History of Curl Hate
Those of us lucky enough to be blessed with beautiful curls don’t feel so lucky most of the time. Unfortunately, most of us feel cursed. If you are anything like I was, you would neglect your hair, not only because you didn’t have proper information on how to take care of it (my mother and sisters have straight hair!) but because you were unconsciously trying to punish it for being curly. It is heartbreaking how common curl hatred is. Whether you were taught to hate your curls by society, your family, or yourself, I am here to tell you that everything you internalized is incorrect. Curly hair is not unmanageable and messy. It just has its own special needs. For those of you reading this and thinking, “Oh my goodness, curly hair is so high maintenance”, all types of hair have their own special needs. They come with their own set of care requirements, benefits, and issues. No hair type is “better”.
For those of you who can’t figure out how to manage your “blessing”, I have some basic advice I’ve gathered over the years.
Understanding Your Curls/Curl Patterns /Curl Structure
Curly hair is drier than most hair types because it is difficult for sebum from our scalp (the best kind of moisturizer) to go down the strands of hair. The tighter the curl, the harder it is for sebum to move down.
Curly hair is also very fragile compared to most hair types, so stop being so rough with it (especially when it’s wet)! This is what leads to frizziness most of the time. Make a promise to yourself to be gentler with your hair and you’ll see a difference.It is also important to understand that there are many different types of curly hair that have their own special needs on top of the general curly hair care procedure . Here is a basic chart :
Considering how dry curly hair can get, a very recommended way to clean it is “co-washing”, or conditioner washing. Instead of washing your hair with a shampoo and conditioner , you only use a conditioner. Conditioner gently cleanses your hair while also moisturizing. At the end of each month or every few weeks, it is recommended to use a clarifying or deep cleansing shampoo to get rid of any buildup from the conditioner. Don’t use clarifying shampoos too often, or it will seriously strip your hair of essential oils. You don’t need to use the co-washing method every time you shower, but it would be much better to use just conditioner every now and then.
Another very serious thing to consider when it comes to cleaning curly hair is the type of products you use. Many products contain ingredients like sulfates and detergent that do more harm than good. Read the ingredients list! Do your research! The brand I trust with my curls is Shea Moisture. It is affordable (I’m on a college student budget), has a lot of gentle natural ingredients that nourish my hair, and is owned by a woman of color! This is a great brand to look into if you don’t know where to look.
Get a moisturizing hair mask and conditioner! This is a no brainer considering we have the driest hair type. They don’t need to be expensive; they just need to work. That will take some researching/experimenting but it will all be worth it when you’re walking down the street with the shiniest, healthiest hair you’ve ever had.
Once a week (usually on a Sunday), I wet my hair and slap on my hair mask for half an hour or so . You can make it a “self care” time of day. It is good to de-stress your curls every week or so from pollution, accidental friction, or your own abuse.
If possible, avoid brushing your hair unless you’re planning on getting it wet right after. Water adds moisture and will help you manipulate your hair strands better, it will also decrease frizziness.You can invest in those fancy brushes that detangle your hair without causing much resistance but a plain old paddle brush will work just fine.
There is a lot of controversy on whether or not you should brush your hair when it’s wet because wet hair is very fragile. However, there are many people who claim that brushing their wet hair with a fine tooth comb works the best for them.
I usually only brush my hair with a paddle brush right before I take a shower. If I am styling it, I make sure to have a spray bottle of water on hand. Brushing your hair before taking a shower prevents a lot of shedding hair from going down the drain. So if you want to decrease your plumbing issues, that’s the way to go.
It is recommended to sleep on a satin or silk pillowcase. Cotton pillowcases suck moisture out of your hair and cause friction leading to hair breakage. You can also purchase satin and silk beanies/caps. I bought a cheap satin pillowcase from my local Big Lots (you don’t need to get the expensive ones if you don’t want to). I also invested in a satin lined beanie for traveling. It really makes a difference. You don’t wake up with nearly as bad bed-head as you do with a cotton pillowcase.
Most people know heat is very damaging to your hair but many curly haired girls have a straightener addiction. It’s understandable. Everyone wants to change up their look every now and then, but for the sake of your curls, you need to put that straightening iron and blow dryer down. If you are not in a hurry or are not really doing anything for the rest of the day, let your hair air dry.
The straightener is a monster to me. I spent my high school years straightening the life out of my hair (I’m sure most of you can relate). When I entered college I made the decision to not straighten my hair for a long time to restore my natural hair pattern and it was one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself.
Good luck on your “curl love” journey!