In the ‘80s, heavy metal and big hair were hot. The ‘90s brought us “Friends” and Jennifer Aniston’s stick-straight locks.

But today, more hair-care companies than ever are courting the curly girl. And the attention is coming from companies both large and small, from multimillion-dollar ad campaigns to grass-roots outreach programs.

Everywhere from commercials to the latest fashion magazines, the beauty industry is turning up the charm with ads aimed at women with waves, curls and kinks. In Allure magazine last month, there were curly models in a Burberry ad, a curly Nicole Kidman in a sexy promotion for Chanel No. 5 perfume and even a sultry ad for Aveda’s new Be Curly line. You can log on to the web site for Dove’s new Pro-Age campaign and see mature curlies showcase the new line of skin, face and hair products.

Trend trackers say this could be a marriage that will last well beyond any short-term trend.

Across the country, 53 percent of women describe their hair as naturally curly or wavy, according to research by Redken — more than one out of two women! What’s even more powerful than the overall numbers is how many curlies are truly cozying up to their textured tresses.

“Women with curly hair are very happy to have curly hair,” says Perrine Calvet, Director of Global Marketing at Redken. “If you look at the broader trend it’s about embracing who you are,” Calvet says. “Women are saying ‘I feel comfortable with my curls, I think I look beautiful and I have the right tools to make myself look even more beautiful than what I am.’”

Companies such as Redken now have the technology and market research to concoct better products for softer, sexier curls — minus the sticky gels and tacky freeze spray. Redken kicked off the year with the introduction of its revamped Fresh Curls product line, after compiling extensive research, including a focus group to find out just what curly girls want.

“Women are very active now days, balancing a busy life,” Calvet says. “So for their hair, they want something that works and works fast. They don’t want to spend 30 minutes every day blow-drying their hair. It’s not who they are and they don’t have the time to do it. So as long as they can find the right products that work for them and make their hair look beautiful, then it works.”

“They want their curls to look nice. They don’t want them to be droopy, messy or frizzy,” Calvet says. “We looked at the [original] Fresh Curls line and realized we were addressing some of their concerns — but not all of them.”

Now, Calvet says, Redken does.

For curl guru Lorraine Massey, educating the curly girl is more than just a job; it’s her life-long mission. When she published the “Curly Girl” handbook several years ago, she launched Curls 101 seminars at her Devachan Salon in New York.

“I started to do this to help them feel better about themselves until they found a hairdresser for them,” Massey says. “Until the hairdressers start really, truly updating their data for the curly girl and not always wanting to blow-fry it, we’re going to continue doing the Curls 101 workshops.”

Massey also recently introduced her Deva-D, a fun, instructional DVD for curlies. There are two versions, one for professionals and one for curl-centric consumers. The Deva-D will be sold separately and also will be included in DevaCurl’s new Try Me On travel pack (which contains five of her travel-sized products and will be available this spring”> and the DevaFuser.

“We’re really teaching everything, from the moment you get up in the morning when you’re checking the weather forecast to when you go to bed at night,” Massey says. “It’s very thorough, funny and informational. We include different hair types on how to cleanse and what to use, so it’s step-by-step and less than 10 minutes long.”

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