Articles By CurlySuzy

Ouidad Curl Co-Wash

October is not only a month of changing weather, it also includes Halloween costumes and trick or treating. With all those things on my mind, I decided to deal with the drier, cooler weather by treating my hair to new products and new product combinations.

1. Use Cleansing Conditioners

My first change was to start using cleansing conditioners for co-washing. I had been using a daily conditioner for this, but with the drier weather I wanted to add more moisture to my hair. I also wanted to try cleansing conditioners and maybe follow up with a conditioner if needed.

At the moment, Ouidad Curl Co-Wash is my favorite. Usually any product that uses the word "cleansing" to describe it immediately makes me hesitate in fear that my hair will have that stripped, dried out feeling after I use it. But this product was a surprise. It was moisturizing and I just did a quick conditioning rinse afterwards with Elucence Moisture Balancing Conditioner.  My curls really have to be very moisturized in the fall and winter, so this doubling up of products worked for me.

MORE: Cleansing Conditioners

Kinky-Curly Knot Today and Ouidad Mongongo Oil

2. Modify Leave-in Conditioners

The second change I made was to try and modify Kinky-Curly Knot Today, my favorite leave-in conditioner. I was feeling like KCKT needed a little more moisture, and I really didn't want to try another leave-in product. Yes, I am ridiculously attached to KCKT. I decided I was going to experiment with adding some oil to it. In the past I have had zero luck with oils. They either weigh my hair down or break up the clumping I have worked so hard to get. I was thinking by mixing an oil in with my leave-in conditioner, I might be able to add some needed moisture to my my curls without having to switch to another product.

I tried several different oils and had the best results with Ouidad Mongongo Oil. I poured my usual amount of KCKT into the palm of my hand. I then sprayed two little pumps of the Mongongo Oil into the center of the the KCNT and rubbed my palms together. I scrunched the mixture into my hair and could tell immediately that it was working. Good clumping was happening, and my hair felt smooth and moisturized. I followed with my favorite mousse of the moment, Herbal Essences Totally Twisted Curl Boosting Mousse.

MORE: Leave-in Conditioners

tricks 2 treat Curls

3. Alternate Deep Conditioners

The third change that I made was to start alternating my deep conditioners. I have always deep conditioned once a month with a product that has a lot of protein in it. Curl Junkie Repair Me! is one of my favorites. But I was thinking, why not deep condition twice a month during the fall and winter? I didn't want to do another protein treatment, fearing that my hair would become brittle. A once a month dose of protein is just enough, so I decided to add a moisture rich, protein free deep conditioner to my routine. The one I had the best luck with was Spiral Solutions Deeply Decadent Moisturizing Treatment.

The thrill of using a good hair product is almost as good as the Almond Joys that I always take out of my kids Halloween candy pile.

What tricks are you using to change up your routine and treat your curls this fall?

MORE: How to Make a Curly Lioness Costume


Suzanne Schroeder

You know that feeling when you hear a best-loved song you haven't heard in a long time or when you put on your favorite pair of jeans that you've had forever? Nostalgia with hair products is that same feeling.

Last weekend, in a PMS cleaning frenzy, I went way back in my bathroom cabinet and found two products that I haven't used in a long time: Curlisto Control I Gel and Curlisto Bio-Gel Mousse.

The memories are all good. Curlisto was the first curly specific brand that I had success with. In 2005, Christo of Curlisto came to Austin for a Naturallycurly.com event.

I remember walking into the salon and everyone waiting had curly hair. I immediately felt relief and was excited to have my first curly haircut. After Christo cut and styled my hair, I was thrilled. I had never walked out of a salon liking my hair. I also had a bag of hair product that I understood how to use. Like most curlies, my haircut experiences in the past had all been borderline nightmares. Racing home to assess the damage and having to wash and restyle my curls was always the post salon routine.

The love for Curlisto is still there for me. After co-washing, I used a nickel sized amount of the Control I Gel for each of the four sections of my curls. I then followed with the Bio-Gel Mousse using two handfuls to scrunch into my hair. I then diffused my hair and had perfect clumping along with well defined, frizz-free curls.

I am always trying new hair products, which I have fun with. But there is something so lovely about rediscovering old friends.


Beach bag and summer hat

What hair products are in your summer swim bag? My summer swim bag is filled with the usual sunscreens, goggles, frisbees, a foam football, little plastic torpedoes the boys like to dive for and my favorite leave-in conditioner. I also have my hat in there as well. The hat is for protecting my face and hair from the sun and also to hide my curls. They do not perform well after swimming. This year I have decided to try and go beyond my usual post swimming hair care routine of using a leave-in conditioner and then putting my hat on. I am going to try using only one styling product and see if I can get acceptable curls.

This single styling product experiment is a big leap for me. I usually use three to four styling products on my hair before I diffuse it or air dry. So, this is a serious approach to minimizing my hair care routine.  What will be the one and only styling product to make it into the beach bag?

After swimming and rinsing my hair with water, the first product  that I tried was Phyto Plage Protective Beach Spray. I was attracted to the name and to the fact that it is glycerin and silicone free. When I sprayed it on my hair it had a very slick smooth feeling. I liked that it was moisturizing my hair, but it didn't offer any of the styling qualities that I look for. There was no clumping or curl activation. I  think it would have been a great choice if I didn't need those two crucial things in a hair styling product. My curls were frizz free but that was about it. I will pass it on to a friend with straight hair or a friend with much curlier hair than mine.

Read More: Texture Perspective: Straightening Hair

Curl Junkie Curl Queen Hair Styling Gel

On my next swimming outing I decided to try a gel, Curl Junkie Queen Hair Styling Gel I have never used a gel by itself so I was nervous, but Curl Junkie has never failed me. This one is also glycerin and silicone free. When I poured some out into my hand the gel was thin and kind of watery. I decided to go for a small amount for the first try. My hair dried crunchy but was easy to scrunch out. My curls were defined, clumpy and soft. The frizz stayed away and my curls were looking good. When I applied it later in the day after swimming again I used too much and my hair was stringy. You definitely have to pay attention to the amount that you use. I really liked this gel and was surprised that it worked so well on its own. This one is staying in the beach bag. I tried it again at home after using a leave-in conditioner and then put a little mousse over it. Wow, even better results.

Read More: DIY Homemade Hair Moisturizers

AG Hair Cosmetics Beach Bomb

This time I wanted to try a creamy styling product. I decided on the new AG Hair Cosmetics Beach Bomb. There is a silicone in this one, Diphenylsiloxy Phenyl Trimethicone. It doesn't seem to cause the massive build up that other silicones do, so I was happy about that.  I really liked this product. I had to be careful not to use too much but my curls performed pretty well considering this was the only product I put on them. I got more clumping with this product and shiny frizz free curls. This one is definitely a new beach bag Holy Grail product for me. Of course, I tried it again at home on another day over a leave-in conditioner and got even clumpier curls. What a great new product.

Read More: Get Out of Summer Hair Hell

Final Thoughts

I am relieved that I only had one unsatisfactory experience with my solo product experiment.  I will still wear my hat sometimes, but I am thrilled that I can actually go somewhere after a day at the pool or the beach and my curls will be presentable. They do look a little wilder and looser, but I am trying to embrace that look.

If you could only put one styling product in your beach bag, what would it be?


Last Saturday, I went to go see "Brave" with my sons. We rotate on whose turn it is to pick movies. I was a lot more excited than they were to see the movie, but they were good sports about it. I had just gone to their movie choice, "The Avengers" a couple of weeks ago. I wasn't very excited about that one, but Mark Ruffalo did make things more tolerable — not the Hulk part but the real guy part.

Last week I had heard an interview on NPR where Linda Wertheimer spoke with the producer of "Brave," Katherine Sarafian.  The most exciting part of the interview was when they talked about Pixar having to create new software for Princess Merida's curly hair. "We'd really worked with the same suite of software since the earliest days." Sarafian said. "It was definitely time for an upgrade, but adopting new software is highly traumatic for a team. Everything had to be reinvented. But, you know, it was worth it, because the story served up this challenge of this spirited, untamed wild child of a girl. And that hair was part of her design and part of her character."

A female heroine who has curly hair — it is about time! I was also really curious to see how her curly hair would fare by the end of the movie. We have all seen countless movies where the curls are straightened for a happy ending, or where straight hair becomes curly when the story takes a turn for the worst.

"Brave" starts with Princess Merida as a small child, and her hair is amazing. In the next scene, she is a teenager and her hair is still beautiful. Merida's curls are the most realistic that I have ever seen on a big screen. I was thrilled that the curls never looked perfect. They moved, had texture and she had several different curl types on her head. There were even some realistic looking frizz and tangles. I imagine if she had modern day curly hair products, she would be a dead ringer for Jessicurl's Jessica McGuinty. Apparently a lot of others were thinking the same thing, including Jess.

The movie continues curly until Merida is forced to cover up her curls as part of her royal presentation to the clansmen. At this point, I was sure this would be the end of her curls, but just then, she pulled a lovely front curl out from under the cloth headdress. Whew, they're still there! What's more, they remain with her throughout the entire movie. Her curls were part of her strength and her identity. I was surprised by that and the way the story ends as well. She keeps her curls and her true personality in tact while learning to be a young adult. What a refreshing change from all the Disney movies I grew up with. "Brave" is a Disney fairy tale with a happy ending, but Princess Merida with her curly hair and a bow and arrow offer a twist that is very modern. Disney will be Disney, but they finally let the curls be alive and beautiful.

"Brave" is a movie that every curly can love. It reminds us that there are a lot of ways to be brave. Certainly embracing our natural hair and making curls a part of our identity has required many brave moments of all of us.

Have you seen Disney's first curly heroine on the big screen? What did you think?

 

 


Elucence Moisture Balancing Conditioner

Conditioners are what I cannot live without. I use them daily for co-washing, conditioning and my secret, for shaving my legs. In my shower there are three levels of conditioners for curly hair I keep available at all times.
The first one that I have in the shower is Elucence Moisture Balancing Conditioner. I have used this one for years. It is my go to daily co-washing product and is the perfect conditioner for co-washing. It gives my 2c curls volume and moisture at the same time without weighing my hair down. It has just the right amount of moisture and weight, not an easy challenge for a conditioner. It's also so inexpensive that I can go through it without worrying about the cost of re-purchasing. Plus, I use it to shave my legs.

Curl Junkie Curl Assurance Smoothing Conditioner

My next favorite conditioner is Curl Junkie Curl Assurance Smoothing Conditioner. I have been using this for two years and have never let the bottle run out completely before I purchase another one. I use it as a RO (Rinse Out) and have never been disappointed. It truly zaps the frizz. My hair feels smooth and well moisturized after I use it. Again, it isn't too heavy for my hair which surprised me. It is thick and very concentrated, but it offers just the right amount of moisture to make it a perfect RO conditioner for my 2c curls.

 

Aubrey Organics Honeysuckle Rose Moisturizing Conditioner

The last, but certainly not the least of my conditioning trio, is Aubrey Organics Honeysuckle Rose Moisturizing Conditioner. I use this after I cleanse my hair. It restores the moisture lost by cleansing and adds a serious boost of botanicals. It is thick and creamy. It can even be a challenge to get it out of the bottle. Using it as a semi-deep conditioner has proven to be the most effective way to get the most out of it. I find myself leaving it on for 5-10 minutes in the shower. My curls love this conditioner.

 

 

 

 

 

What are your go-to conditioners?

Final Thoughts

I am always trying new products, but these three conditioners are always in the rotation. They have been close friends to my curls, and I have never been dissatisfied.


Learning how to dry my curls has been a long process of frizz and frustration. There is so much to consider; towels, plopping, clips, air drying, hair dryers, diffusers, and the actual mechanics of how to position your head. Embracing my curls has taught me that experimentation is part of the process of learning how to get great hair. Through that experimentation and frustration, I have also had many amazing curl revelations. Most poignant was the discovery of my Holy Grail products, finally understanding dew points and becoming an avid ingredient label reader. They were all thrilling curly moments. Drying my curls has been one of the longer learning processes. Only recently, last week to be exact, made it to that moment of wonder with my hair dryer and diffuser.

How Do I Dry My Curls?

It wasn't a case of being lazy about learning a foolproof method for drying my hair. It was just my assumption that I had already found what worked best for my curls. I would start out with all my styling products in my hair. I would then scrunch my hair with my Curls Like Us Cloth. I thought my next step should be plopping, but I never really felt like I had perfected the plopping method. I would always end up with crushed, crazy curls. I don't have a lot of hair, and it is cut in a curly bob, so for the moment I knew that I would get better results by skipping the plopping method.

After letting my styling products set for 5-10 minutes, I would be ready to dry my hair. There was a rush of decisions to make and I knew them by heart. The hair dryer temperature settings, the size of the diffuser, how to hold the hair dryer with the diffuser to get my curls to dry without causing too much frizz, and lastly how long to dry my hair.

When I first started trying to use a diffuser, my attempts were comical. The mere mechanics of it defeated me right away. The diffuser kept coming off my hair dryer causing my curls to blow around mercilessly. By the end of the second day I couldn't take the diffuser crashing to the floor any longer. I bought a new ionic hair dryer that came with a diffuser, a very exciting purchase. I turned that baby on and realized I needed to make some serious decisions. I was going to have to experiment with the hair dryer settings and time management. Too hot of a setting would speed up the drying time but caused a lot of frizz. The same problem happened with the high setting. Too much force and frizz was inevitable. A few bad hair days later I figured out the warm temperature setting on low was my best bet. I was finally winning the fight with my frizz.

I had figured out the first components of the drying challenge, now I was on to what position should my head be in? I decided I needed volume but didn't want to sacrifice the clumping that I had achieved with my styling products and the Curls like Us Cloth. I was holding my head upside down and gently putting my curls in the diffuser, working my way around my head. I tried to scrunch a little bit, but knew too much touching would cause frizz. I dried my hair until it was about 85 percent dry.

At this point I felt like I was pretty close to getting this process right, but I was still getting some frizz and my clumping was breaking up. It wasn't so bad that I needed to start over, but I finally got to the point of realizing I was having more bad hair days than I could tolerate. So like every curious curly out there, I started to look on Curltalk and YouTube for drying techniques and tips.

Read More: Can You Pull Off the Pretty Pixie Cut?

More Curl Revelation on the next page...

After some searching, I found The Pixiecurl Method. Thanks to some Pixiecurl Method threads on Curltalk and Waterlily176 's video, I was seriously tempted to try this new method. Would it work for me, and could it really make a difference? I had read about it before, but never really paid that much attention to it. I decided the experiment was on.

The Pixiecurl Method

  1. I co-washed my curls, added my favorite products, scrunched with the towel and got my hair dryer and diffuser out.
  2. I put a section of my curls in the diffuser with the hair dryer OFF, and then moved the diffuser up to the crown of my head. I didn't go all the way to the scalp because that seemed to smash the root volume. It also created a weird bend on the top of my curls — not a good thing.
  3. With diffuser almost to my head, I turned the hair dryer ON for about 45 seconds using the warm/low setting.
  4. I then turned OFF the hair dryer. I continued this all the way around my head, stopping when all the sections were almost dry. It took two passes around my head to get my curls 85 percent dry.

If you have super thick hair this may not be for you, because it would take forever. I did not hang my head upside down through out the whole process.

Curl Revelation

This experiment was a huge curl revelation for me. I had no frizz, great clumping and super curl definition. It really worked! Why hadn't I thought about it before? My hair needed to stay still and have the curls scrunched (kind of like plopping) and baked gently until almost dry. I still got lots of volume AND kept the precious clumping. A tricky look to achieve with my hair. My life hasn't been the same since I embraced experimenting and discovering my many moments of curly joy. I really love all my curl revelations, and now the Pixiecurl Method is another great one to add to the list.

What was your most significant curl revelation?

 


Suzanne Schroeder

In my curly hair history, I've either always had a curly bob and loved it, or I was in the unsatisfying process of trying to grow it out.

Usually a month into my curly bob, I would start getting lost in my long hair fantasy and cancel my hair appointment. As my hair grew longer, my curly bob would start turning into a 1970's Peter Frampton look, and it was downhill from there.

My hair is fine and very prone to frizz. It takes a lot of work to get my 2c curls defined and relatively frizz free. The longer my hair would grow, the harder it became for me to take care of. Most of the time I would end up wearing it pulled back. It may have been my need for a better haircut or my lack of patience, but I never made it into my long hair dream. I was then always disappointed in myself for not reaching my hair goal. I felt like longer hair was somehow more attractive, sexier and more beautiful than short hair.

Recently, I realized this struggle was exactly like the straight hair vs. curly obsession that I lived through all my teenage years and well into my thirties. What am I doing? I can't imagine going back to straight hair! When I look at pictures of my hair when I was most vigilant about straightening, I'm always surprised that I liked it. My hair closely resembled straw on a good day. I now like my curly hair thanks to NaturallyCurly.com and my good friends with curly hair. I have learned how to embrace and take care of my curls.

So why am I still struggling with the curly bob vs. long hair issue?

A few weeks ago after my most recent curly bob haircut, I had a few moments of shock. But the moments were fleeting and I realized that this curly bob was the best one ever. It was a spontaneous decision to cut my hair, and I have left my long hair obsession behind. I already made a hair appointment for 8 weeks from now. I'm loving the compliments, but most of all I am thrilled that I like it. I still think long curly hair is gorgeous, but my curly bob is just as fabulous.

My Curly Bob Hair Care Routine:

  1. I cowash every day. I never get second day hair, and have given up on trying. The time I spent on trying to get second day hair looking like first day hair is now better spent on cowashing and starting fresh. I recommend Elucence Moisture Balancing ConditionerCurl Junkie Curl Assurance Smoothing ConditionerAs I Am Coconut Cowash Cleansing ConditionerSunny Island Lavender Jamaican Black Castor Oil Natural Deep Conditioner.
  2. Once a week I wash my hair. My favorites include: Curl Junkie Curl Assurance Gentle Cleansing ShampooElucence Mosture Benefits Shampoo.
  3. Once a week I do a deep conditioning treatment. My favorites include: Mop Top Deep ConditionerCurl Junkie Curl ReHab Moisturizing Hair TreatmentDevaCurl Heaven in Hair.
  4. Once a month I do a ACV rinse or use a clarifying shampoo. My favorites include: Apple Cider Vinegar as a cleanserAlba Botanicals Clarifying Shampoo.
  5. I sleep on a satin pillowcase and never touch a terry cloth towel to my hair. I always use the Curls Like Us Cloths.
  6. Next, I use a mousse because I need the volume and definition. I apply the mousse in four sections. I use a tablespoon in each section, gently scrunching it into my curls. All of these mousses have a good hold to them, which I need: AG Foam Weightless VolumizerCurlisto Bio Gel MousseDevaCurl Volumizing Frizz Free Volumizing Foam.
  7. Then I diffuse my curls with my head upside down until it is almost dry. I follow with gently scrunching and I am good to go. If my hair starts to get a little frizzy midday I always keep a pomade in my purse: MOP C Glisten High Shine Pomade.

Have you learned to embrace your curls, whether they are short or long?



Dear CurlySuzy: I have natural hair, but I started to use the flat iron and now I have no curl definition. To get it back, do I have to do the Big Chop, or can I just wear braids and twists until it comes back?

Dear Ashley: You hair is probably confused and a little in shock. Your curl pattern will return. Braids and twists are a good idea—just be sure to use super-moisturizing products.

This is a good product for braids and twists that is packed with moisture: Darcy's Botanicals Avocado Honey Twisting Cream.

Part of the confusion is due most likely to the dryness that a flat iron can cause. The more moisture your hair has, the better. I would also try to do a once-a-week deep conditioning for at least 30 minutes. Moisture is the key to solving your problem. If you want to flat iron again, try to use a very moisturizing product such as Blended Beauty Straight Pearl.

Here is a review of that product:

Review Post

The air force from a hair dryer can ruin clumping and curl formation. A hair diffuser can reduce the air velocity from your hair dryer, allowing you to dry your hair without disturbing your curls. Diffusers are also perfect if you are in a hurry and need to dry your hair quickly. They also are great for adding volume to your curls.

Here are 12 quick tips on how to use a hair diffuser to keep your curls looking great every day.

Diffuser

Professional Finger Diffuser

 

  • Use a diffuser that stays on your hair dryer. Many will fall off. Some hair dryers comes with a diffuser. Or, check out the selection of hair diffusers from Curlmart.com. They fit most hair dryers.

 

 

  • Have your favorite stylers in your hair. If you have time, let your hair air dry for a little while before you start to dry it with a hair dryer and the diffuser.

 

 

  • Use duckbill clips if you need to add volume at the crown of your head.

 

 

  • Set your hair dryers heat setting to medium. If you are in a hurry the hot setting will work but be careful not to over dry your hair. That will cause frizz to occur.

 

 

  • Hang your head sideways or upside down. Touch your hair gently and put curls in bowl of diffuser.

 

 

  • Move diffuser towards head to get heat up to the roots.

 

 

  • Be careful not to disrupt clumping and curl formation. This is a gentle but tricky process.

 

 

  • Keep this up. Working in sections until hair is 80-90% dry.

 

 

  • Flip head over and adjust curl alignment.

 

 

  • Use a small amount of pomade or curl cream to scrunch out the crunch.

 

 

  • Dry hair for one more minute to lock in moisture from pomade or cream.

 

 

  • Use fingers at roots to shake out hair if you want more volume.

 

 

How-to video on using a hair diffuser for curly hair



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