Saturday, June 7, 2014

Curly Hair: Making Peace With Your Natural Texture

Come by your curls naturally? Then please step away from the flat iron.  No more playing it straight.  It's high time you learn to "heart" ie love your hair's natural curly texture.  Doesn't matter if they are wild and crazy, cute and curly, or show off waves with attitude - why not just embrace those curls? 

Yes, as it turns out, you can be wild about your hair even on days it misbehaves.
naturally curly hair

Also remember that according to a survey by New Beauty magazine, if given a choice, 78% of women would pick wavy curly hair.  Of course maybe 78% of respondents never had to face what you have to face in the mirror every morning.  But still.  Can all those women be wrong?

Now with our first article, 5 Curl Commandments For Curly Girls, we started to explore living happily ever after with curls.  Sadly that's not all you need to know.  Yeah, you just knew there had to be a catch, didn't you?  So let's see if we can't continue to fill any gaps in your knowledge. 

So can we agree you want to wash your hair as infrequently as possible?  And don't worry.  You won't end up with an oil spill waiting to happen on top of your head.  Besides you'll be doing what's called "co washing" (that's using a cleansing conditioner of some sort instead of shampoo) some of the time to wash up.  And maybe using dry shampoo if need be one or two days as well.  Although you likely will be able to avoid that. 

Then if you've lived with your curls for any length of time you understand the conditioning routine required.  It can be described in six words.  Condition.  Condition.  And condition some more.  Just take care to pick the right formulation.  You want a product that delivers the needed hydration without weighing your tresses down.  Here's a short cheat sheet.  If you are going for soft curls think sprays.  Gels can deliver bigger more defined curls.  While those going for a more coiled look would want to find denser creams to apply to get that look. 

Plus don't forget this important bit of advice.  Once the curl pattern is set, it's hands off. That's right.  Once you are done applying whatever products you apply to get your look you don't want to mess with your hair.  At all.  The heat from your fingers can touch of a frenzied frizz attack.  And no one wants that. 

Also, you seriously want to avoid brushes since they can break up the natural curl not to mention set the stage for frizz.  You are better off detangling and/or conditioning using a wide tooth comb.  Failing that fingers can be magical too.

curly hair tips
Stylist tips: If you don't have a curly hair care products collection raise your hand.  Let me tell you anyone that doesn't raise their hand is lying.  Most of us have tried a gazillion products.  But guess what?  No collection needed.  If you are looking to lock fine haired curls in place use a water based gel.  You'll get the desired affect without weighing down your hair.  If you're dealing with thicker or coarser strands pick up a hydrating cream to work into them.  And whatever you do use alcohol based stylers with care.  You guessed it.  They tend to suck the moisture out of already parched strands.  The worst offender?  Hair spray.  Be very careful on only use in measured doses if at all.

After shampooing those with loose curls want to use a curl amplifying conditioner and then work in some curl-enhancing serum or gel through their hair. There are plenty to choose from.  The best way to blow dry loose curls is to let your strands rest on the diffuser for three to five seconds at a go.  Then move to the next section.  Repeat this routine until all your hair is dry. 

If your hairdresser offers anything but a dry cut get out of the chair.  S/he is not the one for you. There's a reason behind that dry cut business.  All too often wet curly hair and dry curly hair look like two totally different animals.  Once dry, your curls will recoil and retract.  Getting a wet cut can set you up for a much shorter cut than you expected.  Don't let your stylist be the one to spring that on you.  If cut dry they will know where every strand of hair will end up.

While we're on the subject of cuts if you have long lush flowing curls tapered layers could work well for you. Just don't fall in love with the length.  Hair that curls that is long can weigh itself down and stretch things to point of looking all gangly and lanky which may not be your hair's best look.  Bras strap length would be about as long as you should go - if that. For extra shaping ask to have layers cut in starting just below your chin.

Awesome tips like these can let you call a truce with your war on curls, don't you think?

5 Curl Commandments For Curly Girls

Your Quick Guide to Living with Curly Hair

I know it is said so often it is almost cliche. But still, why can't you just get along with the curls you have rather than pining away for the stick straight hair you will never come by naturally.

curly hairstyles
Yes, I'm telling you to stop trying to change your curly hair into something it's not. Accept the curls. Embrace the curls. Revel in them and you'll be a lot further ahead.

Sites like or to a lesser extent Terrific Tresses may preach this message too. Still many girls with curls are not getting it. Hopefully you're here because you are starting to. Here are the commandments you need then to rock those curls.

Thou Shalt Not Shampoo Any More Than You Have To
Anyone with curly hair must abstain from daily washing for sure. It is better still if you go three or more days on a cleansing. And no this isn't gross. Many girls with curls lather up no more than twice a week. Oh and when you do break out the suds see if you can't find a sulfate free shampoo sans the harsh detergents. They can leave you with a dry and frizzy mess so avoiding them is simply smart.

Thou Shalt Always Apply Major Moisture
The best way to put the kibosh on heat damage of any sorts is by deep conditioning. Besides we both know curls are dry by nature so any added moisture can certainly help. This means proper hydration needs to be your top priority if you want your hair to look it's best. (Otherwise you risk walking around with hair that looks dry and frazzled. Ugh!) You can accomplish this by applying a super rich, heavy duty leave-in conditioner to damp hair from the roots to the tips. And by damp I mean you've squeezed the excess water into an absorbent micro fiber towel. The product of choice should ideally have both panthenol to help with moisture penetration of the hair shaft and some sort of silicone to seal the deal and lock the moisture in. This is a must do part of any curly hair routine.

Thou Shalt Towel Dry the Right Way
Then there's a right way and a wrong way to towel dry curly locks. So let me straddle the thou shalt and shalt not divide here for a second. You NEVER want to rub your hair with a towel. Any towel. Any hair type. The proper approach is to squeeze the soaking strands into the fabric to blot the hair to damp. Reason being the friction created by rubbing leads to frizz and possibly breakage. So "blot don't rub" are toweling words to live by.

Thou Shalt Always Use a Diffuser
No harm in blow drying as long as you always have a diffuser firmly affixed to the business end of this hot styling tool. This is a must know technique for blasting your locks with warm air since the diffuser makes the hot blast far less concentrated which helps to keep the curls in one piece. If you want tighter curls work the diffuser up and down keeping it deep in your mane while scrunching the hair. If looser and softer curls are the goal disperse the heat throughout your hair without any scrunching. Doing this outside the steam room also known as your bathroom can help cut down on the frizz potential. As can a final blast of cool air which will close the cuticle up nice and tight.

Stylist tip: A DIY combo of mousse and serum can give you soft and lovely yet obedient curls. And did I mention crunch free? All you do is take a healthy dollop of mousse (one meant for curls could help) into which you mix some serum or styling lotion. Work that in from root to tip and before you can say Presto Chango you've got the curly hair you've always wished you had.

Thou Shalt Find the Perfect Cut
Happiness with a head full of gorgeous curls begins and ends with getting the right cut. Getting to that point begins and ends with having a hairdresser who knows how to cut curly hair. Fail there and your life will be miserable. Assuming you've got Suzy Scissors who knows the tricks of the curly trade, let's look at two extremes. Which are you?

Fine Hair: Here the watchword is balance. Forget anything pixie like in length. Such cuts require too much work to keep them looking their best and they are a nightmare to grow out without ending up with a terminal case of mushroom head. Shoulder length cuts usually work best. A messy curly bob can be a sexy option too. And don't forget those cute face framing layers.

kinky curly hairKinky Hair: When you think of kinky hair you shouldn't think of the tightly wound coils here. You should instead think of volume. This hair type has plenty of volume. With plenty to spare even. That means you can wear this hair type short, medium or long if you want if the objective is to have hair that is big and beautifully coiled. The key here is layers. Cut correctly, the layers will boost the look while letting you avoid the dreaded pyramid hair. The second key is moisture since it's hard for your scalp's natural oils to traverse all those coils to reach the ends. Making dry hair second nature for this hair type.

Granted the debate about straight or curly is long standing. And like many things in life we always want what we don't have because the grass always looks greener on the other side of the fence. But c'mon. Armed with a few tricks like these you can rock the curl and garner you share of compliments for those coiled tendrils of yours - long or short.