By Sheila Arkee
For a long part of my life, my hair looked like this:
It was big, unmanageable, and I just didn’t know what to do! Back in the day, there just weren’t a lot of resources available on how to deal with curly hair. It wasn’t until I was about 18 in the mid-1990’s that books and styling products specifically for curly hair appeared on the market and utterly changed my life.
This is what my hair looks like now, and I can say that I’ve been in curl acceptance for a good amount of time. Even though I sometimes wish my hair could look like this all the time…
… I love having curly hair because it’s not only versatile, it’s wash and wear! Here are my tricks to achieving healthy and happy curls, and the best part? It doesn’t require spending tons of money on styling products! Yay for curls!
First and foremost, if you have curly hair, get your hands on these books. They really helped me understand my curls and guide me towards curl acceptance.
Curly Girl by Lorraine Massey – the Bible for curls!!!!
Andre Talks Hair by Andre Walker. Andre is Oprah’s main hair man, and this book helped me break down where I was in the curl world. I am proud to say I am a 3B!
Also, visit naturallycurly.com – great info here!
What I use –
1. Conditioner only! You do not need shampoo, believe it or not. Just make sure you agitate your scalp while rinsing off the conditioner, and you’ll be fine, I swear! I avoid any products with silicones because of buildup issues, and have been very happy with the Revitalizing conditioner from Trader Joes.
2. Wide Tooth Comb. The only time I ever use a comb on my hair is in the shower, when the conditioner gives my hair a slip and allows me to run the comb through.
3. T-shirt wrapped around my hair turban style. Regular run-of-the-mill towels can cause frizziness, but a jersey knit eliminates that!
4. Apple Cider Vinegar. Every couple of weeks after conditioning and rinsing out, I’ll take a cup full of ACV, dump it on my hair, and rinse. It helps get rid of buildup, keeps your hair shiny, and NO, you will not smell like salad after you’re done!
5. A light gel. I used to be a big fan of Tigi’s Curl’s Rock past, but then I realized it was only gumming up my hair and making it feel and look like a greasy mess. I stay away from silicones and have never had a problem with gels, which I comb through my hair using my fingers. As much as you may want to coat your hair with a heavy duty product, you really do not need to – just a little structure will do!
6. A good oil. Right now, as I am typing these words, I am sitting down with my hair drenched in sweet almond oil and up in a bun. Once a month or so, I’ll oil up my hair, throw it in a ponytail or bun, and let the oil moisturize my hair and scalp. You’ll love how great your hair looks and feels afterwards! FYI, olive oil left my hair feeling softer and more supple than any other oil I’ve tried!
7. Avocados and flax seed. You are what you eat, and eating good fats helps your hair and skin to look healthy and shiny.
Here are some more of my secrets:
1. Get a good cut with long layers, avoiding any layers near the crown of your head. Find a hairstylist who specializes in curly hair. I know so many other curly heads who are paranoid about getting their hair cut because of previous bad experiences, self included. The best way to find such a stylist is through word of mouth. See a curly head you like? Ask them who does their hair.
2. Don’t wash your hair too much. Sounds nutty, but true. The less often I wash my hair, the better it looks, which means going 3 to 4 days without a wash to help keep your hairs natural moisture intact. If I’m working out I go into the gym 70’s style with a sweat band and if I really need help with oilies, I’ll use a dry shampoo.
3. You do not need to use a gel, curl enhancer, curl spray, curl enhancer, and hairspray all at once. Keep things simple! A light gel or paste is all you’ll really need. Right now I put a light gel in my hair post wash, toss my hair across my pillow, and get my sleep on. If it’s cold at night, I’ll put my hair in a french braid.
I don’t really use heat on my hair, except when its super cold or I’m flat ironing my hair.
4. Whatever you do, please do not ever run a brush through your hair. My mom mistakenly did this for EVER and it only made me look like a poofy ball of fluff. Not cute!
If you have curly hair, what are some of your favorite hair styling tricks?