Taking Pristine Care of Curly Hair: 7 Steps, How-To, Tips, & Products
- All curly hair is NOT created equal. Everything I share in this post is what works for MY hair personally, so my advice is to try it all and work through what doesn't work for you.
- All mixed women don't have the same hair. God, no. Aren't we glad for that?! I've had many mixed women friends, and our hair couldn't all be more different from one another. All "mixed hair" isn't the same, so keep that in mind also.
- I don't want to be judged for having chosen the products I use. Yes, they're expensive and no, I don't tend to use store-bought products. There's nothing more I can say. You can take my advice or leave it - it's YOUR hair. :-)
- I will use terms like "black", "white", & "Mixed" - these are not derogatory terms and are politically proper to use - if that bothers you, I'm sorry. I see myself as black, white and thus, mixed so those are the terms I use. I also call myself a "hybrid", but that's a different discussion. LOL
My whole life I've had curly hair. I was born with naturally curly hair as my father is black and my Mother is white.
But to be honest, my Mom didn't really know what to do with it when I was little - she figured it out and did a great job.
Back in the 80's, it was still kind of unacceptable to have a mixed baby. So there wasn't near as much material around then to educate white women on caring for their little mixed girls' hair.
<<<<< Um pause - Isn't my Mom a bombshell?! >>>>>>
When I look back at pictures of my Mom's hair, I see that it was always a little wavy in photos.
I don't know if she fixed it that way or it was natural, but I think that's where some of my curl came from - the rest would be from my father.
Mixed women DO tend to have wavy or curly hair - I guess it's just a thing. :-)
Growing up, curly hair and looking like I did was a struggle for me.
Not just my skin, but my hair was different, and it made me feel left out.
I actually didn't grow up with my real father, so I actually grew up in a caucasian family in a small, West Texas town with mostly hispanic and white girls - VERY few black girls.
I even had mixed friends back then, but they weren't MY mix - they were hispanic and white or hispanic and something else. I remember only having one or two mixed friends like me, and their hair was MUCH different than mine.
So that left me with a complex. As a girl, you want to LOOK like your friends because you're not astute at that age to the power of your uniqueness, and all that individualistic jazz we know is so sexy in women these days.
Not to mention, I didn't really have strong black female influences around me AT ALL - none, to be exact.
No, what I did instead was go home from school a lot & cry and bawl my eyes out to my white Mom that my hair looked "bad" and "Momma, I want it STRAIGHT." I remember crying a lot about it.
God, I was such a drama queen, and I feel horrible for putting my Mom through that - I mean look how gorgeous my hair was! SMH!
This behavior and complex persisted and got worse. It climaxed one day in my Freshman year of high school when I faked being sick because I HATED my hair.
Oh sweet, sweet girl - I wish you would've known then how special your hair was and not done to it what you did - sigh.
My Mom said, "okay, fine - what do you want?" We ended up getting it professionally relaxed in the Odessa, Texas mall at a Regis hair salon. WORST. THING. I. EVER. DID.
For the next 16 years, I relaxed my hair to make it "straight" and "more manageable". I didn't realize then I was changing the entire texture of my hair follicles and strands. I had repeated bad experiences in salons and was always trying to look like the white girls I was friends with.
This persisted even through college and after. Until about 5 or 6 years ago. Everything changed.
I stumbled into a top salon in North Dallas and met a guy named Luis and a woman named Bimal who helped me change my relationship with my hair.
They both coached me consistently, him my stylist and her, my colorist, visit after visit, that I was choosing the wrong products & needed to stop relaxing it too.
Store-bought products weren't going to cut it for my kind of hair if I wanted it healthy and to get all the relaxer out.
I was nervous about the thought of NOT relaxing my hair. I had almost 2 decades of relaxing under my belt and buddy, I was a pro! I didn't want to take their advice, yet I did. I wanted to challenge the thought of embracing my natural curly hair for ONCE in my life, and as a grown woman now, I was seeing more women of color do this.
They said "um, no - you don't need all that relaxer girl. Start using x-y, and z on your hair and see how it transforms."
So I took their advice nervously and stopped putting relaxers on it. I also cut it a few times, so we could get my virgin hair all the way back. It took a couple of years to get all my virgin hair back and cut off and out the relaxed different version of my hair.
Fast forward to today.
My hair grows like weeds. I KNOW my hair WELL. I get compliments on it no matter HOW I fix it. It's shiny. I know what products I need and where to get them. I know how to save money on them. I know how to fix my curls so they do the same thing every time. In short, I LOVE MY HAIR NOW!!!
Writing this post has made me a little emotional because I look back at all those years I hated my hair. It makes me sad that I hated it so much because now, when I hear women say "omg, YOUR HAIR" when I go in basically ANYWHERE, it makes me feel so good in a very deep, genuine way.
They don't realize how much they are blessing me by saying those things to me - it nourishes places in that little girl I buried for decades.
And there are many days I still have to look in the mirror and say sweet things to that little girl, too. "I love your hair." "You have beautiful hair, darlin'." "Rock it out, T!" And I say them to myself because I need to - I need to encourage and make myself feel the confidence I didn't have all those years.
Those self-affirmations strengthen a little girl inside a woman who now feels VERY comfortable in her hair AND her skin.
Now, let's get into products & overviews
Featured Product of Choice: Kerastase
**this is NOT a sponsored post - I just love their stuff!**
-Curly Hair Regimen Step 1-
Shampoo & Condition Properly
So if you'd like a cheaper alternative, the ONLY line I recommend is L'Oreal Shampoos & Conditioners, period.
Kerastase is their premium line, but it's still L'Oreal.
This is the one I use now - Bain Nutri-Thermique.
It makes my hair feel moisturized and clean in a way no other shampoo does. For curly hair, this is a must.
You need to moisturize the curls from the inside out. Most of the products you've likely bought at the store or in drug stores aren't nourishing your hair from the inside out (even though they claim it).
It's why you feel like your hair doesn't curl right or have gorgeous texture like you want. It's just oils and products sitting on top of the hair and not penetrating the hair cuticle, which curly hair needs to look healthy.
They have a great variety of shampoo & conditioner to meet hair needs!
Try The 'Rinse-Out' Method
What the heck is a rinse-out? I didn't know this until this year. LOL! A rinse-out is just that - it rinses out the hair prior to it being washed. I have discovered that this is GOLDEN for curly locks, and here's why:
Curly hair doesn't need to be washed every day, but we also don't want our hair stinking or feeling dirty. That's where the rinse-out comes in.
You can use it 1) before shampooing to make the hair even more clean or 2) by itself, which is how I use it.
I don't shampoo after I rinse out. So second-day of curly hair (and sometimes 3rd day), I wet my hair really good in the shower and "rinse out". Voila!
I style it like normal, and no shampooing or conditioning needed. It's very interesting how it works and cleans without re-stripping the hair. I love it and recommend it highly for curls!
Using the rinse-out keeps your hair moisturized and healthy and smelling amazing and fresh without stripping it of the essential oils it needs every day.
Curly hair should only be washed 2-3 times a week if you're going to wear it like that all week. Use the rinse-out method and tell me how it works for you.
Conditioners are great. Masks are BETTER. Curls need intense nourishment, as I've mentioned in this post already. If you don't use masks weekly or even daily, welcome to a whole new world. You'll love it!
Kerastase is my brand of choice, so not just any mask will do. Try a few out & see how they work with your hair.
I can tell you that this is the only one I need in life - EVER. It's INTENSE. MOISTURIZING. SOFT. Unbelievably healthy. And it's SO good, I only need it once a week! My hair is so freaking healthy from this stuff. And the smell? Don't even get me started. Only use this after you shampoo your hair - don't use the rinse-out AND a mask.
So here's the possible regimens or combinations I suggest:
- Shampoo + Mask (My FAV)
- Shampoo + Conditioner (dirty hair; ready to start over with styling)
- Rinse-Out and you're done (ONLY and by itself; 2nd and 3rd day curls)
- Rinse-Out + Shampoo + Conditioner (another option for starting over with fresh styling)
These oils are UH-MAZINGGGG. Your hair will LOVE you for using these. And you need to use one or the other every single time you blow-dry or style your hair - even if it's not curly or you're wearing it straight that day.
These oils aren't like store-bought oils. They penetrate the entire cuticle of the hair from the inside, not just on the outside. Your hair will shine from inside out, which is what we want with curls.
Basically, these are hair serums. You know how we have skin serums that actually nourish, heal, & plump the skin? The hair cuticle loves to join the party!
These serums will make the hair shine, plump, look & feel amazingly healthy, and last all day long. I can't do without my oils.
My typical regimen for curly hair
My typical regimen for straight hair
I use the oleo-relax oil before doing the same above. The oils serve different purposes, so when you go to buy, check what the bottles and descriptions say.
The relax oil stops frizz and is good for when I'm applying intense heat, like when I straighten my hair. The elixir ultime is just good, in general. But honestly, I use them both interchangeably almost daily.
It really doesn't matter what you use if you have curly hair - just ensure you're using an oil each time you wash your hair before applying other products.
Styling: Curl Creme
"Welcome to curly hair heaven, how may I help you?"
Oh, you want a MIRACLE CURLY HAIR POTION? No problem! I'll take you to it.
LADIES - welcome to my newest FAV from Kerastase - Curl Fever UP. IN. HERE.
This stuff is wonderful for curls!
It's hydrating, defining, has a NO-CRUNCHY feel, and has anti-frizz built into it. Not to mention it remembers the shape of your curls, so it defines them without making them crunchy.
I heard this is possibly going off the market, so I'm having a slight coniption FIT. However, I'm also giving you the BEST alternative and BEST-KEPT-SECRET sold at WALMART that works almost exactly the same, in my opinion. And yes, I DO use it.
It's the Vital Care hair gel. I mean, it costs a whopping $2.97, so if you don't want to use the Curl Fever, use THIS. I promise you'll love it! Same affect, different price point. Doesn't make the hair crunchy like any other gel on the market. It also comes in a bottle so big, it can last an entire year or MORE, depending on how much you use.
Just put 3 or 4 pumps of either of these products in your hair after you put the oils in it.
Styling: AIR-DRY, DON'T Diffuse
When I see women at the beauty stores looking for a diffuser, I want to scream, "Nooooooo - don't do it!"
Look, there's nothing wrong w/ diffusers - I do have one for emergencies where I need my hair dry for a different style I'm wearing that day, but honestly, air-dry is the way to go with curly hair. Do not blow-dry curls in any way if you want pure definition and manageability!
THIS IS MY SECRET to getting the looks people always brag about when I'm out & about or on social media. I don't diffuse. So there you go - my biggest secret besides the products.
Let them air-dry naturally, then you can work your hands through them & spray them lightly and shape them.
Diffusers rush the process and will cause the shape of the curls to modify. This is fine if you need to do an up-do or aren't wearing it down. Those are the times I use diffusers.
Styling: Sprays (Optional)
I know some women are very "anti-hairspray" and I am too, a little.
But there are 2 brands (not store-bought), that make absolutely heaven-smelling sprays.
I mean, it's like putting the best-smelling perfume on, but in your hair - they aren't sticky and people will stop you - IN PUBLIC - and ask what perfume you're wearing. You'll then say "it's my hair spray."
Yes, this happens to me consistently.
These hair sprays smell beyond amazing, and they are the PERFECT ONES - even if you don't have curly hair.
If there were hair spray awards, they would win hairgrammy's from me. DIVINE in every way.
Basically, I apply these VERY lightly to my hair once it starts drying. I want to semi-shape the curls just right before they get all the way dry and provide them some volume.
It's been my joy to share my hair journey with you today, my styling tips, and my #1 products I use every single day.
Please ask me ANY questions you have in the comments, and I'll do my best to answer.
Good luck with your curly hair & making them FIERCE!!!
All photos are my own.