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Your Guide to Curly Hair

See how to get your curls looking their best

Your Guide to Curly Hair
Born with a head full of curly hair? You might have never thought about it this way, but you are so lucky to have natural curls. Curls are sexy and romantic, and men love them. They are bouncy, voluminous and can be pulled into any hairstyle imaginable. Still skeptical? Picture these curly celebrity beauties and let them be your muses: Sarah Jessica Parker, Keri Russell, Beyonce, Meg Ryan and Debra Messing. In case you haven't noticed, they have curly hair. And they're coming out in public. With gorgeous, naturally curly hairstyles. And if they can do it, you can do it to.

So now that you're ready to embrace your curls, it's time to put on your brave face and tame the jungle. Most curly-haired women just don't know where to start, so they leave their frantic, tangled mop of curls just sitting there. That's not going to do you any good. The trick is getting them to behave, and it's easier than you think. After that, it takes almost no work to maintain them on a day-to-day basis. Pretty sweet, right?

Once you have your curls looking their best, you'll be amazed at all the compliments you'll get. When you feel like the odd girl out, surrounded by straight strands, ask yourself: Why look like a copy of everybody else? Your curls will become your trademark if you embrace them. Check out the easy care routine below, taken from Lorrain Massey's "Curly Girl, The Handbook." Her step-by-step guide to cleaning and styling your curly hair will finally free you from the tyranny of the straightening iron and chemical straighteners.

Cleaning:
1. Throw away your shampoo. That's no joke. This goes even for non-curly girls. Shampoo is detergent, and your hair does NOT need detergent. You will have perfectly clean hair using just conditioner and water. This is one of the most important steps you can take. It sounds weird, but just trust us.

2. Once a week, cleanse your hair with just conditioner. Select a conditioner high in humectants like Panthenol, vegetable glycerine, and sorbitol. First put some conditioner on your fingertips and massage your scalp to loosen dirt. Next rinse thoroughly. (On the other days of the week, just wet your hair thoroughly, and go to step 4.)

3. Next, rub a quarter-size blob of conditioner between your hands and smooth it over the outer layer of your hair. Then work another quarter-size amount to the underlayer of hair at the nape of the neck (where it's prone to knots). Be gentle so as not to break hair. Use your fingers as a comb and comb through your hair from underneath.

4. Now, spread another quarter-size amount of conditioner through the hair on each side of your head, using your fingers as a comb. What you're doing is distributing conditioner evenly through your curls so that they separate instead fusing together.

5. At this point your hair should feel smooth and silky. You will want to experiment with how much conditioner to rinse out. The first time, try not rinsing at all, or just giving your head a very quick rinse to help evenly distribute the conditioner.

Styling:
6. Bend forward and cup your wet hair loosely in a towel. Now scrunch it upward toward the scalp to blot up the moisture. Never rub or wring your hair dry. Gently continue scrunching and squeezing your hair in sections, going with the natural waves and not disturbing the hair too much, until it's no longer soaking wet.

7. Next, rub a tablespoon of clear styling gel between your palms. Bend over at the waist, and starting at the ends, scrunch the gel in toward the scalp. Picture yourself squeezing an accordion in order to get the right motion. Work from the nape of your neck and work around your head, scrunching the top layer last.

8. Now you can begin shaping. Look in the mirror and scrunch section of curls with your palms, pushing up and squeezing gently into place. For shorter curls or curls that are too loose, twist the hair with a finger and a clip. Shape your hair using this scrunching, twisting and clipping, until it's in the form you want it to take when dry. Now, rub another half teaspoon of gel between your palms and very gently graze your hands over the top layer of hair to minimize frizz.

9. TIP: to get the curls on the top of your head to stand a little taller, lift and clip the hair at the roots. Just take a section of hair at the crown and hold it tight about 1/2 inch away from the scalp. Then place a hairclip or two (the old fashioned metal kind is fine) close the scalp to hold the hair up away from the scalp. It should take about six clips (if you use 2 per section) to lift the top of your hair. This can be good for getting the front section out of your eyes.

10. Let your hair air dry. Do NOT blow dry. Maybe in a few weeks you can return to occasional blow drying, but for now don't do it. Your hair needs a chance to normalize and rest. When your hair is completely dry, remove any clips gently. Bend over and give your hair a little shakeout. Now, with your fingers, very gently fluff your hair from underneath. Don't touch the top layer -- frizz alert.
by Jane Chung

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Comments
(Wed, 22 Feb 2012 04:17:48 -0800): these tips sound great, for me tho, gotta have shampoo, curly hair usually entails some other condition, like psoriasis. a lack of shampoo can exacerbate flaking.
April Corbo (Wed, 29 Aug 2012 19:27:13 -0700): me too, if I don't shampoo daily my scalp goes nuts. its unbearable if I skip a day. also I find that most products make my scalp itch too, for some reason after my first baby was born 8 years ago my scalp got really sensitive. I figure its the hormonal change that never changed back. oh well.
Sue Farag Bartow (Wed, 29 Aug 2012 22:12:08 -0700): i agree with you April....i have to shampoo or my scalp feels all weird. also, apparently the author of this article doesn't ride horses or work outdoors because you HAVE to wash the dust and grime out....lame-o's.....lately, I have been using a K-Pak leave-in conditioner instead of putting gel/curling creme's in my hair and it works great. It's kinda pricey, but lasts a LONG time...i've had this bottle for over 2 months, I'm sure...since my last haircut which was probably about 4 months ago....hahaha!
April Corbo (Thu, 30 Aug 2012 04:05:52 -0700): you are soo like me. though i dont have the horses part! (my oldest would love that and i am working on the hubby to get outta the burbs and into the country). but i shower at night after the kiddies are in bed (my 5 min to my self!) so the whole process wouldnt really work for me anyway. i keep my hair short now (well its growing out since my last hair cut about 3 months ago as well). mostly what i do is spray it with water and put a couple barretts in to hold my bangs back and call it done. pretty much if i took more than 5 min i took too long. :) and i find anything near my scalp irritates it. it breaks out in rash, especially if i use garnier, i used to love their putty stuff in my before kids when i got dressed up for no reason life.
Kellie George-Russell (Wed, 05 Sep 2012 12:25:55 -0700): In theory this article sounds great but let your hair air dry? Who has time for that every morning?
Kellie George-Russell (Wed, 05 Sep 2012 13:13:02 -0700): even in the winter??? brrrr!!
Trish Lazar Gidney (Wed, 05 Sep 2012 13:50:54 -0700): i am an air dryer too! blow drying makes my hair frizzy and hard to manage
Marina Perkovic Meldrum (Wed, 05 Sep 2012 14:15:33 -0700): I let my hair 'air dry' every day! With two kids and rushing off to day care, who the hell has time to blow dry!
Kellie George-Russell (Wed, 05 Sep 2012 14:37:43 -0700): but what do you do in winter??
Christina Morino (Wed, 17 Oct 2012 20:30:36 -0700): Hopefully this will work. Cuz I've always hated my hair and still do. It's so frizzy, dry, dull, too curly, lots of knots and split ends, and always unmanageable.
Judy Crawford (Thu, 18 Oct 2012 04:46:01 -0700): I have crazy wild curls, ill defentily try this.
Kaylee Jane Casebere (Fri, 28 Dec 2012 16:36:45 -0800): I pretty much do this now but I do wash my hair about every 3 days with dandruff shampoo. Life has becom do much easier since I've excepted my curls
Beth Ann Trammell (Fri, 28 Dec 2012 16:45:03 -0800): can't fight the curl.
Chelsea Smith (Fri, 28 Dec 2012 16:56:51 -0800): Accepted.
Kaylee Jane Casebere (Fri, 28 Dec 2012 17:40:02 -0800): I did not know that this would show up on Facebook
Janice Welch Woodard (Fri, 28 Dec 2012 19:24:05 -0800): I LOVE YOUR CURLS
Becca Kwiek (Tue, 19 Feb 2013 18:15:15 -0800): I was thinking about doing the no shampoo thing, until I saw your comment... Then I remembered "Oh yeah, Horse back riders cant do this :/ Dang, oh well, maybe if I follow everything else perfectly or as best as I can it will be just as good... :p lol Wind from being outdoors+Twigs from brand new trails+grain+hay+dirt+horsehair(don't ask how that got in my hair ._.)+ the occasional leather cleaner for my tack=a definite NEED for shampoo!!!!
Giselle Morales (Wed, 03 Jul 2013 22:06:03 -0700): Yup... even then! I have super curly hair. The blow dryer makes me look more like a lion than a human. lol. Air drying is much gentler on hair
Giselle Morales (Wed, 03 Jul 2013 22:11:56 -0700): Maybe natural shampoo and products would help with the itching/flaking? I have curly hair too and for years had problems with itching, and then came the flakes... dandruff shampoos didn't work for me until I tried Aveeno anti-dandruff shampoo. It worked well for me, and then I switched to natural shampoo/cond, and natural stylers that I order online, and that worked so well that I don't even have to use dandruff products anymore. I know it helped because the other day I ran out of product, so I made a quick run to Walmart to get some mousse, and I started itching right away! The natural route is more expensive, but it's what has worked best in years...
Ellen Allentoff (Mon, 05 Aug 2013 05:32:13 -0700): THE BEST PRODUCT FOR ANY HAIR TYPE IS WEN CLEANSING CONDITIONERS AND STYLING PRODUCTS. I HAVE BEEN A WEN GIRL NOW FOR THREE YEARS. I HAVE LONG, LUXURIOUS HAIR THAT I WEAR STRAIGHT AND CURLY. STOP USING HARSH CHEMICALS THAT CONTAIN SULFATES, PARABENS AND PETROLATUM. THIS GOES FOR YOUR BODY AS WELL AS YOUR HAIR.
Ellen Allentoff (Mon, 05 Aug 2013 05:34:04 -0700): JUST WANTED TO ADD THAT USING TOWELS FOR YOUR HAIR IS A NO NO. ONLY USE A SOFT TEE SHIRT TO DRY YOUR HAIR. TOWELS WILL CAUSE FRIZZ. ESPECIALLY IF YOU HAVE CURLS.
Erin MC (Mon, 14 Oct 2013 09:43:02 -0700): Hate to burst your bubble, but Wen is not ideal for hair. It contains a lot more ingredients than they lead on. It is impossible to get a full ingredient list from them