Curls, Curls, Curls

I love my curly hair. Like most people, I went through a really goofy phase in about 5th or 6th grade, when my hair was out of control and I still hadn’t learned how to handle it. Once I started to figure it out and managed to grow out the crazy hairstyle I had been given (a combination of mom’s influence, hair dresser’s lack of knowledge about curly hair, and the generally bad hairstyles of the day) I really loved it and always received lots of compliments. In fact, my hair is really a part of my identity. A few years ago I came across a book called Curly Girl by Lorraine Massey. I was thrilled that someone finally decided to address the needs of curlies. My youngest sister was also struggling with her hair at the time (hers is even thicker and curlier than mine) and I thought it would be something I could share with her. So, I took the book home and dove right into it. I was very surprised to find that the advice given in the book went against everything we have ever been taught about hair care. It suggested ditching the shampoo and switching over to a no-poo or low-poo routine. This means using water, conditioner, and friction (via fingertips) to cleanse the scalp. Most shampoos contain sulfates which strip the hair of moisture, something that curlies really need. It also suggested avoiding silicones, which build up on the hair, and are in just about every shampoo and conditioner you would find at the drugstore. I decided to give the routine a whirl and I liked the results, but I wasn’t in love with it. Something seemed to be missing. Eventually, I fell off the bandwagon and went back to the usual suspects (Dove, Pantene, Garnier, etc).

A few months ago, a co-worker (also a curly) brought a copy of the book to work and I decided to give it a try again. This time I enlisted the help of the community of curlies at naturallycurly.com. I spent a LOT of time reading about ways to not only care for my hair, but ways to style it. A lot of the curlies at nc.com use the Curly Girl (CG) method, but they also have tons of knowledge about other factors that can influence hair behavior (texture, porosity, elasticity, and protein-sensitivity to name a few). I also learned a lot about which ingredients to look for and which to avoid. I have been using the Curly Girl method now for about 4 months and I am loving it. I will never go back to the products I used before. I am still working on my routine a bit. I don’t think I have found what is known as the “holy grail” of product combinations, but I have the basics down for the most part. I would love to eventually have a completely natural routine, but I need to do some more research and experimentation.

You may wonder why in the world would I want to tell you about my hair care routine and why in the world would anyone care? Believe me, if you have curls and don’t know how to manage them, they can be a nightmare. I can’t imagine not knowing what I know about how to care for my curls and if I can share that with someone else who is struggling, then it’s worth the time to post this.

Currently, I am using:

Giovanni 50/50 Hydrating Calming Conditioner -Available at Walmart for about $7-$8, I use this daily, as a conditioner wash, or co-wash. I put conditioner on my fingertips and massage it into my scalp. Then I put more conditioner on the length of my hair and detangle it with my fingers. I rinse with my head upside down and while scrunching my hair upward.

Giovanni Tea Tree Triple Treat – This is an amazing, cool, tingly, low-poo, also available at Walmart. I only use this about once a week.

Honey Rinse – I use this during the summer months when it’s humid outside. I dissolve around 1 tsp. of honey in water in a squirt bottle. Cool water works best. After I rinse out my conditioner, and while my head is still upside down, I squeeze this rinse onto my hair and scrunch it upward into my hair. I leave this in my hair. Sometimes if my hair seems like it needs more moisture, I will scrunch a dime-sized amount of conditioner into my hair after this and leave it in as well.

Flax Seed Gel – I love this because it is all natural, very inexpensive, and I can make it myself at home. I mix two cups of water with 1/3 cup of flax seeds and bring it to a boil. Then I turn down the heat and allow it to simmer for about 10 minutes. Immediately strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a storage container and allow it to cool. It should have a snotty consistency, like egg whites. Once I strain it, I add about a tablespoon of aloe vera gel and a few drops of lavender essential oil. Again, I usually scrunch this into my hair in the shower while my head is upside down and still wet. As much as I love this stuff, it has to be kept in the refrigerator or it will go rancid and even then it goes rancid in about 2 weeks. Adding the aloe vera and lavender oil seem to make it last longer. The key to using this stuff is that you have to use a LOT, more than you think you should. Your hair should feel squishy and slimy. It won’t when it dries, trust me.

Microfiber Towel for scrunching and plopping – I purchased an inexpensive, microfiber hand towel for drying my hair. It creates less friction than a cotton towel, thus creating less frizz. I usually use it to scrunch my hair upward and get some of the moisture out, then I plop with it while I am getting dressed.

What is plopping? I am glad you asked. It’s a method for putting your hair in a permanent scrunch so that it will maintain curl while it dries a bit. There is really no way to describe it, except to show you this video. This is pretty much how my routine looks, except I don’t use her products and I don’t usually use a hair dryer. I also plop a little bit differently, but it’s the same principle:

Click HERE for the video from the Jessicurl website. Click Play All for the complete tutorial.

One of the keys to styling curly hair is to keep your hands off! Once I have my styling gel in, I just let it dry naturally and DO NOT touch it until it is dry. Once it is dry, I can scrunch it a little if there is any crunchiness from the gel.

This seems like a really long process, but it only takes me a few minutes and it is so worth it!

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