Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Repost: Curly Hair Rules

* I wrote this post about curly hair care over 3 years ago, and I thought it was time to take another look at it and revise my tips a little. I've changed some of my process in the last three years.

Over the last fifteen years, I have tried to help my curly hair, instead of working against it. Sometimes people ask me how I get my hair to be not-so-poufy and tangle free and split-end free, so I thought it may be beneficial to capture the strategies I developed for my dry/thick/curly hair.

1. I shampoo my hair only once or twice a week, any more than that will dry out my hair. And I only wash the scalp because that's where the oils are concentrated while shampoo will dry out the rest of your hair; the ends will wash sufficiently with water and shampoo running through them when you rinse. I've found that any shampoo will do, but you may try to find one created especially for curly hair, as it may have more moisturizers.

2. Condition a few times a week. I used to use Cholesterol, a deep conditioner for dry, thick hair made for African-Americans. Even when my hair was longer and not "thinned," I never had tangles. However, if your hair is not super long or dry, this conditioner may make your hair oily. No matter what type of conditioner you choose, only condition the bottom half of your hair with a small amount and let set for a few minutes before rinsing.   Currently, I use a Suave conditioner for curly hair--I find that the product isn't as important as the fact that you are conditioning often.

3. I never comb my hair with a brush; instead, I use a wide tooth pick or comb. Better yet: use your fingers. And only comb your hair when it's wet; otherwise you'll simply succeed in breaking your hair and making it frizzy.

4. I always use a leave-in cream or leave-in conditioner after showering, when my hair is still very wet. I currently use Garnier Fructis Leave-in Conditioning Cream. Only put on the bottom half of your hair. (See the pattern? Wash the top. Condition the bottom.)

Suave Professionals Captivating Curls Whipped Cream Mousse (7 oz)5. Use mousse after the leave-in cream. I have found that the price tag on the mousse makes no difference. Currently I use Suave Captivating Curls Whipped Cream Mousse--and I love it! Plus, I go through products so fast that I definitely do not want to spend a lot of money on them. Use amounts proportionate to the thickness & length of your hair. (My hair is shoulder length currently, and I use about 1.5 handfuls.)

And I more recently discovered that depending on the season, the weather, your hair's current mood, etc., different products will work better than others. I currently have a small arsenal of products: mousse, spray gel, serum, smoothing hair milk, curl perfecting spray, curl enhancer, etc. Depending on the day, I mix and match to create a concoction, always starting with leave-in conditioner.

6. I always let my hair air dry. Especially for my type of hair, blow drying will only frizz & dry out my hair. Diffusers can help some people but I have never been successful with them.

7. For those with super thick hair, please consider getting your hair thinned!!! I wish someone would have told me about this when I was 15. The benefits are endless for me: my hair is not as poufy; I can wear it down more often; it allows me to cut my hair chin-length and not have to wear it long for the rest of my life; my ponytail isn't 2 inches thick, etc. My hair dresser's advice is only to use thinning-shears, and make sure you find a hair dresser who is comfortable doing this for curly hair. She usually only thins the bottom layer of my hair and at various angles, so there are no short pieces sticking out.

8. I get my hair trimmed about every 3 months. The ends of curly hair will tend to get dry and frizzy first. Plus, hair will grow in differently and curl differently depending on your season in life, so regular trims will help the difference not to be so severe.

9. A comment about straightening. It is fun to do . . . to switch it up every once in a while. But remember that it is damaging for your hair (the blow drying and the heat from the straightener), especially if you do it often. I only straighten mine a few times a year, mostly because it's such a pain to do and takes forever. Plus, I have this theory that the more you straighten, the more your hair "forgets" what it is like to be curly and will therefore take longer to get back to its natural "bouncy" state.

10. You may be wondering what to do with your hair on the days that you do not shampoo or condition. One option: throw it in a ponytail. Another option: don't be afraid to just wet down your hair--either in the shower or with a squirt bottle. I find that wetting my hair down gives me a "brand-new slate." Either just "reuse" the product from the day before or add some more product and you're ready to go.

11. My best tip of all: don't be afraid to experiment and find what works best for your particular brand of curly hair. There is no one-size-fits all plan because each head of curly hair is so different. Try different products. Try washing less often. Try thinning out your hair and cutting in layers to flatter your face. Just give it a try!

These are the strategies I discovered over the years. Mostly it was trial and error . . . trying to help my curls be as healthy and easy to care for as possible. Find what works best for your hair and perhaps my tips can help along the way.

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