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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Ambassadors – www.curlambassadors.ca
Chingy’s Touch – www.chiggyonline.com