Saturday, March 22, 2014

Tame the Mane! :) Tips for Curly Hair

I used to cry over my hair...A LOT!  Okay, that's all relative, and I was a teenager, so throw that in the mix. Regardless, my hair caused a lot of undue trauma at an already traumatic stage of life.  Honestly, I didn't learn how to really do my hair until I was in college...or perhaps graduated from college.  Needless to say it was an even more exciting accomplishment than my diploma in hand, if you can believe it!  It was cute when I was little, but as I grew older...yikes! :)   People used to tell me how lucky I was to have naturally curly hair, but I didn't believe them, until I learned to style it!  It's not as easy as everyone thinks it is to style, but at least now I see it as a blessing rather than the curse I used to think it was!

I have some pretty sweet pictures of my hair over the years.  Heck, I'll even share some with you.  Yes, this is a big step for me--opening up the "most beautiful" side of my childhood photo albums so that you can truly understand the progress that has been made.  Most importantly, I am opening myself up in such a way to help those in similar situations as I was!  If you, a friend, a family member, or your child has curly hair and no idea what to do with it...hopefully this post will be your saving grace!
Over the years my hair styling routine has changed and improved, but I will share with you where it is right now.  Obviously I don't have it down pat with perfect Hollywood-ready curls, but at least I don't cry anymore!  Keep in mind though that just like the snowflakes, no two curly-heads are alike so these tips may or may not work on your hair-type (there's my disclaimer)!

With no further tips for curly hair:

The Power of Product
The first rule of curly hair...never go all-natural!  Unless of course you are going for the "finger in a light socket" or "I'm trying out for the part of the lion in the Wizard of Oz" look.  Yes, my friends, product is powerful and ESSENTIAL when it comes to curly hair!  To illustrate this point, I am once again sharing my loveliest of looks with you all!

This is my hair with zero, zip, zilch product.  Sure I styled it essentially like I always do, but no product is a scary thing, as you can see.  It's much more frizzy with far less curl definition.

I usually use mousse, gel, and hairspray...that's right, ALL THREE!  
Mousse=body & flexibility
Hairspray=more control!

Oh, and if you live in a more humid area or a rainy climate, I highly recommend John Freida's Frizz Solution to put in your hair before anything else!

This is my hair styled exactly the same way, but WITH PRODUCT!  On days where I'm short on time, this is the look I go for (unless of course I'm in a hat, which is far more common now that I have kids!).  However, even on hat days I still use product!  The only time I don't use products is when I'm camping.  You know we are good friends if you ever see me like that! :)

I use cheap products because I tend to use a lot! Don't be afraid to use a lot of product...if you don't use enough then it's almost like you didn't use any.  If you find the right products then you don't need to worry about your hair being crunchy either!  Additionally, I don't spend a lot on products because I've used the expensive stuff and honestly have yet to see much of a difference in most things!  Maybe I'll change that tune one day, but so far that's what I've found personally!  My husband sure appreciates that as well! :)

Diffuse with Caution!

My true test of a good hair stylist, is not entirely the cut; it's the styling after the cut.  Much of my early life involved visits to beauticians who's goal it seemed was to get my hair as big as possible.  Since I've spent my entire life attempting to do just the opposite, when that happened then I knew my search for a hair stylist was not over!  Once I've found a stylist I like, I don't even have them style my hair on subsequent visits, just to save me time since I'm usually rushing home to my kids.  I just want to know that they can!  My old stylist used to tell me that I styled my hair better than she could anyways so she usually would just straighten it for me (something I only do on myself maybe once every three years nowadays!).

Lesson: beware of diffusing too quickly!  You have to hold the diffuser in place for at least 30 seconds before moving it to a new location on your head.  If you move around your head too quickly, you break apart the curls and just create frizz and some serious body.  Not a bad idea if you're headed to an 80's party, but otherwise, it's better not to dry your hair at all than to diffuse in too much of a hurry!  

This is my hair after it's been diffused.  It tends to define the curls a little bit more and give me just a bit more body than when I let it air dry.  Often I don't dry it all the way (partly due to time, and party because I like how it looks better when it dries most of the way with a diffuser and a little bit naturally!)

Get A Good Haircut

A proper haircut to fit your hair type is essential because all the product and diffusing in the world cannot correct a bad haircut!  I have mine tapered around my face in the front with slight layers in the back and on top.  I used to be afraid of layers, fearing that they would just make my hair look bigger.  Conversely, the layers help the curl to look more even and more defined!

The Routine
I brush my hair out in the shower while the conditioner is still in it so that it gets most of the tangles out without damaging it (I use Pantene moisture curl----love it!  Lately it's been hard for me to find so I've been using Pantene Smooth or Ultimate 10--love those too!).

Tip: NEVER brush curl hair when it's dry!  I know this goes against what many stylists say, but I'm speaking from experience!  In college I used to have "the big brush out" as my roommate called it before I got in the shower.  Not sure why I thought that was a good idea, but it provided entertainment for my roommates at least! :)  
It causes split ends and thus more frizz!  If you can't brush it in the shower, then use a spray bottle to get it REALLY wet before brushing it out!  Use a wide toothed brush with the little knobs on each point (not a comb unless you like to cause pain!).  Start with the tangles at the bottom and work your way up.  If your brushing your child's hair, put your other hand on their head to help keep it from pulling too hard when you hit a knot.  This will help with your more sensitive heads.

Then I brush it again while still in the shower after the conditioner is rinsed out.  I flip my head upside down and brush under and out (from the crown of the head out) for the top part and then flip it back up and brush under and out (nape of neck out) for the bottom (I know that sounds very specific, but I noticed when I brushed it from the neck to crown upside down it ended up really big and weird underneath--hope that makes sense.)

2. Mousse 
I flip my head upside down again.  Then I use a lot of mousse (baseball size when my hair was long) and scrunch that in all over, trying not to rub as that breaks the curls and makes them frizz more.  Right now I use Suave professionals for curl which I really like.  
Make sure to evenly distribute it!

3. Gel 
After that, I do the same thing with gel.  I use LA Looks--the blue kind because it's cheap and works just as good as the spendy ones I've tried.  When my hair was long I used about a golf ball size of gel.

4. Towel Dry/Scrunch
Then I carefully scrunch it with the towel (this is the first time I dry it in any way--the products seem to work best when your hair is really wet I've found).  I don't do a ton with the towel as it can make it really frizzy, just slow scrunching.

5. Hairspray
Finally I hairspray it all over with Suave max hold hairspray (I used to use flexi-hold but they stopped making it and I haven't liked other brands as much.)  It actually doesn't really dry crunchy, thankfully! 

6. Diffuse...slowly
Then it is diffusing time.  The thing I have found is that slow diffusing is the best.  Even when I go to salons they move the hair dryer up and down really fast and I've found that it makes my hair much bigger than if I scrunch up one section to my head, hold it in one place for like a minute, and then do another section.  After I go over my whole head once that way, then I do it all again once or twice (usually takes 15-20 min. when I have long hair, depending on how well I dry it--if I dry it all the way it has a bit more body than if I do it 3/4 of the way, which I tend to like best usually--depends on the day--you know how it is! :) 

This style of diffuser was like $3 on Amazon and can fit on the ends of most hairdryers (only if they have skinny heads though so keep that in mind).  Also, I dry my hair on a high setting and have melted out the insides of my diffuser because my blowdryer has too big of a head for it to fit all the way on. :)  So, it's a good idea to make sure it fits well, or that your blow dryer just has a diffuser that comes with it!

7.  Hairspray some more!
I usually hair spray it again after that a time or two as well and it gets a little crunchy but not that bad surprisingly considering how much I put in! By the end of the day the "limited crunchiness" is totally gone. :)  At this point I used my hands to "shape" my curls and overall look as much as possible.  

If it's not looking very good (you never know sometimes depending on the humidity, when my last haircut was, etc.) then I may pin parts up, add a headband, or go for the full-on pony-tail.  If there's one thing I've learned, it's to go with the flow.  If you try to fight too much with curly hair, you end up with a fro!  Not to mention you just get frustrated with no solution!

Hope that helps all the fellow "curlies" out there!  
Please feel free to comment, ask questions, or add your own tips.  I'm always looking to improve the process!

Here is "the process" on video if that helps ya!

How to Style Curly Hair Part One
How to Style Curly Hair Part Two

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  1. Love it. I've recently learned the importance of not using a towel... so you may want to try that too. I now only use an old t-shirt to dry my hair. Same method as a towel, but the t-shirt material doesn't cause breakage and frizzy-ness, like a towel does. It's pretty great. :) Also curious, how often do you wash your hair? I used to wash mine every day, but now I'm lucky if I wash it once a week. Usually less. I condition it, but find that I don't need to shampoo it, as it dries it out. I had no idea! Anyway, makes the curls even more defined. I'm a big fan of, if you want to check that out. It's a cool website that makes curly hair girls feel like they rule the world. Ha! :) Miss you friend.

  2. Thanks Jo! I have thought about the t-shirt type material idea...but now that my hair is short it doesn't really need it. I will have to try it again when it's longer and I struggle more with the frizz. Thanks for the tip!
    To answer your question, I actually wash my hair every day (gasp!) I know, so against what most people say to do for curly hair, but I work out like a mad woman every morning and sweat like there's no me people that know me would thank me for washing it daily if they knew how it smelt after that!!! :) Plus, my hair has never been great at the whole "day two" look. It's better now that it's shorter, and if I don't work out in the morning then sometimes I'll go a day without washing and just spray it with water, put more mousse, gel, and hairspray in, and it looks pretty descent usually.

    My sister-in-law has curlier hair than I do and she says she actually leaves the conditioner in her hair, even though it's not leave-in...she loves it for moisture but I tried it and it was greasy on my hair. So different for everyone!!!

    That website's pretty cool...thanks for telling me about it!

    Miss you too!!!!