Curly Hair Tips to Put a Spring in Your Step
Photo by Kevin Jesus Horacio on Unsplash
It used to always bug me when someone said how lucky I was for having curly hair. They’d get perms and use irons to achieve a look that took at least an hour of detangling each day to achieve. I’m all but convinced people would turn and run if they saw my bedhead on a normal morning. With this in mind, I spent the better part of 2019 searching for the best tips and tricks for Easier, Happier, and Healthier hair.
The first thing we need to address is shampoo. The drier your hair, the less frequently you need to use shampoo (and curly hair tends to be extremely dry). I personally shampoo my hair once a week, and I spend most of my time focusing on the roots and scalp. It will take trial and error to find the proper length of time between shampoo sessions and varies between individuals and lifestyles.
Secondly, heat is your enemy. It feels so good to take a nice hot shower, and your hair will stand on end in joy. Hot water strips your hair of vital oils and leaves you high, dry, and looking like Mrs. Frizzle stuck her finger in a socket at your neighborhood disco. Slowly lower the temperature of your water until it is as cold as you can stand, your hair and skin will thank you.
Next up, condition. You want to use the proper conditioner. Look at the ingredients and find something that has natural oils (coconut, avocado, shea butter, aloe vera…etc.), and avoid glycerin, parabens, silicones, and sulfates. To make the most of your volume and avoid flat roots, rinse from the bottom up. Flip your hair over your head, section out your hair, and condition one strand at a time.
Never use a brush. If you are going to comb your hair, use a wide tooth comb while you are in the shower. I probably don’t need to remind you of this, though. The graveyard of broken combs and brushes in your drawer are reminder enough.
Once a week, you will want to use a revitalizing hair mask. They are an essential source of Keratin and oil that work like a deep conditioner. They repair your hair from the previous week and serve to protect your hair for the next. I personally use a mask after shampooing.
After the Shower
You step out of the shower and feeling refreshed, wrap a towel around your waist and… move on to treating your hair. DO NOT towel dry your hair… EVER… The world will end, period.
The first thing you want to do is to use a leave in conditioner and apply any styling products before your hair has time to frizz. You will frizz, no avoiding it, but this will buy you time and lessen the degree to which you do.
As for drying your hair, air dry as much as possible. If you must dry your hair quickly, invest in a diffuser for your blow dryer. This slows down the flow of air and makes the heat less direct (‘because heat is always the enemy). Turn your temperature to low and start from your roots to add volume. Avoid the ends of your hair, they are the most likely to frizz. Stop when your hair is about 80% dry, add a hair serum into the middle and ends of your hair, then let it air dry for the final 20%.
How to Sleep
For a long time, my hair looked like a carpet woven from dreadlocks every morning. Even after following all the steps above, I was still waking up and spending 30 mins to an hour detangling and taming the mane. It largely came down to how I was sleeping on my hair. You want to avoid as much friction as possible.
Put your hair up. From pineapple buns to tee-shirt turbans, you want to play it high and loose. Make sure to use cloth scrunchies or hair ties and keep them as loose as possible while keeping your hair secure as high on your head as possible.
Use silk or satin pillowcases and sheets. These fabrics reduce friction and allow your body and hair to retain vital oils, but this comes with one downside: acne. If you are prone to pimples, go silk or go home. It may be more expensive, but it is naturally hypoallergenic and will decrease the likelihood of breakouts. You should also wash your sheets (on delicate) at least once a week.
I’ve also seen a lot of articles on braiding your hair before going to bed, but this is something that has never really worked for me. Don’t get me wrong, I braid my hair all the time, but sleeping on a braid has always resulted in my hair looking like a nautical rope. This may just be because of the thickness of my hair, which brings up a good point: we all have different hair needs. The degree of dryness, the shape of follicle, the thickness of hair… It all varies from person to person. This is your hair journey, and my only hope is to have aided in your search for Hairvana.