Anthony Dickey

Anthony Dickey as a child.

When veteran hairdresser Anthony Dickey moved to New York to work in the fashion industry, textured hair was all but ignored, and myths abounded about wavy, curly and kinky hair.

“People focused on it as ‘problem hair’ rather than celebrating its unique texture,” Dickey says. “I figured I had something to say. Hairdressers hold the secret key weapon from their client, and often aren’t telling the truth about textured hair. I felt the consumer deserved to have the same type of information as the stylist.”

So five years ago, Dickey — who has worked with such curly celebs as Alicia Keys, Minnie Driver, Sarah Jessica Parker, Andie McDowell and Gloria Reuben — wrote “Hair Rules!: The Ultimate Hair-Care Guide for Women with Kinky, Curly or Wavy Hair.” The book was chock full of simple tips for all types of curly hair, covering everything from the best shampoos and conditioners to use to the safest ways to relax hair. It has sold more than 30,0000 copies and was featured on the “Today Show.”

“My mission is simple,” wrote Dickey, who has worked at such famed salons as Oribe, Louis Licari, and John Frieda.

“To advise and encourage all women with non-straight hair to strive to attain their beauty, whatever their ethnicity, and whatever their tastes. It’s more bout putting the hair-care industry in line with how to care for kinky and curly hair. You have stylists who have no idea how to work with curls so they just blow it out. Their clients never learn how to work with their natural texture.”

Now, with his new line of products — appropriately called Hair Rules — he wants to provide a set of tools to help women care for their curls and kinks.

“It’s about finding solutions for all of women as it relates to the true classification of their hair,” Dickey says. “Hair rules is a collection of products that celebrates the unique differences and similarities of textured hair with an integrated collection of ultra-hydrating cleansers, conditioners and styling aids, geared to the special needs of kinky, curly and wavy hair.”

Typically, products geared to the kinkiest of textures have been relegated to their own special section in the drugstore aisle, and can be boiled down to two types: those that chemically alter the hair and those that try to tame it with greasy or waxy ingredients. Then there are the products marketed to non-kinky curly hair that he believes often “reflect a one-dimensional approach to kinky, curly and wavy hair.” Few, he says, address the multiple textures of an ethnically diverse world.

Too often, he says, women with curly and kinky hair spend their lives experimenting with a myriad of products and concoctions to enhance their natural texture.

“This is not always an exercise in simplicity, nor are the end results always to their liking,” Dickey says. “Some have given up the fight entirely, abandoning working with their natural texture and turning to chemical or thermal manipulation out of despair rather than choice.”

The Hair Rules collection includes two cleansers: Daily Cleansing Cream Moisturizing No-Suds Shampoo, Aloe Grapefruit Clarifying Shampoo; and two conditioners, Quench Ultra Rich Conditioner and Softening Treatment and Nourishment Leave-in Conditioner. Dickey says one of the myths about conditioners is that they repair damaged hair. He says damaged hair needs to be cut. What conditioners do, he says, is detangle and soften the hair.

Styling products in the Hair Rules line are geared for three different textures. Wavy Mousse is for wavy hair, Curly Whip is for curls and Kinky Curling Cream is for kinkier textures. All textures can use Hydrating Finishing Cream, a non-greasy finishing product that infuses hair with moisture. Products, which all are paraben-free and biodegradable, range in price from $16.50 to $30.

Fragrance is an important component of Hair Rules. He says people tend to view fragrance differently, with some people gravitating toward fruity scents while others favor floral scents. He says the products have different scents, with the fragrance getting lighter as the products get lighter. For example, the Kinky Curling Cream has a honey citrus scent, while the Wavy Mousse has a light, jasmine fragrance.

Dickey has been honing the Hair Rules line for several years, focusing on what clients really want for their hair — “not what my ideal for a line was.” He tested the products on hundreds of clients. What was missing, he says, was an easy way to determine a regimen for your particular hair type.

“We’ve tried our best to develop Hair Rules as it relates to the consumer,” Dickey says. “It’s really about listening. There’s no better focus group around than having your clientele tell you what works and what doesn’t work — whether it be about performance or fragrance.”

While testing the products on his clients, he had to tweak his original ideas. For example he wanted to create a glaze for wavies, but found out they preferred a mousse because it would adhere to fine hair well without weighing it down.

“You have to take yourself out of the equation of what you like,” Dickey says.

Like his book, Dickey says his inspiration for his product comes from his desire to help women learn to love their natural texture.

“I always believed that helping women love their hair the way it was meant to be was an essential first step toward getting them to love themselves just the way they are,” Dickey says.

Hair Rules

Hair Rules product line.

Hair Tips from Anthony Dickey

  1. Product application is key. Products should always be applied to wet hair, and the hair should be touched as little as possible until it’s dry. “A lot of product gets a bad rap because the application is wrong. Good hair days and bad hair days depend on how it’s applied.”
  2. A portable hood dryer is a girl’s best friend, says Dickey. He suggests sitting under a dryer for 5 to 10 minutes to get the wetness out.
  3. To prevent shrinkage, find a product that’s one step up in terms of firmness, with a little more holding power. Sit under a hood dryer for 5 to 10 minutes. “If you set the hair before the wetness is out, it doesn’t have time to shrink,” Dickey says.
  4. Don’t use a diffuser untile the hair is three quarters of the way dry. Otherwise, he says, you just blow around the cuticle and it gets frizzy.
  5. For those transitioning, he suggests weaves. “The bottom line is you need to look good every day, and weaves are a great because they help you wean into the new texture. At the end of the day, you have options. The big chop is just one of the choices.”
  6. Cut the hair to the person’s face. “If you’re not cutting the hair for the person’s face, there’s no sliver, slither or thinning that will give you a good curl pattern.”
Michelle Breyer

As co-founder of, a website for curly hair she began with her business partner and friend, Gretchen Heber, Michelle Breyer helped create the leading community and resource for people with curly hair. Frustrated by the lack of information on curly hair and the limited products available in the marketplace, the duo launched the site in 1998 with the help of a 14-year-old web designer. When Procter & Gamble called three years later to advertise to the® audience, Breyer knew they had indeed created a force in the industry, providing helpful information and unparalleled expertise for what was then considered a niche market.

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