Listen to a group of curly girls talk about their hair and you might think you’re in the middle of a support group.
“I requested to have my hair look curly and messy, and instead had my hair chopped to two inches in length,” said one writer on NaturallyCurly.com’s CurlTalk forum.
“I had full breakage on my crown while I stupidly had my curls straightened by my stylist who insisted my ‘horrible’ hair needed taming!” recalled another. “It was such a horrible experience that I didn’t go into a salon again for two years.”
In addition to a slew of nightmarish salon experiences, many have endured childhoods filled with nicknames like Bozo and Frizzball. It’s no wonder that many curly women have a difficult time embracing their curls.
Many women have grown up in families where curlphobia is prevalent. Children may receive negative messages early on about their curls and kinks from aunts, grandmothers and other relatives. Curly or kinky hair in its natural state may be considered “bad hair,” while looser curls or straight hair are praised—a cultural phenomenon that comic Chris Rock addressed in his film “Good Hair.”
“I tell my stylists that when a woman walks in with a head of curly hair, you have a head of hair with a soul,” says New York City stylist Ouidad, known as the “Queen of Curls.” “A woman with straight hair is a body with a head of hair.”
A stylist can play a key role in helping curly clients embrace their texture.
The first thing any stylist should do is to reassure her clients about her hair, and help her see its beauty. Often, someone with curly hair doesn’t even know they have a natural curl pattern until the stylist tells her.
After a consultation to make sure you and your stylist have similar expectations—something especially important with a curly client—the next step is for the stylist to give you a curl-enhancing cut.
Products—and training in how to use them—is a key step in learning to love your curls. This includes shampooing, conditioning and styling products. Be sure you know how to replicate your new look at home.
A good stylist can have a life-altering effect on a curly girl.
"For years, I was asked 'Is that a bad perm?’ or ‘Sorry, we have to wait for the manager to get back because I don't know what to do with this,’ and I had to sometimes re-cut my own hair after horrible non-curl-respecting cuts,” recalled one NaturallyCurly.com member. “Finally I found a stylist who knows what to do, how to do it, and is always willing (and able!!) to change if need be. Finally!"
“Having someone who understands curly/wavy patterns work with my hair, I actually could see my hair's pattern in a way I never saw it before,” said another NaturallyCurly.com member.