By Emma Raho – Staff Writer and Curly Girl
Curly hair is a life force all of its own and I’ve had a love/hate relationship with my own mane of red curls since my mother handed the hairbrush over to me and said it was time to start taming the beast myself.
In 30ish years of learning to manage my wild hair on the job I’ve tried almost everything. Some things have been successful, some things have been a total disaster. So with this wealth of knowledge, here are my six top tips for making the most of your natural curl.
One – Find out what type of curl you’re dealing with. A 2B curl cannot be cared for the same as a 3C or a 4A. Sounds confusing but this information will save you time, money and heartache. Check out this video to figure out what type of curl you have.
Two – Curly hair is more prone to frizz, dryness and general misbehaviour than any other type. Ever looked in the mirror before leaving the house looking like a sleek goddess only to return looking more like the wild woman of the woods, complete with real leaves stuck in there? I already know you have. Curly hair is particularly sensitive to sulphates, silicones and alcohol, all of which will contribute to the unruliness. Natural products free of these ingredients are your best bet. I use Earthwise shampoo for normal hair followed by Fructis Hairfood for wash day which has made a huge difference to the overall health and look of my hair. Speaking of which…
Three – Don’t over wash your hair, especially if it’s long. There is really no need to wash every day, all that will achieve is floofy, fly away candy floss looking hair. Once a week is plenty and some people with curly hair don’t wash their hair with shampoo at all, preferring to wash with conditioner. This is known as a cowash. Avoid terry cloth (regular) towels, they can snag and break the hair as well as the friction from rubbing the hair with a towel will create unprecedented levels of frizz. You can buy specialised turbans but I find a cotton t-shirt does the job perfectly. A satin pillowcase can also be useful for the same reasons.
Four – Don’t over-do sticky hair product. If you slap on heaps of gel, mousse and then douse your head in hairspray you’re going to end up with a tacky, crunchy nightmare that can’t curl itself properly. Stahhhp!! Your first move should be a leave in conditioner (as my hair is thick and course I just use the hair food as a leave in) to nourish and protect your hair then a small blob of gel to scrunch through to tame the frizz.
Five – Do not blast with a hairdryer or go to town with the heat styling. Just don’t, unless you want to look like a privet hedge. It’s best to leave your natural hair to air dry but if you must dry it fast, always use a diffuser.
Six – Seek professional help. Get a hairdresser experienced specifically with naturally curly hair. This means someone who understands the phenomenon of shrinkage, the cuts that actually work for curls and more importantly the cuts that do not. You will notice a huge improvement after your first cut and you’ll never look back.