Natural curls: a textured blessing or a frizzy curse?
For my curly-haired self, it’s been a long, perilous journey from the latter to the former, having always proudly nailed the ‘wilderness-chic’ vibe, but struggling to resemble anything close to chic or sleek.
Despite the help from underestimating hairdressers and straight-haired friends, I learned the hard way that curls are a whole new ball game.
However, my failed hair experiments were not for nothing! I give to you my best 5 tips for taming the beast and owning your curls.
LET’S CUT TO THE CHASE
When attempting to refine your curly look, the best place to start is in the salon chair. Firstly, don’t be afraid to lay down the law with your hairdresser and get a dry haircut. That way, your curls are styled as they normally sit, which, in my experience, is much more preferable to having your hair cut wet and texture-less and watching it dry into a triangular afro monstrosity.
With length, keep an open mind. I used to favour long, weighed-down curls for a wavier look, but a well-styled shorter cut à la fashion blogger Zanita Whittington can be a lower-maintenance breath of fresh air.
TO LAYER OR NOT TO LAYER?
Layering can be a dangerous game when it comes to curls – too much creates frizz, whereas too little makes for a boxy, blockish mass akin to Weird Al Yankovic. Layering in sizeable chunks from the chin down is a safe and effective way to shape the face and volumise without creating dreaded frizz.
CONCENTRATE ON CONDITIONING
If you’re suffering from dryness, frizz or frazzled ends, it’s time to re-evaluate your shampoo/conditioner routine. Your scalp’s natural oils have a trickier time travelling down curlier hair, so conditioner is a curl’s best friend. Invest in some leave-in conditioner, like TIGI’s Curl Spray, that moisturises (but doesn’t weigh down) your luscious curls. I’ve also eased back on the foamy shampoo, as the sodium lauryl sulphate that creates lather actually lifts the hair’s cuticles and creates frizz galore. Why not try a sulfate-free product like Redken Curvaceous Sulfate-Free Shampoo?
THE WHAT, HOW AND WHY NOT OF HAIR PRODUCTS
Put down anything containing too much alcohol, wine excluded. Alcohol crunches up the hair, absorbing the precious moisture your curls need for fullness, bounce and volume, so look for water-soluble gels and aerated mousses like Pantene’s Silky Moisture Whip to volumise your roots, and some argan oil like Argania Hair Oil to seal in moisture in your ends. A liberal dose of sea-salt spray from brands like Evo and Muk can give you a fresh, tousled look without the static; just apply to damp hair and air dry.
CAUTION WHEN DRY
First off, throw away those synthetic brushes. Those plastic bristles are a world of hell, creating frizz, fraying your hair and damaging your precious curl formation. If you want to tousle or volumise, gently rub your roots with your fingertips in small circles, or try a wooden brush like The Body Shop’s Bamboo Hair Brush.
Finally, as much as we’d all like to believe straight hair would be so much simpler, too much blow drying and straightening can damage your curls’ spiral shape, so blow dry at a minimum and with a diffuser, and keep the straightener heat below 200 degrees.