. I to have been useing the tightly curly method, though my daughters curls are as tight as your daughters. I tried and tried to do other methods, but I just cant get the hang of braiding/cornrowing and I had how the rubber/plastic/cloth bands damaged her hair! still everyont told me to keep her hair braided in styles andall that…But that was not working for me in the least. he hair wouldnt stay in a sister twist for the life of me… So I decided after a year of struggle to try the Tightly curly method and I LOVE IT. I cant believe how much better her hair looks since I started this method!
    Its nice to know other parents are using it to.

  5. Jenn says:

    We’ve always used the tightly curly method when I do finger coils etc and use Curls conditioner which works well for my daughter. Can you show a picture of what it looks like when you braid it at night? My daughter has very tight curls and her hair is very dense and with the tightly curly method, I just can’t figure out what braid pattern/parting pattern to use without disturbing the nice curls!

  6. Trisha says:

    @Jenn: That is one of my top questions! My daughter’s hair is chin length in front/shoulder blade in back, but when it dries it’s VERY close to her head. The only braiding I know is when it’s ‘stretched out’ & sectioned to style-i can’t imagine how to even begin to braid for bed with coils.

  7. The Tembas says:

    Wow! Thanks for the nice comments, everyone. I am such a huge fan of this method I am glad to help other toddler moms use it too. As far as braiding at night, I do stretch out the curls to do it. My rule is – the fewer the braids, the better. As her hair has grown I have gone from six to five to now four. I am not pulling it really tight, it isn’t painful. In the morning the curls will be all stretched out. Braiding doesn’t keep the curls intact, it keeps the hair from turning into a fuzzy rats nest overnight (you all know what I am talking about) so it can be easily restyled in the morning. Once I undo the braid I lightly spritz her hair with a water bottle until it is very slightly damp. I then get a pretty fair sized glob of conditioner (see photo above). I rub it in, then I start combing my fingers through her hair which encourages the coils to return. Without the fuzzy rats nests, her hair is very easy to finger-comb through (the main reason I go through the trouble of braiding). It is still an experiment each morning finding the right amount of misting and the right amount of conditioner. I can’t go wrong with erring on the side of more conditioner. Having lots of conditioner really weighs the hair down (a good thing in their case!) and brings out the coils. Spiraling the hair around your finger can help too, as she does on the tightlycurly website. Toddlers get antsy, though so I can only do that for a little while. The key is, not messing with it once it has started to dry. That is when you see the patches of frizz appear. I am taking some photos of what I am explaining here and will do another blog post with photos soon. Thanks for the interest!

  8. Peach says:

    I love this technique. Works well for us too. Thanks for visiting my blog! I’m gonna try Aussie for sure.

  9. Joanna says:

    Can you comment on the what qualities the comb-through conditioner should have (thickness, richness, etc.)? I prefer to avoid some of the ingredients common in standard conditioners, so I’m trying to find a more natural conditioner that will work well, and also won’t break the bank. My daughter is 18 months old and her hair looks very similar in length and texture to Esther’s in your original post on this technique last year. Thank you!

  10. The Tembas says:

    Hi Joanna! I have been trying to think of a good word to describe her conditioner but it is tough! Maybe filmy? greasy? It isn’t really sticky or gooey. We have been using Aussie Moist for a while with good success. If you see a bottle in the store you can take the cap off and put a little on your finger to feel the texture of it. It is harder to find the natural conditioners that won’t break the bank only because I tend to use a lot of it. With the shorter length (and toddler wear and tear) I tend to use quite a bit to recreate the curls each morning. Teri does mention Alaffia Coconut & Shea Daily Hydrating Conditioner on the tightlycurly website as a more natural alternative. It is $12 for 8 oz on Amazon. That will give you a few weeks I would assume. She also mentioned Shikai Natural Everyday Conditioner but said she needed to use a lot of it for it to work. That may make it expensive. Visit her page http://tightlycurly.com/products/combingconditioners/ for more suggestions on different products. She really breaks down ingredients there and on another page on her site so if there are some you want to avoid she may mention them. I may try out some others some day if I get tired of the Aussie product. Good luck!

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