Lately, I’ve gotten a lot of questions about what I products I use for my naturally curly hair. Since it took me 32 years to figure out what to do with this mess on my head, I thought I should share my struggle, and hopefully I can help some other curly-headed girls.
This post is not sponsored, and all opinions are my own.
I was bald until I was about 3. Seriously, ask my mom. She used to glue bows to my head so people would know I was a girl. Now, as the mother of another bald baby, who’s finally getting her curls at almost 3, I totally understand. When I finally did get hair, it was very curly and blonde. My nickname was (and still is, if you talk to my big brother) Fuzz. I don’t think my mom knew what to do with it. Her hair has a slight wave to it, but nothing like my little spirals. After a few years, when my hair had grown out a bit, she would blow-dry it straight, use a curling iron, or hot rollers, etc… the typical 80s-90s style. I was a pageant girl, too, so sponge rollers were used on special occasions. This eventually killed my natural curl. For years, I fought with my fuzzy, dry, frizzy, annoying, half-wavy/half-straight hair. I HATED my hair! If it was the slightest bit damp or humid outside, I would wear a ponytail, and it would still leave me looking like I stuck my finger in a light socket. Eventually, I cut my hair pixie-style for a while to not have to deal with the craziness, which I liked. But since my husband likes long hair, I wanted to grow it back out.
It took years, and lots of patience, but by the time I got pregnant with my little girl, I had finally gotten it to my shoulders, still wearing it straight. I did discover that I could just dry the front of my head and let the back air-dry for some extra body, so that was helpful. I still wasn’t happy with it, but I was determined to grow it out. During my pregnancy, my hair became very silky, shiny, and thick. I noticed that it started to curl more and more as time went on. I researched “how to care for curly hair” and found lots of helpful information. I quit brushing my hair and began to towel-dry it with a t-shirt instead of a terry towel. This helped cut down on the frizz. The best thing I did was to find a stylist who knew how to cut curly hair. I saw how it would curl more if it was cut just right. I found that shampoos with sulphates were bad for curly hair because they dry it out, and styling products with alcohol do the same. I had a hell of a time finding styling products that eliminated frizz but didn’t leave my curl feeling crunchy.
I finally got my hair looking pretty much how I wanted by the time Charlotte was born, but a few months later, my hair began to fall out in handfuls. (If you’ve never had a baby, you may not know this is totally normal, but still extremely frustrating.) I tried and tried to maintain my length, but eventually my hair had thinned out so much that the bottom 5 or so inches were stringy and lifeless. I had to give up and chop several inches off. It was a sad day.
Since then, I’ve been gradually growing it back out and taking care to not stress it any more than is necessary. Here’s what I’ve learned over these last few years:
Find a great stylist. I’ve been fortunate to have a couple of really great stylists during this struggle. There’s an art to cutting curly hair, and not every stylist has a gift for it. Layers are your friend. When curly hair is all one length, it tends to make your head look like a triangle, and that’s not a good look for anyone. Layers give it shape and movement, taking weight off of the top, so don’t be afraid to part with some hair. My stylist cuts short layers very lightly into my hair and frames my face giving the illusion of side-swept bangs. She’s pretty amazing, and I love what she’s done with it.
Make friends with your natural hair color. Yes, I have highlights, but that’s all. I realized that hair color was either stripping my hair shaft or weighing it down. I’ve found that just doing very soft highlights around my face and the top of my head is enough to break up my natural dish water blonde and give my hair some lift without drying it out completely. Your hair is healthiest in its natural state, and healthy hair equals healthy curl.
Wear it curly! Curly hair likes to be curly. The longer you go leaving it natural, the curlier it’ll get. If you pull the curls out, they will take a few days of curly wear to come back into full expression.
Wash sparingly. Right now, I’m on about my fifth or sixth day without washing my hair. What?! Blasphemy, you say? Not really. Curly hair is naturally dry, so daily shampooing washes away the natural oils that condition the hair. I use Acure Repairing Shampoo and Conditioner with moroccan argan stem cell and argan oil (http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B00X6HIXD0/ref=mp_s_a_1_1_a_it?qid=1457980148&sr=8-1&keywords=acure+shampoo+and+conditioner&pi=SY200_QL40), and it’s the best stuff I’ve ever used on my hair, hands down. My hair stays so soft and moisturized. I shampoo once or twice per week depending on my activity, but I condition every day. I will use a nickel-sized amount of conditioner and massage my scalp with it daily. This removes any excess dirt and oil without washing away all of the moisture. When I do shampoo, I use a very small amount and only massage it into the scalp. I don’t shampoo the ends of my hair ever. If you’re used to shampooing every day, this might sound weird, but trust me. Just start leaving a day or two between shampoos and gradually wash less and less. The benefits will speak for themselves.
Dry your hair with a t-shirt. This was one of the first tricks that I implemented, and it changed my world. I actually recommend this for anyone, whether they have curly or straight hair. It’s a great way to eliminate frizz. Terrycloth towels have a rough texture which aggravates the hair shaft, whereas a soft cotton t-shirt has a smooth texture and helps keep the shaft smooth. I used one of my husband’s old t-shirts for a while, but now use one of Charlotte’s linen baby blankets. It works like a charm.
NEVER EVER, EVER brush dry hair! If you want to walk around looking like Doc Brown from Back to the Future, by all means, brush your curly hair like no tomorrow. But if that’s not the look you’re going for, only use a comb and ONLY comb soaking wet hair. If you can get by without even combing it, that’s probably best. I’ve found that using my fingers to comb my hair while my head is upside down after I rinse the conditioner out works best for me. I just gently comb through from my forehead out, and then from the back out, to loosen the hair from my head and scrunch out the excess water. If you are going to comb your hair, it’s best to do it while you’re still in the shower. Combing while the hair is still very wet helps keep the curls from being pulled out.
Scrunch, don’t rub. When you use your t-shirt towel to squeeze the excess water out, make sure to scrunch the hair, don’t pull or rub. This will help reduce frizz and kick up the curl factor.
Use the right curl products. Everyone is different, but I’ve found two things that really work for my curls. First, Mineral Fusion Curl Care Beauty Balm (http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/s/ref=is_s?k=mineral+fusion+curl+care) is amazing for enhancing curls. It’s my favorite product ever for my hair! Secondly, I love Beautiful Curls Activating Leave-In Conditioner (http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/s/ref=is_s_ss_i_0_20?k=beautiful+curls+leave+in+conditioner&sprefix=beautiful+curls+leav), which holds moisture in like nothing else I’ve used. Both of these products are vegan and cruelty-free, too, because I wouldn’t use anything that wasn’t. I love knowing that no one was tortured so that I could have fabulous hair. For curly hair, it’s very important to use products that don’t contain alcohol or sulfates. The goal is to maintain moisture for healthy curls, and these products do an incredible job. Plus, the Mineral Fusion Curl Care gives my curls definition without any crunchiness, whatsoever. I also use Mineral Fusion Volumizing Beauty Balm (http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/s/ref=is_s_ss_i_2_21?k=mineral+fusion+volumizing&sprefix=beautiful+curls+leav&sprefix=mineral+fusion+volumi) on occasion for extra oomph, but it’s not necessary.
Get a diffuser. Letting my hair air-dry is fine, but if I really want to give it lift and body, I use a diffuser. I flip my head over and dry it on low heat, low blast for a few minutes. This creates great lift a the top of my head and really helps give body to the top layer, which has a tendency to look stringy if I air-dry my hair. A diffuser can also lend softness that you wouldn’t otherwise get with air-drying.
Use a curling iron on unruly pieces. I don’t like using much heat on my hair, but even after all of this, I inevitably end up with a few pieces of hair that curl at the root and not the end. For those pieces, I just finish them off with a quick swirl around my ½” curling iron. It doesn’t take much, just a second or two, and they fall right in line with the rest. I finish off by rubbing a very tiny amount of coconut oil on my hands and then scrunching my hair all over. This will lend a bit of shine and tame any stray frizz that may have still made its way to your head.
Don’t touch your hair. After you’ve styled the hair, that’s it. Leave it alone. If it goes a bit flat during the day, just flip your head over and back, maybe scrunching to break up the curls, but don’t over handle it. Touching the hair will make it frizzy, and we tried so hard to get rid of that, so why would you want to ruin all of that hard work?
Lastly, have patience. Like I said, it took me years to get this right. Don’t expect perfect hair in one week. It took me a very long time to grow out all of the damage I had done and get my hair to this healthier state. Just stay committed to your curls, and eventually, you’ll see the benefits.
There you have it. My definitive guide for healthy, cruelty-free curls. If you’ve been fighting your hair for years, I sure hope this helps.