Curly hair is notorious for its dryness and unpredictability, but before you reach for that heat think about how you care for and style your locks! Join me for a tale or tail (!) about my hair and what I have learnt over the years….
Here’s a little history of me and my hair! I’ve always had quite thick curly hair, unfortunately before I reached my early twenties I had little idea of what to do with it – I tended to blow dry it which would only make it bigger and frizzier and then just tie it into a pony-tail. Having it down and curly in public was a bit of a no-no.
When I got to about 17 I went and got my hair dyed blonde.
Whilst getting my hair dyed for the first time she asked if I wanted it straightened – this was around the first generation of hair straighteners, there were no GHDs and they were really a specialist tool for hairdressers. However as a savvy kid I took down the name of the straighteners and looked them up on the Internet… in two weeks time they arrived at my house!
Thus began my love affair with hair dye and straighteners…everyone liked my new look, my hair looked like I’d had a wig fitted, it was so different! Poker straight, long, thick and a beach-blonde colour, as a 17-year-old girl I was looking my new found hair and the reaction it was receiving!
So for the next 8 years (yes 8!) I straightened my hair basically all the time…I remember going ‘au natural’ one day at University and everyone was like ‘this is your real hair?!’ Over those 8 years my hair got blonder and blonder as the years of highlights built up and the colour got lighter to make a visible difference each time.
The height of my blondeness came in 2008 for a friend’s Wedding.
Over the next couple of years I really noticed that my hair wasn’t as thick as it had once been…in fact it was pretty straggly at the ends. Also it started getting shorter, not longer! The ends were literally ‘snapping’ off every-time I straightened it.
My hair length went from being around my bust area to being above my shoulders! I guess it was my hair just saying ‘enough is enough.’
I then decided I wanted to make a change for my hair, I wanted the length and condition back! I also wanted to appreciate what I have…people always want the opposite in life it seems and I wanted to be able to enjoy the fact that I can do curly as well as straight with my hair! I’ve had lots of ‘straightys’ over the years comment enviously on my hair!
I dyed my hair dark brown in January 2010 – it was a SHOCK! It probably took me a month to adjust. But I stuck to it – I wanted my old hair back!
Now it’s August 2011 and my hair is about 22 inches in length and I have tamed and conditioned my curls. I still dye it slightly darker than my natural hair because I feel it adds the condition to it whilst I’m still growing it out.
Throughout the process of ‘getting to know’ my hair I feel I have learnt the following:
- Bleach is the devil – numerous hairdressers over the years have said to me ‘oh if you look after your hair then dying it is fine.’ I don’t believe that – it strips away all the moisture from your hair.
- Heat is also pretty evil – I still straighten my hair but only for special occasions – it’s great because people notice and it’s shiny and full and lovely! When I straightened it all the time people just got used to seeing me like that and it just became my usual look.
- Curly hair is naturally drier than other types of hair – you don’t have to shampoo every time (it strips the oils like a detergent) but do condition every time and try to leave it on your hair for 5 minutes – shave, sing, body buff do anything while you’re conditioner does it’s job!
- Shampoo the roots then just wash the shampoo out through the length of your hair – it will be clean but not as ‘stripped’.
- Intensive conditioners – these are great! Again curls are all about the moisture to keep their shape, once a week I try to put on an intensive conditioner and leave it on there for an hour…just wrap a towel round your hair for a while and let it infuse in!
- Diet – I’m not a massive fan of fruit but every-time I eat a piece I think about it going through my hair and making it stronger and softer, that bit of positive psychology helps me! Also vegetables and WATER – use vanity as a motivation ; )
- Leave your hair to naturally dry – this has worked so well for my hair – I use a little mousse (picture below) and then just scrunch up my hair – out your hand under the ends of your hair and literally just scrunch it upwards!
- Don’t fiddle with your hair whilst it’s drying!
- Don’t rub your hair together either especially with a towel…instant frizz! Just pat it dry.
- Don’t put conditioner near your roots – if you want curls then the conditioner will weigh them down near the roots – I prefer a little volume so put on the conditioner about an inch away from your roots.
- Don’t over-brush! If I’m curling my hair then I just use my fingers to separate any tangles, my hair curls in the towel turban whilst I’m getting dressed so the job is half done! Don’t brush those curls out!
- Use a wide combed hairbrush when your hair is damp if you have to brush out some knots.
- Alcohol is drying – look at the ingredients in your products.
- Get some layers – I have my hair shaped around my face and then layers in the longer section…it adds body and bounce.
- Don’t split those ends! I’m terrible for this! Curly hair naturally will split more, if you notice any rogue splits then don’t separate them and pull up towards the shaft…you’lll be left with half a hair! If you feel compelled to get rid of them then use scissor and make a blunt end just above the split.
- Getting length – keep the moisture in! Also only go for a cut when you feel your hair needs it, I know they say every 12 weeks but if you look at your hair and it’s kept it’s shape/condition let it grow for another few weeks.
- Use serum – if you notice one curls that hasn’t ‘set’ as well put a bit of serum on it – it will smooth down the frizz and create a curl – you can also use your fingers to wrap the curl around to re-define it.
- Try different products to find the ones that suit you – I really liked the Tigi ‘Curls Rock’ set but the Aveda Curls range did nothing for my hair, so experiment a bit, ask for samples until you find ‘the one’!
So now my hair is nearly back to it’s former glory! I actually really like my curls as I know how to style them properly, if I’m having an ‘off’ day with them I either tie part of it back (Maid Marion style) or I casually put up my curls into a ‘shabby chic’ style…it really is a versatile look, so much more than people whose hair will only do straight and that’s it. I enjoy the fact that when I go straight it’s a treat and I can marvel at how much my hair has grown!
I hope these tips have been of some use to you and LOVE THOSE CURLS!!
Here’s some more pictures and suggestions for you….