Wednesday, January 14, 2015

CURLY HAIR // my hair routine

Free your hair, and the rest will follow.
Lorraine Massey, author of Curly Girl: The Handbook

T H E   B A C K S T O R Y :  My curly hair journey started before I was even born. My dad had black curling masses of hair (I say "had" because he shaves his head now), and my mom had white-blonde wavy locks. Both my parents came from families with pretty curly hair, so I was destined to be a curly-head (maybe that has something to do with our families originating from Ireland and England?). When I was born, my hair was black with small cherub curls, and as I grew older, my hair began to have a mind of its own. My mom would spend every morning with me enduring my tears of frustration as she wet my hair down, scrunched it up, and attempted to comb through it. I remember crying every morning, then looking in the mirror and absolutely hating the hair that was on top of my head. It was frizzy and kinky and often times felt like straw with a big bow on top. I was miserable up until the 6th grade.

In 6th grade, I discovered the straightener. I begged my mom to straighten my hair every day, and she did reluctantly. Everyone had straight hair, so why I couldn't I have it? Eventually she taught me how to do it, and I spent every morning in my hot and stuffy bathroom literally burning my hair off. My hair never stayed straight, so my straightener was usually used more than once a day. My hair care routine usually involved straightening my whole head of thinning hair, pulling it back into a tight pony tail, then hair spraying it all down, then continuing to straighten my hair while it was inside the ponytail. Honestly, I thought this was the best thing for my hair, especially since the relaxers my mom would put in never worked.

Eventually my mom told me the news in 8th grade: my hair was thinning, fried, and my curls were ruined. I needed to stow the straightener away and let my natural hair do its thing for a while, after my mom chopped most of my hair off. I cried and cried while the hair piled around me, clumps of straw-like hair landing on the floor. My mom lathered my hair in deep conditioners for weeks, hoping what little hair I had left would turn out to be healthy. From that day on, I left my hair curly, but kept it in a ponytail, telling myself I was destined to live my life confined to a hair tie, even going so far as to say I would probably end up getting married with a ponytail. My hair continued to break off and thin out since it was in such tight ponytail.

Then, one glorious day, me and my mom were searching through Books-A-Million, and my mom picked up a book about curly hair called Curly Girl: The Handbook. I was so thrilled to find a book that broke down every single type of curl and told you how to take care of it. It was almost magical, and I took the next week and memorized every word and watched all the videos on the DVD's they provided. It truly was life changing, as cliche as that may sound, but through that book I was able to develop my own hair routine that I found works wonders on my hair, and I have never been happier! My hair is shiny, healthy, smooth, and full of bouncy curls.

T H E   R O U T I N E : First of all, I have naturally fine hair. When I straightened it, it looked as thin as ever, but it really isn't thin, just fine (meaning, I have a lot of hair, but it doesn't look like it because the hair strand itself isn't that thick). I also have drier hair because curly hair tends to have a harder time capturing and keeping the moisture. 

I only wash my hair about every three days. When you wash curly hair every day, or even every other day, you rip the natural oils from your head that are supposed to be there, leaving it dry and limp. When my hair needs a little pick-me-up because of my rad bedhead (I have the worst bedhead ever... I look like a troll who has just escaped the dungeons after years of being held hostage with no haircare products), I spray it down with some water and scrunch my hair using upwards motions. 

In the shower I use two products. One of them is Head & Shoulders 2 in 1 Smooth & Silky shampoo. Most curly-headed people will tell you this is a big no-no because it contains sulfate (which is the stuff you find in dishwasher detergent that strips hard stains or food off of the dishes). Curly hair is so delicate that using sulfate in your shampoo can leave your hair weak, but I use Head & Shoulders because I need a little help with scalp issues that most curly-headed people have. Because I only wash my hair every three days, it doesn't do as much damage and I'm able to revive it with my conditioner, but I wouldn't recommend using it every day.

The other product I use is Matrix Biolage Colorlast conditioner. This is a bit more expensive than the Head & Shoulders, but it works wonders. I use the Colorlast series because I do color my hair (when I was in 10th grade my hair began to lighten and darken in some odd places, and because it's easier to go darker than it is to go lighter, I decided to just make my head all one color, so I took the darkest part of my hair and went with that color). With the conditioner, though, you only need about a quarter size and you do not rinse it out. It sounds weird, but it has completely changed my hair and given it so much more moisture. I always put it in my hair and then scrunch it upwards to get the curls to form more properly in the shower.

After I get out of the shower, I only use a towel to scrunch my curls upwards, leaving them still wet but in their natural form. I then get about a palm-ful of Volumax Volumizing Styling Gel and scrunch it into my hair. Because there is no alcohol in any of the products I use, my hair takes about four hours to dry completely (which, I admit, can be a pain since it always looks thin when it isn't fully dried), but once it's dry I scrunch it upwards one more to loosen any parts of my hair that was hardened by the gel.

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I hope this helps anyone who is dealing with the joys and struggles of curly hair. It took me 17 years to find a routine that really suited me, so don't worry if you can't find the right product. Just keep trying and experimenting with different routines and enjoy the spontaneity of curly hair!

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