I recently read Glenda Cooper's article "Get knotted, Nicole: unlike Kidman, I've yet to learn to love my curls." In it, Cooper lambasts her curly hair and insists that she has not and will not embrace her curls as Nicole Kidman recently has. First, I have seen older pictures of Nicole's hair and personally find her ringlets to be stunning and I am so happy to hear she is bringing her curls back! But that is not why I am writing.
I am writing to hopefully try and convince you, Ms. Cooper, that there is still hope to loving your curls and if you learn to love them and care for them properly, I can almost guarantee that your curls will thank you, start behaving well, and love you back. I hope you find the tips included for beginner curly care to be helpful and though I myself was not born until the late 80s, I promise you that products formulated for curls and waves have improved tremendously since then. You won't have to worry about your head being a fire hazard anymore.
Deep conditioning is a must.
Because curly hair is so dry by nature, deep treating with a heavy conditioner, at least every other week depending on how dry your hair is will work wonders; even better if you can wear a plastic cap and leave it on for at least 15 minutes. It will help with frizz, dryness and definition to name a few benefits.
Leave some conditioner in your hair after washing.
Because curly hair is so dry, regular conditioner makes an awesome leave in and helps prevent the hair from expanding.
Scrunching is a curl's best friend.
To get the most definition out of your curls- scrunch, scrunch, scrunch and then scrunch some more. But only when applying product to wet hair. After that, hands off to avoid frizz. I recently wrote a step-by-step tutorial on scrunching, found here.
Sleeping doesn't have to wreck a perfect hairstyle.
This can be prevented by learning to pineapple your hair in a high ponytail and sleeping on satin pillowcases. The satin pillowcases are a lot more gentle on the hair than cotton. Cotton fibers will absorb the moisture from your hair, leaving it dry and frizzy. Waking up the next morning after sleeping on a satin pillowcase will require minimal touch ups.
See a curl specialist to avoid a haircut disaster.
Oh girl, I have been there way too many times myself. The good news is, there are so many curl specialist hair dressers out there now who not only know how to cut curly hair (yes, there is a specific way), but will also teach you how to style your hair at home while you are at your appointment. Here's a convenient Salon Finder that will help guide you in the right direction.
Embrace "The Curly Girl Method".
This was developed by Curl Specialist Lorraine Massey. A quick synopsis is basically paying attention to ingredients in your hair products and saying goodbye to sulfates, silicones, heavy waxes and drying alcohols. When using products with botanicals and ingredients curls crave, they will not only pop more but you will also notice a lot less frizz! Find the book at your local bookstore on online here.
Lay off the heat tools.
The curling iron you mentioned. Blow dryers and flat irons. Excessive use of these tools are frying your hair. Your poor curls can't reach their maximum potential when they are getting burned to death regularly.
Wash your hair less often.
Don't worry, it won't be dirty- after all that is what dry shampoo is for. The less you wash, the more the natural oils get to distribute throughout your hair and it also helps prevent dryness. On non wash days you can use the dry shampoo and refresher spray to touch up. It also is a great time saver.
Learn your hair porosity.
Doing so will help you determine what products will work best for your curls. Here's a simple test to find your hair's texture and porosity.
Do not use a regular terry cloth towel to dry your hair.
An old t-shirt or specialty towel such as the Curl Ease will not only be a lot less rough on the hair, but also absorb more water so your hair will dry faster. Using a terry cloth towel will disrupt the cuticle on your strands and induce more dryness and frizz.
Don't give up with trying to love your waves or curls. It sometimes takes some trial and error to find what product ingredients your curls adores and what cocktail of products works best for you. And the more you style your hair curly, the faster and better you will get at doing so. Plus, finding a curly routine that works for you will be extremely rewarding.
My final thoughts:
I think you will find not only will embracing your naturally curly hair save you styling time, but it is nice and refreshing to not have to freak out about a hairstyle being messed up after exercising or sudden downpours of rain. (And look at this beautiful photo of you--your hair is gorgeous!)