How to break up with the straightening iron and marry the curl.
Every curly-haired girl has at some point in her life wished she were born with beautiful poker straight hair. And most have gone to great lengths (pun intended) to create it, so what if they weren’t born with it. I too was a straight-o-holic. Ever since I can remember, I’ve had a not-so-good relationship with my curls. I’ve done everything possible to get that perfect straight look. After years of fighting my curl, waking up an hour earlier to ‘do’ my hair and putting more chemicals in my hair than there are in a nuclear power plant, I had had enough. I was fried, and so was my hair. So I decided to give my curls a chance and soon, I was in love. Here’s what I did and learnt along the way.
1. Curly/wavy hair is an amazing anti-aging product.
Just take a picture with straight hair and another with curly/wavy hair and you will see the proof. Straight hair makes you look colder, sterner, harsher – older. On the other hand, curly hair softens your face making you look (and feel) younger. Think of a day at the beach, you will never imagine poker straight hair. It’s always tousled, messy, wavy hair. I like to call it ‘young and fun’ hair.
2. Get the right haircut.
This is the most important step. DO NOT GET A CUT FOR STRAIGHT HAIR. Get a cut specifically for curls. This means layers, lots of them. Your hair naturally has tons of volume (take that you straight-haired girls!), so enjoy the bounce versus flattening it. More layers also makes your hair lighter and more manageable. Plus, because the length isn’t weighing it down, you get a much better spiral.
3. Know your enemies – frizz.
Curly or wavy hair is always coarser and drier than its straight counterpart. This means more frizz – a curl girl’s worst enemy. Add humidity to the mix, and you’ve got yourself hair from hell. Don’t fret. Just keep it well hydrated and you’re good to go.
4. Make it shine.
Good quality healthy hair always has a sheen. Give your curly crop the gloss it deserves by pre-treating it with oil. You don’t need any special hair oil, just use what’s in your kitchen – olive, almond or coconut oil. Warm it up and drench your scalp. Massage gently but firmly in a circular motion to stimulate blood circulation. Lastly, soak the oil throughout the length of your hair, especially the frazzled tips. Leave it on for at least an hour before you shampoo. Do this twice a week for dazzling results.
5. Use different shampoos on different days.
Every day is different. Some days your hair is super greasy, others it needs a boost of moisture. Your hair knows best, so listen to what it needs. I always keep 2-3 shampoos in my bathroom. If I’ve oiled my hair or have been lazy and not washed it in a while, I use a clarifying one to thoroughly cleanse my scalp and hair. I absolutely adore De Fabulous Ginger Energizing Shampoo. It’s sulphate-free and helps tame the frizz even in super humid climate. If I have been swimming or the weather is cold and I need more moisture, I prefer using Moroccan Oil Hydrating Shampoo. And when my scalp needs some TLC, Kerastase Bain Vital Dermo Calm is the one I go to. It is very gentle on my scalp and tips.
6. Invest in a great conditioner.
Conditioner is curly hair’s bestie. Never ever skip it. This is the product you should really spend on. If you like your curls to have volume, use a light but moisturizing conditioner like Moroccan Oil Hydrating Conditioner. If you want to weigh your hair down, go for a heavier conditioner or masque like the Kerastase Nutritive Oleo-Curl Intense Nutri-Softening Curl Definition Masque. Just remember to always condition ear-down, and then lightly run any remaining conditioner on the top of your hair. Tip: Deep condition once a week. Apply a hair masque directly on your dry hair. Cover with a shower cap and sleep on it all night. Wash it off in the a.m. and feel your hair turn to silk.
7. Throw away the brush.
Curly hair should not be combed. I thought it insane to never comb my hair, but after I stopped, I saw was a dramatic difference it made. Combing curly hair is sacrilege. You are literally opening the cuticles of your hair – making them frizz up. Instead, finger comb your hair when you condition to remove any tangles.
8. Post-treat your hair.
Frizz happens when the hair cuticles are open and exposed. Flatten and seal them with oil. I swear by Moroccan Oil. It smells divine, nourishes my hair and ends, reduces the frizz and is super lightweight so it doesn’t make my hair flat.
Tip: Add a few extra drops on the tips to seal them and prevent split ends.
9. Work the curl.
Use a styling product specifically for curly hair. It should be able to define each curl, add shine and even help speedup the drying time. Just add a dime-sized amount and rub your palms before finger-combing it throughout the length of your hair. Then scrunch your hair from tips upwards until the ears. Let air dry and DO NOT touch your hair (unless you want it to look like a bird’s nest). I’ve been loyal to Aveda Be Curly Curl Enhancer for years. Every time I change my product, I return back convinced it’s the best one out there. My hair doesn’t get crunchy or greasy. In fact, once it dries, my hair is soft to touch with a hint of shine – no one can even tell I have product in my hair. Toni and Guy Label.M Curl Cream is another favourite, especially if you want more hold. Another plus, it smells of a tropical holiday. I completely dislike mousses and gels. They dry my hair and make it feel all hard and plasticy. Hair should feel like hair – soft and silky.
10. Don’t blow-dry your hair without a diffuser.
I don’t think curly hair requires a blowdry. But if the weather is chilly or you need to go for an important meeting, simply attach a diffuser to your blow drier, scrunch your hair and from the tips upward, and dry it on the hot setting, followed by the cold one. This reduces frizziness by sealing the cuticles. Turn it off and wait for a few seconds before letting down your wanton waves from the diffuser. Rupenzel move over!