Having curly hair is a double edged sword: great for its versatility but difficult in terms of styling. Why? Because no two curls are the same, even on the same head. On my head alone, my coils and spirals go from 3B to 4A throughout my hair. The inconsistency also applies to porosity levels, often being high (loose) at the crown of the head and lower (tighter) at the very front of the head. All to say, it can be difficult knowing where to start when it comes to nourishing curls properly and effectively. That’s where hair milk products come in, which can be the ideal addition to styling your natural texture, as well as keeping your hair nourished and your curls defined.
Unfamiliar with this type of formula? Hair milk is “A combination of leave-in conditioner and a lightweight detangling treatment that protects the hair, leaving a healthy shine,” say Takisha Sturdivant-Drew, Matrix ambassador and hair stylist. Hair milk is a go-to product for texture curls or wavy hair as it makes a great difference in softness, moisture level, strength, and the condition of curls.
“It's lightweight consistency guarantees hydration and moisture with less product buildup to help with absorption and curl definition,” shares Whitney Eaddy, celebrity hair stylist and founder of Juices & Botanics. Contrary to the name, it doesn’t actually have milk in it, but instead is known for its milky-texture and formula packed with oils, butters, and other hydrating ingredients. It has a thinner consistency than a heavy moisturizing cream and won’t weigh down your curls — not to mention simultaneously decreasing frizz and making detangling manageable.
To find out further benefits, how often to apply hair milk to curls, and when you will start to see results, TZR reached out to four celebrity hair stylists for more intel — plus the best hair milk products for your most gorgeous curls yet.
How Does Hair Milk Benefit Curls?
The benefits of using hair milk products regularly are numerous. “Because curly hair airs on the dry side, it is much more prone to breakage and split ends, so using hair milk regularly supports healthier hair overall,” says Eaddy.
People use hair milk for a variety of reasons. “Curly hair is prone to dryness because the natural oils in the scalp don’t travel down the hair strands as easily as they do in straight hair,” Quia Querisma, Dallas-based natural hair specialist, tells TZR. “Hair milk is a quick infusion of moisture to dry curls.” And due to it’s lightweight formula, it helps curls maintain their natural bounce, without feeling too heavy.
“No matter what texture or density, curly hair must be detangled gently to avoid breakage,” Querisma says. “[Hair milk] can be used before carefully separating curls by hand, or on wet hair when using a detangling brush.” Used during the styling process, a hair milk product will help discourage frizz and offer heat protection from using hot tools.
Hair milk is also ideal for creating more curl definition. “By using a moisturizing hair milk on textured, curly, or wavy hair, you ensure your strand’s natural pattern is enhanced,” says Eaddy. And because it doesn't create product buildup, it will also help curls stay bouncy and defined. “It both plump from within and hold the curls and waves in place as they dry so the curls will dry with definition without expanding into fluffiness,” Michael Van Clarke, London-based hair stylist and founder of 3’’ More Inches Hair Care, tells TZR.
Adding Softness & Shine
Although hair milk does wonders for curl definition and hydration, according to the experts, it’s not just for curly hair but perfect for anyone wanting to reduce frizziness and improve softness and shine. “Hair milk delivers instant moisture while also helping lock in the natural moisture of your hair,” shares Eaddy. “They are light enough to be tolerated by fine hair but powerful enough to make a difference in thicker hair without leaving behind tons of product buildup.” Essentially, on curls or straighter textures, it's an easy way to ensure hair is protected, nourished, moisturized, and sealed (protected from environmental stressors like pollution, debris, and dirt)
How Often Should Hair Milk Products Be Used?
Because the formula is so lightweight, especially compared to other moisturizing hair products, hair milk can be used every wash day or every couple of days to revitalize curls without weighing it down, says Sturdivant-Drew. And Eaddy agrees, claiming that on wash days you should apply the hair milk after your leave-ins and hair serums. “When using hair milk to refresh your style or rehydrate curls, it’s best to add some distilled water to the spray bottle to emulsify and soothe thirsty curls,” Eaddy tells TZR. Like all hair products, you won’t see results overnight. In fact, the experts state results (shine, hydrated, and tamed frizz) will come within a month or two as long as you are using it consistently.
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