Watch: how to maintain your natural curls, according to a curl specialist

If you have naturally curly hair, chances are you’ve taken quite the journey to get it to where it is today. Whether you’re just starting out after years of straightening or looking to seriously simplify your current routine (or in the midst of a TikTok-driven identity crisis about whether your fluffy and frizz-prone strands could be luscious curls in disguise), curl specialist Rumbie Mutsiwa has all the tips and tricks you need on how to care for your waves, kinks and coils – and experience the lifechanging joy of embracing your natural hair. Read on to learn how to live your best curl life – and don’t forget to press play for Mutsiwa’s curly hair tutorial!

On her number-one tip for curly hair

Taking care of natural curls can seem like a gargantuan task. From the sheer volume and thickness, to the hair texture’s tendencies towards dryness, breakage and frizz – plus the contrasting advice everywhere online – it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. That’s exactly why Mutsiwa has such a passion for simplifying curly hair maintenance.

She’s the driving force behind the curl movement that includes her specialist salon in Sydney and curl academy that works to educate other hairstylists.

Her absolute number-one tip for curly hair? “Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! You don't have to have 20 products. Just keep it really simple and stay consistent!” Mutsiwa says, adding, “I tend to look at how people treat curly hair as like eating soup with a fork: if it's too complicated, then that's because you’re actually complicating it.”

READ MORE: How to hydrate your hair (according to your hair type)

On the curly hair rules she doesn’t buy into

On the path to maximum hydration, Mutsiwa leans towards bending some of the rules of the classic ‘curly girl method’. While ‘plopping’ your curls (gently placing wet hair in a T-shirt or a microfibre hair towel) is a popular solution for drying hair quickly, she recommends avoiding removing any moisture from your hair when you can.

“I get what it's trying to achieve, but at the end of the day, you're taking out the moisture, which is what your hair needs,” Mutsiwa explains. “You need to leave in the moisture so that you get better long-term results.”

What does she suggest instead? “Squeeze out excess moisture, pop in your styling product [and] your leave-in conditioner and you'll be winning.”

No time to wait for your hair to air dry (we definitely don’t blame you)? Diffusing is the way to go. The ghd Helios Hair Dryer with the Professional Diffuser attachment is Mutsiwa’s pick; gently place hair inside and press against your scalp on low heat to dry and set your curls.

READ MORE: The new way to wash your hair

On how to find the right products for long-term benefits

In terms of the products you’re using, Rumbie emphasises, “If you're using products for curly hair and the hair is not feeling soft – the product is tacky, it's sitting on the top of the hair – that's probably not going to be great for your hair long term.”

When figuring out the curly hair products that work for you, she advises, “Make sure that the products absorb into the hair, and you don't actually feel them on the outside.”

As far as deeply nourishing formulas go, Living Proof has you covered. Before diffusing, run through their conditioning Curl Definer to reduce frizz and boost gloss. For even more softness and shine, add the Living Proof Curl Moisturising Shine Oil, a five-oil blend to support the health of your curls.

After incorporating conditioning products like these into your routine, you should begin to notice improvements in your hair over time, “By months three and six, and definitely by a year, you should see the curls getting curlier, softer, more subtle, less frizzy,” Mutsiwa explains. “If your hair is still frizzing when you go into the elements, then the product is not hydrating enough.”

READ MORE: How to grow your hair over winter

On the small changes that can help your curls

With the road to effortless curls sometimes seeming impossibly long, it’s good to keep in mind the day-to-day changes that can help you achieve your curly hair goals. Mutsiwa emphasises the importance of a night-time routine: “Tie your hair into a very loose bun and sleep on a silk pillowcase” – Slip’s Silk Pillowcase is a MECCA favourite – “as cotton causes friction. Every single time you go to sleep, the cotton pillowcase is absorbing the product, absorbing the moisture, and causing the frizz – you end up having to do your hair over and over and over again in the morning.”

She adds, “With a great routine, if you just tie up your hair, take it down in the morning, zhuzh and you're pretty much good to go. Just refresh with water and a bit of product, like a gel. That’s going to really give you great long-term results.”

Make your morning easy with a lightweight styling gel, like the Living Proof Curl Defining Gel, for crunch-free, defined curls.

On how to know if you have curly hair

Ah, the age-old question! After lockdowns (and closed salons) led to many a curl rediscovery, it seems like just about everyone was starting to wonder if they had secretly curly hair. But how can you tell? Mutsiwa says that, far from being the enemy, frizz is the first sign your hair might be somewhere on the curl spectrum!

She explains, “Frizz is an indicator that your hair is just dehydrated. So, if your hair is frizzy, you’re definitely somewhere on the spectrum – whether wavy, curly, Afro or coily.”

READ MORE: How to discover your hair texture (and the best products for it)

On how she got into curly hair styling and why she loves it

Mutsiwa’s passion for curly hair and the wealth of knowledge she possesses are all personal to her as a curly girl herself. Then, after moving to Australia to study psychology, she started doing her sister’s hair out of necessity; she was experiencing hair loss due to stress and no-one else knew how to work with her hair’s natural texture.

When Mutsiwa figured out the secret to simple curly haircare, she wasn’t about to keep it to herself: “I saw the need, and when I stumbled across information that would have helped me feel good about myself when I was younger, I thought, man, I'd love to share this with other people. I became very fanatical about simplifying the process. And before I knew it, it wasn't just about Afro hair, it was about wavy and curly hair. And I'm like… Oh my gosh, you have the same problems I do!” she explains.

It was a departure from the expected, but one that she’s grateful for. “It gets a little bit addictive when you see somebody sitting in your seat who has had this problem all their life, and then, in three hours, their life has changed. It's addictive getting to see people live their best life – changing people's lives, really,” she adds.

Want to see how we can help you achieve the natural curls of your dreams? Book in for a 1:1 MECCA Hair Lesson (redeemable for all your curly haircare needs!).


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