Reader Portia had this request:
How to style and care for curly hair. Your post about curly hair made me happy, and while I would love to embrace my curls, they are extremely unmanageable.
Steel youselves for the disclaimer to end all disclaimers: Curly hair comes in more varieties than can possibly be classified, and each head of curls will behave and react differently. So while I’m happy to share what’s worked for me, I would never, EVER say that my own preferences are guaranteed to work for everyone else. Or really, for anyone else! But I’ll offer up my favorite practices and products, and we can continue the discussion in the comments. Sound good? Right on.
To recap, the photo above left is what my hair looks like super long … although to get it to look that way, I had to wash it, apply product, and wait about three hours for it to air dry. While sitting perfectly still. Inside the house where there was zero breeze. My curls are natural and lovely, but SO FUSSY. Which is why I ended up going for the look on the right, which is short and curly/messy. Easy to style and maintain, suits my texture, everyone is happy.
Now, of course, I’ve got this going on:
Yet another iteration of short and curly that I’m enjoying.
Since my hair is naturally wavy/curly, I was using curly hair products on it even when I was flat-ironing it. For starters, I do love the Deva Curl line of products for washing and conditioning. They leave absolutely zero buildup, and keep my hair happy and resilient. I’ve used the Deva styling products in the past on my shorter hairstyle, and they were among the only products I found that didn’t leave flaky white residue in my hair. (Not dandruff or scalp-related, believe me. I asked my dermatologist.) Right now I’m sad to report that I’m using the Oribe line, which is amazing but wildly expensive. My stylist used one of the products on me after a cut, created the softest waves my hair has ever had, and I was sold. I use the Supershine leave-in conditioner and the Curl-shaping Mousse. I’ve used and loved Oribe products in the past, too. (I occasionally nab them on eBay for cheaper.)
When it was shorter, I washed every other day. Now I try for three or four days between shampooings. My stylist has told me that letting the natural sebum penetrate for as long as possible will allow the strands to curl more easily. As I continue to grow the front out, I have notices that it keeps its curl better and longer if I leave it alone.
At age 38, I have finally purchased a diffuser … but I haven’t really needed it yet. I dry the back of my hair fully and the front about half. Allowing my curls/waves to air dry – at least partially – seems to work better for me. In my 20s, I would wash my hair each morning and go to work with it completely wet and full of product, allowing it to air dry over the course of the morning. Great for my hair, but in retrospect not the most professional move on my part. Half dry tends to look mostly dry to observers, though, so I let it go. Once the front is longer, I may end up using the diffuser more.
I never use brushes or combs. Ever. My hair is short enough to style without them, and I’ve read that brushes in particular can cause flyaways and frizz in curly hair.
I have tried many different products and techniques over time, and will continue to experiment, I’m quite sure. I know many women who are far more hardcore about the Deva Curl system than I, using the Deva diffuser and special supersoft towels for drying. If my curls were longer, I might try that out myself, but for now my system works well.
Portia, if your curls are unmanageable – I know I felt mine were – here are a few things I’d suggest:
- Touch your hair as little as you can. Mine always looks better if I don’t futz with it too much.
- Try mousse if you haven’t yet. It won’t weigh your hair down, but has decent hold and tends to create shapely curls.
- Ask your stylist to thin your hair if part of the problem is weight or thickness. But request a thinning technique other than thinning shears, which will create bulk when your hair begins to grow out again.
- Investigate flyaway solutions. People swear by dryer sheets for this purpose, but I’d be more inclined to try this John Freida touch-up cream myself.
- Make sure you’re using moisture-rich products designed for curls. And heat protectant if you blow dry or heat style.
- Read Hair Romance, especially this post and all of her curly hair posts. Christina knows far more about hair and curls than I ever will!
And that’s all I’ve got. What other tips would you all share for the care and feeding of curly hair? What are your go-to products? Do you blow dry or air dry? Help us out by sharing your input!
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