I have had curly hair for about as long as I can remember. It wasn’t always curly-sue curly (in fact, it’s still not quite that curly) but I’ve had waves/curls my entire life. The waves definitely became more curly after puberty. Before puberty my hair would kink in a body wave. After puberty, my hair actually formed ‘s’ shapes. Being curly wasn’t a big surprise. My mother has the most beautiful curly hair I’ve ever seen. And my little brother was lucky enough to inherit my mother’s curls (although, being a guy, he doesn’t consider that luck. He keeps his hair closely cropped). My hair is only wavy and, for me, that meant unmanageable.
In high school I was so sick of the fullness of my hair (which was nearly straight on top and horribly curly underneath) that I shaved my head – it was called an ‘undercut’ where I lived. I shaved the back and sides of my head and kept the top long. I loved it. It was a fun, fearless style that I rocked for most of my teen years. But then I grew out that style and began to realize – my hair is curly! Not just underneath (back and sides) but on top too.
But, wait, you say. I’m looking at your ‘about you’ pic and you have stick straight hair. What’s up with that?
You’re right. For all of my adult life I’ve straightened my hair with blow dryers, flat irons, hot rollers, and even expensive keratin treatments. Some days I’d wear my hair curly (scrunching some mousse into my mostly damp hair) but for the most part I wore my hair straight. Until recently, that is.
I discovered the Curly Girl Method, as defined in the Curly Girl Handbook by Lorraine Massey. The method involves being kind to your hair and treating curls like something to be proud of – not something to hide. After reading the book and lurking on the r/curlyhair forum on reddit I decided to try it for myself – a hair detox – I called it. Here’s my diary.
Week one was actually kinda gross. Not that my hair was oily (it wasn’t) but my frizz was atrocious. Here you can see the before CG and week 1 CG side by side. It’s difficult for me not to touch my hair and I miss running my fingers through it. By day 3 a coworker commented that my hair was looking better (less frizzy) and asked what products I was using. We bonded over the no-poo routine and which oils/conditioners we used.
It's working! My curls are starting to clump together which is awesome. I’m struggling with horrible knots and tangles which makes detangling in the shower very difficult and time consuming. I decided to add a detangler into the mix.
I’m getting a lot of compliments on my hair. People who’ve known me for a while are asking if I got a perm and when I say no they can’t believe it. The detangler is helping but I still end up with a lot of breakage each shower. I wet my hair each day and apply lots of conditioner. I read on the forum that you can actually leave the conditioner in without rinsing it out. Sounds weird but I try it – results were great in the morning. By afternoon, droopy. Need to try better gel.
My hair is starting to form ringlets. Mostly in the back (where the hair was less chemically treated). I love seeing these little springs. I hope that if I keep up this process my top and sides will form more springy shapes. Picked up Tresseme Naturals Condish to help with detangling. I understand it works great as a leave in too. It’s taking me less time to detangle each night and I’m seeing less hair fall (but those pieces that do break/fall out are curly shaped!)
I had read about all these super cheap condish and gel options (Tresseme naturals and LA Looks (the blue stuff)) and I thought I’d give it a try. The result was a disaster. My curls were super limp (reminiscent of my pre-curly-girl curls) and the LA Looks dried into flakes on my hair. I played around with the amount used – but in the end I couldn’t get the Tresseme naturals and LA Looks to work for me. And I'm noticing a rash developing around my neck and ears. Very strange. I went back to the 9-10$ a bottle condish and the rash cleared right up. The Eco gel is super cheap and I like the way it works. I can scrunch out the crunch well and it doesn’t leave flakes.
The results are more consistent now. Clipping at the roots with mini claw clips seems to help with volume. I'm beginning to feel more confident with my curls. I even wore my hair curly to a business meeting and felt good about it (that never happened before CurlyGirl). I have less tangles now. Well, that's if I wet/detangle my hair each day. If I skip a day or two my hair is an impossible mess. A friend asked if I was going to keep my hair this way and I didn't have to think about it before responding "Yes". I feel like I know how to rock my natural hair.
My new routine:
I stopped using shampoo altogether. I rinse my scalp and roots with water only and/or sometimes a clarifying conditioner. Then, I slather on a real conditioner and begin detangling. First I finger comb through the hunks of hair and then I use a wide tooth comb. Next, I slather on more condish and leave it in (pinning it to the top of my head) while I finish my shower routine. I'm trying the S2C method of rinsing but I have't perfected it yet. Once the condish is rinsed I squish my sopping wet hair with an old tshirt. I smooth on some oil – focusing on the ends. To style, I slather the hair with gel, plop, and sleep. In the morning my hair is usually damp but well clumped. I clip the roots to help with volume and squish on more gel (if needed) and let it air dry.
My hair is still very unpredictable but I’m really liking the results. I struggle with not touching my hair and I’m still fighting frizz (although, significantly less frizz). I’m hoping a cut will help with the frizz.
Do you have a love hate relationship with your hair? Do you have curls? Share your story or routine here:
Want to know more about plopping? Check out his video: