How to negotiate with your curly hair

As a lifelong sufferer of the curly hair affliction, I understand where you’re coming from. I’ve been where you are. And it was a dark place. But I have answers, solutions, and a guiding light to help you see your curls as beautiful.

First, curly hair is different from straight. There are hard and fast rules.
Some are just my opinion, some have been passed down from generation to generation. So here’s the first one: never brush curly hair. This is true. Unless, of course, you love that big, bushy, frizzy, ‘Roseanne Roseannadanna’ look. The only time you should EVER brush curly hair is before you wash it. And be sure to use a brush with rounded tips, and get those right on the scalp. We curly folks don’t get much scalp stimulation, so we need to brush down on it to loosen the old skin and bring blood up to the surface of the scalp, which feeds the follicles to continue to grow a healthy crop of curls.

Once in the shower, wash and condition with products designed for curly hair, like AVEDA’s Be Curly line, or their Dry Remedy line, both of which provide lots of moisture to our drier-than-average hair. Use a wide tooth comb to get the tangles out during the conditioning.

Leave the conditioner in for a minute or two, or even five, if you feel the need.  Run your fingers through until all tangles loosen up.  Then rinse for a minute.  Now here’s where this gets interesting.  Keep some light gel and leave-in conditioner on the floor of your shower or on the ledge of your tub, where you can reach it easily.  I use the Aveda Be Curly Style-prep and Aveda Confixor.  Bend from the waist, flipping your hair upside down.  Use two or three pumps of the Curl-prep, and add a quarter-size puddle of the Confixor, mix in your hand.  Now, apply from ends to roots.  Yes, that is backwards from what you usually do, but you want most of the goodies on the ends.  Now squish it through, closing your fists on the curls, and squeeze out the excess.  Wrap your hair in a towel and exit the shower.  Let some of the water absorb into the towel.  When you’re ready to dry your hair, unwrap the towel and get your blowdryer and diffuser attachment on and ready, and start from the back and work your way to the top.  Don’t squeeze your curls, no ruffling allowed–just cradle the curls in the diffuser.  Again, flipping your hair over is a good way to access the top.  You’ll need some practice to find the way that works best for you, but this technique will keep your curls from frizzing and they will also stay intact and spiral beautifully.

Most of us curly folks already know that natural curls are not too consistent.  Some go north, some go west.  So if you want to change direction of some of your wayward ringlets, wrap it around your finger the way you want it to go, and aim the diffuser at it on a high heat, low air velocity setting for a few seconds, then take away the dryer and let it cool down on your finger.  Unwrap and there you have it!  A bouncing and behaving curl.

Curly hair doesn’t like mornings.  It tends to be quite tangly and while you slept, it got involved with your pillowcase’s cotton threads and turned into a cotton ball.  Here are some tips to avoid this phenomenon: Prior to hitting the hay (sorry, that’s an unfortunate pun in a curly hair article), gently pull your hair into a loose ponytail on top of your head.  Even if your hair is bob-length, the longest parts will reach into the soft elastic, and you’ll avoid most of that pillowcase involvement.  Then in the morning, just mist your hair with a moisturizing spray, like the Aveda Dry Conditioner or add some of the Curl-prep to a spray bottle of water and use that.

Washing every other day is a good idea, since the curl negotiation process tends to be a bit lengthy.  It’s funny how people associate curls with ‘wash and wear’ hair.  There is nothing easy about my hair, I need four products and fifteen minutes to wrangle it down to a dull roar instead of the lion’s mane it wants to be.

I hope this gives you some illumination on how to deal with your own curls.  Email me if you have any other questions, I’m happy to help!

Karie Bennett

Atelier Founder and Master Artist

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