Dana Treat – Treat Yourself

Curly Hair Public Service Announcement

Posted October 11, 2012

Okey dokey.  I’m going to talk about my hair.  This is not a vanity project.  I am not going to tell you how gorgeous my hair is and how amazing I am at styling it.  There will be no beautiful photos of me and my hair, no how-to-step-by-step shots of me from wet to dry.  This is a public service announcement for those of us who have curly hair and struggle with it.  You may be a curly haired person who has already gone down this path and if so, you are wondering how did I not figure this all out sooner?  I have no idea.

Also, please let me say that if you are looking for better visuals, more verbose directions, specific product endorsements, just google “curly girl method” and you will be amazed by what is out there.  I am at the beginning of this journey and I just wanted to lay out what is working for me.  We all hear claims by companies that some product or method will Totally Change Your Life!!!  I have fallen prey to various claims over the years, especially with skin care and/or makeup, and my life has never been totally changed.  Nor has my skin.  This new way of relating to and caring for my hair has not changed my life, of course.  But it has changed my hair and my feelings about it.  Enough so that I want to share.  This post is not sponsored by anyone other than me.  I’ve linked to a few things that I have used and liked.  I just want to make it easier for you.

I’ve had curly hair all my life.  Straight haired people, say it with me, “Oh I love your hair!  I’ve always wanted curly hair!”  Really?  If so many staight-haired people wanted curly hair, then why are there places to get your hair blown out straight cropping up left and right?  These are things I don’t understand.  Curly hair is a challenge.  It never looks the same from day to day.  It tends to frizz.  It misbehaves in humidity.  It can be awkward and bed-head can be terrifying.

The history of my hair is that it was mostly short as a young child, mostly long as a teenager and into my 20’s, and mostly short as an adult.  I think, overall, I look better with short hair.  My curl is medium to quite curly.  Somewhere during my big hair phase (it was the 80’s and it was big), I realized that I am a relatively small person and I have a lot of hair and the proportion was just off.  I waited a few years until I had the confidence to cut it off and spent the rest of my adult life with it short.

This new way of being all started soon after our move to Oakland.  I live in Rockridge.  There are about 20 hair places in Rockridge.  I’m not kidding.  Because of this, I suddenly became aware that there are whole product lines devoted to curly hair.  How did I not know this before?  They must be in Seattle too but I was not aware of them.  I had never googled “curly girl method”.  I just used what I used and dealt with my hair on a day by day basis.  About 80% of the time I didn’t like how it looked and 20% of the time, I did.  I was in the midst of a slight grow-out with a giant chop looming in the future because of that 80/20 and now I’m feeling like I might even grow it long.  Ish.  I walked into one of those 20 salons in my neighborhood, one that had a giant advertisement in the window for curly hair products and asked some questions.  The next day, I liked my hair.  Four weeks later, I still like it.   I think, all in all, my hair looks different because a convergence of things.  Products, method, cut, and a dryer climate doesn’t hurt.  Let me break it down for you.

1.  The Cut.  There are a million people out there who cut hair.  See someone who is good at cutting curly hair.  Preferably someone who has curly hair themselves.  Some curly haired people will tell you that you must see someone who will cut your hair dry.  I’ve never had my hair cut dry and I’ve gotten a lot of good haircuts.  I think the person and their understanding of curly hair is more important than the method.  Most reputable places will allow you to do a consult, often for free, before deciding on a stylist.

2.  The Washing.  Up until very recently, I washed my hair everyday.  Always.  And now not anymore.  I guess in general no one should wash their hair everyday because it is unnecessarily drying and throws off the natural oils that the scalp produces.  My stylist told me I should wash my hair once or twice a week and that it would take a couple of weeks for my hair to readjust.  I have to admit, this was a hard one for me.  I have long struggled with my scalp and at first it was almost unbearably itchy.  Now I am washing my hair every third day and it seems to be going well.   I wet it and condition it everyday and it does not look greasy.  My hair is twice as soft as it used to be and is not frizzy.  And I’m not itchy anymore.  Added benefit, you don’t use as much shampoo and if you color your hair, the color does not fade as much.

3.  The Products.  If you have curly hair, you will want to buy products for specifically for curly hair.  Two months ago, I might have scoffed at this advice.  Shampoo is shampoo and conditioner is conditioner, right?  If I had not seen a complete change in the look and feel of my hair, I would agree with that statement.  Again, I think it is a combination of things that is making my hair look and feel better but the products are an important part.  This may take a bit of time to find what you like.  The place I walked into recommended Jessicurl and just needing a place to start, I went with it.  I’ve been using the shampoo and the conditioner and as soon as I started, my hair changed.  Downside: they have a flat and slightly funky smell and I get Rick Springfield’s Jessie’s Girl stuck in my head every morning in the shower.  I’ve been using a great gel, Seasilk Oil Gel, from my pre-ephihany days and I continue to use and love it.  If you have a beauty supply place near you, I would say that is a good place to start as they tend to carry lots of different lines and sometimes have samples for you to try.  Yes, you will have to invest a bit.  The products I’m using are about $17 each.  I’ve always felt that it was important to use good shampoo so this was not a shock to me.  If you have been using Suave, you might get a bit of sticker shock.  But good products do make a (huge) difference.  It’s a small price to pay in the long run.

4.  The Drying.  If you are taking a terry cloth towel to your hair post shower and vigorously rubbing your hair and blowing it dry, you are not doing your curly hair any favors.  I’ve long known that the brush and the hair dryer are the enemies of curly hair (frizz and frizz!) but I thought all towels were created equal.  Nope.  You will want to either buy a special microfiber towel (DevaCurl makes a good one) or use a long sleeve t-shirt.  I have both and I like the t-shirt method better.  The towel is quicker so if you don’t want to walk around your house for 15 minutes with a t-shirt on your head, I would advise buying the towel.  Either way, you are starting with your hair sopping wet.  Turn off the shower and use your hands to squeeze a bit of water out of your hair but that’s it. 

For the towel: Turn your head upside down and, using the towel, start squeezing the water out of your hair but scrunching it up toward the scalp.  Stop and turn your head right side up and repeat.  Style immediately.  You still want your hair very wet but not dripping when you put the product in.

For the t-shirt: You employ a method called “plopping“.  I know this sounds ridiculous but it works.  My hair is still relatively short but I would imagine this is a necessity for longer hair.  Basically you are lowering your hair, while your head is upside down, onto the t-shirt.  This scrunches the curl against your head and totally eliminates frizz.  While your head is still upside down, you secure the shirt on your head using the sleeves.  I’m not very good at this but the most important thing is that all your hair is covered by the shirt.  I leave mine on for 10-15 minutes.  Take it off, give your head a good shake to loosen the curls from your head, and style immediately.  I always put most of the product in while my head is upside down, and then just a bit more while it is right side up.  You should use more product than you think you need.  Then don’t touch your hair until it is mostly or completely dry.  Then it is all right to use your hands to scrunch your curls.  This will make it look more natural and eliminate any “crunch” from your product.

All right, your turn.  Any tips, tricks, product loves?

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