We've gathered the top experts in the curly world for their bottom-line stance on cutting, cleansing and styling.
CURL EXPERT: Christo, Artistic Director of New York’s Christo Fifth Avenue Salon
CUT: Christo has always believed curly hair should be cut wet.
“Curly hair, when you cut it dry, won’t have the freedom of style,” Christo says. “You may wear your hair curly 90 percent of the time, but maybe the other 10 percent, you want to wear your hair in glamorous waves or you want to blow it straight. I think you should have that option.”
Your textured mane should only be combed (wide-tooth comb only!) when it’s wet and then allowed to bounce back, according to Christo. “That way you can see how the curl is going to bounce, and then you cut accordingly,” he explains. “If the hair is dry, how is it going to bounce? It doesn’t.”
Since there may be many textures on one curly head, Christo may choose to texturize tresses using regular scissors, channel scissors or a double-blade razor on wavy, coarse hair.
“Some people have wavy hair on the bottom, while it’s curly on the top, so you can texturize the bottom in long angle layers, but you have to know to know what you’re doing,” Christo says. “You want the waves to lock into each other — not become bushy and frizzy.”
After the hair is cut and then dried with a diffuser, Christo may make a few touch-up snips on a dry mane, but without combing the hair or disturbing the curl.
CLEANSE & CONDITION: Christo emphasizes that life is about balance — and he applies that philosophy to curly hair. As an advocate of shampoo, Christo views sulfates in shampoo as simply one cleansing component, balanced with other nourishing ingredients, such as proteins and amino acids.
“I think your hair needs shampoo once or twice a week,” Christo says. “The reason is this: It’s not only to remove the buildup that you get from products, etc. There’s also the buildup you get from the environment, which is so dirty.”
He’s also a firm believer in deep conditioners, and recommends feeding your curls with a conditioning treatment or mask once a week — or twice a week, if you color your curls.
STYLE: To style curly locks, Christo divides the hair in four or five sections.
“If you want to make it easy, clip each section so it’s not in your way,” he says. “Then, take one section at a time, and apply the lotion or gel according to your texture. Then, run your fingers through your hair, shake it a little bit or scrunch it to get the curl to bounce back.”
If you want to smooth it with a flat iron for a different look, Christo warns curlies not to overdo it.
“Use it with balance, once in a while,” he says. “If you use the flat iron once a month it will not damage your hair, but if you use it two or three times a week, that doesn’t work.”
And if you have a daily addiction to the iron, Christo says there’s no way to avoid damaging your hair, no matter how much you condition it.