Dear CurlySuzy: I'm new to embracing my curls, and really need some help! I've been wearing my curls the same way for 22 years! Pulled back tight in a ponytail gel and hair spray ... lots of hair spray! Problem is my hair is now thin at the top and I'm sick of it! HELP! I have a mix of 3a and 3b hair. I was looking at the Curly Cocktail Curl & Tonic™. I have the "Curly Girl" book and was looking to do a shampoo free routine, so other than that what else would be good for me? I guess I need everything?

Dear Marisela: I think you are right that the Curl & Tonic™ would be a great place to start. There is a recipe card included that gives really specific instructions. It is the best of the best for your hair type. You hair is probably very stressed out from the hair spray and pulling it back in a ponytail. Try to use products that are water soluble. Hairspray is great for emergency situations but on a daily basis it is just choking the life out of your hair. Be sure to try to use a non-sulfate cleanser most often. It won't get out all the hairspray, but it is a good practice to start moisturizing your hair. Moisture is the key to no frizz and curl definition. Also, a lot of conditioner is great. On some days, many curlies wash their hair with conditioner, alternating with a mild cleanser. Maybe you already know this from the "Curly Girl" book? I think, though, that you probably need to clarify your hair to get the gel and hairspray out. I will give you links to some products that you might like. Also lots of grocery stores are starting to sell non-sulfate cleansers — Tigi Bed Head has one.

The Cocktail™ is great, but be patient, as your hair is adjusting. Give it some time to get used to this new routine. Experiment with products, and if you need your ponytail, try to put a little conditioner in your hair first, then pull it up.

Some links for you:

HPO is a new line we just got in and I love it!! Great cleanser and conditioner, and the Happy Scalp Oil would be great for you.

DevaCare No Poo is a great non-sulfate cleanser.

DevaCare One Condition is great, too.

Another good combination: Jessicurl Gentle Lather Shampoo and Jessicurl Aloeba Daily Conditioner.

This Curl & Tonic™ Curly Cocktail™ is a pricey item but has products that we chose for your hair type that work best together, and there is even a handy recipe card that gives instructions.

Another good combination: CurlKeeper and Re:coil. These two products work really well together. Apply the Curl Keeper on very wet hair and follow with the Recoil. Curl Keeper is a leave-in that really helps with frizz and definition. Re:coil is a curl activator and has some hold to it.

DevaCare Arc AnGell is a great gel that will dry crunchy, so scrunch a little bit when dry and the soft curls will appear.

Tweek is a good curl pick me up that controls frizz — works great over any styling product when hair is dry. It is a liquid hairspray you might like that is healthier for your curls.