curl recovery
Hair Styling

How I Repaired “Damaged” Curls from 2011-2016

damaged curls
A slight texture change occurred after having my hair blown out one time. This is wet hair.

I started my natural hair journey without having a clue how to manage my curls or care for my hair. Nearly 15 years later and my curls are poppin’ like pin pricked bubbles!

A little over a month ago, a reader asked me what I did to repair what appeared to be damaged curls. She wanted to know what steps I took that resulted in my dramatic curl transformation from 2011 (the beginning of my blogging career) to now.

Realizing that there may be others wondering how I “fixed” my curls, I decided to share everything I did. Read on to discover how I made it happen.

My Hair’s History

My hair was relaxed at the age of about 11 years old. I maintained that relaxer into my early 30s. Fast forward nearly 13 years, the approximate length of time that I’ve been embracing my natural hair. I stopped flat ironing long before I began blogging but there are some key things that I did that caused me to appear as if I had heat damaged hair, like pulling my hair back in a ponytail very tightly on a regular basis. You can read more about it here.

curl recovery

Reviving the Curl

Hair can be very forgiving but you have to sometimes help it along. Here are the very specific actions that I took to revive my curls:

  1. Got a trim to shape the hair in layers. Most of my length was retained on the bottom and sides of my hair. Most of what was trimmed was done from the crown area. Notice there are still some sections that have less of a curl. So, the trim didn’t completely remedy my inconsistent curl pattern.
    naturally curly hair cut
  2. I started doing full strength henna treatments regularly (this contributed to the temporary loosening of my curls). Then, I stumbled upon Zizyphus when I purchased my henna from The customer rep at Mehandi advised that Zizyphus was capable of repairing curls that were damaged. I no longer have a need to use Zizyphus but it was very instrumental in helping to repair my hair.
  3. Weekly Protein treatments. I can not emphasize how important this is. Protein fortifies the hair. All that nonsense about protein sensitivity is just unfounded. You have to know what type of protein to use in your hair and then it must be used when your hair needs it. In my case, weekly was in order until the curls returned in a uniform fashion. At the time, I used Aphogee Two Step but now I use a DIY Goat’s Milk treatment.
    diy goat's milk hair conditioner
  4. Deep conditioning every wash day. It stands to reason that this goes without saying but it’s so important to the balance of moisture that it bears saying. Whenever using protein, the deep conditioner is used to create the perfect balance of protein and moisture.. I’ve only skipped my deep conditioning twice in 5 years.
    TRUE by made beautiful treatment masque
  5. Wearing my hair in its naturally curly state most of the time. The wash and go is the best way to allow your curls to just be the way they are. You can always do twist outs and braid outs but the more you alter your curls from their natural state, the more they are trained to be that way (causing what appears to be damaged curls). I still do twist outs, braid outs and protective styles (winter mostly). I just make sure I don’t twist or braid too tightly and I don’t usually style my hair in anything but a wash and go more than once or twice a month – except in the winter when I protective style.
  6. Protective styling with my natural curl pattern. As a continuation to number 5 above, I allow my hair to be in its naturally curly state even when I protective style. For example, I will make my buns into curly buns and my up-dos are done without stretching my hair out too much. At night, I let my curls down so that they can just be. I put my hair in a high ponytail to sleep. (and get this…it stretches the back of my hair nearly straight too! Only the ends are left curly but I can hide that since its in the back at the bottom.)
    Curly Bun
  7. When styling my hair in a wash and go, I gently stretch my curls over night by banding my hair (this does not cause any damage). As it’s getting longer, the weight of my hair causes it to stretch so that I don’t have to band it as much for length. Banding helps to reduce tangles but I’m even careful not to do this too often since it temporarily stretches the hair from it’s natural curl pattern.

As you can tell, I was quite diligent with how I’ve been caring for my hair to recapture a uniform curl. My curls are a lot more defined than they were back in 2011 when I first started learning how to care for my fine natural hair. And, while I’m sharing what I’ve been doing for the past five years, it certainly didn’t take that long to see changes.

If you are having problems with damaged curls not caused by heat, or an inconsistent curl pattern, try the methods I shared above to kick start your curl recovery. You will need to employ patience but time heals all wounds curls. (~says me)

Evolution of My Curls

Mouse over the individual images to see the date the photos were taken.

Share this post to encourage others. Curls can be recovered!


Michelle Smith
Michelle is a Christian special needs mom residing in the NYC area who shares useful tips to grow and maintain fine natural hair. She's a published author and Creator of Fine Natural Hair and Faith, inspiring others with faith for living along side knowledge on how to care for their "crown."

10 Comment

    1. Hi Daisya-

      It’s definitely a long term commitment when you don’t want to cut it all off. Most people just cave and cut it. You could opt to trim out the damage slowly. I wish you the best.


  1. WHAT AN AWESOME ARTICLE!!! You know I had to come check you out after your comment about recording! Love this. Will be trying the diy goat treatment with me and my son. We both need it! Thank you so much!!!

    1. Protein is definitely critical to keep our hair strong. So many people misunderstand how to use it.

      I didn’t get breakage from pulling my hair straight (thankfully) but the straightening of my hair for extended periods definitely took a toll on it.

  2. Can you please share your process on how you apply Henna and protein? Do you wait a specific amount of time in between Henna applications?

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