When you think of a beautiful woman, standing at the beach, staring into the sunset, and catching the ocean breeze billowing through her long tresses, what does that look like to you? For me, that is a caramel blonde with long, straight hair who looks photoshopped during the ocean breeze and photoshopped immediately after. For me, that is a straight-up hysterical fantasy because these curls will never look like that effortless image.
So does that mean I hate my hair? Not at all! At least not anymore. I can’t say the same was believed by 5 or 13 years old me. But now I have been able to embrace my differences and one of them happens to be my hair. I have dark brown curls that tend to take on a personality completely of their own.
After decades of trying to tame my mane, I have decided it was time to embrace each curl, kink, wave, or whatever else my hair wants to do that day. So what do I do to keep myself from pulling a 2007 Britney Spears-esque style modification? I have developed multiple curly hair tips that really work!
- DO NOT use cotton pillowcases or towels! Cotton is an abordbant material that wicks out the moisture that curly hair needs, especially the natural oils that your tips are already lacking. And the fibers in the towel will snag the hair and cause frizz or cause breakage!
DO use satin/silk pillowcases and microfiber towels. Satin/silk pillowcases will allow your hair to maintain its moisture while also being slippery enough to reduce the number of late-night knotting. Microfiber towels will soak up the excess water while letting your hair keep its adequate level of moisture.
- Don’t have either and don’t want to shell out the cash just yet? I use a t-shirt when I travel that has the same priciple for my hair in that it does not tug, snag, or overdry my hair. I also have a satin sleeping cap that I got at the DOLLAR STORE which serves a simliar purpose to the pillowcase while keeping all of my hair out of my face and off my neck.
- DO NOT wash your hair every day. It’s been said before and I’ll say it again -everytime you use shampoo, you are stripping your hair of the pollutants, dust, product build-up, and other gunk but you are also stripping your hair of its natural oils which prevents frizz and maintains hair structure.
DO wash your hair every 3 days (or more if you can – I opt for a wash day once a week but I refresh daily or cowash). And try cowashing instead of your standard shampoo. Cowashing is a cleansing conditioner that cleans your hair withou the soapy suds so there is little to no moisture removal. You will need to detox your hair once a month with a solid cleansing shampoo that you’ll follow up with conditioner but the less you strip your hair, the healthier it becomes!
- DO NOT use a brush…ever. Brushing will go against your curl pattern and cause frizz and breakage.
DO untangle your hair with your fingers or a wide-tooth comb only. Better yet? Do it while you’re in the shower and your hair is still sopping wet rather than dry and prone to breakage. I have also used a detangling brush after a particularly intense hair styling session but try to limit the use overall.
- DO NOT dry your hair with a standard hair dryer. No, I’m not telling you to spend $500 on a “new” hair dryer with fancy lights and buttons. However using a standard dryer will localize the heat and over dry your hair which can lead to burning and breakage.
DO use a diffuser as you do not want to target heat on any strand of your hair -the more you can spread the heat around the faster you can dry without overdrying. If you want some volume, diffuse your hair upside down!
- DO NOT skip the leave-in conditioner. Curly hair has this knack of twisting and turning which means the natural oils from your scalp don’t tend to make it to your tips which leads to frizz and anger.
DO use products meant for your curl type and make sure you use the right amount to fill in the gaps that nature missed! Depending on how thick and tight your curl is, you will may use different products than your neighboring curly-haired friend but please take prudence on how much product you use. If the directions say dime-size for shoulder length hair and your hair goes a bit farther, try that first then add more if you need it. It always easier to add than try to take away.
- DO NOT to straight to bed without some maintence. After a long day, your hair is just as tired as you are and needs some particular TLC.
DO develop a nighttime routine just as you do for your face. Using a good oil on the tips of your hair will seal the dry cuticles and prevent knotting and frizz. And make sure you do a scalp massage! It will help with growth and maintenance. My favorite nighttime product is Righteous Roots Oil – a little goes a long way.
- DO NOT neglect your weekly hair duties.
DO pamper your curly hair. Once a week, after washing/detoxing your hair, follow up with a good hair masque. I personally vary between a simple moisture mask or a protein mask, depending on the state of my hair. I wrote about a great line of masks here: Masks & Scrubs.
- DO NOT skip the salon or forget to trim your hair once a year.
DO get annual trims, at least. Once you found a salon that you like, and in order to do so, call around and make sure they have stylists that work with curly hair if the salon is not exclusively for curly hair, make an appointment every 3-6 months depending on your length, at the very least. It took me years to find a place that did not tell me “Oh wow. You have a lot of hair.” If your stylist ever says that and looks like a deer in headlights -RUN!
- DO NOT use standard hair ties.
DO use satin scrunchies or hair ties made for curly hair! Standard hair ties will tug and break your hair. It may be a little 1980’s but if you are putting your hair up for a gym workout or a lazy-day do (gotta love a top bun), then add some extra conditioner and use a scrunchy or non-elastic tie. I personally use a lot of bobby pins to achieve my updo’s!
- DO NOT add heat!
DO take advantage of your amazing hair – people pay hundreds of dollars for perms and wigs and styling products. You have natural volume! Sure, your hair may not be “perfect” and you may want to switch up your look, but heat will damage your hair strands and follicles, leaving you prone to frizz, breakage, shedding… You can always braid, twistout, or use the over abundance of hair clips to style a new look or stretch your pattern for a while.
I do not wake up every day thinking I am so blessed to have curly hair… In fact, when someone compliments my hair, I get so awkward and uncomfortable! I have even offered to trade my hair for theirs on more than one occassion. But at the same time, my hair is also a part of my identity – without my curls, I do not feel like myself. There are always going to be days that the scrunchy is used to plop a pineapple or a messy bun, but embracing what makes me, me is also important!
So inquiring minds want to know… What are some of your curly hair tips? Do you have any favorite hair products? Have you embraced your natural hair?