Canadian curl expert Jonathan Torch answers your curly hair questions
Q : I just found the website and am curious about growing my hair out a bit. I have been wearing my naturally curly, dark blonde (with well-maintained highlights) hair pretty short for about 11 years. I can style it as I please at this length (it's no more than 3-4 inches long anywhere), but I'm quite bored and am thinking of growing it out -- not long, but maybe just above my shoulders. I have a Scottish background, and my hair looks much like traditional British Isles curlies, loosening somewhat as I approach 40 years old. My concern is frizz and control. Once I style my hair in the morning, I don't like to think about it any more until the next day. How can I style it as it grows and gets "big" and what kind of style might I have in the future that keeps its shape without being sprayed to hardness? I am tired of having bangs as well. It's windy and/or humid a lot here! Torch : As you have found, it is quite challenging to grow out curly hair. The process goes through several phases, and the styling ease and finished look vary from phase to phase. You will have to be flexible with the styling techniques and have a lot of patience. The benefits of growing out your curls are fantastic. You will feel younger and discover a curl freedom that you will love and appreciate. However, you should realize that curly hair tends to be messier than straight hair. That doesn’t mean that you will have frizz. I promise that the Curl Keeper will take care of that. The frizz will not be the problem. Having the persistence to allow your curls to dry on their own, with as little touching as possible, will be the greatest challenge. Creating the finished look needs patience to allow the products to do their job. When wearing your hair curly, you should first create the curls with Curl Keeper on wet hair and allow the hair to dry on its own until the entire frizz is controlled. Then, slowly and gently begin to soften and separate the firm curls to bring out the style that suits you. You will need the help of a qualified stylist to control where you want and need volume. Because you will need the hair to grow, I suggest working with a stylist to perfect your styling techniques. You can then show your hairstylist your curls when they look great so there is no guesswork involved. I have helped many people grow their hair long, and you will find that it is possible to make the journey a success. If you get discouraged, play with hair color. And, always use the best products. Q : I have naturally curly red hair. I hate it because I am going on 17 years old and I still can't figure out how to style it right. I get up in the morning and wash it. Then I put Paul Mitchell gel in it, let it air dry while doing my makeup, fling it back and forth and hairspray it with Aussie hairspray. It keeps the frizz down pretty good, but my hair looks like its wet all day. I want it to look nice and soft and dry without frizz. Can you help me, please? Torch : You certainly take the time to style your hair! And, taking the time and effort in the preparation will result in more success in achieving perfect long-lasting, frizz-free curls. You should be able to rely on the correct products to perform properly. A good haircut can only go so far. That only applies to straight hair. The first step is to clean, condition and completely detangle your hair. Then, apply Curl Keeper generously throughout your wet hair. There are no silicones or oils in Curl Keeper so you can never overdo it. You want to achieve the same frizz control you have while your hair is wet without the look and feel of product in your hair. Allow your hair to dry on its own for as long as you can. If you are in a rush you can begin to diffuse your curls but only when they reach the point that the surface feels dry. That is when you will need patience. Slowly create some movement, but try not to disturb the curls you had while it was wet. If you overdo it, you can reactivate the Curl Keeper by wetting your hands with water and touching the flyaway curls. Because the Curl Keeper softens to the touch, you can create the fullness you are looking for when your curls are completely dry. The more movement you create, the softer and fuller your style will become. If you follow these steps, your frizz will be controlled for several days. Curl Keeper reactivates itself with water as long as you use a sufficient amount. Q : I have naturally curly hair. My hair used to be very thick, and when cut short went right into an afro. The last 10 years, I have been losing my hair, so it is quite thin. I am 47 and am going through menopause. My hair is more wavy then curly now and I cannot seem to make it do what I want. I have no idea what kind of hairstyle would help me or if there is something else I should be doing at this time. My husband says I should cut it short -- it is shoulder length and layered at this time. I prefer longer hair but it isn't working well. Any suggestions? Torch : If the best style for you depends on fullness, then cutting it short will not solve your problem. Volume is simple when working with curly hair. What causes curly hair to lie flat is the humidity factor -- which drops in the winter months -- and, over-layering curly hair. Cutting wavy hair short cuts the bend or curl right out of the hair. Be sure to study the curl or wave pattern before determining where your hair should be cut. Another cause of flatness is the overuse of products that build up film and coat the hair. To correct your problem, learn how to enhance your curls. This should be done when your hair is quite wet by applying Curl Keeper and some gel to the flat spots. A squishing technique is required, which means you squeeze your hair with your hands until you hear a squishy sound. If you don’t hear the “squish,” you either don’t have enough water or product in your hair. A few clips will help keep the wet squished hair in place until your hair dries on its own. Then you can diffuse your curls to speed up the drying time and expand your hairstyle. Remember, only judge your hairstyle when it is completely dry. This is a process to control your curls. Q : I have naturally curly hair (obviously). I straightened it yesterday, just because I had basically nothing else to do, and decided to go pay my boyfriend a surprise visit at where he works. When he saw me, he flooded me with all these compliments on my hair and how pretty I looked with it straight. And he asked me why I didn't straighten it every day. I told him it's because it takes me an hour and a half, and he said "Okay, get up at four thirty." I know he won't like me any less because of my hair, but I can't stop thinking that maybe if I straightened it every day it would make him more happy? I'm stuck between what's easier for me, which is keeping it curly, and what he wants. Any suggestions? Torch : The first impression your boyfriend got was a clean, shiny, controlled, longer hairstyle that was different and new. Change is fun and exciting, and I suggest that you don’t stay with one look all the time. The straight look will begin to look boring over time. What I suggest is to take the time and show him the full potential your curly hair has to offer. Don’t be lazy -- take the time to use the correct products and learn how to create perfect frizz-free curls that are clean shiny and soft. Show him what real curls are made of. Q : My name is Sandra and I am 57 years young. I have been fighting the frizzies all of my life until this past summer. I decided that I was too tired to fight with my hair any longer. I have let it go curly but did not realize how curly it was. I just thought that I had very wavy, frizzy hair. I tried many products and spent a lot of money doing this. I have found that mousse is the best product for me to tame my hair. I am still not satisfied! I have very course, dry, thick hair. I would like smooth, bouncy curls that shine too. Am I asking for a miracle? At my age I do not have the time or the patience that I had as a teenager. Please HELP me! My son is getting married in May, the start of the frizzy season. What can I do without spending thousands of dollars on products? Also ,does the right cut make the difference? I am counting on you to be my curly "Guru." Torch : The cut is only important once you have discovered the trick to creating perfect curls. To loosen the tight curls, you start by combing through soaking-wet hair with generous amounts of Curl Keeper from roots to ends. Our Silk Leave-In Conditioner will soften any wiry areas that are harder to control. I MUST emphasize that to do this properly your hair must be soaked with water and have Curl Keeper combed completely through. Some curly heads do this while still in the shower as it can be messy. When your hair is completely detangled, start combing with the smaller teeth of the comb. There is more tension with the smaller teeth which will result in looser curls. Your hair may need to be combed for quite some time before you are content with the looseness of your curl. If you squish your hair it may tighten up. However, if you can let your curls dry as much as possible on their own without touching, Curl Keeper will duplicate that exact formation without the frizz. Once you have dried your hair cuticle in a closed position with Curl Keeper, it will stay that way until it is rewashed. You can reactivate any section that frizzes up by simply running wet hands slowly over any frizzy areas. Once you have mastered controlling the frizz, you will enjoy your curls. The next step is to find a hairstylist that knows how to cut curly hair as your hair seems to have bulk issues.