Saturday, August 13, 2011

Hair care...To be curly or not to be curly

I've had A LOT of people ask me how I make my hair do what it does. Yes, I have naturally curly hair. VERY curly. I've been approached by MANY frustrated moms and victims of naturally curly (and very unruly) hair who have NO idea how to care for curly hair or what to do with it. My mom happened to be one of those frustrated moms and just did what she could with my frighteningly untamed hair. When I was little I attained an incredibly HARD head because whining about having hair combed by my Granny was NOT allowed; and trust me, I was thumped with a brush MANY times. I tease my poor Aunt about being mean because my cousins had the ultimate STRAIGHT hair and when I'd come to visit and take a bath, she just put it in a braid and we survived the combing of the hair. "It hurts!'   "No, it doesn't, I'll tell you when it hurts. Sit still." LOL!!!! Oh yeah, you know what I'm talking about because either you have said it or you have been told this very same thing. I'm sorry for you if you have been in either side of the coin. Here, I'll show you just how curly my hair was...and let me tell you combing out curly hair is NEVER the answer!  My poor poor mother. And guess what? You don't have to keep your child's hair short just because its curly either. You need to know just a few things about curly hair so that you don't have to be nervous and you can tackle it just like you would anything else. Okay first thing that you need to know that naturally curly hair will never be as easy as straight hair and WILL cost more.  Relax, its gonna be okay!!!

What makes curly hair curly? Our pores (hair follicles) are actually oval. I have noticed that my hair is NOT oily either. Very important to remember regarding this issue with 'oil'  Curly hair cannot be washed everyday. Our oil is dispersed differently and curly hair actually NEEDS the oil. By washing it, much like African American hair, you are washing out the natural oils that keep our hair healthy. Obviously there is a limit to how much we can stand and it does get dirty. But not like a straight head of hair. I've seen how kids and my friends will get oily by the end of the day. I've NEVER experienced this. In fact, I've gone 6 days without washing my hair, and on the 6th day it was JUST beginning to become oily like that. (I had back surgery and was incapable of moving, so yes, I had a good reason to not shower. ;) )  As a rule I wash my hair every 2 to 3 days...which is what I do with my girls' hair as well. Bathing on a more regular basis is an absolute must, but we throw our hair up in a bun, ponytail, or cap.

Does the kind of shampoo and conditioner make a difference? Why yes, YES IT DOES! Through high school and part of college I thought that I could get by with cheap shampoo. I used Herbal Essense, Tressume, and a myriad of others that never gave me the desired look or feel that I wanted. My curls are much like a porcelain doll's. I have small to medium ringlets that literally start at the base of my hairline. I like having them dry in the natural ringlet form. Shampoos and conditioners have an effect (usually negative for my hair) because if they don't have enough moisture then I end up looking and feeling like I should be shakin a tail feather with Tina Turner. YIKES. But if they have too much moisture my hair is weighed down and I look like a drowned rat. So...with that said, what kinds do I use or suggest? I use a few different ones because you will always need to alternate products. Why? Well because it seems like your hair will get used to one product and the desired look and effect will stop after about 3 months. I'm not sure why. I use Biolage Color Care conditioner and Moisture shampoo, Design Line Olive Oil shampoo and conditioner, and Regis Tea Tree shampoo and conditioner. I buy the big liter bottles (I try to get them during the buy one get one 1/2 off or the 2 for $25 sales. Inevitably a salon is always having a sale) and they last me 3 months. Seasons don't seem to make that much of a difference. However, winter usually is the hardest time of the year for my hair because of the lack of moisture in the air and if I don't put product in my hair while the warm air is in the bathroom after a shower my hair is funky.

Do I use other products? Again, yes I do. I have used just about EVERYTHING. When I was in middle school I had the dreaded bangs. Back off, it was cool to have bangs. I had the perfect feathering technique!
Awe, 6th grade. This was way before I learned that I could do my own hair besides my bangs. It has taken me a lifetime to figure out my own hair. Thankfully I feel like I have a really good grasp on it and I can direct my girls' better. I've found that even though they have naturally curly hair too, their hair is DIFFERENT!!! Its amazing. Okay so back to product. I have used hair spray (EW), I have used several different gels (EW), lotion (yes, and it was an EW too), and mousse. Now even though I have used some of these products without success doesn't mean that gel or other shampoos/conditioners won't work. I can't handle heavy and weighed down or sticky. When I've tried gel, applying it to wet hair made it crunchy and made me look like I had dandruff because once it dried it was flaky. And depending on WHERE YOU LIVE and the climate and arridness of the area will have huge effects on how your hair behaves and how products works. Fortunately my me I've had many experiences and from the most dry (here in Colorado) to insane humidity (Mississippi and Minnesota). When I'm going to be in a place that is humid I have to use abit more product. My hair (and my girls') respond best to mousse. I used to use Suave for curly hair. I despise the 'rennovated' Suave and switched to Finesse (Extra Control Mousse). I have a routine that I won't ever do differently. I ONLY comb my hair (and the girls') IN THE SHOWER. Combing long curly hair while its dry is a DISASTER. It breaks the hair strand and dries it out, damaging it badly.
After I get out of the shower and dry it as best as I can and after putting it in the palm of my hand, I apply a very generous amount of mousse to my damp hair. I buy 4 cans of mousse a month. I will use a can in 10 days. I continue to use as much mousse as I feel I need. My hair is very long and therefore uses alot of product. I apply the mousse to the roots of my head and switch side to side and even apply it with my hair flipped over. If I don't get the bottom strands they go nuts and it is a frizzy mess. Ironically the amount of mousse doesn't make my hair feel dirty or look dirty. In fact if I get the exact amount needed then my hair is a 'good to go' look for 2 days. If my hair is too damp putting my mousse in will make it really thick and mushy feeling and I can see that Ive gotten WAY too much mousse. That's alright, because I just try to disperse it as much as I can. I try to get enough mousse that it feels squishy or 'full' and then I flip my hair back over and start scrunching my hair up so the curls 'remember' what they are supposed to do. Then I flip my hair back over and side to side I'll continue to crunch my hair upwards and make the curls redefine themselves and separate. As soon as I feel like I've crunched my hair enough I LEAVE IT ALONE for a few hours. Throughout the day while my hair is drying and the mousse is drying with it, it will get abit crunchy at times, but the more I scrunch my hair up, the more the crunchy goes away. (Just don't comb it out...then you'll have a royal FRIZZY mess.) I will sometimes pull the top back into a clip. Because my hair is thick it takes several hours to dry completely.

Can you highlight or dye your hair? Again...YES YOU CAN!!! When I was 15 my mom's friend, Dorothy highlighted my hair for the very first time. I had no idea what that even meant so when I pulled off the cap I was so excited. I had never had ANYONE cut my hair except my mom and NEVER had had my hair colored. It was so fun. Since being 15 I have always highlighted my hair. The awesome thing about being curly is that you can't really screw it up. Even a 'bad' cut is easily hidden beneath curls. It gave my hair definition and texture. Let me point out very clearly that I have ZERO red naturally in my hair at all. You need to be very careful about highlighting your hair because if you do have red naturally in your hair then highlighting it could be disasterous! I 'pull' no red at all and thats why box dyes and highlighting kits don't turn out badly. My brother does 'pull red' and therefore went COMPLETELY was just be aware of what you are doing.
Rob would KILL me if he knew I was saying this, but he actually does highlight my hair. Since I'm way too cheap and highlighting LONG CURLY hair costs a FORTUNE (upwards of $75-$200), I buy a Loreal highlighting kit (champagne color) for $10 and Rob will pull it through the cap you see in the picture. Its abit painful the longer my hair is, but I refuse to pay that much when its just hair. Good grief. (BTW I hate this picture! LOL!!) After highlighting my hair has attitude but after 3 days of heavy conditioning its back to normal.
 My whole life everyone insisted on my hair being LONG. UGH, while I love my long hair, its a huge hassle and takes time. I have 3 kids, I don't have time to waste on hair. So I decided to chop it all off and I donated 17 inches to Locks of Love in 2006. My husband has known me since I was 12 and so when I walked in with basically no hair he about pooped himself. I have to say that I absolutely LOVED my short hair. It was so easy and so fun. But after a few months I was ready to have it long again. That was alittle over 4 1/2 years ago. My hair is almost as long as it was before I cut it and I have been threatened that I can never cut it again. Trimming is necessary for maintaining long hair. If you don't then split ends and the bottom gets very dry and gross. I haven't cut more than 2 inches off (besides having layers put in) my hair since Duncan was born.
 I have also gone way outside of my comfort zone and decided on Thanksgiving day of 2010 that I wanted to dye my hair. I hear many cringes and gasps. Hey, I had never done it before and again, I was NOT about to pay an obscene amount for something I might hate. LOL! Yes, scary and abit nerve racking, but my sister inlaw Becky rolled up her sleeves and went to work. Unfortunately , while I had gotten a color I LOVED it was only sold in CANADA!!!! We were up there for a family get together for Thanksgiving (Go figure, go to Canada for an American holiday~it was the craziest thing ever...I was laughing because we were all so surprised that things were still open! Well DUH!?) and I decided it HAD to be done.

I LOVED IT. I haven't had a dark color since I was 15!!! I kept it up for a a few months until this last March 2011. Red is VERY hard to maintain and truth be told, I missed my highlights! So even though people had warned me not to highlight my hair when I had dyed it (gasp! With a box! Oh no!!! LOL) Rob sat down and pulled my hair through the cap again. I was abit nervous because bleaching red could turn PINK...thankfully it did not, but wow, thats a lesson in stupidity.
So there you have it. I have told you about all that I can and how I do my hair. I use the same products in my girls' hair. Obviously I don't have to use the same amounts , but the routine is exactly the same. Don't expect to get it all the way you want it the first time. Its taken me my whole life to figure out my hair. Don't get frustrated...just keep trying product until you find something that really works for your hair. However don't be afraid to try something new. Its going to feel weird at first and like you don't know what you are doing, but trust me, its a very fun thing! Enjoy the gift God's given you with your curly hair and RELAX.

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