Curly Girl Part One: 8 Tips for Loving Your Natural Curls

There is a definite amount of truth to the saying “the grass is always greener on the other side.” And when it comes to physical appearance, it’s so easy to want what you can’t have. Personally, my curly hair used to be one of those “brown grass” areas in my life, while straight, shiny, perfect hair was practically a technicolor green. I always wanted that shiny perfection that you just can’t achieve with a frizzy head of curls, because natural curls won’t ever quite look like the shiny, perfect do’s of celebrities. (Although they all wear wigs anyway, don’t they?) My natural curls have weird kinks, constant fly-aways, and at the sight of sweat, form a lovely little halo around my face no matter how much I try and slick back my ponytail. For years I straightened my locks for formal events, only to realize that after 20 minutes in a stifling gym my hair looked exactly like it always had, curls, curls, curls and a matted hairbrush to match.

Like with most things in life though, I grew up to realize that I am so blessed with the hair I have! (Guys. Hair is a metaphor for life.) And now I love my curls and wouldn’t really ever want to be without them. It’s like they are messy and fun and free just like I can be at times. (Guys, GUYS! Hair is a metaphor for myself too apparently.) So, I’ve been in the lovely practice of embracing my curls 100% for the past few years, even to the point where I go mostly natural for even the fanciest of events. And therefore, I wanted to write a little series of posts about making crazy, curly hair work for me.

To kick it off, I have a few tips and tricks that I put to work to make my curls super lovable, even though they are wild! I’m not anywhere near an expert, but trial and error with my own head of curls has resulted in the guide I am making for you now!

1) Don’t you dare brush

As I’m sure many curly girls know, do NOT brush your hair. Not only does it increase your risk of knotting and breakage, but it also takes those curled strands that are all wound up together and pulls then apart—talk about volume! (Think Hermione from movie 1. That was me all the way through elementary school…)

Instead, I run a very wide tooth comb through my hair after I shower, and if I do dry comb, I dampen my hair first and finger-comb only. I find that this helps keep those gathered curls together to make everything a whole lot less poofy! That said, when those pretty locks do get separated, such as while French-braiding or re-parting my hair, a few spritzes of water tends to recurl that chunk of hair nicely!

2) Spritz spritz

And on that note, if I look in the mirror and see a kinky, unclassy mess, adding more water is usually my first go-to. For example, sometimes I’ll have a piece or two oh hair that got pulled is straighter than the others. When this happens, I just spritz and scrunch that section to achieve a uniform (still crazy) mess. Hair oil mist and sea salt spray are also helpful for me to tame the curly beast, but I'll discuss that further in the next installment of this series!

3) Be gentle

Curly hair can be pretty brittle, which isn’t exactly compatible with the fact that it likes to wrap itself around and anything and everything in its way! (I’ve gotten so many pencils stuck in my hair….) Wearing your hair tied back, especially with traditional hair ties, can also cause extra breakage at about chin-level. To fight this, apart from not brushing and combing my hair while dry, I often wear my hair down during the day. When it needs to be tied up or pulled back, I use soft elastic hair ties or clear elastics that can be cut when you want to remove them.

I also sleep with my hair either in a loose high pony with a wide elastic or short ribbon (like, about to fall out loose) or with my curls confined to two braids without hair ties at the ends. (Yes, my curls will still hold the braids.) I find these are good compromises between keeping my slept-on hair nice and avoiding the pulling and breakage that a normal hair tie would cause in my sleep.

4) Shampoo Less

Another tip you have probably heard many a time if you are a curly-girl is to shampoo less, and honestly this makes a huge difference for me. I wash my hair with shampoo every 5-6 days at the absolute most. Personally, my hair is pretty dry, so my roots do not experience much oiliness. Depending on your hair though, you might feel the need to wash more often at first! Just keep in mind that your scalp will start producing less oil as you wash it less.

Another tip here is to pull your hair away from your face if oil i a concern. I typically side-part my hair, meaning that the fuller side from the part can pick up oils from my forehead more easily and look kind of gross. I take care of that with some bobby pins, a half-pony, or by embracing the center part for a change!

5) Hydrate

And on that note, hydration is key to curls! Some helpful tips I have there are washing the hair less, drinking your fluids like you should, and using a serum, hair mask, or leave in conditioner on the ends! I’ll detail my favorite products soon, but there are a lot of good products out there that you can take a gander at! (And a lot of good reviews to compare them!)

An alternative (or addition) to leave-in conditioner would also be to rinse the conditioner from your hair with cool water. I think this has something to do with the cuticle sealing or something to produce shine, but I also feel like it washes out a little less of the conditioner so that it can keep working to increase the softness of my hair.

6) Avoid Chemicals and Heat

Just generally be nice to your hair. It is no surprise that reducing chemical dyes and heat exposure on your hair makes it healthier, and healthier curls are prettier! (Unless you are going for the 80’s/Hermoine look. I mean, you do you.) For example, I will be dyeing my ends blue later this month (for a summer camp thing... for now at least), so I am looking into conditioners that slowly build up the color over time. I’m hoping that a product like Overtone, which is actually made to preserve bright hair color, will dye my hair enough while also conditioning it! Henna hair colors by Lush are also very interesting to me, and would be great for dying curls in a natural shade. (Super cool, but super permanent, so you decide.)

7) Trim the Mess

I love having long hair, but keeping it short can keep your curls much healthier day-to-day. If you still want long locks though, (like me) then pay attention to when your ends start getting extra split and tangley. (I can usually tell if they knot up constantly, no matter how much conditioner I use!) Then, when my hair goes knotty, I go for a trim! For me, waiting to cut split-ends gives no extra length benefit because the ends don’t curl as prettily, and will break off regardless! Oh, and no one can tell anyway, so it's not like it makes a big difference. Curly hair is an illusion like that as it springs up a couple inches regardless of its length.

8) Embrace Them Gorgeous Locks

Over the next couple installments of this series I plan on talking about products I like and life-saving hairstyles, but until then I can say that the best way to love your curls is to just embrace them! Accept that your grass is pretty damn green all on its own, and when your hair seems to be getting big, spray on some saltwater and embrace the wild, hippie-child feels.

Curls are fun and gorgeous in a messy and natural way that many straight-haired girls will work hard to achieve. I joke that my hair is a mess that I pretend is intentional, but that is completely accurate. My hair isn’t gonna look like it was curled by an iron because it wasn’t. (It was curled my genetics and science and stuff…eww no, school.) And besides, natural hair is totally in style and confidence is the best accessory.

Are there any fellow curly girls out there? Any vital tips I missed?

Stay lovely,

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