My post about kids with curly hair seems to have been popular enough to warrant an Adult Version, so here you have it:
What Noemi Does To Her Own Hair, Which May Or May Not Work For You.
For those of you just joining us now, this is me and my current hairstyle:
I think (my mom can chime in here, if she’s so inclined) I had mostly just wavy hair as a child, but things seemed to have morphed during puberty giving me a head full of curls I butchered with short, unflattering cuts until I finally grew it long in high school. At which point I simply changed what direction I took in my abuse of my hair, and that is by soaking it in a disgusting L’Oreal product called Pumpin’ Curls, which is essentially rubbing alcohol, and carries the warning that it is FLAMMABLE.
In college I wore it butch-ass short, and then took the following two years to grow it back out, so it wasn’t until I moved to Seattle in 1999 that I finally had both enough hair and enough of being displeased with it that I decided I should DO something about it. Y’all, I didn’t have the internet at home in 1999, so I’d go to the local library to check my Hotmail. And then, after seeing no job offers in the aforementioned Hotmail account, I’d wander the stacks, trying to look employable.
Which is where I ran across Curly Girl: The Handbook. This book gave me a reason and the tools to change everything about the way I dealt with my hair, and if you’re interested in the science behind curly hair and why you need to baby the shit out of it, this is a good place to start.
I’m not going to bore you with a big long discussion of all the products and techniques I did to get to what I do now (I mean, unless you want me to, via email), so here’s exactly what I do.
I use four products total: shampoo, conditioner, a leave-in conditioner, and gel.
Shampoo and Conditioner:
These are Deva products (made by the company started by the author of the Curly Girl Handbook), and I usually order them online, but some salons do carry them, with the attendant mark-up, of course. If you see this at Target or the grocery store, it’s stock that “fell off a truck,” and you’re going to pay WAY over retail for them., so stick to the salon or the internet.
Low-Poo: I know, it’s an idiotic name. This is a low-lather shampoo that gets my hair clean, given that I’m unable to shower every day, and have a tendency towards greasy-ness. The 12 ounce bottle pictured above lasts me… uh, a long time? At least a couple months? Gentle enough to use every day.
One Condition: I use a metric fuckton of this, which is why I buy that huge pump bottle size, instead of the 12 ounce size like the shampoo. I shampoo first thing when I get in the shower, rinse, then apply conditioner and go about the rest of my shower. I rinse as the very last thing before I exit the shower, and I don’t COMPLETELY rinse. My hair still feels a bit slippery, not squeaky or rough. If I feel like I’ve rinsed TOO MUCH, I just add a little bit back.
Knot Today: This is a leave-in conditioner, and I use a healthy dollop (I don’t know- usually when you read these types of posts, they tell you amounts in coin sizes. So, uhhhh, silver dollar size? I have no fucking clue).
Curling Custard: This is a gel, and I use a small scoop; the amount that fits on my first three fingertips when I dip them into the tub.
Now, the routine itself:
In the shower, I shampoo and condition, leaving a bit of conditioner in when I do my final rinse. Now, this next part is different than what I talked about doing for kids, because it’s a bit more involved and you’re an Adult, and can handle it. Before I get out of the shower stall, I run my hands over my hair and squeeze some water out. My hair is still SOAKING.
Now we go straight to product. I know, it’s WEIRD. Your hair is dripping down your back, it’s itchy and uncomfortable, but SERIOUSLY. This is the step that changes everything. I put my silver dollar (or whatever) amount of Knot Today in my hands and smear it around on my palms. Then I flip my hair forward and holding my fingers like a rake, I shake my hair loose from its slicked back state. Now the curls are “loose” and I scrunch the Knot Today in all over, scrunching up from the bottom, adding a bit right in the front (where my “bangs” would be, if I had them). Some people will tell you to rake this product through your hair to make sure every strand is coated, but my curl pattern is too delicate for that sort of treatment. If you’re just starting this sort of routine, you’re gonna have to play with it a bit to see what works with your particular hair, so if you think this shake and scrunch technique is TOO delicate for you, try something more.
My hair is still sopping wet. With it still flipped forward, I use that same scrunching motion to dry it with a microfiber towel (I use automotive shop towels). This is all the drying I’m going to do, and I don’t even do that much. Just enough for it to stop dripping.
Now, this part might just be me, but at this point I leave the steamy bathroom and start getting dressed. It’s most likely bullshit, but I feel like the transition between hot bathroom to cool bedroom “shocks” the hair cuticle shut, preventing it from losing more moisture. I TOLD YOU IT WAS MOST LIKELY BULLSHIT. I DO IT ANYWAYS.
Once I’m dressed, I flip my head forward once more, and again with the scrunching motion, add in the Curling Custard, concentrating on the ends of my hair. And that’s it. My hair is still very wet, but that’s all I’m going to do with it for the rest of the day. The hardest part from here on out it keeping my hands out of it- the more I mess with it before it’s dry, the more I disturb the curl pattern. When I worked, the 15 minute drive to work was just enough time to let my hair “set.” I’d arrive at the parking garage, scrunch the curls one last time, and TA-DA!
It sounds like a lot, but I GUARANTEE it takes less time than blow-drying and flat ironing. Try it!
Some additional thoughts:
If you’re using silicone based products to tame the frizz or as a “heat protectant” because you flat iron, you’re going to want to do a clarifying shampoo first before you try new products. Those silicones have coated your hair shaft, and these no-detergent shampoos aren’t going to be strong enough to remove this buildup.
Your hair is gonna look worse before it looks better. I know, this TOTALLY blows. Start the first time on a Friday night, so you have the weekend to throw yourself a pity party and write me a scathing email about how you wasted at least 15 minutes reading all these words and your hair looks like shit. It’s cool, I can take it. Generally, you should stick with it for 2 weeks, but I started seeing a difference by the third day (so, Sunday in my hypothetical above).
If it’s cold where you are, you’re also up against the dry air, which is counterproductive to all this moisturizing you’re trying to do. You can do as much drying as possible at home using a diffuser, or you can wait to try this when it’s warmer, or you can have frozen hair (this was my choice. I know, I know. Colds are still caused by viruses).
The importance of a good hair stylist cannot be understated. They don’t need to be specially trained and only do curly-haired clients, although that’s not a bad thing. What they do need to know is how to cut curly hair in general (like no bobs that end around the ear where all the hair is one length, JESUS H. CHRIST, even people with STRAIGHT hair knows that gives you triangle head like that Dilbert chick); and how to use thinning shears. NaturallyCurly.com has a tab where in salons and stylists in all 50 states are rated by other people with curly hair, sometimes at great length, so if your current stylist isn’t working for you, you might want to check it out.
YouTube has a bajillion videos with all kinds of women with all kinds of hair types doing these sorts of techniques- it really helped me to watch a real live person SHOW me how to do it.
I don’t have a good “second day” hair routine- if I did my hair the day before, and don’t sleep on it until it is BONE DRY, it looks good enough the next day to wear down (although I think some of this has to be attributed to the CUT, which has that tousled-just-out-of-bed look to it anyways. My undying gratitude to my stylist, Kellianne). After that it’s a million and one variations on the bun/ponytail. If you find something that works for you, drop me a line, eh?
If it’s not painfully obvious by now, I like to talk hair, so feel free to tell me what works for you.