Curly hair care for the woman who refuses to get into wrestling matches every morning
Say goodbye to frizz and unruly bushes
Everyone with straight hair has had a brief flirtation with curls. Paying for a perm, and then instantly regretting it. Spending hours trying to perfect the right swish of the curling iron without singeing their ears in the process. But these tourists don’t know the real struggle of curly hair care.
When you’re young, a mop of ringlets can seem like the bane of your existence. Trying to wrestle control of the mane that poofs up like cotton candy before the school bus arrives, giving up and succumbing to a tight plait that threatens to cut off your blood supply.
“I clearly remember my 5th-grade teacher scolding me over my hair because it looked ‘untidy’. ‘Ghar par hairbrush nahin hai kya?‘ I’d cry and cry, force my mother to brush it, oil it and make two chotis every morning. When I turned 16, I begged my parents to let me chemically straighten my hair for my birthday,” says Trishna Ghosh, admitting she felt ashamed for having curly hair and is still recovering from years of hair damage.
A lot of the hassle comes down to not knowing proper curly hair care. When magazine covers and advertisements project sleek long locks as the ideal, chemical straightening treatments and heat tools become your best friend. But this ends up causing more damage, frizz and dryness for curls crying out for some love.
If you’re struggling to embrace and enhance your natural curls, let this be your guide to understanding your hair a little better.
Moisture, moisture and more moisture
By nature, curly hair gets dry very quickly. Because of the hair’s structure, the scalp’s natural oils don’t make it all the way from the root down to the shaft.
Washing curly hair can seem like a disaster waiting to happen — undoing any control you’ve managed to gain over your hair. Keep hair washing to a maximum of twice a week, with a focus on cleansing the scalp and not your strands.
“Don’t wash your hair with hot water, it dries up the moisture in the hair and this makes the hair frizzy,” says Dr Mikki Singh, celebrity dermatologist and head of Bodycraft Skincare Clinic.
Skip the twisted towel monument we create atop our heads to let our hair dry – this is a major contributor to creating frizz. Instead, invest in a microfibre cloth or take one of papa’s old cotton t-shirts, flip your hair upside down, position the neck opening of the shirt at your hairline and gently twist it around your hair.
When applying your post-wash curl cream, serum or leave-in conditioner, gently twist your hair to get out the excess water. Adding the product on top of dripping hair may seem like a good idea to hold onto hydration but it can dilute the product, reduce efficacy and weigh down your hair instead of increasing the volume at the roots.
Curly hair care needs special products
“When I was growing up, my entire Sunday used to go in cleaning, conditioning, oiling and then combing my hair. I used to be in pain. My family clearly had no idea what to do with my curly hair,” says actress Taapsee Pannu.
When it comes to curly hair care, we need to be extra mindful of the impact of products. “Curly hair needs more moisturising and conditioning which regular over-the-counter products don’t offer. So, it’s important you choose products according to your hair type,” says Singh.
She says to look for a moisturising shampoo and conditioner that specially caters to curly hair and is free from sulphates which can strip your hair of natural oils and moisture. And never skip on conditioner.
Now that we have the washing part out of the way, let’s talk about leave-in products. Many people swear by aloe vera gel and a DIY concoction of coconut oil and shea butter to maintain curl integrity. But sometimes we just need to leave things to the professionals and let cosmetic formulators do what they do best.
“Lock the moisture with a serum, this helps in retaining the moisture from the shampoo and conditioner,” Singh advises. While shea butter is a “brilliant ingredient for curly hair as it supplies the moisture that the hair requires to keep it healthy”, it may be better placed in a curly hair care routine for someone with thick and dense curls. If you have finer hair, then find more water-based products to add to your routines.
And where would we be without our weekly champi? Coconut oil is usually our go-to, though Singh suggests we give jojoba a try. “Jojoba oil strengthens the hair, prevents hair fall and helps to maintain the integrity of curls and keep your hair healthy.”
Go au natural
All the time and effort you’ve put into carefully washing and drying your hair can go for a toss if you end up rubbing your hair with a towel trying desperately to dry it. Most experts advise against using heat products on tools, so this is the time you squeeze out excess water from your hair and go in with your leave-on products.
First, never brush curly hair when it’s dry. While your hair is still damp and you’ve applied your leave-in product, use a wide-toothed comb to slowly get rid of any tangles and evenly spread the product to the ends of your strands. Brush your hair away from the scalp to give it some volume on the roots as well. Brushing downwards can weigh down your hair and make it a bit flat on the top.
Another method you can try to speed up the drying process while maintaining your curls is by scrunching your hair. Take a microfibre towel or cotton t-shirt. Position it flat under the ends of your hair, bundle them up in your choice of cloth and scrunch them in an upwards direction. You can always end it by using your fingers to twirl your curls in the desired direction.
If you’re low on time and there’s no option but to use a hairdryer, then add a diffuser head to the appliance. A diffuser helps evenly disperse the air, protect the hair from getting frizzy and drying up and add some volume to the hair — while speeding up the drying process.
If you really want to invest in your curly hair care, then think about getting a silk or satin pillowcase. Cotton, on the other hand, can cause more friction with your hair while you toss and turn, leading to more breakage.
With this arsenal of expert information, we’re excited to see you flaunt your shampoo-ad curls on the daily.