I recently got a comment from someone who said she still didn't know what to do with her curly hair and it made me remember that I've been meaning to do a post on this very subject.
Curly hair is both an art AND a science.
MOST people do not know the proper formula to making curly hair look nice. After decades of trying, I think I've figured it out. Now maybe this only works on my hair, but I have conversed with ChawAlissa about it, who also has lovely curly hair, and our systems are very similar so I think we are onto something.
First off...let's embrace the curly hair. Yeah, I know, we spent the whole first half of our lives (if not more) pleading with God to give us shiny, straight, glossy hair that was easily cut and styled. If you are like me, you spent almost every morning in high school, round brush in one hand and hairdryer in the other, praying that you would flip your head up to see smooth, unfrizzy hair lying flat down your back.
This was before the day of the almighty Chi obviously, but screw the Chi. You can still get one if you must, but I will not. Curly hair rocks, anyone who thinks otherwise is jealous or doing it wrong.
First, let's talk about cut. This is what tortures those of us with curly hair. Because we want hairstyles too. We want to be a part of the Jennifer Aniston trend or the Posh Beckham trend or whatever trend everyone is currently into. Unfortunately, this almost always means daily straightening and leaving the salon that first day sobbing.
There is a certain length that must be avoided at all costs, and this is right around the shoulder range. You do not, I repeat, do NOT want to look like a triangle head. If you have curly hair, you've probably gone into the triangle head zone before.
If you're going to go shortish, there has to be decent clearance between shoulder tops and hair bottom. If you're going to go longish, it has to be at least two inches below the shoulders. And that's dry. Don't forget that curly hair dries up shorter and don't assume a hairstylist knows this. They should, but if they don't have curly hair and you're paying less than $60 for a haircut, they probably don't care.
Mine is a little past the middle of my back, the longest it ever gets before looking scraggly and weighed down. It is currently in need of a trim, something I only bother with every 6 months or so, but since it's kind of all wild looking anyway and my last trim was end of November, it looks fine across the back. Some bitch hairdresser at my salon told me if it was up to her she wouldn't let me leave without letting her cut four inches off....you know what that's called?
A jealous, chubby, middle aged has been with stick straight hair wanting to ruin mine.
1 inch? Definitely 2 inches? Maybe 4 inches?? You're fucking crazy and I am tattling on you next time I go to the salon, and my hairdresser, aka the franchise owner's daughter, will be HELLA-pissed at you because A) your unsolicited advice was rude B) it was wrong.
My hairdresser would be letting me know if I needed 4 inches taken off, she has gathered it into a ponytail, taken scissors and hacked off the bottom before and wouldn't hesitate to tell me she was doing it again. She calls me her walking billboard, she's not letting me wander around with 4 extra inches of scraggly hair.
This is an interesting phenomenon with women. They are always urging each other to hack all their hair off. There are two reasons for this:
1. Remember that weird frienemy you had in highschool that would insist that too tight lime green shirt and purple puffy skirt looked great on you? And she would seem sincere but you always knew that she didn't want you looking good?
Yeah, those girls are still out there.
I see this on Babycenter all the time. Someone posts a picture and asks what to do about their hair and get the equivalent of "ohhh a pixie cut would look great!" or "a mullet would really frame your face nicely." Um, no.
2. Short hair is more stylish. Unfortunately, many people can't pull off the newest cutting edge look. Also, a lot of people do long hair wrong. I'm not going to go into that now, but that's possible too. Long, lank and just hanging there is also not good.
But...who are we trying to impress? Those jealous bitches? or their men? Because men like longer hair.
Okay, now that we've got the haircut down (longer with a light layer in the back), let's get in the shower! Woo-hoo, bend over and reach me that soap, will ya?
Assuming you shower every day (I believe I've made it clear that I do not), you should NOT be shampooing every day. Oh no, no, no. Shampoo is bad, mmmmkay?
Shampoo every other day and just use a little bit of shampoo and massage your scalp with it and rinse. Then grab your industrial sized conditioner, because there is no reason to buy it any other way, and pour gobs and gobs of it into your hands and work it into your hair from the bottom up. When you think you have too much, you need two more gobs. Don't get a whole lot on your roots though, just comb the leftovers through with your fingers up there.
On your non shampoo days, just use the conditioner. It has cleansing properties too and your hair is just not that dirty.
Now do all your other showering stuff, letting the conditioner marinate on there a little. Rinse it out, follow with a quick cool water rinse to get rid of frizz (I know it sucks but it's good for you) and get out of the shower.
Use your towel to squeeze most of the water out of your hair. Don't go getting all nuts and vigorously rubbing or anything. No need for that. Also, don't wrap your hair up into your towel. I know that sucks, but this is critical curling time. Just squeeze excess water out.
Now take a wide tooth comb and comb it all out. You may need a little bit of leave in conditioner to get through the thick parts. DO NOT put it near your roots, just near the bottom.
Now take your towel again and gently grab handfuls of hair and scrunch more wetness out. Make sure to get the back and underside of your hair well and don't mess around with the front a whole lot, that is a sure fire disaster in the making.
Get your product in hand, I either use Fructis mousse (cheap and awesome, no crunchy curls...1 golf ball sized dollop) or some leave in conditioner (1 dime sized bit), flip your head upside down, and sort of rake it through your hair leaving the majority of it at the ends. Then scrunch and sort of wave your hands all around in there to sort of separate the curls.
Flip your head right side up, gently arrange any rogue curls and DO NOT TOUCH IT AGAIN. NO MATTER WHAT. It's a done deal at this point until it is dry, any further attempts are futile, if you are convinced you have a bad hair day in the making....you must walk away and just consider putting it up when it is dry. Even if you were crazy enough to get in the shower and start from the beginning, it's probably just screwed. I don't know why. I do know that if you keep touching it, it will just be worse and it will be frizzy. So don't touch it. At all.
Now on days that I want really big, really sexy hair (maybe one time a year, MAYBE), I get out the hairdryer with the diffuser, turn the heat OFF and the hairdryer on LOW and blow dry my hair upside down, just sort of gathering it up in the diffuser and holding it near my head and stopping before it's all the way dry.
Seriously, it's so easy.
My hairdresser doesn't really cut hair so I end up with whoever is good and available that day and everyone wants to do mine because I make them hand me the comb, the mousse and the towel once I'm done, do my thing, pull it up in a clip and leave with damp hair.
About a year ago the guy who did it begged me to let him flat iron it since they had never seen it straight and spent an hour doing it in teeny one inch strips, making it geisha girl straight...and taking away everything interesting about me. No thanks. BOR-ING. Even they agreed.
So stop hating on curly hair. I saw Millionaire Matchmaker tell some girl with gorgeous curly hair to straighten it because she doesn't like curly hair and I thought that was just beyond insane and totally not in tune with what men like.
With the right techniques and the right products and the right haircut, curly hair rocks. It even looks halfway okay frizzy, which is imperative in Florida humidity.
So stop listening to girls that don't like you, grow your hair longer and stop fighting the curls.
They'll win in the long run anyway.
For additional information, please read this brilliant post where I discuss my favorite things, among them Wen conditioner.