This is less of a “step by step” HOW TO post, and more of a collection of tips and ideas. It’s a subject that I’ve been learning about for 18 years now, and so I thought I’d share with you my knowledge and hopefully save you from the hair floundering I endured.
Here are some of the most common issues with curly hair:
Especially when you live in a humid climate, frizz is one of the worst parts of having curly hair. When people say “oh, I’m so jealous that your hair is curly!”, they don’t realize what they’re saying. When they use curling irons and rollers, they don’t get the full picture. Their curls will be nice and controlled, artificially stabilized with the products used to create them.
So for those of us who aren’t so lucky as to have frizz-less hair, try getting your hair a little wet in the mornings. If you shower in the morning, then this tip isn’t really applicable. For me, I use a travel sized squirt bottle full of water and spritz the offending frizz. Water helps return your hair to its original texture, remedying what a night’s sleep has done to it.
What I mean by this is what most of us with curly hair refer to as “one half of my head has nice bouncy curls and the other half looks like I survived a hurricane- barely.” I have the biggest trouble with this issue, even bigger than frizz. My hair, for some reason, doesn’t like looking uniform and normal. It likes to have a variety of textures- sometimes on the same side of my head. There will be that lone, bouncy, thick curl, surrounded by strands of limp waves and crumpled locks.
Luckily, fate has been kind to me, and after years of struggle, I’ve discovered some products that help remedy this problem, for the most part.
This is “Curl life spiraling spray gel”, which I used a lot last summer and still have leftover. I don’t use this product as much anymore because it tends to make the top layer of my hair crunchy and a little greasy. However, I used to use it a lot when I was in Oregon for a few weeks in the middle of the day for a “pick-me-up”. If the day had been wearing on the volume and texture of my hair, I’d wet it a bit and randomly spritz this all over, scrunching sections with my fists before going out again. Use sparingly.
This is “curl sculpting cream gel” from the Fructis Style line of hair products, my preferred brand. I picked this up a couple weeks ago when I was out of what I normally use (see below), just to see. This gel was good if I’d just gotten out of the shower and let my hair air dry, but not if I let it air dry overnight. It tended to suck the volume right out of my poor hair, and I noticed my curls were not “bouncy” as it advertises, but flat and wavy. It’s better than nothing, but it’s not the best.
THIS is what I call “miracle” gel. It’s Fructis Style’s “curl scrunch extra strong gel”, and it is my favorite hair product to date. I love it. It smells nice, it doesn’t make my hair crunchy like most gels, and it actually works. When I wet my hair in the morning with my little water spritzer, I then rub a dab of this in my hairs and then through my hair and go about my day. Don’t use too much, because then your hair will just get heavy and greasy, and no one wants that.
This is a new product that my hairdresser tracked down for me to try, L’Oreal’s “hair mix spiral splendor”. It’s the product I used and let my hair air dry with in all of these pictures. It doesn’t smell as nice as Fructis products, but I don’t think we can deny it gets the job done. As I pen this post, it’s the next day, and my hair still looks reasonably controlled, which is a definite plus. I think you should just experiment with these different products to see what’s best for you.
Now that you know how to remedy common issues with curly hair, we’ll move on to what you should do when there is no saving the atrocity atop your head. We’ve all been there, even me, with my fancy products.
When it’s just the top layer that looks stupid
This is another pain in my neck when it comes to my hair. For some reason, even after I’ve tried reviving it with water and a little bit of product, the top section of my hair just doesn’t want to cooperate. Either the frizz is resilient or the texture is flat and inconsistent. This is the style I rock (har har) when I have this problem:
When nothing is working, not even the under layers
This happens sometimes to me when I forget/don’t have time to wash my hair and it’s mad at me. (I’ll talk about washing down below) Here are the styles that you can try when this happens to you:
“The bun”. I used to hate this style because I thought I looked dumb with my hair up (more on this in a second). What makes this style work is the bangs (again, more on it in a second), the messiness, and the fact that you can still see some of your curls. When making a bun, the messier, the nicer-looking. People will be tricked into thinking it was a style you chose rather than were forced into because of circumstances surrounding the burden of having this hair.
Braids! When I was younger and in gymnastics, there was this girl who had two long, pretty braids that hit people when she moved her head too fast. I longed for those braids. In fact, they were the reason I started growing my hair out. Then I gradually came to understand that my hair was too thick, and even if our hair were the same length, my braids would never be as long and graceful as hers. That was depressing. Then I hacked all my hair off. But that’s not what you’re here to read. The single braid is a style that I can’t really work because of the length of my layers and the thickness of my hair, but it’s still an option you could try. Have bobbypins handy to sweep up stray locks that wander away from the style.
Ah, the double braid. The style that I abused most of middle school because I didn’t understand how to make it look any nicer. The thing about this style is that you can’t do it a lot, because it just makes you look like a little kid. Once or twice it’s playful, even sexy (sometimes. Not for me), but every other day it’s just weird. Again, because of the length of my layers (which I will discuss more in a second), it’s hard for me to use this style. It uses more bobby pins than it’s worth.
1. Have bangs. My bangs were always really thick or not around at all, so that’s why I formed a hatred of “up-dos” from a young age. But now they’re just another tool in my hair style arsenal, with the help of that little fluff of hair on my forehead. When you have curly hair, your face is shaped in such a way that looks good with lots of stuff surrounding it (your hair). So if you have your hair up, your face is exposed and it looks a little odd. This is the same reason that I suggest messy buns, because when you can still see the hair, your face looks less severe. Example:
I know I look stupid in both of them. THAT’S NOT THE POINT. Which do I look LESS stupid in? (the second one)
2. Consider layers. I resisted layers for many years because I was concerned I wouldn’t be able to contain them all in a pony tail. This was a legitimate concern because I used to play sports, and keeping my hair back was important. However, my hair dresser is smarter than me, and gave me layers that were long enough to pull back but short enough to give my hair shape. They are why I look like this:
Take note of the bangs. *shudder*
3. Be nice to your hair.
a. Don’t wash it every day. Washing your hair every day, especially for people with curly hair, actually dries out your hair and causes it to get greasy much quicker. It can also literally wash away your texture. I wash my hair every other day, with Fructis Wonder Waves shampoo and conditioner. Not only does it smell nice for the two days that wash lasts, but it also stays cleaner that way.
b. Don’t fry it. I wasn’t smart enough when I was younger to figure out how to straighten my hair consistently and often, so luckily I never had to worry too much about this. But I know people who have forever thinned and dried out their hair with gratuitous straightening routines. I don’t think I’ve fully straightened my hair for several months. I do straighten my bangs occasionally, when they look particularly forlorn and stupid, but that’s not a big deal. On the same vein, try not to dry your hair with a blowdryer unless you have to leave soon and you don’t want to go out with wet hair. Like I mentioned earlier, I wash my hair at night and let it dry as I sleep.
Wow. That was longer than I originally meant it to be. My brainstorming for this blog included three bullet points and a couple random words off to the side, and took up not even a half page of my moleskin notebook. I hope it was helpful!