Top Curly Tips for Medical Students with Natural Hair

Hello there! Are you a busy medical student struggling with caring for your natural hair? Us naturals know that caring for your hair can be both time consuming and expensive depending on the products you purchase. So, I’m here to provide you with my top 5 tips to make your wash day easier, smoother, more affordable, and less time consuming! My name is Marg, and I am the natural hair blogger behind and @MargTheMedBeauty on Instagram. I’m also a first year medical student, so I can relate to your busyness. This post is for medical students with natural hair, but truly, these curly tips can be helpful for any natural with a busy lifestyle and tight budget. Let’s get right to it!

Tip #1: Join a rewards program, stick to it, and buy products on sale! 

If you know me, then you know I am all about saving money! This may seem like a no-brainer, but always join free rewards programs that beauty stores offer, and shop most frequently at the store that makes the most sense for you. There are many beauty stores that offer rewards programs, for example, Sally Beauty, Sephora, Ulta, and more. I am a member of all three retailers’ rewards programs, and they are all free. But I will tell you that Sally Beauty has truly been my saving (money) grace! I buy almost all of my beauty products from Sally because they almost always have sales, you accrue rewards the fastest, and Elite Members get free shipping on all orders (no minimum required)! See a brief comparison of these three retailers’ rewards programs below: 

  • Sally Beauty Rewards– Basic members (aka Preferred members) earn $5 in rewards for every $50 spent and free shipping on orders $35+. It’s super easy to reach Elite status, especially if you and your family share the same account. For example, my mom, my aunt, and I all use my account. Just spend $200+ in a year to achieve Elite status. Once on Elite status, you will earn $5 in rewards for every $40 spent and get free shipping on all orders (no minimum required). 
  • Ultamate Rewards (Ulta Beauty)– Basic members earn $3 in rewards for every $100 spent. To reach the next tier, Platinum, you must spend $500 per year. To reach the highest tier, Diamond, you must spend $1,200 per year. Only Diamond members get free shipping, which also requires a $25 minimum spent to qualify. 
  • Beauty Insider Program (Sephora Rewards)– All tiers earn 1 point for every $1 spent and can earn a $10 reward for spending $500. To move up a tier from a basic member (aka Insiders) to VIB (Very Important Beauty), you must spend $350 per year. To move up to the highest tier, Rouge, you must spend $1,000 per year. The points can be redeemed for beauty items typically small, travel-sized products or 500 points can be redeemed for $10 off a purchase. 

Personally, I love to shop online from wherever I am and not have to make a special trip to any store, so free online shipping is essential for me. Also, I do not like buying anything full price, so sales are also essential for me. Therefore, me shopping primarily at Sally Beauty for my beauty products was a no-brainer. As I write this blog post, Sally Beauty has 30% off select hair care. They typically have 25% off, 30% off, BOGO 50%, etc. You, of course, should decide which retailer and program is best for you. I would suggest to try to shop primarily at just one of them so you accrue rewards quickly with at least one of them. Feel free to visit the links above for the full, detailed breakdown of their membership benefits. 

Tip #2: Don’t skip the pre-poo! 

One step in my wash day that has truly helped the health of my hair and shortened my wash day is pre-shampooing aka pre-pooing. Pre-pooing is the step of applying a treatment to your hair before you shampoo. This treatment is usually a detangler, conditioner, hair tea, or pre-poo treatment that has plenty of slip. This allows you to detangle your hair with ease and remove any tangles before washing. Think about it: when your hairstyle is old and it’s time for a wash, your curls are usually undefined and somewhat stretched. When you wet your hair with water and shampoo, it often shrinks up and can tangle up. Therefore, it’s easiest to remove those tangles on stretched hair before you shampoo versus on shrunken, shampooed hair. For more information on pre-pooing, what products to use, and step-by-step how-to videos, check out my blog post, “Why You Should Start Pre-pooing”. 

Tip #3: Stick to styles that work for you! 

We’ve all experienced it – trying out that one hairstyle that didn’t work and having to redo our hair the next day or stick our hair into a high puff for several days! When busy and in school, try to stick with styles that work for you and your schedule. Perhaps the night before an exam is not the best night to try out a new hairstyle or even to do your hair at all. If you’re still new in your natural hair journey, you may have to experiment with different styles on the weekends or whenever your schedule permits to determine what works best for your hair. Once you figure out your signature, go-to style(s), stick with it and save yourself the trouble! 

Tip #4: Stick to styles that last when you know you won’t have the time nor patience to do your hair. 

As hinted above, I never do my hair close to exams. I plan my hairstyles and wash days in accordance to class and exams. My go-to style when I know I won’t have the time or patience to fool with my hair is two-strand twists. I love that I get 2 styles in one (twists and a twist out) and can go about 2 weeks without doing my hair. I’ll wear the twists for a week then a twist out for another week. Peep my twist out above! If I know I have a rough week ahead, I’ll style my hair in twists. Even though I prefer to wash my hair weekly, I can get by with this hairstyle for 2 weeks. If I have more time and know I’ll be doing my hair again in a week’s time, I may do a perm rod set or flexi rod set, which usually lasts me 4-5 days. Listen to your school schedule. 

Also, listen to yourself. If you know you need a break from your hair, do a protective style like two-strand twists, mini twists, or mini braids. And no, you don’t have to add hair. A protective style can still be protective, last a good amount of time, and be pretty without added hair. It’s up to you and your preference either way. If you don’t feel like doing your hair at all, go to a natural hair salon and perhaps try out a two-strand twists updo, silk press, or whatever style you prefer. 

Tip #5: Wash your hair regularly and with shampoo! 

This again may sound like a no-brainer, but I have to say it. Us medical students are busy. Perhaps even stressed. The last thing we want to add to our list of problems or worries is hair issues. You have to take good care of your hair, and no one wants the added stress of their hair breaking off or falling out. The key to healthy hair is a clean scalp and clean hair. So, wash your hair, and I’d even suggest using a shampoo. 

In the natural hair community, cowashing (aka washing your hair with a conditioner or cleansing conditioner) is quite common. Personally, I do not cowash. Us naturals, myself included, tend to cocktail several products together when styling. Also, we sometimes refresh our curls during the week, which means adding even more products to our hair. Then, we go in with a conditioner to remove all of those products and product buildup. That may not be as effective for you as a shampoo. I am not saying you have to use a clarifying shampoo every week. (That is not a good idea.) But there are plenty of moisturizing shampoos on the market that will allow you to get a good clean without leaving your hair feeling stripped or dry. 

Also, I have found that regular, weekly washing is better than washing once every 2 weeks or once a month. When washing regularly, my hair isn’t as dry, and I have less tangles and less shedding during the pre-poo process. 

All in all, there’s no getting around doing your hair, but you can make your natural hair more affordable and enjoyable! I’m confident that these tips will allow you to do that and set you up for healthy curls, shorter wash days, and bigger pockets! 


Margaret Nicole 

IG | @MargTheMedBeauty 

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Email | [email protected] 

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Margaret Woods

Margaret Nicole is a beauty influencer turned medical student who started her blog to continue her beauty influencing, discuss important health topics (especially for us ladies), advise non-traditional pre-medical students, and share her medical school journey! Visit her site and follow her on her social media platforms:
IG | @MargTheMedBeauty

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