Curl expert Jonathan Torch answers your curly hair questions
Q : I wanted to know how you find out if your hair needs proteins or not. I have been using a conditioner without them, and then I switched to a new one with them in it. I noticed that my hair has been a bit lifeless the past few days and I'm not sure if it's due to using the conditioner with the proteins. The temperature here has also dropped drastically in the past few days, so that could be the case. Any information on this?
Torch : Proteins are an essential ingredient in any hair treatment product. There are many kinds of protein and all are quite different. I took quite a long time researching proteins and finally, with confidence, chose silk protein as the dominant protein to use. Proteins are measured by weight and the amount of moisture they retain. For example, wheat protein has a large molecule and tends to sit on the outside of the hair shaft. This can result in a greasy feel on the hair and it may be necessary to apply heat to help the protein molecules penetrate deep into the hair shaft. Silk proteins have a tiny molecule (90-110mw), so they penetrate easily and will never feel greasy or heavy. Silk dramatically improves the moisture balance of curly hair. It never builds up, so you can never overdo it. Keratin Protein is another effective protein that I was considering, but it can build up and cause damage. So I feel silk is still by far the most effective protein for curly hair.
Q : I decided to start cutting my hair in layers to take some of the bulk off. But I have noticed that because each curl is different, sometimes you can really tell the steps of the layers. How do I go about getting a cut that doesn't make the layers look so obvious?
Torch : What you discovered is exactly what most hairdressers are having problems with when cutting curly hair. As you have discovered, unlike straight hair, traditional layering does not work. Unwanted ledges take years to grow out. We have developed a totally unique cutting system for curly hair, based on the philosophy of cutting curly hair unevenly. We study the bounce of each curl and determine where the volume and bulk should be to best suit the shape of your face. Cutting curly hair is all about transferring the bulk from one area to another in order to show off ringlets, create movement and let the cheekbones show through dense curls.
Q : Is there any product out there that will turn my tight corkscrews into bouncy curls? Right now, in order for me to do this, I need to roll my hair in curlers and it takes forever. I just want to put something in my hair, use a diffuser (or not?) and go.
Torch : Controlling curly hair is a process that requires time, patience, and of course, the right products. The success of frizz control is completely dependent on using techniques that are meant specifically for your type of hair. Achieving loose, bouncy curls depends on a technique called “grouping”. The more hair grouped together, the looser the curl. Long hair is easier to group than short hair, and all the effort is in the preparation. The less movement that occurs during the first 15 minutes of drying, the more control you will have. Curl Keeper will allow your frizzy hair to dry in the same controlled state as when your hair was wet. Once your hair dries, you can easily soften your look by adding movement to your hair. The more you play with your hair, the more volume you will achieve. The Curl Keeper formula re-activates with water, so simply re-wetting frizzy areas with your hands could get you many fantastic frizz-free days between shampoos.
Q : I haven't owned a curling iron since the Carter Administration, but recently I was thinking that maybe I should get one for touch ups in my ongoing attempts at second-day hair. Is there a particular kind that is better than others? do you put any protective product on your second day hair before curling?
Torch : When using high heat appliances, never be fooled by claims that they are healthy for the hair. One tiny touch, even for a split second, can cause a blister on the skin, leaving a mark. The protection against heat is provided by our Curly Hair Solutions Silk Leave-in Conditioner. All protection should be applied when the hair is wet and the irons should only be used when the hair is dry. Hair that is controlled with the use of irons is extremely vulnerable to frizz. The only way to keep the frizz under control is to keep away from dampness. To further protect your hair do not keep irons on the hair too long. Like ironing your shirts, as soon as you keep the iron still, it burns the fabric. Using Silk Leave-in Conditioner will help protect your hair from burning. You will see steam released when using your iron and it is better than seeing smoke.
Q : I highly doubt my hair could ever be over-conditioned. But just in case, what does one's hair look/feel like if it's over-conditioned?
Torch : Just because curly hair has a tendency to look frizzy does not mean that it is dry or damaged. Some cosmetic conditioners coat the hair by depositing a film which makes moisture absorption even more difficult. Coated hair attracts dust, which allows hair to get dirty faster. Did you ever notice water droplets appearing on the outside of the hair shaft? You almost have to drench your hair in order to wet it, and it only takes a little effort to dry. You must make sure that your conditioners actually moisturize rather than coat the hair. Some proteins build up and could cause hair to become brittle and break. Curly Hair Solutions Pure Silk Protein contains a generous amount of silk protein that will moisturize curly hair safely and never leave a coating on your hair.