Curly girls in the South have been flocking to Robin Sjoblom and Atlanta’s Southern Curl Salon for more than two decades. With over 20 years of cutting and coloring experience, she is considered one of the top curl experts in the country and a Level 3 Deva certified stylist. Her favorite quote is from her friend Lorraine Massey, “Frizz is just a curl waiting to happen!”
NaturallyCurly: What inspired you to become a stylist?
Robin: I grew up in a salon owned family but wanted a career as a buyer for a retail store. I went off to college in London to pursue a fashion merchandising degree and also worked in a salon with a team that was all Sassoon trained. I loved that structure of cutting and fell in love with hair. I came home and apprenticed under one of the stylists at my parents salon and never looked back.
NaturallyCurly: What made you decide to specialize in texture?
Robin: I’ve always been attracted to texture. I’ve never been able to walk through a store without touching everything. My favorite class in college was textiles. I loved all the fabrics and the way they felt. When I heard there was a class strictly about curls, I couldn’t wait to check it out. I was bored cutting straight hair- it felt like I was doing the same thing every day and I was ready for something new.
NaturallyCurly: How did you develop your cutting technique?
Robin: My first curly cutting classes were taught by Lorraine Massey and Shari Harbinger of Devacurl in NYC. At that time, there weren’t many options for curl by curl cutting so I returned over and over to the Devachan Salon to hone my skill. I guess I’d say I have Deva blood to the core in my cutting techniques. always learn something new each time I go. I’ve probably taken 15 classes including certification with Devacurl.
Another inspiration was Curly Hair Artistry. Scott Musgrave and the curl group showed me other ways to look at and study curls. Other classes have come and gone. My personal technique encompasses all of what I’ve learned, I just intuitively use what I’ve learned in whatever canvas I’m working on.
NaturallyCurly: You work with a wide variety of textures. What are some of the different considerations when working with looser waves rather than tight coils?
Robin: Each curl type requires a different approach. However, I cut all curl patterns in their dry and natural state. This allows me to see where their hair lives on a day to day basis. When I approach a wavy girl versus a super curly/ coily girl, I’m looking at her hydration level, density, condition of curls, and taking into account the shape she’s looking for.
Tension on curls is very important to consider. When a curl is over stretched, it can affect the final shape by 1 to even 8 or more inches! Hydration levels can affect the outcome of curls that are overly dry to begin with. If that is not taken into account, the final look will be much much shorter on a super curly/coily girl compared to a wavy girl.
Finally, curls on a wavy girl live flatter and longer down the head while curls on a super curly or coily girl grow out of/off the head. This alone can affect the final look of the cut and especially the final color as well.
Color placement on a super curly/coily can look very patchy if the curl pattern is not considered. I approach every curly client with a fresh eye as no 2 heads are ever the same. Curl shapes are so much fun. From waves to spirals, S shapes and zig zags and sometimes there is a combination of these on one head! That’s the beauty of curly hair.
Styling curls can be another challenge. A wavy girl typically has more moisture than a super curly/coily girl so the product approach is going to be different. A wavy girl has less definition than a super curly/coily girl as well.
A wavy girl needs more gel and less heavy leave-in conditioners than a super curly/coily girl and a super curly/coily girl needs more conditioner and leave-ins and less gel than a wavy girl. Wavies and loose curls can usually handle a micro fiber towel/t-shirt/plopping while super curly/coily girls tens to do better with shaking their curls out and not using a towel because it removes too much moisture.
All of the hair types can benefit from raking/smoothing/roping etc. as each of these techniques create a different outcome. You just have to find the one you like best. Or keep trying different techniques to create something different with your curls to keep it fresh and fun.
NaturallyCurly: What questions do you ask your first-time clients to make sure you understand their expectations/concerns?
Robin: When working with a new client, it’s imperative that you listen to what the client wants and doesn’t want. We ask for inspiration photos to give us an idea of what they are looking for. We ask what their lifestyle is, how much time they want to spend on their hair, what products they are currently using and what the ingredients are.
NaturallyCurly: How do you help clients get the same results at home that they get in the salon?
Robin: Southern Curl is an education-based salon. We give our clients a mirror when we style their hair so they understand which products we are using, why we chose them and how much we used, and how we applied it (rope/rake/prayer method). We then send clients home with a video and a folder full of notes on the step-by-step method of how we did their curls during their visit. We encourage them to bring their folder back each visit in case we change anything up from season to season.
NaturallyCurly: What are the biggest mistakes that curly girls make when working with their hair?
Robin: Some of the biggest mistakes people make when working with curly hair are- getting caught up in social media curl groups/YouTube influencers. There are so many opinions out there, and they are not always geared towards your hair. These opinions are not from professional stylists, they are based on their own hair.
Using brushes on curls instead of finger detangling can cause unnecessary breakage. Applying products to hair when it isn’t wet enough is also a common mistake. Water is your friend and helps reduce frizz and encourages clumping.
NaturallyCurly: Can you share a few of your favorite curl tips - things curly girl can do at home (clipping a certain way, styling a certain way, scrunching, etc.
Robin: Clipping curls to add volume is a great tip. One or two rows clipped into little bumps give a natural lift to the top section of curls.
Putting hair into a pineapple at night can help get second day curls! (Flip over and pull curls into a pineapple on top of the head. )
If you are a wavy, diffusing is your best option. Lightly cup the bottom of the curls, being careful not to over crunch the ends and create “fish hooks”. When they begin to form and cast, them put the diffuser closer to the head to create volume.
NaturallyCurly: Who is your curl crush?
Robin: Everyone has a curl crush. Mine is an IG Influencer who goes by @Curlsandblondies. We have “similar” curls (here are more formed), we are both super blonde, andwe both have a Maine Coon Cat! Lol. She’s super nice and we chat back and forth a good bit.
NaturallyCurly: What has been your most memorable transformation?
Robin: My most memorable client experience was with a 16-year-old girl Emerson. The first time she came to me, I literally cried with her. She had flatroned her curls so much they were breaking at the scalp. Her bangs were almost gone. I told her and her mom she had to stop straightening or she wouldn’t have any hair left. Being 16, she was reluctant to listen to me.
I told them if they gave me a year of trimming and treatments, she would have her curls back.Every month she came in for a little trim. And an Olaplex /deep condition/ and original Moxie detox treatment. I respected that she wanted to keep length but always pushed her a little to get more damage off.
After about 7 months, we turned a corner and started to see her Natural texture- the smiles started to happen. It’s been over a year and we are finally where she needs to be. No more damage and an understanding of how to manage her curls. And she LOVES her curly hair. This is why I do what I do every day.