I have been posting about hair care quite a bit in the past, this time I compiled a list of tips, or rather mistakes that are often made with curls and how to avoid them to bring out the best in your hair structure. And yes, I am speaking from experience here 😉
Not cutting regularly
Yes yes, growing out is a major thing, you want the mane, you want the long-flowing-curly-messy-gorgeous locks. I get it. I wanted that, too, for a long time. But let me tell you, nothing is gained from not cutting off the nasty dry, sometimes split, ends. Especially when you are not religiously following the no-poo method1. Dry ends never make your hair look as good as it could – if 4cm more of frizzed out hair makes you feel better, that is okay. It honestly does not improve the look of your hair though – you don’t cut off the growth, you cut off old crispy ends. Don’t be scared to let go of at least 4-5cm at least once a year!
Letting an curl-inexperienced, curl-less hair dresser on to your hair
So, you are a good hair person and get your hair trimmed at the local salon, where everyone has a fashionable short, straight bob. No. Nononono. Ask the hair dresser nicely if they are used to cutting curls and how they do it (!). If they try to wet your hair, brush it out and cut it off bluntly straight – get the hell out of there.
For the most flattering, curly result, the best way to cut curly hair is
- dry hair
- picking out single curls and
- cutting it in the middle section of its “s” pattern.
Thinking a “fringe” is impossible
Don’t be silly. Of course it is. Just don’t forget to take your personal shrinkage into account and don’t go for the “Zooey Deschanel” blow-out fringe. Side bangs, shorter curly strands are the way to go if you want to cover up your forehead or keep strands out for updos.
Not taking shrinkage into account!
If the stylist wants to shampoo your hair first, that can be fine but make sure both you and the hairdresser take your individual shrinkage into account – don’t let them brush it straight and “just cut off this much”. “This much” is mostly 1.5x or 2x as much as for straight haired people. Don’t end up with a poofy bob – or a tight curl rim around your forehead! #shudders
Thinking layers don’t work for your hair type/face shape – cutting ends bluntly
Layers are your.best.friend.forever. The triangle, also known as christmas tree, style is the dreaded memory of your childhood. Growing your curls long is absolutely no problem, the mane will attract lots of compliments. But just one thick layer barley flatters anyone, let’s be real. Layers loosen the curl patterns and make those heavy, flattened curls in your top layer bounce again. Don’t be scared to cut in one or two layers, even if it seems drastic – curls are very forgiving and love being weightless.
Shampoo too much
Don’t. Just – don’t. Yesyes, your hair is so oily, you HAVE to shampoo daily!
Rubbish, I say. Even if you feel your scalp is too oily, your hair is too greasy, try easing in to a less-shampooing-routine with co-washing (washing with conditioner, yes it works!) or get cosy with the dry shampoo can. Pick a tinted dry shampoo to avoid the greyish shadow, since curly girls can’t exactly “brush it out” and massage it in with your finger, finger comb or just shake them curls up. It helps a lot to not give in to the urge of pouring harsh shampoo on your delicate hair. Exfoliate your scalp on a weekly basis with baking soda, sugar, lemon or vinegar solutions to remove buildup – recipes anyone?
Harsh shampoo is quite unnecessary!
Condition too little – leave-ins
The less you use of shampoo, the more you should make sure to condition. And condition. A little more. Yes, that heap of product will do. Start with the most brittle ends, soak them in conditioner. Work your way up to your scalp (yes, really) and massage away. Gently! Remember your curls are even more prone to breaking than straight hair (read all about curly hair structure here). Rinse out thoroughly, using a shampoo brush or your fingers, be gentle but remember: This is the best time to release all the knots and tangles in your hair.
Regarding brushes and combs: Take a moment and inspect if the spaces between the combs are cut roughly – this might destroy your hair shaft without noticing! Smooth, wooden combs are a good alternative.
Not checking for drying ingredients – humectants post
Before you leave me comments about “but my shampoo is so gentle, I can totally wash daily!” or “my conditioner makes my hair feel greasy!” I will leave again the link to my curl structure-humectants post. Before you put anything on your hair (even water! Do you know if you have soft or hard water in your household?), check the ingredients list of the product! Your hair is as individual as your fingerprint, don’t fall into the shiny-hair-advert-trap. What might be good for your straight haired friend, could be terrible for your curls.
Check for: Sulfates, non-soluble ingredients (silicones, waxes), alcohol. See a full list here.
Using too much/high heat
One of the commandments of every curly girl. Normal nozzles just blow out any curl structure, leaving a poof. Also, don’t ever use the highest heat setting, or too hot water to rinse, to begin with – heat is a slow death for delicate textures like hair.
If you feel like drying your hair, use a diffusor: Catch all your hair in the diffusor nozzle overhead and use the lowest setting for both temperature and airflow, don’t move it up and down as this would disturb forming curl patterns. Move around your head in this manner to dry evenly.
Using too many products
Possibly the most important and obvious point here.
Nobody has to tell me how tempting all those shiny conditioner, wax, pomade, gel, foam bottles, jars and sprays are! I’ve been there, getting seduced by the hilarious claims, often not even tailored for your porosity level etc. I know we also all like to “try something new” once in a while – which is fine! But: As soon as you found a conditioner, a gel, mousse, whatever your hair structure desires, stick with it! You should definitely repurchase what has proven worthy for your curls, regarding result and ingredients. Don’t fall for the idea of needing a lot of styling products after washing – maybe only a gel or mousse will do!
1Read more: Curly Girl Method