Articles By Diane Da Costa

Happy new year, curly beauties.

We are happy to announce that after a few changes, and some wonderful additions, the Diane Da Costa’s American Beauty Tour is launching on March 16 in Atlanta, Georgia. It’s time to come out and truly see what texture is all about. This one-of-a-kind event will feature my techniques and top stylists executing makeovers on winners to completely transform “everyday women” into textured Divas, right before your eyes.

As if that weren't enough, audience members will have the privilege of interacting with our esteemed beauty editor panelists, discovering all the beauty insider secrets needed to revamp or optimize their own look. And we have a little something for the product junkies. Everyone will receive a goody bag filled with the fiercest arsenal to totally transform your look at home, including luxury hair products, makeup, and an autographed copy of my book, "Textured Tresses".

This beauty experience is meant to enhance all women’s lives from the inside out. The American Beauty Tour has partnered with DIVABETICS to enrich the lives of women with diabetes, giving them the opportunity to participate in the tour while experiencing total inner and outer beauty transformations. In addition, I will host a Charity Benefit Silent Auction and Cocktail Party held in New York, March 10, 2008. All are welcome! Proceeds will go to the American Diabetes Association. This is one of the best beauty events of the year! For more information and details on how to purchase tickets, go to

Naturally Curly FAQ

Q: I want to grow my hair out. It's very short, and when it grows out, I want to have a textured curly look without the chemicals. What products do you suggest for beginners? My hair is very, very coarse.

Diane: The first routine to incorporate into your hair care regime is to cleanse and condition your with nourishing and hydrating product that soften your very course texture. You can grow out your short hair with twists, coils and/or extension braids until you have enough hair to style into a longer curl pattern. Use moisturizing products like, Jane Carter Nourish & Shine to add moisture and shine to your curly coif. However, if your curl pattern is very tight and you want more manageability and length as your hair grows longer, you might consider a softener that contains no-lye (sodium or calcium hydroxide), like, PhytoSpecific Beauty Relaxer, a non-chemical, non-irritating, odorless relaxing process.

Q: I have natural hair right now. My hair is very kinky, and I was wondering how can i mold it into a curly/puffy look without using chemicals. I'm going for the Kelis puffy hair look.M

Diane: The best way to achieve texture on tightly coiled hair is by setting your hair with a natural set, such as a flat-twist or two-strand twist-out. You can find more styles in my book, "Textured Tresses." After cleansing and conditioning with hydrating products like Kerastase Oleo-Curl Vita Lait, apply a setting foam, such as Jane Carter Wrap & Roll. Then twist with Nourish & Shine for more hold.

Q: I'm thinking of trying henna. My current color is growing out and I don't want to do highlights anymore. What do you think?

Diane: Pure Henna is a natural powder used to color hair and comes in a red-orange color. Other natural plant dyes are mixed with henna powder to create many different colors. Henna is considered a rinse and will wash out of the hair over a period of time when you shampoo. Henna does not lift and cannot create lighter hues on dark hair, whether black, dark brown or brown. If the hair is lighter – light brown, dark blondes etc. – then you will see lighter results. Natural pure henna does not have metals or lead, and does not “coat the hair." Natural Henna leaves the hair thick, strong and silky! Only pre-made boxes of “henna colors” have toxic metals that can damage and dry out the hair. Combining hair bleach, permanent hair color, and permanent wave solution can be a disastrous combination with compound (metallic salt) henna dyes. These can result in green or purple shades and can dry out and break the hair shaft. Therefore, it is important to only use pure natural henna with pre-existing chemical processes. You may also try semi-permanent hair colors, without ammonia or peroxide, that will create an even tone and blend the old color with your new growth.

Q: I'm concerned about the kinky/curly parts of my hair. I was combing my hair today and I noticed that some parts of my individual strands were thinner than others. It's thin enough to notice with my naked eye. I was starting to get a little freaked. But I was running late so I said a quick prayer and ran out the door. Is that normal? should I be worried? What can I do to fix that?

Diane: It's hard to say since I don't have many facts. However, I venture to say you might have dry, brittle hair from a lack of conditioning with a hydrating conditioner. Instead you might be using a protein-based conditioner that is inappropriate for curly textured hair. Also, if you have split ends, you are overdue for a trim and this may have caused your breakage from combing through your tresses with a thin- tooth comb. Textured hair should only be combed with a wide-tooth comb. Again, take the time to condition and trim your hair, and use products that moisturize the hair with nourishing and hydrating ingredients.

Q: I'm protein-sensitive so I try to stay away from them. But I think my hair needs some protein (It just feels all mushy). Any suggestions for mild protein treatments?

Diane:Actually, naturally curly hair does not require a lot of protein at all. You should be conditioning your hair with botanical and essential oils and with hydrating and nourishing conditions like PhytoSpecific Nourishing Conditioners. Protein actually repairs brittle and over-processed hair. Then you must follow up with a leave-in conditioner to soften the hair. Protein will harden soft, cottony hair, and eventually the hair shaft will begin to break.

Q: I have 4b hair and want to do a wet set. What products smooth the hair and give good results when used for setting? How long do roller set curls last on a 4b coil, and do you use rollers or flexible perm rods for denser coils? Also, can cottony hair types do wet sets or do they have to do dry sets post flat-ironing?

Diane:Type 4b curl or cottony tight coils will not retain wet sets with rollers effectively. If you want to achieve a curly look with a wet set, then you can create soft curls with small, medium or large hard rollers. depending on your length. However, you probably will have to use a flat iron to smooth the roller marks out of the curl. A better method would be to create a soft curl with the coil-out and twist-out set, or wrap flat, dry under a dryer and curl with a flat iron or curling iron. My book, "Textured Tresses," has step-by-step instructions to help you learn these sets. All sets should last about 5-10 days, unless you have contact with any water or workout activities that produce perspiration. Some letting lotions and foams that work well are Jane Carters Solution Wrap & Roll, Design Essentials Setting Foam and Mizani Styling Products.

Q: I'm transitioning, and I'm finding it hard to keep both textures happy at the moment. I understand why some of us get frustrated and do the "Big Chop" only a few months in, but I'm not ready for that yet. My new growth is really moisture thirsty, but the relaxed ends aren't. Ideally, I'd like to wash/wet my hair everyday, but when I comb my hair while it's wet, I'm getting too much breakage from the relaxed part. How can I minimize this damage? I'd like to hang onto the relaxed part until I'm ready to part with it. I can see it's thinning already. My hair is thick and coarse. I also have to use a hairdryer with a diffuser because my hair just won't air dry at all.

Diane: While you want to hold on to your relaxed hair, it is really not benefiting your style or length if it is breaking. Transitioning can be tricky! However, you should not try to wear the wash and wear look quite yet, unless you are prepared to part with the relaxed hair. Wetting the hair every day with water can dry out the hair more than anything else. Try misting the hair with a leave-in conditioner like, Jane Carter Solutions Revitalizing Leave-In Conditioner Two textures have to be treated differently at the same time. The natural texture must have conditioning treatments designed for natural hair. That means using botanical hydrating and moisturizing conditioners. Then use protein moisturizing conditioners for the relaxed hair that is breaking and shedding. This can be a quite a bit of work. You might find it much easier to finally let go. However, if you're really not ready, you should create curly sets with rods, flat-twists or two-strand twists.Then create the twist out. These styles don't require wetting the hair everyday, and last at least 7-10 days. There are also curly hair extensions that can help you transition easily as you wear a fabulous curly style and grow out your healthy hair.

The Diane Da Costa American Beauty Tour is well on its way. We are counting down the last two months until the launch date on October 6, 2007m to bring you all the latest and greatest for Curly Hair Girls! Look out for beauty and fashion trends, a fun-filled Q&A session with celebrity stylist and beauty editor panelists, a total beauty and fashion transformation for American Beauty winners, giveaways, music and so much more!

Congratulations to the American Beauty winners. I would like to thank all the contestants who entered. I wish I could give everyone a transformation. We have more in store after the tour so stay tuned for a new beautiful surprise happening in New York City in the near future. See the winners selected by here and see more winners and more information here!

Tickets are available for purchase after Aug. 15 at

Q: I wore a sew-in for a year and a half, and have been wearing wigs for the last six months. I have not had any kind of chemical in my hair for nearly two years. My hair is back to its natural, long state, and I would love to wear a naturally curly style. Please help me!! I'd love to know what I need to do to get a curly mane.

Da Costa: Congratulations! You've passed the two-year mark, which is actually the amount of time it takes for the natural curl pattern to regain its bounce and luster. Depending on the natural curl pattern -- whether it be wavy, curly, very curly, tight coils, spiral, or ringlets -- you can choose a curl booster, definer or pomade that will enhance your curl pattern. However, if you have very curly or tight coils, you might want to investigate a few natural set patterns in my book "Textured Tresses" that will allow you to retain a desired curl pattern for one to two weeks. And then if you want a permanent non-chemical relaxer product like Phyto Specific Beauty Relaxer, you will be able to soften the texture, which will release the curl pattern to allow more flexibility and manageability I will show you how to create softened curls with my Softener Technique on the Diane Da Costa Americna Beauty Tour.

Q: I have curly hair. About three weeks ago, my friend straightened it with a ceramic flat iron. (I don't' believe any products were put in my hair until after it was straight). I didn't wash it for two days. It got wet at the beach, and then I washed it when I got home. Now, one side of my head is curly (like it usually was) and the other is not (it is just a little wavy in some areas, and one section in particular is almost straight). What do you recommend I do? I want my hair back to the way it was.. I'd really appreciate some help.

Da Costa: It sounds like there was some type of natural straightening balm put in your hair. Your natural texture on one side might be a little softer or straighter than the other side by genetics. Sometimes, straightening balms can straighten the hair texture, especially if you have color on the hair. They are heat activated with a blow dryer or a flat or ceramic iron. I recommend you continue to shampoo with a cleanser or detoxifying shampoo like tea tree or peppermint. it should revert back after a few shampoos. If it does not, you might have to start all over or create natural set patterns to achieve the desired look.

Q: Before I moved to Florida, I never had a problem with my hair. People used to come up to me and say "I love your hair!" Now when we moved to Florida awhile back, all I got were insults on my hair and I noticed my hair had gotten poofier, frizzier, and dry/damaged from the hard water, and from all the products I was using. So a few months ago, I got my hair cut because of the damage. Then about a few weeks ago, I got gum stuck in my hair and now a part (in the front) only has one curl. What should I do with my hair (to tame it and to style it)?

Da Costa: The environment and water can damage the hair tremendously. It is so important to take that into consideration when treating the hair with moisturizing and deep, nourishing /penetrating conditioning treatments. A steam vapor treatment with a cocktail of moisturizing and botanical oils will help condition, moisturize and tame your frizz. .If you would like something a little more permanent, you can blow dry your hair with a botanical straightening balm, such as Phytologie Phytodefrisant. Or you might want to opt for a low-calcium mineralizing softening relaxer or Phyto Specific Beauty Relaxer, which is a non-chemical softener made from soy, eggs and mushroom crystals.

Q: I've had

  • braids -- love the look but I can't stand combing out my hair once I've taken them out
  • weaves -- same deal. Plus, sometimes the hair is itchy
  • twists/flat twists -- nice look, but how long do they last?
  • afros -- I had one in high school, but I'm not an afro gal now.
  • coils -- I have them now but I don't like them. They look kinda young/funky and sometimes I like them (for about 5 minutes) but coils aren't my style.

Da Costa: Oh my goodness! Do you really want to fight your natural curls or work with them to meet your desired needs. It seems you've run the full gamut for natural hair styles. Flat twist sets and cornrow sets are a very professional look. The key to keeping this style past five days are the holding pomade and setting foams you use prior to flat twisting. First, shampoo and condition with a nourishing treatment, then spray a detangler and light leave in like, TAI Texture Lavender Mist. You can try Jane Carter Wrap and Roll Foam. It works wonders. You must sit under a dryer until your hair is completely dry for the look to last and to eliminate frizz. Water cannot touch your hair, and you should tie your head at night with a satin bonnet or scarf in an upward tie. Also, this style must be refreshed about every four days with two stand twists without combing out the wave pattern. Please refer to "Textured Tresses" for more details.

Q: Since I don't really comb my (very short 4a) hair after using product (if I do, the curls disappear), my hair looks uncombed and seems messy. How do you keep it neat while maintaining curls? I only comb while it’s wet, preferably with conditioner in. I might pick my hair out a bit to shape it and poof it out after putting in product, but I do that very carefully. I don't work in an office where the messy look is acceptable. If I worked at the MAC counter, I could rock this style. But I can't. So how do I tidy it up?

Da Costa: The tight curl or coil is a very challenging texture. Actually, to create and keep the curly look requires a little more effort with styling. You should try the twist out or coily twist out to achieve a more semi-permanent curl pattern which last about two weeks. My book "Textured Tresses" has several step-by step instructions on how to achieve this look. You can also try a steam vapor/conditioning treatment with a shampoo and conditioning treatmen. If you would like something a little more permanent that will soften your curl pattern slightly, try the PhytoSpecific Beauty Relaxer. It's a non-chemical softener that creates manageability so the curl enhancers and cremes can actually do their job and works wonders with tight coily hair.

I will see you all on the American Beauty Tour!!

It’s a new, exciting and wonderful year, and I’m ready to bring more curly/textured news and information to your inquisitive and thirsty minds. I have many new projects coming up.

You’ve all seen that is a sponsor on my upcoming American Beauty Tour. We are coming to a city near you, so get involved and experience the transformation of a lifetime – a complete beauty and lifestyle makeover. Enter just for a chance to win on

I've also started a consultation chat room on my website. So please take advantage of that. And, finally, I will be introducing custom hair accessory pieces to accentuate and elongate your already beautiful tresses.

Q: I have curly hair. I am Afro-Puerto Rican, and when I comb my hair it deflates about five minutes later. I am wondering whether it is dry or whether I don't wash my hair enough. What do you think? How do you add volume to your hair?

Da Costa: Your hair deflates? Curly hair does not deflate naturally after shampoo and conditioning, and drying. It usually inflates and becomes frizzy. Is your hair very fine and thin? If so, you might want to use a thickening shampoo that will add volume. Look for volumizing products on in CurlMart. However, I tend to think you are either putting too much conditioner in your hair or you are not using your hands to fluff your hair out after you apply your products. Once products are applied, the purpose is to control curls and volume. Once it is semi dry or dry, you have the ability to make as much or as little volume as possible. CurlMart has many great products you can experiment with. (You can call them at 888-249-9250 for personal assistance.)

Q: When I try to coil my hair, it's always puffy at the root and then it coils fine down to the bottom. Is there any technique to help with this? I just use my fingers to coil.

Da Costa: Curly hair must be coiled with a comb right down to the base of the scalp. Otherwise, you will continue to have the same reaction as you do with the finger coil method. Pick up a copy of my book Textured Tresses, which has a chapter on the proper techniques for coiling. Also, make sure you're applying gels or molding products to hold the coils in place.

Q: The biggest problem I have with my hair is the shrinkage. I have 3b/3c type hair, and it always shrinks up. Are there tips to avoid the shrinkage issue?

Da Costa: First, I would start with a great herbal conditioning treatment. Try Tai Texture Botanical Serum. After you apply your treatment or conditioner, use a wide-tooth comb to separate and elongate the curls with the conditioner in your hair. After you rinse out the conditioner, apply a small amount of leave-in conditioner and comb it through again. Then apply your holding, styling cream or gel using a wide-tooth comb. Comb the product through section by section. Let dry and do not disturb curls until your hair is dry. This should help with the shrinkage.
However, if you would like to control your shrinkage permanently, try Phyto Specific’s non-chemical botanical Beauty Relaxer to soften and manage your curls.

Q: I really want to add some length to my transitioning hair until it grows out. A friend of mine asked if I had considered about a weave. What kind of curly weave would I get? My hair is a mix between 3c and 4a. I would also like to know if it's best to sew or glue it in?

Da Costa: To acquire any additional length, you must consider extensions or a hair accessory piece (wigs). There are many different textures for curly hair -- from afro curly to spiral curls to waves. Extensions can enhance your existing texture or give you a completely new look! Sew-on extensions are always better than glue. Human hair is healthier and looks more natural. Do you want length or a full weave? So you have to decide what look you want. It can be fun and exciting!
You can chat with me live on my Web site for a full consultation. I have a new line of hair accessories coming out in February on The model featured on’s promotion for the Diane Da Costa’s American Beauty Tour is wearing Tai Texture Hair Accessory Pieces. And you can look on for hairstyles.

Q: I did my first braid out last week and it wasn't the total disaster that I'd thought it would be. I did about twenty four braids and then used small perm rods for the still-relaxed ends, which are about three or four inches long. Then I let it dry for a couple days (my hair holds water like crazy!). What I ended up with was, well, imagine an Annie wig that's not red, with smaller curls. Yes, it was that crazy looking. Wearing it all out was not an option because it was sooooo frizzy and sooooo dry. Help! What did I do wrong? What should I do right?

< b class="pink">Da Costa: Excellent -- you’re on your way to textured styling! First, get my book Textured Tresses. There are several step-by-step chapters on styling with twist out, flat twist and braid outs. The second step is a great shampoo and conditioning treatment. You must start with that to soften and moisturize your tresses. Try Tai Texture Botanical Serum for a deep botanical moisturizing conditioning treatment under a steam machine, or use the steam bathroom technique found in Textured Tresses. Your braid out technique will always give you tight curly hair. You are using too many braids. Fewer large braids or twists will give you looser curl pattern. Only curl the very ends to hold the pattern. Curling to far up again with rods will make your hair very curly. Finally, the hair will be frizzy if you do not use a moisturizing cream or styling product before you braid or twist. And since your hair holds so much water, try twisting while it's not completely wet. A heated dryer would work well for you. You would only need to dry your hair for 30 to 45 minutes! If you are in any of the areas for my upcoming tour, please apply just for a beauty makeover.

Q: Does it matter in which order that you apply your leave-in products? For example, would you get better results by applying oil after a leave-in conditioner or before?

Da Costa: Yes, it certainly does matter. water is a natural compound that cleanses and opens the cuticle layer of the hair just a bit, leaving the hair a little dry and rough. So in order to soften it, it is a great idea to add just a dollop of leave-in conditioner to your hair shaft right before you apply curl products, moisturizing oil or shine products. The conditioner helps seal the cuticle and helps to maximize or minimize curl patterns. Botanical oils also help with moisture and shine. A great finishing botanical oil is Tai Texture Botanical Serum.

Q: Is it better to do kinky twists with synthetic or natural hair? What helps them hold together? I've heard that people use beeswax or honey to prevent them from unraveling. What do you think?

Da Costa: Extension twist can be achieved with both hair texture. I prefer and recommend natural hair. It looks natural and free and more professional. There are different afro kinky hair and afro curly hair textures that you can purchase to create the Afro twist. We never suggest using beeswax or honey to hold the hair. These products will leave a residue on your hair and attract dirt and debris from the environment, which causes buildup. Afro hair curls on its own, and most likely will stay by itself. But you can always use a gel or molding sculpturing product for better holding power. As for synthetic hair, it does not hold at the ends. Some stylist singe the ends to hold it. It doesn't look natural or professional, but it does the job.

It's such a wonderful time to be a curly girl. We are all the rage. If you've been reading the fashion magazines and visiting your beauty store, you will notice there now are hundreds of products on the market for curly girls. It's awesome! The beauty industry has finally caught up with us. Did you know that 75 percent of women have curly or wavy hair, according to some estimates? That's more than half of the population. We have truly arrived. So embrace your tresses: live and love it!

Q: I've been straightening my hair with an iron almost every day for the past few years, and I've kind of decided enough is enough. I actually really like my curls, and I get complimented on them almost every time I wear my hair curly. But I have a problem in that my curls are kind of frizzy and undefined. I've found from past experience that sprays do almost nothing for definition, and I absolutely hate the sticky, crunchy way gels make my hair feel. Are there any products that you would recommend that help define curls while keeping my hair looking and feeling like there's nothing in it at all?

Da Costa: Welcome to our curly world. First, if you have been straightening with an iron every day, you probably have some curly hair and straight hair. Ironing your hair too often may straighten some hair permanently. Sometimes, if you use a cleansing shampoo or detoxifying shampoo, you can regain those curls. But not necessarily. To hold your curls and define them, use a little leave-in conditioner. I also recommend you trying molding pomades and gels that are botanical in nature. Some to try include AG Re:coil, Aveda Be Curly, MOP Pomade Spray, Redken Ringlet 06, Jane Carter Solutions Wrap & Roll. These products are great, and do not make the hair feel hard or sticky.

Q: I wish so much that I had naturally curly hair (I am a black women). I've had everything from straight styles to braids. Right now, I have an in-between nothing 'do of some kind. My hair was short, and I put in some curls and waves with a kit. It was good for me for a while because my hair curled the way I wanted it to, and it was easy to manage. Now that it has grow out more, I can't seem to get it to curl nicely like it did before. Do you have any suggestions about how I can get the curly natural look I love?

Da Costa: By applying the perm product yourself, you probably over-processed your hair. Because of that, you probably have permanently straightened some of your hair. I would recommend you see a stylist to correct this situation or you'll have to start from scratch. In the meantime, you can wear beautiful curly weaves and hair accessories to attain the look you want while you hair grows back healthy and strong.

Q: I am a curly-haired woman who has only recently embraced her curly hair. I have very tight curls that I think would be best described as a 3C (sort-of Shirley Temple-like, but a bit tighter). I've been blow-drying my hair straight since I was 15, and I am now 25. I do love my hair (finally!), but must admit that it’s hard to work with. Part of me just feels prettier and more like “me” when my hair is straight. When I say straight, I don't actually mean straight. I like it with a lot of volume and with big curls, which happens naturally when I blow-dry it. My question for you is whether there are any products out there that I can use to loosen up my curl a bit?

Da Costa: There are a couple of great products by Phyto, including Phyto Defrissant -- a great botanical-based ingredient that will help to loosen your curl if you use a blow-dryer and apply heat. PhtyoSpecific makes a great relaxer -- a wonderful non-chemical product made from soy and eggs. It can soften, texturize and straighten the hair, leaving it smooth, manageable and voluminous. It's absolutely beautiful, and I use it on all my clients with superb results. Please have a professional apply it for the best results.

Q:: I’m 15, and I have extremely curly and somewhat coarse hair. I have been relaxing my hair for almost two years, and it’s helped somewhat with the chaos of my curls and frizz. But I’m a swimmer, and I swim everyday. So on top of straightening and swimming, my hair is a dry mess. I've tried waiting longer between relaxing it. But the longer I wait, the frizzier and more uncontrollable it gets. I know it's bad for my hair. But I like to have the versatility. Also, I would feel better about my hair if it was longer so it weighed down my curls. But it's impossible to grow it because my dry ends need to be cut off every couple of months. Do you have any suggestions about what I should do for styling or for growing it long? I want to proudly wear my curls in more then just a ponytail!

Da Costa: Are your relaxing or texturizing your hair? This will make a difference in how you achieve your curl pattern. Try softening or texturizing your hair to achieve a softer curl pattern -- not straightening it. And conditioning your hair is the best remedy to improve its condition. Because you are in chlorine all the time, this damages your hair by drying it out. Giving yourself a deep conditioning treatment once a week, and a botanical oil treatment under a steamer ,will really help dramatically. Try TAI Botanical Treatment, either under a steamer or with a hot towel around the head, for 15-20 minutes. And before you go in any water, apply a leave-in conditioner to protect your tresses. Rinse out the chlorine after every swimming session. You don't have to shampoo every time, but you should rinse it. And if you decide to have your hair softened or texturized, it will be easy to have wash-and-go hair. Your hair obviously does grow, but you keep cutting it because it is dry and brittle. Conditioners -- leave-in, deep penetrating and hot oil treatments -- are your best friend. Read "Textured Tresses" to catch up on all the latest styles, and read the "Chemically Speaking" chapter on softeners, texturizers and relaxers to educate yourself about the differences should you choose to take that route.

Q:: . I would like to know the best way to trim 4a/b hair. Wet/dry/natural/straight? How often do you recommend a trim?

Da Costa: Tight, curly hair should always be cut dry. Blow dry the hair out with a wide-tooth comb -- not completely straight -- and leave a little elasticity. You should trim the hair about every two months. If you want to maintain a short cut, it should be cut every three weeks.

Q: What is the best way to elongate curls to form spirals? I am about to get the big chop. I have 4a hair, and between four and five inches of new growth. Also, I'm pretty lazy about long routines and prefer to wash and wear. Any suggestions?

Da Costa: With tight, coily hair, you probably will have to have to start some sort of routine to achieve this curl pattern. With four to five inches, you have more than enough natural hair to create a spiral curl with rods or Nubian knot sets. If you don't have time for that, you might consider a softener that will release the curl pattern and elongate the curl. Be sure to have this done by a professional to make sure your hair is not over-processed and to achieve the desired curl pattern.

Q: What is the best way to work with multiple textures of hair on one head -- from curly to kinky -- without working against either type?

Da Costa: Your first step is to receive a moisturizing conditioning treatment that will soften the tight curls and define the curly tresses. The next step is to get a great cut that will define all your curls and will give you a consistent shape with which to work. In terms of styles, any natural set will enhance the curls. Pick up "Textured Tresses" to get tips on natural styles such as twist-outs, coily twists, flat-twist sets, etc. And try TAI Texture Botanical Treatment for a herbal steam conditioning treatment. For styling, try products by Jane Carter Solution, such as Nourish & Shine. You also can choose to soften the hair for a permanently looser curl pattern. But one has to be very careful when rearranging different curl patterns on one head of hair. Please consult a stylist who specializes in texturizing and softening.

It’s finally spring, and it’s time to let your curls down. Let them flow freely and bounce, bounce, bounce. As we enter into the spring and summer months and receive fresh new makeovers, moisturize your thirsty tresses with a Tai Botanical Treatment -- a steam vapor dryer treatment and refresh daily with Tai Texture LavenderMist (now available in CurlMart) to revive and refresh hair and skin.

Q: I have two questions. I have a relaxer, but after washing my hair it becomes wavy/kinky curly. Is there anything that I can use in my hair to help retain and increase the curl and keep it moisturized? And, my 6-month-old son has thick, gorgeous, curly (almost corkscrew curly) hair. I am looking for something that will help me comb, moisturize and keep the curl. He has a patch that, for some reason, gets drier than the rest of his hair. As he is so young, I am unsure of what to use that contains fewer chemicals, is more natural and is safe for his young age. Any help or advice will be greatly appreciated!

Diane: Anytime you can still maintain a deep wave pattern when wet, it is considered a texturizer -- a technique, which softens and elongates the natural wave for more manageability. This is a very good thing, because you are able to wear your hair curly or blow dry and flat-iron it to wear it straight. First, always use a spray or liquid leave-in conditioner to moisten the hair. Then you can use any curl booster product on the market for curl enhancing or control. Try Aveda Be Curly, MOP Pomade Mist, Cutler Curling Cream or Jessicurl Confident Coils. To keep your hair curly and moist throughout the day, try my Tai-Texture Lavender Mist. Just mist throughout the day to defrizz tresses. And for your gorgeous son, try a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner (call CurlMart for help selecting one specifically for your son: 888-249-9250). Then detangle with a wide-tooth comb. This is very important, and will start the softening process. Afterward, follow up with a spray leave-in conditioner and top it off with a botanical oil to lubricate and moisturize. No chemicals required!

Q: I am a new mom and my 8-month-old has a head full of thick, curly hair. She is not bi-racial, but African American. Her hair is constantly tangled and dry. I don't know how to style her hair. I wash her hair once a week just so it can be manageable for me to comb through and put ponytails in. But the ponytails do not last long due to frizzing, and some of the ponytail holders slip off her soft hair. When I braid her hair, the braids stick out in numerous directions. What is the best way for me to care for her hair? What products, combs, brushes, detanglers, conditioners (wash out or leave-in), hair accessories, hair styles, etc.? Should I wait until she is older before I use certain products on her hair? I have searched the web endlessly for help with my daughter's hair. I hope you have a solution for me.

Diane: Your daughter's hair sounds like what many African Americans dream of – soft, curly hair. When she grows up, she will be able to wear it free and flowing without any chemicals. For now, it’s a matter of products, tools and techniques. If the hair is soft, but dry and tangled, the best solution is to find products that are botanical in nature, and that are specifically formulated to moisten and detangle curly hair. There are a wide range of products available for children. Please have a look in CurlMart to see some of the available products (or call 888-249-9250 for guidance). Try a brush that is made from soft boar bristles, and detangle with a wide-tooth comb first on damp or wet hair. This method will apply less pressure on the scalp. Also, you can appreciate her curly hair and let it stay loose with control by using a leave-in conditioner first. Then apply a light, natural gel made from aloe vera. I think my book "Textured Tresses" will help you understand your daughter’s hair as well as provide tips on maintenance and hair care for her texture now and as she gets older. The two-strand twist – large or small – will work well for weekly styles, and is very manageable. Good luck!

Q: I went to a salon to get a trim and they combed my two-textured hair with a rat-tail comb. She did it in small rows before she trimmed it, but I hardly ever use my rat-tail comb. I was thinking she may have pulled some of my hair out. I'm scared to death to see what my hair will look like when I take down my cornrows. What do you think of rat-tail combs? If you use them, what do you use them for?

Diane: I never recommend using a fine rat-tail comb on curly hair. These combs are usually used for very fine hair, and for styling and teasing hair. Always use a wide-toothed comb on curly or coily hair. These combs detangle, and can be used for parting and separating. You probably have lost a few strands, however I wouldn’t be too concerned unless you felt extreme pulling and pain during the process. If she cut your hair while it was in the braids, you definitely will have an uneven shape. You might want to get a full shape with your hair blown out for even tresses.

Q:: Right now I am using Smooth 'n Shine strong hold curling mousse because I want my natural curls. But I find that after I apply it to my hair when it's wet and I let it air dry, it becomes more frizzy than curly after a couple of hours. I was wondering if there's something else I should be doing so that my hair can stay curly without becoming frizzy and poufy. Please help! I want my hair to be able to look nice without blowdrying it.

Diane: If you are experience a lot of frizz, this product might contain alcohol. There are many mousses, curl boosters and curl rejuvenators on the market, but remember to avoid products with alcohol. Try The Jane Carter Solution Condition & Sculpt, Foam Set & Wrap or Vavoom Mouse or Redkin’s Curl products. Tai Texture will launch curl crèmes and gels in September 2006.

Q: I will remove my cornrows this week to be redone this Friday. I had this set of cornrows approximately 2 1/2 weeks. There is buildup. I would like to do a pre-poo/deep conditioning treatment overnight that I read about on (w/conditioner, oils, honey, etc.) But, since I have buildup, will the pre-poo treatment be effective? Should I shampoo or at least lightly mist the hair and then apply the pre-poo? Should I do a clarifying treatment such as an apple cider vinegar rinse?

Diane: Please don’t mix different methods. All routines aren't always effective. First, if you have build up, it is very important to cleanse the scalp thoroughly. You might be able to rinse or cleanse once before your treatment. However, if you have heavy build up, always cleanse with a detoxifying or clarifying shampoo like Paul Mitchell Tea Tree shampoo, and follow with a moisturizing shampoo to soften the hair. Afterward, do a deep conditioning treatment, or the pre-poo deep conditioner, etc.If you don’t have build up – try a detoxifying oil, like Tai Texture Botanical Treatment, as a natural cleanser for the scalp. Apply to the scalp, massage the scalp, then rinse thoroughly. Follow with your pre-poo deep conditioner or any deep conditioning treatment. Botanical oils naturally remove all toxins and allow the natural sebum to flow freely. You must always cleanse the scalp before deep conditioning if there is build-up or if you have waited over a week and a half weeks to cleanse. Never clarify with apple cider. If your hair is curly or coily, you will dry out your natural sebum and the hair will become brittle. During the braiding process, it is very imperative to condition the hair while in braids or cornrows with deep conditioners before and after as well as to use liquid leave-in products and botanical moisturizers during the resting period that braids provide.

Q:: My hair is long enough and I'd really like to wear it down. But my new growth is killing me. My hair grew a few inches since my last relaxer, and the new curls are tighter than the relaxed, so this looks really dorky when I wear my hair open. I can't leave the house without at least a hair circlet or I'd have to do a straw set, which takes hours. And braiding looks dorky too because I don't have much hair.

Diane: Please pick up my book "Textured Tresses," which will assist you in styling your hair as you grow out your relaxer. There is a very easy set called the Flat Twist set, which will allow you to wear your hair loose between shampoos. Also, while you grow out your relaxer, use the following technique to straighten the new growth: Dry hair under a dryer to release moisture, lightly blow-dry it, and then straighten with a ceramic iron. That way. you are able to keep the straight look while you grow out your relaxer.

Q: My goal is to have flowing dry, curly locks like Holly Robinson-Peete's hair -- not drippy or wet or slimy or gummy. I was told that a Wave Nouveau would work well rolled with spiral rods and using a mousse to keep the curls shiny, dry and flowing.

Diane: There are several ways to achieve this look. The Wave Nouveau is one of the older methods. Depending on the texture of your hair -- and whether or not you have a relaxer -- will determine if you can receive a Wave Nouveau. You might consider a texturizer or several natural sets, suggested in "Textured Tresses." Try some products like Tai Texture LavenderMist and Botanical treatment for leave-in conditioning, and oil treatments to achieve softer, more manageable hair.

Once again I have this special time to speak to the Curly/Textured Girls of the world through this fabulous venue. As the holiday season approaches, I would like to take this time to reflect on what a very tumultuous year this has been. But also, I would like to give thanks for all the wonderful blessings that have been bestowed upon us all. Let’s give thanks to ladies of, who are growing stronger than ever and are able to deliver curly information to a global medium. And I am especially thankful that in January I will be launching the long-awaited collection of my styling products -- TAI TEXTURE HAIR CARE, January 2006 -- which was first featured on as a limited edition. In honor of the luanch, we are giving away some of our uniquely designed Textured Inspired T-shirts right here on Blessings & Happy New Year!

Q: I would like to know if you have any theories on why single-strand knots form at the end of your hair, and what ways those can be avoided!

Diane: Two common reasons why knots form at the end of the hair are a.) The ends are very dry and porous and b.) they are split ends, or both. Depending on the texture or curl pattern, coily hair will form knots faster than any other curl because the hair naturally curls together. Hence, if the hair is dry and split, it forms a knot. You can avoid knots by using a moisturizing conditioner after cleansing and by shaping or trimming the hair at least every two months. Also, one should apply pomade or gloss on the ends of the hair daily or as needed to provide moisture. I’ve created a complete line of styling products especially formulated for curly and textured hair that will be available in CurlMart in January 2006. Tai Texture WhipCrème is a moisturizing pomade and sealing heat protector that you can apply daily. Great for moisturizing the scalp and hair. WhipCrème contains shea butter, essential oils and sesame oil.

Q:: My name is Candace and I am a biracial woman (dad: black, mom: white). I have gone natural (no chemical relaxers, no heat, and cut off relaxed ends) 13 months ago and my hair seems completely foreign to me. I've looked up pictures of mixed people online and my hair doesn't look like those pictures at all. My hair definitely grows in curly but the curls are very small (smaller diameter than a pencil but bigger than a coffee stirrer) and very shiny. It looks like my hair is locked but it isn't. I was wondering if this is natural for biracial people, and if there is any chance that my hair's texture will loosen as it gets longer because the shrinkage is unbearable. Also I have a lot of straight hair that actually grows in with my curls (It looks exactly like my mother's hair only it's growing out of my scalp) and seems to strangle and tangle the curls. I use a lot of conditioner and make sure my hair is always moisturized but the straight hair won't curl. It makes my curls look frizzy sometimes. Is this normal? Thank you for your time.

Diane: After reading your question, I must say, your hair is probably very beautiful and you’re just not accustomed to dealing with it now that it is in its natural texture. It is not uncommon for biracial individuals to have more than one texture on their head. From what you are saying, you have two distinct curl patterns – from both your father and mother. Most times, multi-ethnic individuals will have a blend of textures and their hair will be a combination curl pattern, which results in wavy or loose or very curly hair. However, sometimes you will have multiple textures on one head. Now, your goal is to work with what you have! The good news is that you have shiny hair, so it is not lacking in moisture or oils. However, it will be very important to keep your hair conditioned with a moisturizing cleanser and conditioner as it grows out. There are various styles you can try to control to elongate the curl pattern, like two-strand twists, coils and flat-twists, which are all demonstrated in my book, Textured Tresses. Also, purify your scalp and hair with a spa treatment for the scalp. Once a month, massage Tai Texture Botanical Treatment into the scalp and create an at-home steam conditioning treatment with the bathroom steam technique mentioned in the book. Simply, cleanse and condition your hair, rinse, comb through with a wide tooth comb, then massage Botanical Treatment into the scalp. Fill your bathroom with steam from the shower for 3-5 minutes and sit with the Botanical Treatment in your hair for another 15 to 20 minutes. The results will be soft, shiny and manageable tresses. Also, try Tai Texture StyleShine Gel for styling and setting wavy, curly and all textured sets. As your hair grows out and if you would like the curls looser, you can consider a botanical softener by PhtyoSpecific’s: The Relaxer or botanical temporary straightening balms that are applied before blow drying.

Q: I hope that you are doing well. My problem is that no matter what kind of products I use on my natural hair it just comes out looking puffy and dry. Can you recommend good hair products from shampoo to styling aids? I have a semi-natural curl pattern.

Diane: Hello, Semi –Natural. I think you might have your curl patterns confused. If your hair is semi-natural, it should be either wavy or loose curls. However, your texture might be coarse and thick if your hair is puffy and dry. Or semi-natural could mean you have a softener or texturizer in your hair, which then indicates that it was under texturized leaving the hair puffy and dry. In any case, your cleansers and conditioners should always be moisturizing -- never protein-based or exact products made specifically for relaxed hair unless the hair is texturized. Also, try to use products that are made from plant and flower essences or botanicals. Pantene Relaxed and Natural has a great line of products with botanical ingredients that will assist you in your search for shampoos, conditioners and moisturizing products. My styling products -- Tai Texture Lavender Mist, Texture Botanical Treatment, WhipCrème and Texture StyleShine Gel -- are great products to begin your regime for controlling puffy and dry hair. Use the Botanical Treatment to condition the hair once a month or as a daily moisturizer. Try the StyleShine Gel to control frizz and puffiness. Texture Lavender Mist will moisturize, conditioner and detangle and will keep your hair vaporized throughout the day with a just a squeeze of the mist pump on loose or curly hair. Have fun experimenting with the products that works best for you.

Q: My 6-year-old daughter has curly, dry, thick hair that shrinks to the back of her neck when loose, and hangs down to her mid-back when it’s in braids. Whenever I use products on her hair, it just sucks it up. Then it’s back to the dry look again. I’d like to put it in twists, but need to know what types of products will keep it moisturized and will prevent it from looking so frizzy. I’ve been using oils. I want to go a little more natural. What would you recommend?

Diane: Your daughter’s hair is very thirsty, it wants a lot of moisture and is very porous. That is why it soaks up all the products. First thing, you have to have your daughter’s hair professionally conditioned to begin the process. I recommend she receive a Cream Bath conditioning treatment, which is a combination of a moisturizing conditioner and botanical oils -- and then placed under a steam vapor dryer. This process will help the conditioners penetrate into the hair shaft as well as apply water vapor moisture into the hair cuticle. Botanical and essential oils are the best (they are natural). After you have completed that process, read my book, Textured Tresses, for at-home conditioning treatments. Tai Texture Hair Care -- my collection of styling products -- will be available on's CurlMart in January 2006. I suggest you use the entire line on your daughter’s hair -- from Texture Lavender Mist for daily light misting and conditioning to Botanical Treatment for hot oil treatments to the WhipCrème for moisturizing the scalp and hair and finally StyleShine Gel for Two-Strand Twist. Cleanse and conditioner with moisturizing products.

Q: What's the best way to cut highly textured hair? Wet, dry, natural, straight? How often do you recommend a trim?

Diane Highly textured hair means that there are very tight curls and the hair is very dense. For this reason, the best way to cut or shape textured hair is by blowing the hair out first with a wide tooth comb to loosen the curl pattern slightly, leaving enough room to see the elasticity. Cutting highly textured hair dry will give the best result. However, when having the hair shaped, the stylist will allow for the curl pattern to bounce back into the curl formation, allowing for the length and amount taken off. I recommend a shaping or trim for healthy ends at least every 6 to 8 months depending on the texture and style cut.

Q: What are some techniques for getting chunkier curls?

Diane: There are several techniques that one can use to achieve chunkier curls. My understanding here is that chunkier means thicker or spirally. Apply Texture LavenderMist and StyleShine Gel after cleansing and conditioning. A) Set the hair on long sponge rods to achieve chunky curls -- they are available in several widths for your choice of dimension. B) The Nubian Knot set, featured in Textured Tresses will also give you a similar look.

What is Texture? You might ask yourself this question from time to time. It can be confusing for some -- Natural? Texture? Curls etc.? Any one who has a curl pattern has texture. You are a Textured Girl if your hair is slightly wavy, curly, or very tightly coiled -– “You” have texture. You may even have a chemical process, relaxer or softener in your hair, but wear your hair with waves or curls. “You” too have texture –- a softer, sleeker texture, nevertheless –- it’s texture. This all brings me to a question I was asked very recently. “Diane, do you think there is a huge market for children’s salons for ages 2 – 12 years old?' The answer is -- most definitely! There is a great demand, and slowly children’s’ salons are popping up all over major cities. This ever-growing trend is catching on very fast. All children start out with natural hair. The texture may differ throughout their formative years. Then as they grow older, they learn how to manipulate their natural hair texture with chemicals and products to achieve a straighter, smoother look. This is all learned from their parents, I might add. What is my point? It is that children can learn all about their natural texture at a very young age. Parent and child alike can learn to love and appreciate textured hair when they start going to an educated stylist. And furthermore, they can learn that they have options early on, so as not to damage and destroy their natural texture. This is why there is a big demand for children’s salons -- a void that has not been addressed. Children’s hair products are constantly developed and marketed to parents in their 30s and 40s to meet the ever growing and overflowing market. And yes, we are busy looking for the next best things to care for our children’s hair. When more options are offered in terms of children’s hair care, a larger audience will participate. In my experience, parents are thirsty and ready for the next level. Transitioning from relaxer back to natural would not be a challenge if one knew early how to care for and style textured hair Texturizing and softening the hair for manageability would be a choice, rather than turning to harsh chemicals to achieve a straight look. There would be an understanding that cutting the hair for style (taking off length), especially with natural/textured hair, is very different than shaping. Parents and children alike would appreciate the education and have a better understanding if they had a salon to go to learn the intricacies of their child’s hair. Reading all about this subject in a magazine is very helpful but there’s nothing like hands-on advice from a professional. A little education goes a long way. We have to start from the beginning. Even stylists can learn a new thing or two about textured hair by keeping an open mind.

Q: I'm a biracial (black/white) teen, and I cannot seem to find the right way to control my hair. I've had about four salon relaxers in my life, and about 7 at-home relaxers . The problem I'm having is that my hair is straight on the top layers, but kinky-curly at the roots. The rest of my hair is either corkscrew curls or loose waves. My hair is also very thick; color treated and reaches my bra strap. But even the length doesn't weight it down. Right now I use Crème of Nature Conditioning Shampoo and Citre shine leave-in conditioner. I do use a small amount of Blue Magic grease that does nothing to smooth the frizz or moisturize my dry ends. I used to use gel on my hair every day, but can no longer find one that smoothes my hair. I hate using too many products on my hair, but it seems I have to mix a million products together just to go to school in the morning. I can only comb or style my hair when it's wet. But I've been told brushing your hair while wet is bad. The only thing I can do with my hair at this point is wear it in a bun or ponytail. I do love my curls, but I want to know how I can form them to be nice and soft, smooth and shiny. And when I wear my hair slicked back, I would like it to smooth down without a big ring of curly frizz around my hairline.

Diane: Believe it or not, you have a head full of beautiful curls that most women would die for. It might be just a little too unmanageable for you right now, but all you need are some tricks of the trade. First, you should stay away from shampoos with wax that coat the hair. Also, no more grease to smooth it down. What you want to do is start out with a very moisturizing cleanser once a week and deep condition your hair with a penetrating conditioner for dry, brittle hair. Make sure you comb the conditioner through with a wide-tooth comb to detangle and penetrate evenly. Make sure you receive a shape that will take some of the weight out of your hair and keep the ends clipped. For daily maintenance, simply wet the hair or spray with a mist, like TAI Texture Lavender Mist –- a botanical conditioning detangler and refresher. Then apply a leave- in conditioner that will form and hold each individual curl. The most important step is to find a product such as a molding pomade or gel that will work for your hair texture. Again, there are several companies that make these pomades and gels -– Tai Texture TwistCreme, Miss Jessie’s Curly Pudding, Aveda Control Paste, John Frieda Crème Paste, etc. But please stay away from any products that contain mineral oil, petroleum or lanolin. Apply the product in sections of individual curls, section by section, twirling the hair around your fingers. Let your hair dry with a diffuser or with a dryer for best results. Do not touch the hair until it is completely dry. And brushing the hair will disturb the perfectly placed curls. However, when you wash your hair, you can brush it while it is wet with a wide paddle brush. This will help to circulate the blood flow that feeds your hair, promote growth and massage the scalp. Your curls will last you for days. To freshen up, just mist your hair and reapply your gel or pomade. When your products begin to build up, just rinse the products out completely and start the process over again. For other long-lasting styles, try creating large two strand twist by applying gel or pomade and sectioning the hair into 2” sections, then twist. After the hair dries completely, separate the twist and finger comb the twist for more fullness. Always let your hands act as your comb- they work wonders.

Q: I am African American with a very short half-inch barber cut. I have been using a texturizer to loosen the curl. What procedure do you suggest on a daily basis as a wet-and-go style? Is it better to apply with sopping wet hair; do I massage or do I comb through to get that curly piecey look? Any help you could give will be greatly appreciated.

Diane: To get the best results from a texturizer, you should apply your products on wet hair. It doesn’t have to be sopping wet, if the hair is short. However, you should always leave a little leave-in conditioner in the hair to protect the it and to define the curl pattern. Then apply a gel or pomade to hold the curl or try a foaming mousse. Always use your hands or fingers if you would like to achieve a piecey look. Combing the hair will distribute the hair evenly and give you a smoother look.

Q: I'd like to know what products you use on your famous clients' hair (Lauryn Hill, Lenny Kravitz, and Blair Underwood) and what hairstyles are easy to do for people who are hairstyle-challenged? I'd also like to know what things you do to achieve healthy hair?

Diane: I’ve used several products on my celebrity clients. They are always made from botanical ingredients, plant and flower essences. You can try Tai Texture Hair Care, Aveda, Kheil's, Carol's Daughter and PhytoSpecific. It’s hard to answer your questions regarding style without knowing more about your hair texture and length. So I suggest you pick up my book, 'Textured Tresses,' which provides step-by-step details on styles for you to try at home or to take to your stylist to try. Start with a recommended cleanser and conditioner for your hair texture, keep your hair shaped and the ends clipped, and moisturize your hair with a light pomade or gloss/serum as needed. Also, protect the hair at night by sleeping on a satin or silk pillowcase or with a bonnet or scarf. Cotton can rub against your hair fiber and break the hair.

Q: I was wondering how you would recommend doing an at-home steam treatment such as the kind you recommend in your book?

Diane: It’s very simple. First shampoo and condition the hair with the appropriate type of products for your hair texture. Comb through the conditioner with a wide-toothed comb. Run the shower for about 10 to 15 minutes with warm to hot water and fill the bathroom with steam. Then sit in the bathroom for about 15 minutes with your hair loose (no towel or plastic caps are required.) Voila! The at-home steam conditioning treatment.

Q: I'd love to know what (product) ingredients you feel women with natural hair should avoid?

Diane: Women with natural hair should definitely try to stay away from Balsam shampoos and conditions. These products tend to expand the hair shaft. Natural hair tends to need more moisture and products that will smooth the hair shaft and leave it shiny. Other major ingredients to stay away from are beeswax, mineral oil, petroleum and lanolin. They tend to weigh the hair down and collect debris from the environment.

Q: What is the best way to transition without doing the Big Chop? How do you keep your hair healthy and what are some good styling ideas for blending textures, etc. Also, do you have any tips on dealing with multiple textures of hair -- i.e. coarse and fine, corkscrews, accordion waves and ringlets on the same head?

Diane: There are several ways to transition without cutting off your hair. You can braid the hair in individual braids until you feel comfortable with the length to take it off. Another cute style is to twist or flat twist the hair and the let it out for a twist out look. Multiple textures are inevitable for women of color with textured hair, especially multicultural women. Again, twisting and plaits are great ways to control your curl pattern with consistency, Just apply product on wet hair, twist, braid or cornrow, let dry and loosen. Always finger comb. If you would like to wear your hair with the wet/loose look, you’ll probably have to use different strength gels or molding products or strong-holding mousse in different areas of the head where the curls are different. This will ensure longer-lasting curls. Always apply section by section and wrap the hair around your fingers to create defined curls, and then dry. If you run out of the house with wet hair, you’ll get some curls without frizz. However your best results will come with a little drying.

Q: What are the latest trends in styling, accessories and cuts for natural hair? The pony puff and the wide scarf headband can get old.

Diane: Why not go to the next level, with Mohawk puffs -- several puffs down the middle of the head. Or perhaps you might try three angle puffs on either side of the head. You can also cornrow the hair on either side and wear your hair in a twist out on the top, falling in a bob. There are so many alternatives. It just depends on the length of the hair and if you want to use natural extensions.

As I begin my first column for, I am proud to share my knowledge and expertise with all the curly girls and boys of the world. Have you looked at the award shows, magazine covers and runways of New York, Milan and Paris lately? Tell me what you see? Textured hair - wavy, curly and coily hair -- is in style big! Now that Hollywood and the fashion and beauty industries have finally caught on to our curly beauty, we are not about to go back into the box. Curly girls are here to stay! I wrote 'Textured Tresses: The Ultimate Guide to Maintaining the Styling Natural Hair' in 2004 to guide women with wavy, curly and coily hair and help them achieve the maximum flexibility to maintain and style textured hair. Thanks to, you're now all able to reach me through this column. I have worked with chemically processed and all types of textured hair for over 18 years. In my journey, I've found that textured hair is the universal word for all curl patterns. Textured hair is naturally straight-wavy hair, wavy, curly, very curly and tightly coiled hair. once you accept what you have and stop fighting your hair, you'll be able to achieve all possibilities. This includes styling curls, locs, braids, twists and texturized hair with the right products, tools and techniques. Let's remember to nurture ourselves, mentally physically and spiritually so that textured hair is always beautiful hair!

Q: Are petroleum products 'bad' for highly textured hair?

Diane: Petroleum products are so-called 'bad' for any hair whether highly textured or otherwise. Products that contain petroleum, mineral oil and lanolin may cause the hair to weigh down excessively as well as attracting unnecessary dirt and debris from the environment.

Q: With the recent availability of 'natural' soaps such as African black soap, shikaikai powder, alma, aritha (soapnut), shikakai and need -- are they good for naturally kinky hair or are they too drying?

Diane: African soap, soapnut, shikakai and need are great products that have claimed to relieve scalp irritation and have anti-bacterial properties. These soaps are generally used for the face and body to soften rough skin, for oily skin, dry skin and for acne, blemishes and other skin problems. While these soaps may be great for scalp disorders and very oily hair, they can be very drying for very curly and tightly coiled hair (kinky). If you would like to take advantage of the soaps to relieve any scalp irritation, one should use a second deep moisturizing clenaser as your second shampoo followed by a deep penetration conditioning.

Q: What is the best way to use butters and natural oils? Should it be used only on the scalp? On the ends? A combination?

Diane: Natural butters and oils are great for hair treatments and pomades. However, butters and oils can be too heavy to apply straight to the hair shaft. Butters, like shea, when combined with other natural light oils work wonders as daily pomades; as wrapping pomades and when used to hold and mold your natural curls daily. Especially great for repairing and preventing split ends. You can try my new product TAI - Texture Whip Creme sold right here on CurlMart.

Q: For those of us with multi-textured and multi-curled hair, what is the best method for cutting and shaping the hair? (Side note: From my personal experience, blowing hair out into a semi-straightened form and cutting it does not properly compensate for the inevitable uneven shrinkage that comes with multi-textured hair.

Diane: As explained in Chapter 6 of 'Textured Tresses,' multi-textured curly hair and wavy hair should be cut on the spring-back method. This is where the hair is cut wet -- held in the hand straight down and then slightly released to accommodate for the curl pattern. Then the hair is cut in between the S-shape patter, where each S-Curl begins and ends. Some textured curly hair should be slightly blown out -- cut dried and then reshaped with the hair damp or slightly wet to accommodate for curl formation. Another great technique is the slicing, slithering, chopping method that cuts right into the curl pattern, reducing volume without cutting the length. I personally use all these techniques on my clients, depending on their texture.

Q: Can you address the phenomenon known as 'scab' hair? How exactly does the relaxer impact hair that has not grown in yet?

Diane: Apparently 'scab' hair is the terminology that the lay girls have given to leftover relaxed hair that has not completely been cut off when growing out one's natural hair. Frankly, I wish people wouldn't use the word when they can easily cut off all the relaxer or simply use natural sets and products to create beautiful styles while going through the process. Most often, the remaining relaxer acts as a curly buffer, which visually makes the hair look texturized with the proper products. (The word scab in the medical world is a term for dried skin that forms over a wound to protect the skin while the healing process takes place.) Why not take this healing time to appreciate the growing-out process and use natural sets described in Chapter 8 of 'Textured Tresses'? The demarcation line where the relaxed hair and natural hair meet can be affected while natural hair is growing in. Depending on one's curl pattern, there may be a considerable amount of breakage. That's why using deep penetration and moisturizing conditioners are very crucial during this period. There are a few options. You usually have about five to eight months before you'll have to cut hair completely off or if the hair is wavy and curly, you can slowly cut the relaxer out.

Q: Many black women grow up believing that oil is the answer to moisturizing our hair. But since I've been natural, I find that natural oils can be a friend or foe, depending on the type. Why do some women have horrible luck with oils, while others have no problem at all?

Diane: Essential and botanical oils are great for the hair. However, they should be very light oils like lavender, rosemary, jojoba and carrot oil. These oils are conditioning and light enough for everyday use. Heavier oils should only be used for herbal deep treatments and not every day use. Some companies combine heavy and lighter oils to give the maximum benefit of a natural oil pomade that works great for coarse, dry hair and as a pomade for twisting and grooming.

Q: I am trying to grow out my natural hair after years of relaxers. I have been relaxer free for about a year now, and my hair is 'nappy.' Are there any products out there that will make it a little easier to manage and perhaps define the curls I have? While it is growing -- my hair grows slow and dries out very easily -- are there also any good moisturizers that might weigh it down a bit so that it's not constantly sticking out in all directions? Thank you!

Diane: It sounds like you have very curly or tightly coiled hair. I would definitely recommend that you start by shampooing and conditioning with a highly rich conditioning sshampoo an conditioner that you can read about in Chapter 3 of 'Textured Tresses.' TAI - Texture Whip Creme, my newest stylng product, is wonderful for moisturizing your natural coily hair daily or as needed. You can also look into having your hair softened or texturized by your stylist with a low-sodium relaxer like Design Essentials Losodium relaxer to loosen the curl pattern and make it a little more manageable. However, if you're looking for a product that can temporarily loosen your curl, you can try a conditioner like Graham Webb's Synchronicity or The Relaxer by Phyto.

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