Around a year ago, I started wearing my curly hair… well, curly. For over a decade prior I’d forced my curls into straightened submission, before adding (!!) curls with a straightener afterward. This resulted in some major split ends and a fuck-tonne of damage.
Now, 365 days later, I think I have a handle on how to turn my type of curls into something pretty great. I also have mastered how to do this in record time, because I’m a lazy bastard who cannot be taught otherwise.
Quick disclaimer – I can only share my wisdom for MY curls. My background is Greek-Australian, so they’re like big and bouncy but not tight curls. They get a little frizzy but my main issue is shaping the curls and avoiding a crunchy/heavy finish. I have thick hair and a lot of it, but it’s not coarse.
If this sounds like you – welcome to my religion.
1. CBF With Co-Washing
Nope, co-washing was not for me and my hair type. Full respect for anyone who froths the stuff (it’s basically a shampoo/conditioner hybrid for curls) but it left my hair feeling oily and unclean. The people I know who love co-washing usually have coarser hair that needs moisture in spades – mine tends to feel weighed down with heavy products, and given I use styling stuff I need the proper cleanse of a shampoo.
I wash and condition normally, using a mask each week. Here’s what I’m currently using but I’m no loyal bitch.
I’ve been using these for months now, and while I can’t say if they’ve been making my hair grow like crazy bc I haven’t been paying attention (it’s definitely growing, but is it growing faster???) the shampoo leaves my hair feeling light and clean without that squeaky finish that means you’ve gone too hard with the cleansing product, and the conditioner leaves it soft but not heavy. They also smell like delicious minty freshness.
2. Comb Conditioner Through
I used to brush my wet hair when I got out of the shower, but in the interest of keeping the curl shape I’ve learned that combing conditioner through to get rid of tangles while you’re in the shower is best. Then, you can hop out and go brush-free.
I actually brush my curls out after I sleep on them, but I’m going for that real 70s Robert Plant frizzy curl (or Stevie Nicks vibes) so I don’t mind a bit of puffiness and frizz once the shape has been set with styling product. If you want really defined curls though, NEVER BRUSH THEM. EVER. EVEREVEREVER.
50 bucks is a lot to pay for a hair brush, but if you wanna brush your curls out this is my ride-or-die. I find it is gentle enough that it doesn’t tug the curls down leading to lack of bounce, but it gets through the tangles too.
On the cheaper side of life, this shower comb has the handle thingy so you can hang it up, and nice wide-spaced prong things so you don’t snap your sensitive wet hair.
3. Use This Special Hair Towel
This sounds like utter bullshit but I swear to god, this fancy hair towel changed my curl-life. It removes way more excess water from hair, meaning my product works better, drying time is drastically diminished, and I find my curls are less frizzy because I’m applying way less heat to get them set.
It’s an investment, but it lasts forever. They also come in smaller (cheaper) sizes for shorter hair.
4. Use A Cream
I started out using mousse to style my curls, and sometimes – especially in high summer when the humidity is intense – I still go there, because mousses give heaps of body. So if you’ve got fine hair that needs more oomph, try a mousse (options below).
But I moved across to creams because I found they always left my curly hair soft and bouncy, never crunchy and dry. That sounds like a peanut butter ad, but anyone who has experimented with hair products knows the peril of crunchy curls.
There’s one gel I use but it’s so light it’s basically like a cream.
The most expensive product of them all but a little goes a REALLY long way.
Helps coil up curls that are droopy, which mine were a LOT when I ditched the straightener. It can be a little heavy, so go light on with application.
Light-on cream that helps tame frizz really well.
Probably my go-to. It’s light, kind of a mix between a gel and a cream, and smells AMAZING.
If there’s one insanely expensive product I 10000% back wholeheartedly, it’s the Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer. When I wore my hair straight I would blast from the roots down and it would flatten my curls, making styling a breeze. Now I wear curly hair, the power it has means diffuser-drying is way faster, and the lower heat it needs to get the job done means less damage and frizz.
6. Neaten The Shit Curls
Because my curly hair is large and ringletty, not tight coils, some go completely rogue. I’m taking straight ends or really wavy roots that don’t blend with the rest of my hair.
^^^ that was an early attempt at curly hair and as you can see, on the right side the ends don’t go good. THEY DON’T GO GOOD.
What I’ll do once it’s all dried off (usually I do steps 1-5 before bed, sleep, then fix up what needs fixing in the morning) is take my straightener and re-curl only the shit curls. For straight ends on an otherwise good curl, I’ll clamp the straightener and then bend toward me, then bend away, then bend toward as I move down the hair, which makes this natural mermaid-wave vibe to blend it in.
Cloud Nine are my hands-down fave straightener brand, I love the original as it has adjustable heat settings and heats up fast. I work with 180C as I’ve been told it’s the highest heat you can use before you start destroying your strands.
7. Add Texture If Needed
Sometimes things just be like that, you know? Your curls won’t bounce no matter what. That’s because hair is hair, and it can’t be tamed. When my curls aren’t volumised enough or my roots need a boost, I’ll use texture spray because I find they add a bit of grit, whereas hair sprays can be a bit sticky.
My fave fave fave. My sister stole it for a while and returned it half-empty, which infuriates me – but I get it because nothing else gives textured volume without the sticky finish as well as this guy.
Quite perfumed so avoid if you don’t love that, but this Kristin Ess spray is affordable and does a great job.
PHEW. There you go. I’m going to grill my mates with coil curls and waves for future yarns like this, because we should all share the love and learnings, right?Image: Instagram / @melissamason_