Curly Control

July 07, 2011

Anyone who has curly hair will understand this, and anyone who doesn’t won’t.

What my hair looks like is not really up to me.

A plan only goes so far. Curly hair decides how it wants to react. This keeps life interesting, but it makes special occasions challenging. (So one of the basic parts of who I am is out of my control. No wonder I can be a control freak! Aha! A rationale!)

Anyway, what makes it harder is that most people – including stylists and product developers – are convinced that curly hair is thick and needs slathering with product and drama. You really can’t trust the labels and ads. But thanks to decades of trial and error and Naturally Curly – which anybody curly should visit immediately, especially Curltalk – I have finally learned a lot about my hair. I’ve got fine, 2B, protein-averse curls. My hair is fine, so it gets frizzy and weighed down by too much product, and it gets pulled straight by too much fussing.

I use my own version of the Curly Girl method, and while this seems really self-indulgent (I’ve been a blogger nearly 10 years, you’d think I’d have come to terms with self-indulgent by now) enough people ask me about it to make me share it here. So here goes:

  • Shampoo as infrequently as possible.
  • Condition every shower, not using much, and mostly on the ends of hair.
  • Flip over while hair is still dripping wet after your shower and finger-comb a tiny bit of serum and/or cream and a tiny bit of curl gel through, shaking gently to help thick curls form.
  • Scrunch gently with a t-shirt and plop (this is a verb) for about 10 minutes, then gently let it out of the t-shirt, shake gently again, and air-dry.
  • Sometimes, I re-scrunch and re-plop a second time, and sometimes I loosely clip up the crown as I let it dry.
  • Get the crunch out when it’s nearly dry with one last gentle scrunch.

And in general:

  • Use a showerhead that filters chlorine.
  • Find a stylist you trust. I’m growing out a Ouidad haircut (very expensive, very bad idea). And months of over-dyeing. And a mistake involving apple-cider vinegar (let’s not go into it). I have returned to my brilliant stylist. I consider this seeing the light in the manner of some religious conversions.
  • Use products with silicones, sulfates or proteins. Check theselists. They can be great for some hair, but not everybody’s.
  • Never use a comb, a brush or a terrycloth towel. A t-shirt is ideal, but most anything will do. (Although if you’re in a posh hotel in Vienna, take the boxer shorts off your head before you let room service in. Just trust me on this.)

1 Comment. Leave new

Thanks, Sarah!! I’ve never been to but am pretty positive my hair is somewhere between 2 and 3. My only hard set rule is NO combing or brushing, just finger-combing and conditioner if necessary.

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