We've gathered the top experts in the curly world for their bottom-line stance on cutting, cleansing and styling.
CURL EXPERT: Jonathan Torch, Toronto’s Curly Hair Institute
CUT: Jonathan Torch studies curly hair when it’s dry to look at the direction the hair grows, but he always cuts hair when it’s wet.
“That way I can see the grouping of the curls and the way the curls bounce,” Torch says. “We look at the individual curls and choose the size of the curl. In order to make a ringlet, the hair has to rotate 2.5 times, otherwise you get wings.”
Since every curly head has more than one curl pattern, Torch recommends against traditional layers for curly hair.
“Even layers do not work in curly hair,” Torch says. “We have developed a technique called curly layers, and it’s all about creating unevenness, breaking it up.”
If you’re looking for height, volume or bounce, Torch suggests telling your stylist exactly that.
“You have to change your terminology. If you want volume, say you want volume. Don’t say you want layers because you’re going to be upset with the result,” Torch warns.
CLEANSE & CONDITION: Cleansing your curls with shampoo is an important step to maintaining healthy hair, according to Torch, whose shampoos contain sulfates, along with silk amino acids.
“We chose silk amino acids as our moisturizing protein because it has the tiniest molecule,” Torch says. “The size of the molecule is essential, because the smaller the molecule the deeper the penetration of absorption. The most important thing is getting that moisture molecule inside the hair.”
When conditioning your curls, he says it’s not as simple as “laying it on thick.”
“Just because a conditioner is thicker in consistency doesn’t make it a better-performing product,” Torch explains. “People like the heaviness because they feel it’s actually going to be doing something, but in reality, it may be only cosmetic.”
How a conditioner performs depends on its ability to penetrate and help the hair hold onto the moisture, according to Torch.
“Naturally curly hair repels moisture, so how do you condition hair that is repelling moisture? Our conditioners have pH levels of 3.5 to 4 -- that’s extremely low. The lower the pH, the more you’re going to close the cuticle,” Torch says. “Our products deposit generous amounts of silk amino acids and panthenol.”
STYLE: Even if you have healthy hair and a great curly cut, you won’t truly embrace your curls until you master the styling process. The key to achieving a successful style, Torch says, is not how well you dry your hair. It’s how well you prepare your hair before it dries.
“You have to start off with tangle-free hair, and the more hair you group in an individual ringlet the looser the curls,” Torch explains. “If you want your hair off your face, you have to get it back off your face from the roots. If you can get the roots going in a certain direction then you can get successful hair. Allowing the cuticle to dry on its own will guarantee frizz-free hairstyles.”