My curly hair & I have had a love/hate relationship for 28 years and it finally stood up to me about all the abuse it’s endured over the years.
The pictures above are a glimpse into the last 2 months of concentrated effort, choosing the right products, techniques, and styles for my curls. If you follow me on Instagram, I posted a few weeks ago about me starting my natural hair journey! This is going to be an ever-evolving story of posts as I go through this journey and share products I love, products that I don’t particularly care for, and my process!
As I said in my bio, everything I post on this blog is authentic, so I will not lie to you! Today is going to be a little backstory to my natural hair love, I’ll be talking about products and then giving a breakdown of how I use them. I’m debating doing a video tutorial so if you’d be interested in that drop a comment below!
A LITTLE BACKGROUND:
I grew up rarely seeing women who looked like me on tv or in movies; being biracial, most women that were close to my skin tone either had their hair in braids, afroed out, or stick straight. Of course, my parents and grandparents were amazing, constantly telling me and my sisters how women would pay hundreds of dollars for hair that looked like ours! In the end, it didn’t matter; the world constantly showed us that what was beautiful was straight or slightly wavy hair. It’s the old adage of “you always want what you can’t have”, but years of indulging in attempts to blend in with my white peers gave me decades of destroyed hair!
Moving to Seattle a few years ago ended up being one of the best things for my hair because what is the point of flat-ironing it every day if it’s just going to get rained on the minute I step outside?! It still took a few years for me to accept that I was going to have to change my hair-care instead of spending hours in frustration, but I’ve realized over the last year that my temperamental curls are beautiful. Some days I still look in the mirror and don’t recognize myself without straight hair, but more and more I’m feeling the love as well as the black beauty God gave me and my hair!
In the last 5-ish years, the natural hair community has grown tremendously, especially in America’s mainstream media. I say that specifically because when I went to the UK last year I had so many instances of amazement when I would see not one but TWO black female newscasters on a station, or print media displaying people with their natural hair, or models of all shapes, sizes, and skin color. We in America need to catch up with the rest of the world and realize that beauty is relative. Women are saying “goodbye” to chemical relaxers, “see ya later” hair straighteners, welcoming their natural hair, and owning their goddess glow!
WHERE TO START:
I actually created a short Youtube video for people wanting to start The Curly Girl Method. While it doesn’t cover everything, it does give a condensed but comprehensive overview of a few things. Things to avoid, where to start and how to prepare yourself (both mentally and physically) for your curly journey! Be sure to like the video, subscribe to the channel and leave a comment with what videos you’d like to see coming up.
The first step I took on my journey is determining the type of curly hair I have! Thankfully Curls has you covered and breaks down the chemistry of your curl in order to help you find the best products and styling tips! Right now (since I don’t know if it will change the more I take care of my hair), I’m currently between 3A/3B, so I’ve got the super finicky hair…lucky me!
The second thing I did was follow some of my favorite curl goddesses on Instagram and YouTube for product reviews and tutorials. Depending on your curl-type, you’ll want to gauge who is going to be using similar products to your hair texture and how you want it styled. My current favorites are hif3licia, lynnkatee, jaymejo, jannelleoshaughnessy, vananaa_, and thekirstyfiles. I also follow the accounts of the curl products that I use because they show videos of people using their products to give me ideas on styles and new accounts to follow!
The third thing I did was research! Research the best ingredients for curly hair, the order products go in, read reviews, buy from different providers, watch YouTube videos, and everything under the sun before you start buying products! I created a Curly Hair Glossary with a list of the terms I kept seeing in articles but kept having to look up the definitions because I had never heard of them. I also created a list of my favorite curly tools that I use, which can be found here. Both of these are going to continuously get updated as I grow and learn in this process.
Huffington Post also published a great piece with a breakdown of what factors you should consider when determining what care to give your hair!
I’ve talked about it before but I’m pretty stingy when it comes to spending money on myself. I always joke with my friends that I still live like a college student, even when it comes to buying groceries, haha. I don’t like paying a ton of money for a product that will do the same thing as a $10 product. So far nothing that I’ve purchased has been crazy expensive; there are still some products that I get from the local Target or Walmart and things I buy directly from the manufacturer. I’ve also learned that some things are worth the investment to see the long-term results.
You may be able to find the same product on Amazon for a lot cheaper but sometimes there’s a reason for it; I’ve heard a lot of horror stories about 3rd party sellers that water down products or fill containers with something completely different because they know people will pay for the label. Sometimes taking the time to budget for products, buying them from their site or a beauty provider like Sephora or Ulta, may take a little bit but the end result is worth it.
I have a lot of friends who are currently joining “Team Natural”, they ask me all the time what products I used so I thought I’d throw together what I’ve got so far! This past month I’ve tried out a bunch of new products but I’m also including some old favorites!
Not Your Mother’s – I love this brand for their quality products, amazing scents and inexpensive cost. My curls get tighter and so much softer when I use this shampoo and conditioner, but they’re insanely soft; I wouldn’t recommend if you aren’t using any additional styling products or if you’re looking for ringlet curls but it’s a good, inexpensive option for luscious locks! You can find it at your local Target or Walmart if you don’t want to order online.
Bounce Curl – I love their Enzyme Gentle Clarifying Shampoo! I use this once a month to get rid of any product build-up that may have occurred with any of my stylers. I immediate follow this with a good deep conditioner to put all the nutrients back in my hair but this is a solid cleanser that balances moisture & nutrients.
Curlsmith – I looooove so many products from this company but their cleansing conditioner. This is what you’ll use more often than shampoo in order to clean the hair and scalp for wash days. This cleans without stripping the vitamins and nutrients from your hair in order for it to bounce back on refresh days.
As I Am – This is a great cleansing conditioner. This is a great budget friendly line that’s curly girl friendly.
BounceCurl in when my hair is still wet
Bounce Curl – I started with their “Light Crème Gel” and approached it very cautiously. My previous experience with gels left my hair looking like plastic and rigid to the touch. This product changed my mind because it’s 80% gel and 20% cream, so they mean it when they say “light”! I’ve learned the art of fluffing my hair which took a lot of the remaining crunch out of it as well; the trick that seems to work best for me is to section my hair in 4’s, then add it in small (nickel size) increments as you spread it around your hair from the ends up and not the other way around! If you’re diffusing that will help but if you’re air drying just hand-scrunch your hair when it’s dry to remove any residual crunch. This product is cruelty-free, vegan, and contains no mineral oils, parabens, sulfates, or silicones. The light but fragrant smell is enchanting, and the hold helped define my curls perfectly!
Sidebar: the product link has videos attached that show the best way to use and style this product depending on if you’ve got wavy/curly/kinky hair
Shea Moisture – This was one of the first products that I used when I started this journey and while there are some good qualities about this product, overall my hair didn’t fall in love with it. Their “Coconut & Hibiscus Curling Gel Soufflé” is a great product if your hair is really dry and in need of oils, but it left an oily residue on my hair and if you use too much it will for sure leave your curls crunchy. I think that if I combined this product with maybe a hair smoothie or another lighter product I might have better results so I’m gonna keep tweaking with it to see if I can find a balance I like! I’ve heard this works really well with thicker hair and kinkier curls so it may just not be the product for my thinner biracial hair but I know a lot of people who love it. I love this company, their ethical standards, the fact that they are a woman-led business, and that all of their products leave out harmful ingredients!
Curls – If you’re looking for an amazing product that gives you soft curls and helps fight breakage, then look no further than Curls Blueberry Bliss Leave-In Conditioner! After years of damaging my hair, it was brittle, lackluster, and dry, but this product gave my curls the love and moisture they needed. I love this company’s dedication to helping curly girls get the most out of their hair, even posting videos that walk you through different styling processes. They have a bunch of amazing products and I can’t wait to work my way through the blueberry bliss line in particular!
Deva Curl – They are all the rage right now and being hailed as the Holy Grail of curly products! I know a lot of people who use their products and love them. Personally, I didn’t care for their No-Poo line but their styling products have been a God-send! I love the SuperCream which helps hold the curl, reduces frizz, adds moisture and is super versatile. I combined it with the Curls Leave-In Conditioner and didn’t even have to re-touch my hair for three days!
I’m gonna try to talk you guys through what I’ve been doing; if something doesn’t make sense, you need clarity, or you think I should just do a process video, let me know in the comments! Anyone who’s spent enough time around me knows that I am NOT a morning person, so this routine takes around 30 minutes in the morning…which is usually the extent of the effort I’m willing to put in at 7 am lol.
I start by shampooing my hair with Pura D’or shampoo and once I’ve worked up a good lather I let it sit for a minute or two, rinse it out and then add the conditioner. When I’m co-washing, I add the conditioner straight my scalp, massage it in a bit, before working it towards the ends. Then I rake my fingers through my hair – I notice better curl definition when I use my fingers vs a brush. I usually leave the conditioner in until I’m done with the rest of my shower business before I rinse it all out, making sure there’s nothing left in my hair to weigh it down, then ringing out the remaining water before getting out of the shower. Once out, I use a microfiber cloth to ring out the remaining water, careful not to drag the fabric on my head so I can avoid frizz. I follow this by running my fingers through my hair to do a post-conditioner detangle.
This next step changed my curly game forever: I take a spray bottle filled with water, I keep one with just water and another one with a pump or two of conditioner mixed in water for second-day curls, and then I re-wet my hair! This helps redefine the curls because I don’t spray enough for it to get sopping wet but enough to scrunch my hair back into the thicker curls that may have been pulled apart when I last ran my fingers through. After this, I hang my head upside-down and add my product of choice – normally during the week, I alter between the Bounce Curl gel or the SuperCream. Sometimes, especially during the winter when my hair is dry, I’ll do a combo of styling product and the Curls leave-in before I let it dry.
Sidebar: If you want smaller curls, run a pick or a thin-toothed brush through it after you add the product, to break apart the curl.
The next step can go a bunch of different directions depending on how much of a time constraint I’m under. Sometimes I add clips to the root of my hair before letting it air dry (I talk about “clipping” in my glossary post). If I’ve got the time, I’ll use the plopping technique (shown on the left), which sounds grosser than it actually is haha.
My favorite is a combination of the two – after adding the product to my hair I’ll scrunch it in, pushing it towards my scalp to maintain the natural curl structure then follow with the root clips to give it a bit more lift.
Maybe it’s from living in the south, but I loooove volume in my hair, so on the weekends when I’ve got more time to get ready I diffuse it on medium heat, blasting it with cold air at the end to seal in the product and nutrients. I also do this weird thing where I constantly flip my hair back & forth while I diffuse to get more volume, but also so that my curls will fall around my head more evenly without having to pick them apart. I have been trying to avoid excessive heat on my hair so most days I’ll let my hair air dry for about an hour before I finish with the diffuser for volume. However, during the week if I’ve got an extra 5-10 minutes, I’ll hang my head upside-down and diffuse for a bit just to get the drying process going before I get in the car and head to work!
The final step in the process is fluffing my curls! I have yet to add any oils to my routine, but I’ve heard they really help keep the curl intact while performing this – essentially you just play with your hair. Shake your head around, use your fingertips at the root of the hair to move it without pulling your fingers through it, or take a hair pick to do a shake out along your scalp. This helps give your hair volume and more bounce, while the oil helps to keep you frizz-free and giving it a nice shine!
Stay tuned for any new products I try out, routines I start, or just general natural hair knowledge I pick up. My goal for this past April was to find ways to style my curls, but this next month I’m gonna focus on the overall health of my hair, so my products are going to cater to that. I’ve already got a few new products lined up that I’m gonna try next month and I can’t wait to share them with you all, but I’m open to suggestions!
Remember, love the skin you’re in, own your goddess glow, and essentially be your most authentic self!
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