Curly hair care
April 14, 2008 3:05 PM   Subscribe

What other memos did I miss? Techniques for managing curly/wavy hair sought.

I recently learned from several friends with curly hair that none of them uses shampoo on a daily basis. When showering, they will use a daily conditioner, but they shampoo only about two or three times a week. I tried it, and noticed a big improvement in the manageability of my curly/wavy hair. I’m wondering what other care or styling tips I may have missed. Please share!

Additional details: My hair is nearly shoulder-length, on the dry side, and is somewhat thick with loose curls. I’ve tried a million hair-case products, from the very cheap to Bumble and Bumble, and one of the troubles I have is that products that manage frizz tend to flatten my hair and deaden the (brown/gray) color. I typically use a diffuser for a few minutes while my hair is damp, which prevents the curls from becoming too frizzy. All suggestions for haircare and handling appreciated.
posted by dreamphone to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (25 answers total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
Well, try Bed Head After Party if you haven't. I know you said you tried everything; this feels like lotion on my ungodly thick and curly hair. It's not sticky, and it's not a gel. It feels EXACTLY like a lightweight hand lotion; put one squirt of this in your hands, rub it around and then gently coat the top layer of hair. It'll be shiny but not sticky; it won't weigh it down but go LIGHT on it (try a very tiny bit to start and then find the amount that's right for you). Honestly, it's the best thing ever. People stop me and ask how my hair is so shiny and soft and I dye it, too. I typically let my hair air dry and then put it on in the mornings.

You can also put it on wet hair before it dries but when I do that, I typically get too much in one spot or other.

Also, I have a really bad ass straightening iron and I find that if I wash and condition my hair, let it air-dry, THEN straighten it, I can go 2-3 days with straight hair as long as I don't get too sweaty. The After Party also works lightly on straightened curly hair to make frizzies lie down.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 3:11 PM on April 14, 2008 [2 favorites]

Get out of the shower and then don't touch it. At all. Let it air dry as it wants.

Whenever I can manage to not fiddle with my hair, and especially not brush it, the curls come out tighter and less frizzy. Once it's dry I might add some hairspray for volume, gel for staying power, or finishing cream for frizz reduction.

Good luck!
posted by infinityjinx at 3:13 PM on April 14, 2008 [1 favorite]

My curly/frizzy hair has its best hair days when I follow this procedure: Step out of shower, tip head upside down and finger-comb my hair, tip head rightside up again, and then LEAVE IT ALONE while it air dries. On really humid days, I give it a couple of light spritzes with anti-frizz spray while it's still wet.
posted by amyms at 3:18 PM on April 14, 2008

NaturallyCurly; website for the curl-obscessed. I bet you're a 2C.
posted by answergrape at 3:19 PM on April 14, 2008

Get out of the shower and then don't touch it. At all. Let it air dry as it wants.

Ditto; it makes a huge difference. Also, when applying product, don't apply it too close to the roots, or on your scalp at all. That's what weighs your hair down. Your frizz is probably mostly through the lower 2/3 of your hair, so focus the product there.
posted by boomchicka at 3:20 PM on April 14, 2008

I use John Frieda Clear Shine Luminous Color Glaze about once a week, and that combined with 2-3 times a week shampooing and every day conditioning has made a big difference in my hair texture. It helps with the frizzies without flattening and makes it much shinier. Highly recommended.
posted by wuzandfuzz at 3:20 PM on April 14, 2008

Don't touch it??? Wouldn't you drip drip drip all over?
posted by smackfu at 3:30 PM on April 14, 2008

Have you tried Mixed Chicks? It's a bit pricey, but I know a lot of people who swear by it.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 3:41 PM on April 14, 2008

Adding my 2c to amyms'

My routine:
1. apply leave-in product in the shower - that way I can rinse some off and/or make sure it's evenly distributed (product varies from clear anti-frizz to leave-in cream conditioners to liquid spray conditioners)
2. towel dry lightly
3. bend over so all hair comes forward and is flowing lose
4. loosen the hair from scalp with fingers to give some volume and "stimulate" curls by crunching sections of hair with my hands (if you want to, this is also an ideal time to apply product as long as it's well spread all over your palms)
5. dry naturally

As far as anti-frizz making your hair dull, I never apply conditioner to the roots, just from the ears down. Maybe that would work with anti-frizz too.

I recently tried this shampoo for straight hair and I was completely blown away. It actually straightened my hair, but not to the point of loosing the curls, just enough to wipe out the frizz. When I wash my hair with it, I don't even bother with product (but the routine must be kept - never mess with the routine!)
posted by AnyGuelmann at 4:14 PM on April 14, 2008

Heh, I'm a curly hair renegade. I brush my hair when it's soaking wet, right out so it's straight. I often use a comb as well to really get it well brushed. Then I either tie it up or leave it down and it dries into nice curls. If I don't brush it I get a big bushy tangle with no defined curls and it doesn't break with the brushing, but I still bet I'm making people squirm with my wet hair shenanigans (hairdressers often do). My point is don't be afraid to try different things even if it goes against accepted wisdom. There is a lot of variety in curly hair and sometimes weird things can make a big difference.

I do really like my Redken Fresh Curls mousse. Different hair products seem to work for different people, and a good hairdresser will often make a recommendation and put something in there after cutting it to give a try. That's how I found this product (and know to avoid a few others).
posted by shelleycat at 4:15 PM on April 14, 2008

I also only shampoo my curly hair only about twice a week, but use conditioner everyday. After rinsing the conditioner, and turning off the shower I use CHI Silk Infusion while hair is really, really wet...before towel/turban. I love this stuff, a lot of people only use it when they are straightening their hair but I find it does an excellent job at controlling my frizz and flyaways. It takes VERY LITTLE. I then leave my hair wrapped in my hair turban while I do all the other stuff: makeup, brush teeth, etc. Dab a little styling product (the Silk Infusion has even allowed me to go to lesser expensive styling products), flip my head over and run a dryer with diffuser through my hair and out the door.
posted by illek at 4:28 PM on April 14, 2008

I can't say enough good things about the Sally Hershberger wavy hair products available at Walgreen's, particularly the Styling Primer. This is the first product I've encountered that actually manages my frizz without flattening, dulling, or other undesired effects.

And if you haven't already - throw out your hairbrush. Never, ever use a brush on hair that frizzes - a wide-tooth come, only when your hair is wet, is the most you should use.
posted by chez shoes at 4:32 PM on April 14, 2008

Heh, I stopped using shampoo YEARS ago - it just dries out my hair and makes it really frizzy. Conditioner works just fine. I've found the biggest help is rotating products - bumble and bumble one month, frizz-ease the next. Keeps me from getting a build-up of any one product.

I try to do a hot oil treatment once a month.

And I had no idea so many other curly-haired women did the bend-over-and-shake-it-out thing. I find this really helpful and also do it in the shower, after conditioning. Also, if I want my hair to be a bit straighter, but not totally straight, and I have some time, I put it up in a super-tight chignon after applying straightening gel. I leave it up there while doing other things, and then take it down about a half-hour before I have to leave. My hair is generally much tamer when I do this.
posted by lunasol at 4:41 PM on April 14, 2008

After leave-in conditioning, you can help shape individual curls by wrapping some hair around your index finger, slipping it off over the nail while still coiled up, then pushing the curl up against your head and letting it fall. Do this with sections all over the lower part of your hair, twisting the hair in the same direction on each side, and you'll get a nice, neat set of loose, small curls.

I've also found that using a set of hot curlers is a real aid when curls become frizzy or messy.
posted by Scram at 4:54 PM on April 14, 2008

When I first got my hair cut at Devachan in New York, my stylist told me to throw out my hairbrush, and I haven't used one since. I have thick hair that has always tangled easily, but I just finger-comb it in the shower with conditioner in it, and I haven't had any problems (though I did have to buy a "guest hairbrush" for when some of my girl friends come over to get ready to go out). Devachan is Lorraine Massey's salon -- she wrote Curly Girl -- and all of their haircare products are fantastic.
posted by amarynth at 4:55 PM on April 14, 2008

Oh, and I should add that all of their products are water-soluble, which is necessary when you don't use shampoo.
posted by amarynth at 4:56 PM on April 14, 2008

Whoa, tons of great info, lots of which makes sense in terms of my hair but I didn't know. Looking forward to trying out a lot of the tips. Thanks to everyone! Would love to hear more if anyone else out there wants to toss in 2 cents.
posted by dreamphone at 5:30 PM on April 14, 2008

Well first off, DON'T BRUSH IT! Seriously, it took me forever to figure this out and I suffered through junior high as a giant poof ball for it. If you feel you must, maybe when you're in the shower or directly afterwards when your hair is dripping wet, but your curls will twist much better if you just finger comb in the shower - it takes forever but its worth it. If your hair is drippy, pat it dry with an old clean T shirt or a smooth towel - terry cloth with frizz your hair. I use mousse and then hair gel, which I apply while scrunching my hair upside down, then I don't touch it until it dries. If you can't wait for air drying, I recommend investing in a diffuser - but you should diffuse until your hair is 100% dry to avoid frizzing.

(on preview, I guess I'm a little obsessive about my hair routine...)
posted by fermezporte at 5:52 PM on April 14, 2008 [2 favorites]

I mix moisturizing cream and a light gel into my hands, and gently put it in my hair while it's still wet. Then I twist pieces around my finger or a cold curling iron, spritz the heck out of it with Frizz Ease moisture barrier hair spray, and then I'm good to go. I like to make my curls a little looser because otherwise I look like a darker shirley temple, so ymmv, but that' s my plan.
posted by sweetkid at 6:47 PM on April 14, 2008

seconding what amarynth and fermezporte said...but also check out to see if any salons near you do "deva cuts" (see the devasalon site). Its pricey, but might be worth a try (for me, it was nice having a stylist know what to do with curls and its much curlier when i want it to be).

check out devasalon's products too...i use the low poo and conditioner, and arc gel.
after applying gel, dry only with a t-shirt to scrunch curls.
posted by hazel at 10:55 PM on April 14, 2008

I have red, dry, curly hair down to the middle of my back.

I rinse my hair everyday, under medium-warm water. I shampoo at most weekly, and that's only if I really have to. Before showering, I gently use a detangling comb to get the knots out. When I shampoo, I only use shampoo on the top of my head, and let the runoff cleanse the length. After shampooing, I use a heavy-duty treatment on my hair, fingercombing it through my hair. Rinse that out. I gently twist my hair together, put a towel around it for about 10min. Then, while my hair is damp (but not dripping) I put in leave-in conditioner, a curl tamer (redken 'ringlets'), and use a bit of gel up the top to control flyaway. I never use a hair dryer or a brush. I plait my hair loosely at night to sleep in, to minimise tangles.
posted by ysabet at 12:37 AM on April 15, 2008

Update: Success already! Although I haven't had a chance to try out any of the styling product suggestions, I did the bend over and shake thing and no-touch until dry, and my hair already looks a lot better. Thanks all, I'll definitely give these suggestions a try.
posted by dreamphone at 4:19 AM on April 15, 2008

I haven't brushed my hair for 15 years but haven't had it long in about 5 years though. I wash it once a week or so with whatever shampoo I've got to hand, and never towel dry. I'm somewhere between a 3b and a 3c by the way. When I had long hair in cold weather I'd occasionally get it to dry out over an electric cooking hob but only if it was too cold to air-dry.
posted by singingfish at 4:35 AM on April 15, 2008

I keep my curly/wavy/coarse/thick hair anywhere from chin length to long. I shampoo every 2 - 3 days, more in the summer or when exercising a lot. I use conditioner, and comb it. Towel hair damp, then I use a silicone-based shine product and heavy gel. The shine product makes it softer, silky, and shiny, and allows the curls to behave a lot better. The gel keeps it from becoming huge with the frizz. Now that it's gray, I french-braid it most days, because the texture is different, but this regime, plus a layered cut, gave me great hair. I never, ever use a blow dryer.
posted by theora55 at 8:10 AM on April 15, 2008

I have wavy-to-curly brown-gray hair also. I shampoo and use conditioner 3x per week, and do as others have recommended; I bend over and run my fingers through my hair to loosen the top strands. I use Redken Fresh Curls Anti Frizz Shiner and various kinds of mousse, avoiding the roots and the crown of my head.
posted by Lynsey at 9:34 AM on April 15, 2008

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