Send your questions to Design Essentials' Rebecca Mariolis

Dear Rebecca: I have 3b-3c natural, curly hair and I live in the island of Jamaica. Last Wednesday I washed my hair with a moisturizing shampoo, deep conditioned and then applied a creamy moisturizing leave-in with a firm holding gel to 11 sections of my hair which were put in 11 box braids/plaits. I then set the ends on perm rods and yesterday decided to take my hair down in the morning for an evening event. Before undoing each braid, I rubbed a little emollient (a waxy product) on the entire braid. I fluffed the hair and achieved a lovely braid-out of defined yet fluffy waves with curls at the ends . . . I was pleased. Throughout the day my style kept up and I ensured that I kept cool by sitting in front of the electric fan for most of the day. Then in the afternoon the rain came down heavily and although I was inside my hair turned into a MESS!!! I looked like what they call a "wet rat". My hair just flopped and hung in a lifeless, droopy way with no volume. My mood also changed. I really was disappointed. I've heard random things about humidity and curly hair . . . I've often heard that humidity is a curly girl's friend. Why did it act as my enemy? help? What products are good for my hair type—a loose curl in a very hot and humid climate. How often should I wash my hair? Any advice?

Dear Disappointed in Jamaica: Yes! Humidity can be a curly girl’s friend … with the right style and being dependent on your curl pattern, of course. With a tighter curl pattern, humidity can almost be your enemy. But don’t despair. I have a solution, and I think you will be pleased with the results. Start with a deep cleansing shampoo to remove product build-up and salt deposits from the hair. Then follow with a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner to replenish moisture. Be sure you’ve rinsed the conditioner thoroughly from the hair, then towel blot. Now these are my suggestions for styling. This time, try mixing Design Essentials HCO with Design Essentials Masterpiece Concentrated Setting Lotion (try a 1 oz HCO to 1 oz Masterpiece mixture). Combine both products in a spray bottle and continue to style the hair as you had before, spraying each section as you braid. Finish each braid with a perm rod. Here is the most important step in this styling process; sit under a dryer until the hair is dry! This helps to truly set the style and ensures a lasting style. Once the hair is completely dry, slowly take out the braids. Finally, spray oil sheen on your hair for a final touch of shine. This will add a little bit of weight to help minimize the frizz.

Dear Rebecca: My hair is naturally curly and has always been great but lately it has been flat on top. I tried switching the mousse I use but that hasn't worked. My hair is right at the neck so I know it isn't the weight. It is so annoying because the first 1/4 inch out of the root is just straight and then goes crazy with curl. What can I do to fluff up the top?

Dear Curls on bottom flat on top: A simple haircut can sometimes help to add volume back to curls. Adding layers to curly locks can also help curls spring back. Another suggestion is to use the right shampoo. Moisturizing shampoos can sometimes weigh hair down which limits volume. So, you may need to find a gentle cleansing shampoo and follow with a lightweight conditioner. If you are still not seeing volume after you cut or layer your hair and change shampoos, try using a volumizing product like a mousse or volume tonic that encourages volume. Apply these products on damp hair following your leave in conditioner (always a must) then dry your curls with a diffuser, paying attention to each area lacking volume.

Dear Rebecca: I used to have a very natural curly hair all my life, but after giving birth to my second baby my curls vanished, my hair now is very very straight....what can i do now?? Help please!

Dear Curl Mommy: Congratulations on the new little one!! Believe it or not, when you have a baby your body compensates for all the changes in strange ways. These changes can cause your hair to do crazy things. My suggestion would be to love the hair you are in. Your hair may or may not revert back to its original state but if it doesn’t at least enjoy your newly found straight hair. Think of it as a new you !! Good luck!

Christmas tree

Dear Rebecca: I have Type 3c curly hair. It currently is long past my shoulder, but the curls "nest" at my neckline when my hair dries. I am going to get my hair cut tomorrow. Is there any advise for how I should cut it, to avoid the nesting curls at my neck. Plus, I feel like my hair at times looks like a Christmas tree. I just want some help on what to do.

Dear Christmas Tree: You may want to try a new haircut, like rounded layers. Rounded layers work beautifully on naturally curly hair because it allows the curls to be full and bouncy without looking like a “Christmas Tree”. This will work with your length to balance the curls (even the tight ones at your neck) to appear as if you meant for them to rest at your neck. I would recommend styling with an emollient with hold. I really like TIGI Manipulator. It will define and hold, allowing for manipulation all day long.