Curly Hair Girl

Curly Girl Boticelli long

Me (2008) – Long hair

I get a lot of people asking me about my hair.  A lot.  I’ve been stopped in malls and flagged down on streets.   People have even written to me desperately wanting to know what I do to my hair so they can emulate my apparent success.

People are  begging for help, totally at a loss and wondering how they can get their curls to come to heal.   The positive attention is all very flattering but it also makes me a sad because it’s clear to me that info on caring for curly hair is sparse and hard to come by.  Many stylists don’t really know how to work with curly hair, so  people are at an utter loss and don’t know where to begin.

loose curls

Me with medium length hair (2011)

medium curly hair

Me (2011) – Curls a bit limp…time for a protein treatment!

Curly hair gets  a bad wrap.  Straight hair is seen as more sleek, attractive and professional and everyone seems to want to flat iron their curls out of existence.  It’s the number one thing people have done on makeover shows to polish up their appearance  and I kind of don’t get it.  If straight hair is the be all and end all of beauty why do I get approached so frequently by people coveting my curls?

People honestly think my hair is something special, and I want you to know that it’s not.   Many other women have hidden curl potential – they just don’t have the right products and haven’t been taught a curly care routine that works for them.

Straight curly hair

(2007) Long hair – Straightened by stylist

Before I was taught how to care for my curly hair I was told by a stylist that I had horrible hair.  He seriously thought it was a mess and loved to flat iron it.   Your self esteem takes a nose dive  when you are  exposed to this barrage of  negativity from your stylist.  It doesn’t encourage you to  experiment and try to embrace what nature gave you.

soft curls short

Me (2010) after I cut my hair really short :(

Thank god I had the chance to connect with a hair stylist, who’s specialty is curly hair, in Toronto.  He taught me the value of a curly hair haircut and how the right products can transform your frizzy dry hair into well formed, smooth, soft bouncy curls.    Working with my curls takes a lot less time vs  fighting to straighten them so I end up spending less energy on my hair.

Black Wig

Me – Playing around with a black wig

Product Smack down

Over the years I have branched out, experimenting with different hair lengths and  products.  After a few months of trial and error, I managed to figure out exactly what MY unique hair needs are.   Because I get many people wanting to know exactly what I do to my hair I’m going to post my routine here so I can refer people to this blog post.

Please note that my hair care arsenal might not work for you.  I  tried out many products that others had raved about, only to discover that they were disastrous in my hair.  Each person’s hair is unique and you really have to slug it out in the trenches, experimenting with different products over several months, until you find your own magical combination.  Don’t get discouraged if you do what I do and your curls don’t look amazing.  Keep experimenting until they do – you won’t regret it!

Medium curly hair

Curly Girl

Meghan’s Curly Hair Care Routine

STOP!!!   Before we begin, let’s see if your hair is similar to mine so you’re not wasting your time…

Botticelli Curls

I have 3A Boticelli type curls.  The top of my hair curls easily and some areas on the bottom are almost straight.  My hair is thick but fine, with a low porosity.  It gets weighed down by products easily and is very susceptible to build up and over conditioning.   I have to shampoo my hair every time I want to style it curly – the Curly Girl hair care method did not work for me (although it does wonders for other hair types).

My hair 100% needs to be shampooed frequently to remove product buildup or else it goes limp.  My hair is in lovely condition with no split ends: shampooing my kind of hair with the right shampoos won’t damage it.

Does this sound like your hair?  If so, keep reading.  If not, head on over to NaturallyCurly.com to find someone to emulate with hair more like your own.

Shampoo

curly hair shampoo

Treatment Shampoo (left) Low Poo Shampoo (right)

I shampoo my hair with Treatment Shampoo – it contains lot of magnesium which my fine hair thrives on.  (If you have coarser hair with a tighter curl your hair might not like this ingredient.)  Every few days I alternate with Deva Curls  Low Poo shampoo.  Both products say they are safe for every day usage and I can attest to this.

Conditioner

curl conditioner

(Regis) Olive Oil Conditioner – almost empty bottle

My hair loves protein and magnesium and responds really well to this Olive Oil conditioner by Regis which contains both.  I only use a nickle sized amount in my hand.  I apply this to my ends first and whatever is remaining gets distributed over the canopy of my hair, then I comb the product through in the shower and leave it on for 5 minutes before thoroughly rinsing it out.

Curl Cream

AG: Recoil

AG: Recoil

I get out of the shower without wringing the water out of my hair – it looks sopping wet.  I apply a pea sized amount of Re Coil (a curl cream) into the palm of my hand, rub my hands together until they are evenly coated and then run my hands through my hair until the product is gone from my fingers.  Then comb my hair.  AG: re-coil gives my curls more body and better form – but I can easily skip this step and still have a good hair day.

Edit:  I have had a lot of success applying this curl cream AFTER I put the gel (Curl Keeper) into my hair.  Experiment with both ways and see which gives you a better curl.  I have to tweak my routine depending on the time of year and the weather.

Gel

curly hair gel

(left) Biotera Styling Gel (Right) Curl Keeper

Next I apply Curl Keeper (my holy grail product I could NOT live without).  I pour it into the palm of my hand and coat the left side of my hair, the right, and then the back, refilling my palm each time.  You can not use too much, but you can definitely use to little.  Don’t be stingy!  When done I comb my  hair to evenly distribute the product (see the section on combing for more details).

I use a quarter sized dollop of  Biotera gel on  my ends when I need it for a bit more hold (which is most of the time).

Combing

curly hair comb brush

(Top) Root Brush (Bottom) Bone Comb

I comb my hair with a bone comb or a root brush after applying Curl Keeper.  I lift from the roots when I’m brushing, so my hair doesn’t dry smarmed against my scalp.    Then I flip my head over and comb up from the back of my neck and at the sides of my head so I get as much body as possible.  I apply a thicker gel (the Biotera gel I mentioned above) to my ends after this final step.

Tip:  You want the Biotera GEL, not the glaze.  All the bottles look similar so make sure you’ve grabbed the gel when you’re in the store.

Scrunching

With your head upside down palm your  hands at the ends of your hair, raise them up so your curls are sort of cradled in your palms close to your scalp and then squeeze gently about 5 times before letting your hair go and moving on to another section.   I scrunch my hair several times in one place and then  move on to another area.    This really helps infuse the product into your curls and evenly distribute it.  Your  hair  should be making a wet squelching noise as you go along.  If it isn’t you’ve let it dry too much and your curls will turn out more thin and poofy.  You might want to spritz your hair with water until it’s wet enough again and then to continue.

Plopping

Curl Ease Towel

I learned how to “plop” my hair on naturallcurly.com  It gives me much better curls and helps to add body.  Using a Curl Ease Hair Towel I lay it over the toilet seat, center my head over the towel and then lower my hair down, allowing my curls to pile up on themselves,  until my scalp is about an inch way from the surface of the seat.  (Not touching is another trick I learned to give me more body.)  Then I roll up my hair into a loose floppy turban and let it sit like this for about 10-15 minutes (don’t go too long or else your hair might get frizzy).   This gently removes excess water from my  hair, gives me more lift at the roots and encourages better curls.

Diffusing

Negative Iron Hair Dryer + Diffuser

I then blow dry my hair with a diffuser just until the curls start to feel formed.  (This is when they start to feel slightly dry, but they’re not all hard and crunchy yet.)  I have found that using a tourmaline hair dryer (those in the U.S. should check out this tourmaline dryer) has GREATLY cut down on the amount of frizz and fly aways I get.  I used to use a regular hair dryer and this caused loose stray hairs all over the top of my head – but not anymore.  A better quality hair dryer is a great investment.

Air Drying Hair

The last step involves going about your day and letting your hair air dry the rest of the way.  This takes me about 40 minutes to an hour.  When my hair is finally dry I flip it upside down and scrunch it until it feels soft again.  Doing this last step prevents your curls from looking all shellacked and hard looking; a look  I don’t find that appealing.  If you scrunch them out they get bigger and look all glossy, bouncy and amazing.  Many curlies forget this last step and go for the spider hair look, thinking that if they touch their hair they’ll ruin the finish.

The end.

That’s it!  That’s my hair care routine.  It sounds complicated but it’s really effortless now and does not take up much time.

Curly hair salons in Toronto area that might be of interest to you:

The Curl Ambassadorswww.curlambassadors.ca

Chingy’s Touchwww.chiggyonline.com

Enjoy!

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46 thoughts on “Curly Hair Girl

  1. Your hair is gorgeous!! After fighting my naturally wavy hair for the last 20 years I’m finally embracing my natural hair and really love when I find great info for curly girlies :)

    • Yes!! Another convert. I finally felt like I achieved nice looking hair when I gave up being something that I’m not and embraced what I was given instead. Have you been to http://www.naturallycurly.com ? I learned SO much there about caring for and styling my hair. My curly hair stylist set me on the right path initially, but the forum gave me the support I needed to keep going when I had questions.

  2. Hi love your blog also, I clicked over from NC.com…I recently chopped my curls off to your short length, eek hoping that it would take some of the weight off and I don’t know if I’m just not used to styling it short or what but it definitely takes some getting used to. Did you diffuse upside down when it was short? Also, I comb but normally with a wide tooth after Recoil( yes my HG too!) and some gel raked in. My hair is super clumpy on its own…do you think the fine tooth would give it some extra boost? And possibly not raking in the gel? There is such a learning curve web you get a cut!

    • Hey Lindsey! Thanks for dropping by. I cut my hair short quite a while ago but I’m growing it back out and it’s already shoulder length. What I found is that my hair doesn’t form ringlets as well when it’s short. I need the length for my hair to have a chance to twist around. What I did love about short hair was that it was so much more comfortable in the summer. I was able to always wear my hair out vs clipping it up.

      I think I did diffuse upside down when it was short. I did not have to do it as long as I did when it was long though.

      I like a fine tooth comb because it basically lets your hair form natural clumps again. It doesn’t = stringy curls like you might think. Your hair will look like a wet ribbon when you comb with the fine tooth comb. What I’d do afterwards is careful go over parts with the wider tooth comb to break up the clumps slightly. You’re right – it definitely takes trial and error but you’ll figure out what works for you quickly.

      Regarding gel – my preference is to put my products in first and then comb my hair. I find it distributes the product better. Sometimes I’ll put in the gel, comb, and then scrunch in the recoil. It depends how I’m feeling.

      Good luck!

    • Sorry – I don’t know. Did you do a google search? I’d try going to the Regis website and see if you can find a list of their distributors. There are a lot of salons around me that carry it now- it’s not rare, so hopefully you’ll be able to find some. (I was in Walmart two days ago and the little salon they had there had it, so maybe you’ll have luck there!)

  3. Love your hair. I just tried your routine and I did get more curl definition but not enough hold. However I didn’t use any gel – does the biotera gelnhave a strong fragrance? Also what kind of diffuser do you use? Thanks :)

    • Gel is KEY to getting nice curly hair in my opinion. It really helps the curls to form nicely. I scrunch all the crunch out later so my curls feel silky soft afterwards. I am not bothered by Biotera gels fragrance. It has as much fragrance as any other product in my opinion. I quite like it but if you’re sensitive to fragrances you should definitely give it a sniff beforehand. It has more fragrance that Curl Keeper gel if that’s any help.

      I don’t use any special diffuser. There’s no name brand on it. I got it YEARS ago at Sally’s if memory serves. :)

      • Thanks for responding so quickly, I picked up biotera yesterday and it worked miracles! Thank you so much for posting your routine. I noticed on naturallycurly that you also use MOP-C shampoo, is that correct??

      • Nope – I have tried MOP- C in the past but really don’t like it. Now I use Curly Hair Solutions treatment shampoo. I also use AG: Therapy to clarify my hair once in a while. I will also alternate with Deva Curls Low-Poo when I am in a situation where I need to wash my hair each day (e.g. like if I’m swimming all the time, or if I’m doing something active each day and sweat I like to have clean hair, so I reach for this.) Hope this helps1

  4. I just found you on curly girl and Love you curls. When I do mine right, this is how they look. The problem is, I forget what works and what doesnt, so currently , my hair looks, fluffy and dry with no curl definition. I am totally going with your products. I have found that I too have to wash my hair everyday in order to have fresh looking curls! I work out everyday night and come home with sweaty, messy hair that need to be re-done. I would love to do all this at night to save time in the mornings before going to work. Any suggestions for this, or do you recommend mornings? Thanks ! LOVE your blog!!

    • Hey! I never had any luck prepping my hair the night before in order to have nice curls in the morning. With my hair type that’s just not possible. I basically have to get up and do my routine in the morning if I want something that looks decent. I think those with a stronger curl patter and less fine hair can get away with this, but not me. Good luck! :)

  5. LOVE your hair…mine is curly like your too. However, I was recently dx’d with hypothyroid. So I am shedding like mad. Loosing my hair sucks, and I am in tears over it. It was as thick as yours,….now its about half that! I’m hoping that at some point the loss will slow down and I can feel like ME again!

    • Hey Tiffany! If it makes you feel any better *I* was diagnosed as hypothyroid when I was a teenager. I totally get what you’re going through. I remember my hair shedding quite a bit. I don’t recall noticing a loss in fullness, but I have really thick hair to begin with so it didn’t impact me as much. Once you get on the right medication and find the right dosage for yourself things will quickly start to turn around. Hang in there! It shouldn’t take long.

      • Thanks! I hope it does soon!. I’m on armour so, I’ve been feeling really great, exercising and all. Just waiting for the hairloss to stablize. I’m currently loosing around100 a day ugh. Thanks for your reply, I really appreciate it!

      • I’ll be sending you “feel better” vibes through the ether. :) Did you doctor not suggest anything you can take in the meantime to help halt the hair loss btw? What about MSM capsules? I take them for joint issues but they definitely help my hair grow. G

      • Hey,

        Nope, nothing but time. Actually I do take msm. I’ve taken it for two years. However, a few weeks ago, actually a bit more than that I stopped them for 3 weeks. I thought thru may have been interfering with my meds, so I took a break. Turns out I just needed a dose increase. So I have been back on them for about two weeks. Im hoping that the msm will help to slow it back down. I think it was the stopping of the msm that caused the sudden shedding. I was only shedding about 65 a day. Until I stopped the msm. So here’s to hoping!!!

  6. I know this is kind of an older post but I wanted to say I love your hair, it’s so shiny and ringlet-y! I have hair kind of your length in the longer hair picture with long layers. Did you do this same routine with long hair or did you do something different? I have been CG (ish-I still stray from time to time) for about a year and my hair has gone from 2c and frizzy and damaged to 2c/3a less damaged and less frizzy. I love your blog and thank you for making it :)

    • Thanks for your post! Yep, same routine all the time. It works for short and long hair. Now I have added in a really thick strong holding gel to my routine. When I go to “scrunch the crunch” out of my hair, I will rub some gel between my palms first and THEN scrunch my hair. This really helps control frizz. Sometimes, because my hair is so soft, the curls would kind of separate too much, but this extra step really helps hold everything in place during scrunching.

      • Well I tried your routine! I had my doubts because usually combing in products separates my curls and loosens them too much, but for some reason the curl keeper combined with very wet hair allowed it to work for me. I got shiny, spirally curls with little frizz. The scrunch out the crunch with gel seems like a great idea. May I ask what is the super strong gel that you use? Thanks so much for answering all my questions

      • No problem. :) The firm hold gel I use is by Biosilk and it’s called “rock hard gelee”. It’s great stuff and a very useful tool if you have hair similar to mine. I’m so glad that this routine seems to be working for you! Wishing you continued success!

        Meghan

  7. I was curious what protein treatment you use and how often? I have VERY similar curls but have been straightening for a while and now that I am wearing them curly again I find they are a little limp. I was trying the curly girl method when I came across your blog. The CG method was a good start but I wasn’t getting the definition I wanted. I tracked down the Olive Oil conditioner yesterday and can’t believe the difference it made, especially combined with the AG Recoil. I am still using the Deva light gel but plan on ordering the Curl Keeper today. Thanks for the great blog!

    • Hey! I am glad that my post was of help to you. My hair is very iffy with protein treatments. Most make my curls all thin and straggly looking. Currently I use Spiral Solutions Repairing Protein Treatment. I only use a tiny bit, and only once or twice a month. I am still experimenting with it, but it’s the only one my hair doesn’t flat out hate right off the bat! I am going to try mixing it in with that Olive Oil Conditioner once in a while, vs using it all alone. If you’re hair is like mine, then it’s worth a try. See if you can order a sample online first maybe! :)

      • Thanks. I will try that. Seriously, thanks to your post I am enjoying the best curly hair day I have had in years. I am Vamcouver and it is pouring and I was walking all over and still no frizz. I had almost forgotten that my curls could look this way. Amazing what getting the right products for your hair type will do.

      • I am so glad to hear this as it makes writing all that info out worth it. :) I wish I knew about this routine when I was in my teens and was struggling because my hair was a mess. All it takes is finding the right product combination and then you are set for life!

  8. I have extremely fine low porosity hair……2c to 3a.
    I guess I was way over conditioning because it is so much more curly and bouncy now since I finally washed it with shampoo.
    I had gone almost two years with just co-washing with Suave coconut conditioner!
    Anyways, I have been trying to follow your procedure and am getting hung up after the bone-combing part. I put in the product and comb my soaking wet hair just like you; and then I immediately plop.
    But I end up with my hair very STUCK to my scalp after plopping. And when I take off the “plop” my hair does not fall naturally down my back. I also completely loose my “part” and the top of my head and back looks odd and the hair seems stuck to me scalp.
    I have a few photos I would like to send you for your imput if you could send me your email addy.
    QUESTION: I comb my hair while I am upside down. Should I lift my head right side up after I comb and “fix” the part BEFORE I flip my head back over to plop???
    Also can I hire you to make a video of how you go from soaking wet hair to dry??

    • Sorry for the delay in replying. I was moving to a different country! :)

      I part my hair first, then comb it out but I kind of lift my hair as I comb it. I don’t just comb it flat against my scalp…I sort of comb, pull backwards a bit, and then lift the hair. For some parts I will actually section the hair and comb it the opposite way it grows at the roots. When I finally flip my head upside down, I comb the hair at the back of my neck and at the sides of my head a bit.

      The combing technique thing comes down to practice. Each person does it differently. Sometimes after you’ve dried and plopped your hair you will notice it kind of hands weirdly once you flip your hair over. I like it when it does this. Once I’ve scrunched the crunch out of my hair the weird look goes away, it falls properly and had lots of body .

      Sorry, I am not available to do videos at the moment. They take a long time to film and edit. I will take your request under consideration though and think about providing videos, to better assist readers, at a later date. I have been thinking about this for a while, but have to get things properly set up in my new house.

  9. Your hair is gorgeous! So t he treatment shampoo doesn’t strip your hair since it has sulfates in it? Or do you not use it that often….more like a once or twice a month clarifying treatment?

    As for the porosity, I read the article bit I also heard it has something to do with how fast your hair dries. Mine dries really fast….do you know if that means low porosity like yours? I get botticelli ringlets when my hair is short but they are stretching out as my hair has gotten longer.

    Thanks for the input. :)

    • I can’t comment further on porosity, beyond what was stated in the link I posted. I’m not an expert on the topic, sadly, so the info I can share is limited. My hair is thick and takes a long time to dry. As my hair gets longer I still have great ringlets…I just have to work a little harder at getting body at the top of my head. :)

    • Sorry for the delay in replying. I was moving to a different country! :) No, I have used the treatment shampoo for years. For my hair type, this shampoo works magic. I can’t use sulfate free shampoos. My hair gets too fluffy, slippery, and over-conditioned. Sulfates are a must for me.

  10. I need to try this for my daughter and myself! We both have the same type of curls as you and I want to do something to help her to love her curls as she grows up instead of trying to pretend they dont’ exist like I did growing up! What a mess that was lol! I may have to work into it slowly though, its sort of expensive! I am too cheap for my own good. Thanks for the tips!

  11. I’ve been using deva curl no poo and prior to and even moreso during using this product I am losing hair. My question – how did you find out what type of hair you are and what your hair needs?

  12. Great blog! I too would love a video so I know I’m doing the process right…
    But my question is how long would you say the process takes from getting out of the shower til letting it dry. I have an infant and toddler. I currently dry and flat iron my hair every other day because it’s just easier right now. I too must wash my hair everyday if going curly. Thnx!

  13. Thanks for sharing your routine; your hair looks amazing! I’m still ‘hit-and-miss’ with my hair care, but a lot of improvement has happened after reading articles like yours (Nobody told me about gel, nobody!)

    • Hi Meghan,

      I have been reading around your blog and love it. Your curls look very much like mine. I really like the hairstyle in your first picture from 2008. I am going for a haircut soon and looking for some pictures to show my hairdresser. Would you mind sending me some more pictures of your this long hairstyle? I would be grateful for your help. Thanks! :)

  14. Your hair is beautiful!! When you get it cut, how do they do it? I feel like mine looks piece-y and scraggly on the bottom because they cut it like straight hair (ugh!!). So i have a bunch of curls on top and long stringy waves underneath. How do they shape it?

    • Layers are key. Oftentimes it helps to cut curly hair dry, so you can see what the end result is going to look like. If you cut curly hair like straight hair it tends to fan out into a mushroom shape, which is never flattering. I thing curly hair stylists tend to sculpt your hair, cutting the top layers shorter, leaving some medium length ones, and then having a longer strands at the base. I notice that my stylists tend to create face framing shorter bits too.

  15. Thanks so much for posting! We seem to have very similar hair types (dense, fine, low porous with curly crown and straighter under layer). Your routine worked great… I had been doing a similar routine for years, but my curls were getting kinda straggly, stringy and limp looking. The combing part was especially helpful.
    I have a question for you though… I have fairly long hair (about the same length as in the 1st photo you posted). About 2 years ago I tried a new stylist who layered my hair and it looked AWFUL. My naturally straighter under layer looked long and stringy beneath the springy curls of the top layer. I’ve been trying to fix it for past year or so, but my question is: when your hair was long, how did you have it cut – what specifications did you give your hair stylist?
    Thanks!

    • I usually let my hair stylist do their own thing. I usually say I want body, great curl formation – but keep it long! They tend to cut the straight bits shorter, as I too have straight hair at the bottom. The goal is to make the straight bits match the curly bits when they are in ringlets.

  16. Hmm. Your hair is absolutely gorgeous, and sounds EXACTLY like mine. But your regime looks really expensive. Are there less pricey alternatives? Not to be cheap, but as a single (and I mean 24/7, all by myself single) mom on a budget, I can’t go spend $50 or so on hair products. But I have tried the”natural” method, the curlygirl stuff, etc., and it DID NOT WORK. Thanks for the info – very well done. :)

    • Sorry. I don’t have any products to suggest to you. I only know what works on my hair. I have not looked for any less expensive alternatives because it took me SO long to find what worked, I have never wanted to experiment with anything else.

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