Now that I’m in my thirties, I can dole out pearls of wisdom, telling tales of my youth to anyone who will listen, and no one will bat an eye. Like the 90-something year old dude who lives in my neighborhood and crosses the street whenever and where ever he pleases, people just kinda let him do his thing. He’s earned the right to make you late to yoga.
I’ve done my own hair for about 25 of my years on this Earth and I’ve got epic tales of trauma suffered by my hair: knots, awkward layers, bangs, heat, chemicals, and that one time I thought it would be great to let my friend in beauty school give me peek-a-boo highlights to be edgy; my hair fell out. I’ve earned these pearls of wisdom through trial & error, burns, sweat and tears. But my hair and I are finally buddies, and have been for the past eight years. Sit on Mia’s virtual knee while I give you a few tips I’ve learned along the way…
The Five Curly Hair Commandments
1. Get your hair cut by a stylist that specializes in curly hair
If you follow one thing on this list, please, DO THIS! Getting your curls properly shaped will make styling so much easier, minimizing the amount of time you need to spend on your hair.
Ask questions about their process before they take the shears to your hair. If a stylist wants to cut your hair while it’s wet, or god forbid, straighten it and then cut it, save your money and walk out of that salon; they don’t know what they’re doing.
A curly stylist who is good at their craft will know how to layer your hair, cutting each single curl while it is dry to lay nicely while also factoring in shrinkage. Yes, you’ll have to pay upwards of $100-$150, but it is so worth it.
Finding a good curly hair stylist means researching and asking around. My stylist is certified in the Deva Cut technique, and you can find a certified stylist in your area. If you think you’ve found The One, look for before and after pictures of their clients. A reputable stylist should have an online portfolio or be able to direct you to pictures of their past work on social media. See someone in your coffee shop with great curls? Ask her where she gets her hair done! It’s not weird.
2. Comb/detangle only while in the shower
Hair should be soaking wet and have conditioner applied to minimize breakage. NEVER attempt to comb or detangle outside of the shower unless your hair is more wavy than curly. Always use a wide-tooth comb or pick, never a brush. Set your part while detangling in the shower to minimize any fiddling you have to do to style, once outside of the shower. Once out of the shower, immediately apply styling products to soaking wet hair. Now, hands off until it’s dry. This is the secret to minimizing frizz and getting hair to air dry in perfect corkscrew coils.
3. Do not use products containing synthetic silicones
If you’ve read my post about 10 ingredients to avoid, you know how gross silicones are. But for those with tangles that rival a drunk branch party in the Amazon, this one is still the most tempting commandments to break. Yes, silicone-laden products feel great when applied in the shower and you can whisk your comb through hair. When I do sin and use a silicone product, my hair might look good for one day, but for the next three my curls are limp and weighed down (not in a good way). My hair also feels dry because strands are coated with the plastic-y stuff, preventing moisture from getting in. I then have to use a clarifying shampoo, which dries out my strands, creating a vicious cycle.
4. Use shampoo/clarify periodically (with sulfate-free, natural, clean and gentle products, of course)
You are probably inundated with bloggers/websites preaching the gospel of shirking shampoo for the rest of time. I tried it, but guys…there is such a thing as too much shea butter. I know, I know: blasphemy. Yes, I still co-wash, but no longer swear off shampoo.
Even natural products can build up, especially when using super moisturizing products with rich butters and oils usually incorporated into formulas for curly hair. When my hair is not responding to anything, I know it’s because it needs a deep cleaning. I shampoo with either Rahua, Acure or Rare Elements then spray my ACV solution from roots to ends, let it sit for about 3-5 minutes, then rinse out. While there are great D.I.Y. shampoos out there, just be careful using these if you have colored hair as ingredients like baking soda can dull color.
5. If you color your curls, you MUST stop using heat
I made the decision to get highlights at my wonderful organic salon, The Local, in North Hollywood. They use an organic color system (in this case, organic meaning not as harsh as traditional formulas and ammonia-free) which swayed me to switch things up. When I had virgin hair, I could get away with using a curling iron to perk up lazy curls around my face sometimes 2-3 times per week and even straighten my hair about once or twice a month. But with this decision, I knew I would have to stop using any heat. I’m so happy with my color and with weekly deep conditioning, my curls remain soft and healthy. I know this would not be the case if I were up to my old habits. Again, the technique for applying color to curly hair is completely different from straight, so make sure to find a colorist that has experience working with curls.
Do you have a commandment to add to the list? Leave a comment; I love learning tips from other curlies!