By Maria Alacantra
It’s no secret that having a head of curly hair comes with its own set of commandments for what to do and not to do if you want it to look good. Many of us curly girls have, at one time or another, pined over someone else’s springy locks while staring at our ball of frizz in the mirror. The sad truth is that doing the simple low-maintenance things we see others doing on TV can result in disastrous situations. Thankfully in this day and age, we are encouraging women to put down the heat tools and learn what it takes to rock the best versions of their natural hair textures. The following seven steps will guarantee all curly goddesses not only achieve the curls they desire, but also keep them that way!
Being a curly haired girl myself, I was surprised I’d never heard this term until my adult life. Co-washing means skipping shampoos every other time in favor of rinsing your strands and conditioning as normal so that your scalp doesn’t get dried out. According to curly hair experts John D of TRESemme and dermatologist Dr. Shari Hicks-Graham, the condition of your scalp can play a huge role in having a healthy head of curly hair. John D states, “Dry scalp and dry hair come hand-in-hand. Curly hair in particular is naturally more dry by nature, so it’s important to keep your hair and scalp nourished and moisturized.” Hicks-Graham has even chimed in, “Natural, curly hair does not wick oil from the scalp to the ends of the hair shaft as easily as straight hair. The twists and turns of the hairs make this physically more difficult than for bone straight hairs.” Doing something as simple as skipping the shampoo once in a while can go a long way! And when you do have to shampoo, opt for a product free of sulfates to avoid further drying out your strands.
If your locks coil, then you have already experienced the pain of brushing them dry. Not only does doing so cause a frizzy mess, but the sheer friction can cause a ton of breakage that we don’t want. Waiting until your strands are lubricated with conditioner under running water while gently running a detangling comb through them can do a great deal for the health of your curls.
- Drying Properly
It’s time to lose the head towel and pick up that soft cotton t-shirt laying around that you never even wear anyway! Roughly drying your hair with a towel can cause your curls enough stress to last you until the next wash. Instead, gently pat and squeeze your strands dry with a cotton t-shirt. Your curls will thank you when they’ve dried!
- Leave-In Conditioner
Because of the fragile nature of perfectly coiled strands, it is imperative to use products like leave-in conditioners while your hair is still wet in order to lock in your hair’s natural texture and give them a barrier of protection.
Here comes the tricky part. Many curly-haired queens will divulge the vastly different ways they choose to style their hair, but doing so will ultimately depend on your preferences! One thing is for sure, however. Whether you’re scrunching your strands with your hands or coiling bits and pieces around your finger, always start from the bottom of the strand and never disturb the curl once it’s formed! Also, air drying is always best, but if you find yourself wanting to blow dry your hair, always make sure to use a diffuser attachment and let your curls rest on top of the air as it points upwards towards your scalp. This is the best way to preserve the integrity of your curl pattern.
So, you’ve done all of the steps above and have amazed all possible on-lookers as they ogle at the masterpiece springing out of your scalp. It’s time for bed and you simply lay down and close your eyes, you’ve earned it. WRONG! I think we can all agree that a curly hair routine can get tiresome, so don’t create more work for yourself by not protecting your hairstyle at night! The friction from your pillowcase can wreak havoc on the perfectly styled coils you worked so hard to achieve. Instead, consider “plopping,” otherwise known as carefully wrapping your hair in an old t-shirt in a way that won’t stress out your curls overnight. Opting for a cute silk bonnet from your local beauty store is always an option too! Here’s a video for my DIY babes that explains what plopping is and how to do it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p50-7HvnwN8
For those of us that may be running late or simply don’t want to wash our hair in order to achieve the perfect head of curly hair we want, we opt for refreshing! This means we “refresh” our hair styles by misting our strands with water and reapplying products as we normally would out of the shower while the strands are moist to get our do’s looking the same as they did on day one! Just be wary of using too many products that don’t mix well as they can lead to buildup and cause stress on your scalp. Dr. Hicks-Graham weighs in on the issue saying, “If thick pomades are used to cosmetically enhance the shine of this curly hair, it can often trap this yeast and oil onto the scalp and make the problem worse.” If you ever find yourself in that situation, a gentle clarifying shampoo can do the trick of getting rid of buildup.
There you have it, the seven holy grail tips all curly-haired goddesses can use to maintain their beautifully healthy head of curls! While we don’t always follow everything perfectly (who does?), sticking as closely to this routine as possible can do wonders for your curly hair.