Friday, March 1, 2013

My Six Tips for Curly Hair Care

these are the type of photos you get when your husband's not home to take the picture, and you are impatient. ;P

Let me begin by saying, if you have curly hair or you have a child with curly hair, you understand the unique and sometimes terrible struggles that come with having curly hair. Yes, curly hair is beautiful and sometimes I LOVE my hair, but there are other days that I spend at least 45 minutes drying and straightening my hair into submission.

 Before I begin sharing how I care for my own hair, I think I should start with describing my hair so that you can get an idea of which aspects of my routine might work for you.

My hair is big. It's big and curly. If I had been in my 20s during the 80s, I would have been the envy of every young woman who ever used those foul-smelling chemicals to give herself an at-home perm. Seriously. Slap some light blue eyeshadow on me and some acid-washed jeans, and I'd look like one of the actors in Working Girl.

I've got a few tight spirals, mostly corkscrew-type curls.

A few years ago I spent every morning ironing my hair straight and doing every thing I could to get all the curl out. You see, when I was a kid, I had completely straight hair. It wasn't until middle school that my hair started developing this very strange texture. It was puffy and coarse. I had no idea what was going on with my hair (or my body for that matter), and I had no idea that it was actually changing textures. I was miserable at the time. If there were any photos still surviving from my middle school years, I'd share them. Although, I'm pretty sure any of the rare photos I posed for during my most awkward middle school years, have long been thrown away or stored in some place I've managed to forget about.

I remember one night when I was in eighth grade, going over to a friend's house and watching her blow dry her hair with a diffuser and then adding some mousse to it. I loved her curly hair, so I asked her to help me do the same thing to mine. It wasn't until that magical night that I discovered my hair had actually become curly! I couldn't believe it! The puffy, coarse hair I had been tying up in pony tails and keeping locked up in a braid, actually just needed something to keep it together in the little ringlets I had developed.

As it goes with many girls and women (unfortunately) I would eventually learn to despise my natural traits as I got older. Although, now that I'm in my 20s, I find myself turning back to what God gave me, and learning to accept it, and I even often think my hair is pretty.

After all that pain and suffering, ;P I've learned a good deal of what it takes to keep curly hair healthy and looking nice. There are all different methods for maintaining naturally curly hair (here are two that I've researched a bit and taken some tips from: 1 & 2), but this is what works for me!

these are my favorite products for my hair. Here's where you can buy them: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

1. It is important to use the correct shampoo and conditioner. There are chemicals found mostly in shampoos, that will severely dry out curly hair, making it frizzier, more unruly, and more difficult to manage. Here's more on those chemicals. Thankfully, I've found some inexpensive alternatives to the shampoo and conditioner I was using before. My local Trader Joe's carries some options and because more people have become aware of the effects of these chemicals on hair, it is fairly easy to find shampoos and conditioners free of them at most drugstores or big box stores.

2. Consider cutting down on how often you wash your hair. I know, I know, it sounds gross to only wash your hair only once a week, like some people claim to do. If you are the type of person whose hair gets oily a few hours after showering, maybe try only washing every other day. Although, once you change your hair care items to ones that are curl-friendly, you may find your hair becomes less oily since it isn't constantly being stripped of it's own oils (thus having to overcompensate). My next tip will help you on those days in between washes.

3. Find a dry shampoo that works for you. I will probably never again go without dry shampoo! This stuff is a lifesaver and really helps me on those days in between washes. Lately I've been going about 3 days without washing my hair. So after showering--on a day I don't wash my hair--I just spray dry shampoo on my roots, let it sit for a minute, and then I'm good to go! This stuff is also great at giving volume and is awesome for making those occasional blowouts last a few more days.

4. Use a product to hold those curls. Unless you have extremely moisturized hair--with the sun, swimming, showering, styling, etc., most of us don't--it is important to find a product that you can apply while your hair is damp, to hold and define your curls. It can be the difference between having a lion's mane and having that sexy, beachy, I-just-came back-from-an-exotic-island-look.

5. Reconsider your styling routine. Do you brush your hair often? Do you blow dry it every time you get out of the shower? What do you do to your hair after you've applied your product, but it still needs to dry? I have found that brushing my hair with a plastic bristle brush only serves to break, pull, and tear at my hair. I will usually use my fingers to gently brush through my hair while in the shower, after I've applied conditioner. Every once in a while before I go to bed, I will use a boar bristle brush to comb through my hair. This really helps distribute my natural oils to the ends of my hair without tugging at it too much. Then I'll braid it, go to bed, and shower in the morning! Also, while my hair is damp I always take multiple small sections and just twist them around gently, similar to how you might twist the ends of a little girl's pigtails. This really helps define my curls. While my hair is drying, I'm constantly flipping it from side to side. I'll throw my hair over to my left for maybe 20 minutes, then throw it over to my right for another 20. This helps give me even volume all the way around the crown of my head.

6. Every once in a while, get all that build-up out and deep condition! Since my husband uses a cheap-o shampoo that contains some of those harsh soaps (hey, it works great for him!), I'll sometimes use it to get rid of all the icky build up from my hair products and conditioner. I can always tell it's time to get rid of that gunk because my hair looks dull and suddenly like I have a lot more split ends than I actually do! Before I do that though, I'll use the coconut oil ($5-$10 at most health food stores) to moisturize my scalp and deep condition. I discuss my routine for using the coconut oil in my hair here. I then get in the shower and use the cheap shampoo to get everything off (then condition, like usual) and give my hair a fresh start. Viola! Back to beautiful hair!

Remember, curly hair is usually drier than straight hair. Someone once explained it to me by saying, "It is easier for your natural oil to travel down the hair from your scalp in a straight line, than down a curly, windy path." So take extra care to keep that curly hair moisturized and you might just find yourself appreciating your own natural hair! :)

Do you have any great tips for maintaining curly hair?? I'd love to hear 'em!

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