How Do I Keep My Natural Hair Soft and Curly?

In this blog post, I'll be addressing a common question that I get about hair care and maintenance. That question is “How do I keep my natural hair soft and curly?”

Now, first of all, we have to understand that each head of hair is different. I’m all about loving and embracing our natural curl pattern and natural hair texture – long story short, you have to love what God gave you.

So I can’t tell you how to turn your thick, tightly curled, kinky hair into loose, cascading waves, because that’s not realistic and it’s not going to happen unless you use some kind of chemical process to change your texture. That’s not what we do here. What I can do, is tell you how to work with what you’ve got to get the best out of your hair. Sound good? Ok, let’s proceed.

Hair Properties

Natural hair can be categorized based on curl size, density (how many strands of hair you have on your head), thickness or coarseness of your strands, and porosity. We’ll talk a little about each one.

Hair Type

Curl size is what most naturals are familiar with, and the question that naturals ask most often when trying to figure out how to care for their hair is “What is my hair type?” This question is in reference to the number/letter curl typing system that places a value on curl size ranging from type 1 to type 4 where type 1 is straight hair and type 4 is tightly curled/kinky hair.

A lot of naturals think that once they know if their hair is 3c or 4b, they’ll know exactly how to take care of their hair. This is not true!

First, curl size it subjective, meaning 10 people can look at your hair and have a different opinion on whether your curls are large or small.

Second, your hair is not uniform. You may have some 4C curls mixed with some 4A curls. It’s rare to have all of your curls be the exact same size.

Third, there are so many other combinations of characteristics that your hair may have, curl size only tells you a small part of the story. In reality – curl size or “hair type” really doesn’t matter and you shouldn’t stress yourself trying to figure out if you are 4a or 4b. It’s fairly easy to tell if you’re type 1 or type 4, and that’s really as deep as you need to go. 

hair type 1 through 4 straight to curly


Now on to density. The density of your hair can be defined as how many strands of hair you have per square centimeter of scalp space, or how close together your hair strands are. Hair can range from low density to high density.

When we say someone has “thick” hair – we usually mean they have highly dense hair. Again, this is not a scientific measurement. If it’s hard for you to fit all of your hair into a ponytail – it’s high density. If you put your hair into twists and you have a lot of scalp space, or your hair is “thin” it’s low density. If you’re somewhere in the middle, that’s medium density.


Next we’ll talk about coarseness or thickness of the hair strands. This refers to the diameter of each strand of hair. Strands can be fine, medium, or thick. Most people have finer strands around the perimeter of the hair (your edges and nape) and thicker strands in the middle.

If you have fine strands throughout your hair, you may find that your hair breaks more easily or gets heat damage more easily. If you have thick strands your hair texture may feel more coarse, and it may be harder for you to get your hair to lay flat or smooth.


Lastly, let’s talk about porosity. Porosity refers to how difficult or easy it is for your hair strands to absorb water and keep it inside the hair shaft.

High porosity hair means that the hair shaft remains open so that water easily flows in and out of the hair. Hair with high porosity soaks up water very quickly, dries very fast, and has a tendency to tangle and break easily. High porosity is usually caused by chemical or mechanical damage to the hair.

Low porosity hair takes a long time to get fully wet and a long time to dry. Many type 3 and type 4 naturals have hair that is naturally low porosity.

Using synthetic ingredients like silicones, or heavy ingredients like waxes, heavy oils, and butters can clog the hair shaft and prevent moisture from getting into the hair. This will make normal porosity hair behave like low porosity hair, and it will make low porosity hair almost impossible to moisturize.

Both high and low porosity hair have a hard time staying moisturized, but for different reasons. 

Low porosity hair is difficult to keep moisturized because the hair shaft is tightly sealed and it’s difficult for moisture to enter the hair. High porosity hair has a hard time staying moisturized because when water enters the hair, the hair shaft remains open and the water is able to flow right back out.

Your hair can have different porosities in different sections, or it can change porosity due to damage.

Keep in mind that you can have any combination of these hair properties. You can have 4C hair with fine strands, low density, and high porosity. Or your hair can be 3C with thick strands, high density and low porosity. Or anything in between.

This is why just saying “My hair is 4A” is not enough information for you to figure out what your hair needs and how to care for it. And a product that claims it’s for 4A hair would be misleading because hair care is about more than just your curl size.

The best way to choose hair products is not based on your curl pattern, but based on the product’s ingredients and what your hair needs at the time.

hair porosity low normal high determines curl definition

Curl Definition and Softness

So now that we know all about how to determine our hair’s properties, let’s talk about how to bring out our hair’s natural curls and how to keep them soft and manageable.

First, the curls! Have you noticed that when your hair is wet you can see all your little curls and ringlets, but then when it’s dry it just feels rough and has zero curl definition? What’s the easiest way to get your dry hair to look just as curly as your wet hair?

It’s hydration! Properly hydrated hair is defined hair.

What’s the difference between hydration and moisture? Hydration is the water that your hair needs to stay healthy. Moisture is the oil that helps keep the water from evaporating out of your hair.

The problem comes in when we A) use these terms interchangeably, which causes confusion and B) go overboard with the oils to “seal” moisture into our hair, which causes dryness.

Another way to get soft, bouncy curls is to do a curly set. Straw sets, flexi rods, bantu knots, and finger coils will all give you the luscious curls you desire and these styles can be done without heat or chemicals that can permanently damage your hair. These types of styles are a great option if you are working on improving the hydration status of your hair, or if you just want to change it up a little from your regular twist out or wash and go.

Hair Products and Ingredients

So hydration – your hair has to be properly hydrated (meaning it needs water!) in order to be healthy, defined, and soft. Dehydrated hair feels rough and is more prone to breakage.

This means that your hair products need to contain water! Aloe vera also has a very high water content and is a great source of hydration for your hair. Look for water or aloe vera as the first ingredient in your shampoo/cleanser, conditioner, deep conditioner, leave in conditioner, moisturizer, or styling gel.

Next you want to make sure that your hair products do not contain anything that will dry out your hair, or block your hair from absorbing water. These kinds of ingredients can cause excessive dryness which leads to breakage and split ends.

This means your products should not contain any drying alcohols like benzyl alcohol or isopropyl alcohol. You also want to stay away from sulfates in your shampoo, and silicones (like dimethicone) in your conditioners and stylers. Look for products that contain mostly natural ingredients to benefit your hair and scalp.

Now, this is the tricky part – oils and butters. As we’ve already said, you do need a moisturizer to seal water into your hair. That means oil. But what you don’t need is to slather your hair all over from root to tip with olive oil or coconut oil.

Your oils should be mixed in to your hair products and properly emulsified to allow them to blend with the water or aloe that’s already there. You should also be using oils that are able to penetrate the hair shaft and not just coat your strands - which actually keeps water out!

For the most part, you do not need to add extra oils on top of your hair to seal in moisture after washing if you are using high quality products that already contain the correct blend of water, aloe, and hair penetrating oils.

When you are using the right products, you will find that you can cut steps out of your wash days, detangling doesn’t take as long, styling doesn’t take as long, and you don’t need a ton of specialized products for each step!

It is important to have a solid hair care routine to improve and maintain the health of your hair. If you suffer from chronically dry hair, here are some other tips to helps keep your hair in great shape:

  • Sleep on a silk pillowcase
  • Avoid excessive styling with heat tools (curling iron, flat iron, etc)
  • Use a heat protectant if you do use heat on your hair
  • Apply deep conditioners and moisturizers in small sections to make sure you don’t miss a spot
  • Use a wide-tooth comb to detangle (to avoid breakage)

Your hair can be soft and manageable with defined natural curls without using harsh chemicals (like those found in cheap gels) and without spending hours shingling and twirling your hair to death to get perfect curls.


deep conditioner - hair mask for soft defined curls


The entire Indara Naturals line consists of organic hair care products made with the highest quality ingredients and plant based preservatives.

These water and aloe based products that contain hair-penetrating ingredients to give your hair the softness, moisture, and curl definition you’re seeking without any harmful chemicals, fillers, or artificial fragrances.

Our detoxifying hair mask gives you a gentle cleanse and brings out your hair’s natural curl, while our intense deep conditioning treatment gives you long-lasting moisture to carry you through the week!

Visit our website here or click to here to get free one-on-one help with your hair!

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