Q: I would be interested in getting your expert opinion about the biosoftening technique. Does it work? Does it last? Will it make a significant improvement in curl managability? And more importantly, what are the damaging effects, if any?

Ouidad: A softening is a chemical process similar to hair straighteners. The one I use is half of the strength of a gentle straightener and I add my Deep Treatment to it to make the formula even softer. Depending on the hair I’m working on, I customize it. The idea and result is to soften, loosen the curl to a desirable pattern for manageability. It works wonders but, you must understand that any chemical process you do to your hair does have a drying effect. And if you don’t feed your hair on a regular basis it could be damaging. Most of my clients get softenings. They are able to wear their hair down and have different styles because the hair does become more manageable. Also we are bombarded with softenings in the spring and summer because it gives the client freedom from fear of the weather. Another good thing about softening is that you can do it in spots if need be. I’ve been softening my hair for more than 20 years.

 Q: It has taken me more than 30 years to finally come to terms with the fact that I will never be able to run my fingers through my naturally curly hair once it’s dry. My hair will just never look like the soft, shiny, silky hair in those Pantene ads, unless I get Japanese straightening like my cousin, who has come to regret it and is now letting it grow out. My sister, however, has not realized this fact. Can you please confirm for me that it is simply not possible, nor should it be expected, to be able to run your fingers through naturally curly hair? If you print this Q&A, I can show it to my sister and maybe that will convince her.

Ouidad: I love your question. When I was little and when my sister use to get on my nerves. In order to get her back, I would wait till she had finished her hair and was ready to walk out the door to go to school. I would run my fingers through her hair and then run for my life. I still do it to this day when I see her, for old-times sake. Actually, no one should run their fingers through curly hair. What happens is that the hair will fan out into such expansion and take away the smooth curl pattern. If you must touch your hair, you can play with curly hair by picking up some of the curls and repositioning them. Or, one can play by teasing with the tabs of your fingers at the root of the hair to create movement.

Q: I have decided to stop fighting my curls and to embrace them however. I had my hair straightened about 7-8 months ago by thermal reconditioning. Now I have 3 inches of curly outgrowth and then straight hair. Any suggestions during this transition from straight to curly? Should I cut it off? Any info would be appreciated. I recently read ‘Curly Girl.’ What do you think of her care techniques?

Ouidad: Congratulations on your decision to embrace your curls! I see your situation often. There are several suggestions. One, you can soften the new growth a bit to break the visual difference of the two textures of hair. Two, you can have your hair sliced on the upper layer of the hair to create a movements giving a layered look, and shorten it a little. Now my last suggestions is to cut it short, but believe me you can have fun growing it out. As far as the care techniques in ‘Curly Girl,’ I don’t mind most of them, but I really don’t agree with no shampooing.

Q: Can certain ingredients in hair products make you break out? The reason I’m asking is that I am currently using shampoo and conditioner that do wonders for my hair, but they make me break out around my hairline.My routine is I condition every day but shampoo every two to three days. .

Ouidad: I like your routine for you hair care. As far as ingredients are concerned, I believe that it is possible to break out. I would recommend to have them checked by a dermatologist to figure our exactly what ingredients are causing you to break out and switch to products that are free of these ingredients. Or, you can try to shampoo and condition your hair staying away from your hair line and see how that works, if you really like these products.

Q: I recently turned 20 years old. From grades 8 through 11, I wore my curly hair up in a bun/ponytail. I’ve been wearing it straight all the time even up to now. Since I just turned 20, I decided to go back to curls. But it’s been soo long since I’ve had them. I don’t know what to do with them. My main question is hair products. My hair is a 3b, but is extra kinky at the roots especially in the front (that’s the part that scares me away from my curls”> and I would like to use a hair product to help weigh down my hair. Or is there a way to tame my roots? Any suggestions? Also, my poor hair is very damaged from all the heat I’ve used on it. What could I use to help that? It’s been a while since I’ve actually seen my curly hair and I would like to welcome it back into my life.

Ouidad: Lucy, I’m glad that you have decided to welcome your curly hair back. Frankly I think its about time. People like you are my favorite clients. Follow these steps and enjoy your curls. I’m a strong believer in Deep Treatment. Use every two weeks for beginner clients, then once a month.Shampoo every 2nd or 3rd day and the days you don’t shampoo, wet and condition hair only.Your styling lotion should be light-weight humidity blocker.. You see, if your hair is restructured enough, your hair will have its own internal weight, and you don’t need to weigh it down with products. Keep in mind that products that are big on oils, waxes, and silicones cause the hair to dry out and get out of control, even more so in the long run. Remember my philosophy: “Less is More” It works in all areas of curly hair care. Shampoo less often. Touch your curls less. Use light-weight, breathable products. Use as few products as possible so that you’ll create an easy, manageable curl regimen. Now that we have your hair in the right condition, let’s work on your kinky curls in the front. You can do a spot softening, which is a gentle chemical treatment that shapes the kink into soft curls like the rest of the hair. Or, when styling, add a drop of Deep Treatment to your gel and roll the front around your index finger to set the curl. Now, Lucy, you follow these tips and let me know of your results. Enjoy.

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