Articles By Libbi B.

curly hair

Do you tame your tresses or let them run wild?

Define: "Clear, precise, unmistakable."

I am not one of those curlies who ever, ever wanted to tame my curls. Growing up poor, gawky, wearing hand-me-downs dresses accessorized by my brother's knee socks, you'd think I'd have had a complex about everything. On top of that, I lost teeth on a regular basis and got teased relentlessly about my name because of a popular brand of vegetables at that time: Libbi. Because I had five older brothers and sisters, almost all of whom have straight hair, I was the last in line for everything. No time for cute girly hairstyles in our house! But I had my curly hair, and I knew, inherently, that it made me different. Different than my classmates, and different even than my siblings.

The Curly '80s

I used to have much curlier hair than I have now. Coming of age in the '80s, big hair was, well, big. In fact, the bigger the better. Even the hair bands of the day couldn't compete with my curls and look—not without a lot of hair product and guyliner. For me, the wilder my curls were, the better. Sure, I used the cheapest products on the market. And then immediately upon washing my hair, I took the blow dryer to it to get even bigger hair!

If Curls Could Talk

In the 1970s, the afro, or "natural" as it was also called, was more than a hairstyle. It was a bona fide political statement. Wearing an afro allowed people to voice their cultural (and even historical) identity through their individual hairstyle.

Yet the trend for so many years of late has been to straighten, smooth, define and yes—tame—one's beautiful, natural curls, kinks and coils.

Let me be clear: I do not have the hair struggles that someone with much curlier hair has. I did not grow up with someone pressuring me to wear my hair a certain way in order to be "pretty." I was left to my own devices when it came to my curls, and we didn't have fashion magazines, so I never paid much attention to advertisements that told me what I should look like. That's not to say those pressures weren't prevalent for many people and very real. I'm just saying that I think this contributed to me walking a tad bit on the wild side.

curly hair

How fro can you go?

Don't Tame Me!

I have read of dissention among curlies who are divided on how much definition to give their locks. While the argument for "defining" your curls may come from experts suggesting products to keep your curls soft, smooth and "neat," how about a little abstraction to show who you really are?

No woman is tame all the time. Sure, we all have workplaces and mostly abide by standards of dress in the workplace. But curls are your natural birthright! If you are used to spending an hour or more a day on your hair, I say test the waters a little. Stick your big toe in once a week and go as natural as possible. While you should always take care of your curls with quality hair products, who says you need to tame your hair? Playing it smooth is not always the best for your self-esteem. Being real, being you, and learning to find the beauty in who you are is what it's all about after all.

Go Wild!

The trend toward unruly hair seems to be growing, and I for one, love it. If I could grow a big unruly fro I'd wear it wild and loose and let it compliment my slightly unruly personality. Away with the twist-outs, bantu knots, and satin pillow cases. Adios to olive oil, leave-ins, and detanglers. I would want my fro big, with its own personality, emulating how I feel inside. This whole topic sends a song through my head: Aretha's cover of Carole King's Natural Woman, one of the most beautiful and down to earth love songs ever recorded. I mean, really, how simple is that love song, and yet how much does it sum up the natural hair movement? "You make me feel like a natural woman." Done.

Having said that, I have great respect for those who choose to, and even have to, define their curls for any reason. I am truly in awe of the hard work, the care, the cost, the time and the ups and downs involved. But, admittedly, I long for the fro. And I will never have the fro I so badly want. I will never be Pam Grier in the 1970s. I'm more like Sally Field stuck with Jackie Gleason but secretly having the hots for Burt Reynolds and all his "natural" hair (translation: chest hair, remember that stuff?). I feel wild on the inside and think that those who can express that with their hair are lucky indeed.

Whatever side you are on, remember this: you are still on the side of naturally curly hair, so you are on the same side. Both choices are equally important and everyone is different and has valid reasons for the choices they make.

Now, tell me something good: Do you define your curls, or do your curls define you? Or both?

Okay, so maybe she's wearing a wig, but it's ARETHA! Sign of the times? I think so. Not many escaped the pressures, did they?

earth day hair tips

Every day really can be Earth Day.

We've all heard it before: "Every day is Earth Day." Well, why not? Caring for the environment isn't just for conservationists. With these simple tips, you can care for your hair, yourself and the environment at the same time. In no time flat, you too will be eco-friendly and loving it.

Sulfate and Paraben Free Hair Cleansers

Many synthetic chemical ingredients used in hair and skin products are not only considered harmful to your hair and skin, but also to the environment. Though "natural" doesn't always equal nontoxic, do you really want to take a chance on a shampoo that is arguably poisoning the earth entering your bloodstream? Many shampoos have ingredients derived from crude oil! Blech! Play it safe and do yourself and Mother Earth a favor and quit the questionable chemicals with sulfate and paraben free shampoos.

Organic Ingredients

There's no doubt that my $39 investment in a beginner espresso machine and cutting out the daily visits to the Mega Chain coffee joint has helped me put my money to better use and I'm not throwing a plastic stirrer, coffee cup and lid into a landfill every day. By purchasing hair products with organic ingredients, I am more at ease knowing that my products have been made without pesticides. Note: the standards for "organic" do not mean a product is wholly organic. Read the labels (even if it means putting on your reading glasses in front of the entire store).

Are You a DIY-er?

For years, I was a bona fide Do It Yourself-er when it came to coloring my hair. Before I began leaving the semi and demi colors to a professional stylist, I went through many a box of clearance aisle Medium Ash Brown. One thing I learned in my quest to be "greener" was to rinse out the plastic bottles and recycle them, along with the paper instructions and the packaging. Even most small towns offer recycling of some sort. It is not imperative to completely cleanse your recyclables - using too much water defeats the purpose. A good rinse will do just fine.

Cold Water

Admittedly, this isn't for everyone, but even my 76 year old mother knows this trick. If you wash or cleanse your hair in the sink, by all means, use cold water. Cold water is great for hair because it helps keep the follicle closed, increases shine and protects your color. And, of course, you'll save on hot water. It doesn't hurt to keep your water heater at 120 degrees, either. Ka-ching!

Big Air

Air dry those fabulous curls! Save electricity and save your curls. If you are in a time crunch or can't stay away from the hair dryer, purchase one of the many eco-friendly hair dryers now available. Eco-dryers have a ceramic heating element that purportedly uses less electricity than the common metal heating coils. As always, curly girls, don't forget the diffuser!

earth day hair care tips

You really can make a difference.

Filter Your Shower Water

A shower filter that removes over 90% of chlorine in your water? Oh, yeah. We love the Aquasana Shower Filter! This filter is engineered for high quality water and minimum water pressure loss. With a maximum flow of 2.5 gallons per minute, this is one of the more eco-friendly filters available. Softer hair, softer skin and softer curls. Less product?

Eat Your Veggies

Not everyone can go meatless, but for those that can, hats off to you! Go meatless once a week or once a month, but make sure to eat those skin and hair-healthy veggies! How does this help the environment? The commercial production of meat results in animal by-product pollution, consumption of water resources and deforestation. Going meatless on occasion is indeed helping the earth - and your hair.

Reduce, Reuse and Recycle - Your Hair

Cutting long locks? You can donate your ponytail to one of the many organizations that create and provide natural hair wigs for those battling cancer or receiving treatment that causes hair loss. Donating hair to a reputable organization gives others the chance to go on with their lives with a boost in self-esteem - and it will make you feel good, too. Check with your salon to see if they offer a hair donation program, or consider Locks of Love or the Canadian-based Angel Hair for Kids program. Check the requirements for donating your hair; some hair cannot be donated if dyed or bleached. Also, you may need to have your stylist put your hair in a ponytail before cutting. Most organizations accept ponytails by mail. Today's pony express!

Eco-Friendly Salons and Spas

If you are in the market for a new salon or spa, why not really pamper yourself with an eco-friendly salon? Eco-friendly salons are becoming more popular every year, as clients want to be bathed in the luxury of "naturalness." But wait! You are helping the environment, remember? Eco-friendly salons pride themselves on water and waste management, sustainability, and energy efficiency, too. This sounds like a win-win to me.

Calling All Product Junkies: Bring Your Bags!

I recently discovered, much to my chagrin, that I am a product junkie. I also have a habit of exchanging makeup for a lighter shade, or a blouse for a larger size (also much to my chagrin). I am the proud owner of at least 20 reusable shopping bags. I get a sense of pride when I bring my shopping bags with me to the store. Mere mortal that I am, I forget my bags on occasion, and I always end up with a few plastic bags at home. Need to return something? No problem! Grab a plastic bag, stuff your goodies in it, and take delight when the clerk at the expensive cosmetics store sees you walk in with the plastic bag from the 99 cent chain store. And take your exchange home in the same bag. My point? Those plastic bags you've collected? Use them several times before you recycle them. They come in handy!

With a little diligence on your part, any of these tips can help you make a small difference with global impact. Pretty soon these changes will become new, good habits and you'll be looking over your shoulder at the old habits you've left in the dust. Who knew hair care could be so responsible?

Consider the environment before you print this article - but share digitally and share often!

Esperanza Spalding

Esperanza Spalding performing at the Cully Jazz Festival in Switzerland.

With gorgeous skin and huge, untammed afro (which we love, love, love), bassist and singer Esperanza Spalding is a natural beauty. A product of Welsh, African, Hispanic and Native American descent, Spalding totally rocks her celebrity curls.

Though she has played music since childhood, Spalding’s name (Esperanza is Spanish for “Hope”) was uttered by many new lips when she won the Grammy for Best New Artist in 2011, making her the first jazz artist to ever win the award. Upsetting The Biebs in this category, whom many considered a shoo-in, many Justin Bieber fans immediately retaliated by taking to her Wiki page and wreaking havoc.

While Spalding hasn't made much ado about the upset, it's possible there was a collective sigh of relief among her fans across the world. Finally, she was receiving the recognition she deserved.

A True Afro Goddess

Spalding, one of our picks for Afro Goddess, was born on October 18, 1984 in Portland, Oregon. At age four, after seeing cellist Yo Yo Ma appear on Mister Rogers’s Neighborhood, Spalding knew that her personal path was music. “It was definitely the thing that hipped me to the whole idea of music as a creative pursuit,” says Spalding.

Within a year, Spalding had taught herself violin so well that she became a member of The Chamber Music Society of Oregon, where she remained for ten years until the age of 15.

A Curly Education

Spalding spent much of her elementary school years being home-schooled due to a lengthy illness. Upon attending a traditional school setting, Spalding had difficulty adjusting. Though she was admitted to a prestigious performing arts school, Spalding, a highly intuitive and self-taught learner, promptly became bored and dropped out. All was not lost, however. Originally intending to play cello, Spalding found the bass there - and the bass found her. She loved its "arc" and felt right at home with the massive instrument.

GED in hand, Spalding attended Portland State University at 16 and earned her degree in three quick years. She went on to study at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, where she was made a professor at the young (and previously unheard of) age of 20.

A multi-instrumentalist singer/songwriter who sings in English, Spanish and Portuguese, Spalding plays many types of music, including blues, funk, hip-hop, pop fusion, Brazilian and Afro-Cuban. She has performed with many greats, including Stanley Clarke, Joe Lovano, Patti Austin, Michel Camilo, Charlie Haden, Regina Carter, Pat Metheny and Dave Samuels.

Esperanza Spalding has released three CDs to date: Junjo (2005), Esperanza (2008), and Chamber Music Society (2010).

Esperanza is a natural beauty, with her gorgeous skin and huge, untammed afro (which we love, love, love). She has said that she is of Welsh, African, Hispanic and Native American descent.

Curly Hair for Peace?

Prior to her Grammy win in 2011, Spalding's name was also on the lips of many, when President Barack Obama invited her to perform at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert given in his honor as 2009's Nobel Peace Prize winner. She has also performed for President Obama twice at the White House.

I guess there's "Hope" after all. Way to represent the curly love, Esperanza!

From Shaun White to Chaka Khan, there are so many great curlies to choose from (though never enough, right?) that we had a hard time whittling it down to just 10—5 curly guys and 5 curly gals. We chose these curlies based on varying factors: Are they natural (most of the time at least)? Do they represent curlies? Do they wear their curls proudly? Do we associate them with curly hair?

Here are our picks for Ten Iconic Curlies from old school to present day (and we mean old school). Ladies first, of course (but other than that, no particular order).

Shirley Temple

"I stopped believing in Santa Claus when I was six. Mother took me to see him in a department store and he asked for my autograph." - Shirley Temple

Shirley Temple

Why: The Original Curly Headed Doll!
Birth Name: Shirley Jane Temple
Born: April 23, 1928, Santa Monica, CA
Hair Type: 2c

What We Recommend for Hair Like This

  1. Serious cute alert. Take pictures for goodness sakes!
  2. Keep the curls lightweight and well defined with AG Hair Cosmetics Mousse Gel.

Quick Facts

  1. Temple's mother did her hair for each movie; each hairstyle had exactly 56 curls.
  2. Temple's daughter, Lorax, is bassist for the grunge rock band The Melvins, whose music was a heavy influence on Nirvana.
  3. In 1972, Temple successfully overcame breast cancer.
  4. Actresses Shirley Jones and Shirley MacLaine were both named after her.
  5. Temple starred in more than forty major motion pictures.

In this video, Shirley Temple performs Animal Crackers in my Soup

Chaka Khan

"Walking through this life really is walking through fire." - Chaka Khan

Chaka Khan

Why: She's Every Woman!
Birth Name: Yvette Marie Stevens
Born: March 23, 1953, Chicago, IL
Hair Type: 4b

What We Recommend for Hair Like This

  1. Let that 'fro grow! Weaves need not apply (anymore)!
  2. Moisture, moisture, moisture for your gorgeous natural curls! We recommend Jane Carter Solution Nourish & Shine.

Quick Facts

  1. Khan dropped out of high school to pursue a career in music.
  2. Khan's early musical heroines included Billie Holiday and Gladys Knight.
  3. Joined the Black Panther Party, renaming herself Chaka Adunne Aduffe Yemoja Hodarhi Karifi.
  4. 10 time Grammy-winner Chaka knows how to pick a songwriter. Stevie Wonder penned the hit single, "Tell Me Something Good" and Prince wrote "I Feel For You."
  5. Though Chaka has covered up her natural hair many times, she stills rocks her naturals curls and is known for her bodaciousness, huge hair, and powerhouse voice. And she's Chaka Khan. 'Nuff said.

Chaka Khan video. Chaka performs "I'm Every Woman"

Bernadette Peters

"You've gotta be original, because if you're like someone else, what do they need you for?" - Bernadette Peters

Bernadette Peters

Why: Never Seen Her Straighten Those Gorgeous Curls!
Birth name: Bernadette Lazzara
Born: February 28, 1948, Queens, NY
Hair Type: 3b

What We Recommend for Hair Like This

  1. Standing O for Bernadette's curls!
  2. There is one thing: Keep some AG Hair Cosmetics Re:coil Curl Activating Balm handy to keep those curls springy and lively!

Quick Facts

  1. Peters is Italian.
  2. Her waist measures a purported 23 inches! Seriously?
  3. A-Lister of live theater, she has been nominated for 7 Tony Awards and won 2.
  4. Grammy nominated for her live album "Sondheim, Etc." recorded to benefit Gay Men's Health Crisis.
  5. Best known for her role opposite former flame Steve Martin in "The Jerk."

Video of Bernadette Peters with Steve Martin in The Jerk


"I pefer an ugly truth to a pretty lie. If someone is telling me the truth that is when I will give my heart." - Shakira


Why: Mega Star, Mega Curls, Mega Heart
Birth name: Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll
Born: February 2, 1977, Barranquilla, Colombia
Hair Type: 3b

What We Recommend for Hair Like This

  1. Keep rockin' those curls and stay away from the flat iron! The world needs more uber-celebrities that love their hair.
  2. Wear those curls down and be proud of that gorgeous mane. Try Curlisto Control II and Curlisto Structura Lotion for a nice combo for your curls.

Quick Facts

  1. Shakira is of Lebanese-American, Italian and Spanish decent.
  2. Shakira learned English by studying the music of Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, and the poetry of Walt Whitman.
  3. Shakira is a trained belly-dancer and performs barefoot. Her nonprofit foundation is called The Barefoot Foundation.
  4. Shakira is short in stature - 4 feet 11 inches.
  5. “Hips Don’t Lie” is the most-streamed track of the past decade, with over 85 million online plays.

Official Shakira Video: Hips Don't Lie (Featuring Wyclef Jean)

Sarah Jessica Parker

"When I go to a premiere I like to borrow lovely clothes and shoes from designers. It's like the library: if you return them in good condition, you get to borrow more. I'm very lucky." - Sarah Jessica Parker

Sarah Jessica Parker

Why: Brought Messy, Curly Hair Back In Style
Birth name: Sarah Jessica Parker
Born: March 25, 1965, Nelsonville, OH
Hair Type: 3a

What We Recommend for Hair Like This

  1. Forget the straightening. You have beautiful curls! (And we kinda like you as a blonde.)
  2. Hon, you need a leave-in conditioner! Keep those curls moisturized with Kinky-Curly Knot Today.

Quick Facts

  1. Parker is a trained singer and ballet dancer, having studied at the prestigious American Ballet School.
  2. Parker is one of 8 children.
  3. The role of "Carrie" in "Sex and the City" was written specifically for Parker. "Sex and the City" garnered 50 Emmy nominations and 24 Golden Globe awards.
  4. Parker once dated John F. Kennedy, Jr.
  5. Parker had her famous, trademark chin mole surgically removed. "I just didn't care for it," she said.

Video of Sarah Jessica Parker with very curly hair on Letterman in 1996

Albert Einstein

“Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves.” - Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein

Why: The Genius Scientist Was a Mere Mortal Like Us
Birth Name: Albert Einstein
Born: March 14, 1879, Ulm, Germany
Died: April 18, 1955, Princeton, NJ
Hair Type: 2a

What We Recommend for Hair Like This

  1. A comb, perhaps?
  2. Since Dr. Einstein was so Awe Inspiring, we recommend Jessicurl Awe Inspiraling Spray - plus, we just wanted to say "Einstein" and "Jessicurl" in the same sentence.

Quick Facts

  1. Einstein's head was so large at birth that his mother thought he was deformed.
  2. Einstein had a daughter out of wedlock with Mileva Maric, who later became his first wife.
  3. Einstein was known to be a ladies' man (yes, I did say that) and his second wife was also his cousin.
  4. He won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1921, but did you know he was offered the Presidency of the State of Israel?
  5. Einstein's brain was removed at autopsy and kept for four decades in an attempt to determine what made him a genius.

Albert Einstein explains E=mc2

Howard Stern

"If you're going to be strong on the radio, you got to let it all out, even the ugly stuff. And you can't apologize for it." - Howard Stern

Howard Stern

Why: He Doesn't Care What We Think!
Birth Name: Howard Allan Stern
Born: January 12, 1954, Queens, NY
Hair Type: 3a

What We Recommend for Hair Like This

  1. Let it grow—you've got rock star locks and they look better longer!
  2. Like we said, he doesn't care what we think!
  3. Howard, stop talking and listen to a little friendly advice. Keep those curls gently cleansed of any buildup that might weigh them down. For your curls, we recommend Kinky-Curly Come Clean Shampoo. Ahem.

Quick Facts

  1. His Hebrew name is Tzvi.
  2. Stern graduated with a 3.8 GPA from Boston University, where his radio show "The King Schmaltz Bagel Hour" was canceled for being too racy.
  3. The 6' 5" deejay was the first male to make Mr. Blackwell's worst dressed list.
  4. Stern is an ardent and outspoken supporter of gay rights.
  5. An 8-time recipient of Billboard's Air Personality of the Year award, Stern earns approximately $1,923,077 a week.

Read more about Howard Stern on

Video of Howard Stern interview after being fired from WNBC

Jimi Hendrix

“Excuse me while I kiss the sky.” - Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix

Why: Genius, Passionate Guitarist
Birth Name: Johnny Allen Hendrix
Date of Birth: November 27, 1942, Seattle, WA
Date of Death: September 18, 1970, London, England
Hair Type: 4a

What We Recommend for Hair Like This

  1. Can we get on the guest list?
  2. Try Carol's Daughter Black Vanilla Leave-In Conditioner to detox and detangle those tresses.

Quick Facts

  1. Hendrix was entirely self-taught on the guitar, and played upside-down because he was left-handed.
  2. Toured with Little Richard and played on multiple tracks for him, including "Whole Lotta Shakin'."
  3. Influenced many guitarists, among them Eddie Van Halen, Prince and Stevie Ray Vaughan.
  4. Playing with The Who in 1967, he witnessed Pete Townshend smash his guitar onstage. Not to be outdone, Hendrix set his guitar on fire.
  5. Sadly, Hendrix became a member of the "27 Club" when he overdosed on barbituates. The 27 Club is named for famous musicians who died at the age of 27 (including former girlfriend Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain and Jim Morrison).

In this Jimi Hendrix video, Hendrix performs Hey, Joe

Shaun White

"Any medal would be good. A big gold one even better.” - Shaun White

Shaun White

Why: He's Got Gold-Medal Hair!
Birth name: Shaun Roger White
Born: September 3, 1986, Carlsbad, CA
Hair Type: 2c

What We Recommend for Hair Like This

  1. You're doing great on your own, Shaun. Keep that moisturizer handy for those winter days on the mountain!
  2. How about a little après-ski moisturizing while sitting around the fireplace? We recommend a deep treatment once a week with Mop Top Deep Conditioner.

Quick Facts

  1. White was born with a heart defect and underwent two open-heart surgeries by age 1; he switched from skiing to snowboarding at age 6.
  2. White's mother only allowed him to snowboard backwards, in an attempt to get him to slow down; this actually helped develop his skills.
  3. A professional skateboarder as well, White is the only skater to land the Body Varial Frontside 540.
  4. Known for his red curly hair and getting big air, he is often called "The Flying Tomato."
  5. Two-time Olympic Gold medalist - once at Torino in 2006 and again at Vancouver in 2010.

Video of young Shaun White at age 11

Video of Shaun White's run at Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics


"Sex and drugs go hand in hand when you're a rock 'n' roll musician. If I were a violinist, it might be a different matter." - Slash


Why: Rock Star Hair, Great Guitar Tone, Holla!
Birth Name: Saul Hudson
Date of Birth: July 23, 1965, London, England
Hair Type: 3c

What We Recommend for Hair Like This

  1. We loved the 80s, but that tophat has had its day. Goodwill that hat, or better yet, auction it off for charity.
  2. Up for a cocktail? Try Curlarita Cocktail before your next Superbowl performance, even though you already stole the spotlight that day.

Quick Facts

  1. Slash is biracial, born to a Nigerian clothing designer mother and English art director.
  2. Attended the elite Beverly Hills High School with fellow-curly Lenny Kravitz but dropped out before graduating.
  3. Formed the hugely successful Guns N' Roses with Axl Rose in 1986; officially disbanded in 1997. Hasn't spoken to Axl Rose since 1996.
  4. Plays Gibson Les Paul guitars with few exceptions.
  5. How much did Slash earn for his brief appearance at 2011 Superbowl Halftime show? Best answer we could find: "Waaaaay more than you make in 3 minutes."

Video of Slash playing live

Honorable Mention

Lenny Kravitz

The biracial Kravitz brings a smoldering sexuality to his guitar playing and he's just plain gorgeous and rocks his curls. "Confusion makes people uncomfortable. They can't put their finger on me." - Lenny Kravitz

Lucille Ball

We suspect she had straight hair and curled it, but her curls were iconic anyway, not to mention she was a brilliant comedienne. "Once in his life, every man is entitled to fall madly in love with a gorgeous redhead.” - Lucille Ball

So, who'd we miss? Who would you add and why?

Total 3 results.

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EClark6 explains why steam therapy is essential for natural hair growth.
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Avoid a Curly Haircut Disaster

This step will make or break your next curly haircut.
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Lush Henna Hair Dye Tutorial

Shannon from Curly Deviants shows us how she uses the Lush Caca Brun Henna to add luster to her 4c coils.
April 18, 2014 Read more »