Curly hair expert Christo recalled a local African-American TV personality who came to him in desperation.
Her producers didn't like her long, kinky hair and had requested she get a straighter look. Christo didn't straighten it, but used a biosoftener to give her looser, sleeker curls.'Unfortunately, the corporate world says you have to have straight hair or you have to pull your curls back to be professional,' said Christo, who opened Christo Fifth Avenue last year. 'It’s discrimination.'
Chris Baran, global artistic director for Redken, believes it's a misconception that people with long, flowing curly hair can't be taken seriously.'Anybody who says curls can't look professional obviously doesn't have curly hair,' Baran said. 'As long as you have a proper haircut and you're styling it properly, it can look professional.'
Whether you're a lawyer or a doctor, an television anchorwoman or an accountant, there are styles, accessories and products that can make curly hair look more professional.'For those who want to take every precaution, get it up and off your face,' Baran said.
According to 'Dress for Success,' hair must be off your hair in a business environment to provide 'a more honest appearance,' Baran said. That may mean pulling it back in a ponytail, a french twist, a headband or a bun. Baran also likes loose braids, with a few tendrils falling out to create more softness.
Products can also help eliminate the halo effect when frizz takes over. He recommends using a little of Redken's Concrete - a styling paste with a hold power of 22—to control hair around the face. To define the curls, he advises using some Lush Whip. And in your desk drawer, keep a little Vinyl Glam silicone shine spray, some elastic bands, a barrette and a spray water bottle.'The hair goes back into spiral curls rather than frizz,' he said.
Jason Yates, creative director for Farouk Systems, said women need to have options. A lot of clients may have a conservative job but a wild night life.'During the day, hair needs to be under control,' Yates said. 'For evening, you can go a little crazy.'
He likes styles and colors that can look sleek and controlled during the day, but can have a different look after hours. He likes parting long hair low on the side and pulling it back in a low ponytail, letting the curls go wild in the back. A few tendrils can be pulled out around the face for a softer look. By using panels of colors, different colors are visible depending on the hair is styled.
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Laurent said hair that's too long can look 'hippieish.' He likes the curly bob and a loose ponytail for work. And to provide a more defined curl, he likes to apply his Prive Formule Aux Herbes Leave-In Treatment and his Curl Activating Creme around small sections of hair, twistin them around the fingers and allowing them to dry like that. When diffusing the hair, he said don't move it at all to create bigger, looser curls.
Lorraine Massey, author of 'Curly Girl' and owner of the Devachan salon in New York, recommends keeping hair flatter and less frizzy. Once you allow the curls to dry, don't scrunch them. Other styles she recommends include pulling two strands of hair from either side of the head and tying it loosely at the neck. Then keep a scarf on for five minutes. When you remove the scarf and allow the curls to dry naturally or a diffuser for a softer look.
But ultimately, she said, it's not the hairstyle that determines whether someone is good at their job.'Knowing that you are professional is what makes someone professional, no matter whether your hair is curly or straight,' Massey said. 'Curly hair is not a disability.'
Most curl experts believe that women with curly hair have the power to change attitudes about curls in the workplace by accepting rather than fighting their curls. And it's changing already, with more women with curls showing up on the fashion runways and in magazines.'Sometimes, you just have to wear your hair the way you want to rather than following trends,' Yates said. 'It's refreshing to the eye and soon everyone else starts to follow. I personally like wild hair rather than hair that's too perfect.' 'If we continue to embrace curly hair and we show people how to create different styles, then curly hair will be more accepted,' Christo said. 'Then, hopefully, the corporate world will see curly hair different. We can all help change attitudes, one curl at a time.'
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