There are important days when you want to look fabulous, and then there are special moments that are rites of passage. For those rare events you'll remember for years to come, finding the right curly style can be downright nerve-wracking. And when your nerves are frayed, mistakes are often made.
Worry no more! Here, stylists reveal the most common mane mistakes that are made at a wedding, prom and big-wig corporate soiree — and how to avoid them.
Mane Mistake: Caving in to pressure to create a 'do that looks nothing like you. Maybe you're nudged to straighten your curly locks, or wear a hair piece that would drastically alter your short curls. If it's a complete departure from your natural self, stylists say "Don't do it!" Diane DaCosta, curl expert and author of "Textured Tresses," recalls styling a brides-to-be with tight coils, for example, who have felt pressure to get a weave for their special day.
Solution: "You have to tell people 'No, I'm not going to do that'," DaCosta says. "If you're natural, and you've been natural, stand by your beliefs and be confident that you look beautiful the way you are."
Mane Mistake: Asking your stylist to decide on your hairstyle.
You should never leave one of the most important decisions of your wedding day to chance, according to Carlos Flores, a stylist at New York's Mario Diab Salon.
"Handing that decision to your stylist is like giving up the vision of your dress to the designer," Flores says. Of course, finding the perfect wedding dress is important too, so make sure it matches your curly style.
Solution: Flip through magazines and tear out pictures of hairstyles you might want, and share them with your stylist.
"I love when clients bring in pictures," Flores says. "A vision can be tough to verbalize, so bring in as many pictures as you can find. You should at least have a blueprint, a vision, and work off that."
Mane Mistake: Waiting until the eleventh hour to decide on a hairstyle. "Many brides always think the hair is the least important, but it is the most important," DaCosta emphasizes.
Solution: If you're experimenting with chemicals, experts suggest testing the new look at least six months before your wedding. "That way, if you don't like it, or want to change it, you still have time to create something else," DaCosta says.
Mane Mistake: Skimping on product, but expecting your style to last.
"If you don't use enough product, the curls can get frizzy after a little while," says Heather Packer, a senior stylist at New York's Cutler Salon. "A bride needs her hairstyle to last for six to eight hours — the whole day and into the night.
Solution: Schedule a trial style to test out products and hairstyles far in advance.
"Practice a style with the hairstylist and leave the salon with your hair done and see how it lasts throughout the day," Packer says. "Then, you can come back with comments and the hairdresser can work from there, if you need to make any changes."
Mane Mistake: Choosing a hairstyle that is too formal (read: too old)!
Solution: Remember to keep it simple. You don't want to look "too done," Packer says. "I can't stress enough that they should go with their natural curls, especially when they're that young," she says.
"Keep it youthful; keep it 17," adds Flores. "You can pull it up and still keep it fun. If the back of the dress is open, then maybe you wear your curls half-up, half-down."
Mane Mistake: Going overboard with accessories.
Solution: Don't overdo it with tons of chachkas or baby's breath or too many other items poking out of your curly do.
"And what's with the tiara? What is that?" asks Flores, referring to what he has seen girls resort to in the past. "Less is more."
If you want to add glam to your do, he suggests choosing one simple accessory.
The Business Soiree
Mane Mistake: Keeping the same corporate curly style.
Solution: Even though this isn't a family affair or a night out with your girlfriends, you still want to look at least a little different.
"If you're a corporate powerhouse, show some softness," says Flores. "Maybe let your curls fall to one side. You want to show that softer side. You're not at work."
Mane Mistake: Making a drastic shift in your curly cut or color right before the event.
"When you make a big change, you're never sure how you're going to feel afterwards," Packer says. "There are so many other things going on at the event, you don't want to have to worry about your hair."
Solution: Get a trim or make subtle changes, then wait until after the event to experiment with any major style shift.
And if you're in a transition period from relaxed locks to a natural 'do, you do have options, according to DaCosta.
"You can get a twisted set or flat twist set and wear your hair in a bun," DaCosta says. "Then you can take it out and unloosen the twists to achieve a full curly look. And if you want it to be more formal, swoop up your curls with a jeweled accessory."