So…it’s my birthday week. Thursday’s the “big” day. Number: 29.
I’m tempted to go on a bit of a rant about 29th birthdays…how it feels like a fake age…like a bit of a bad joke…like nothing more than a place-holder for 30. But I won’t do that to you guys. Oh, wait. Did I just…? Oops.
Aaaaanyhooo, in honor of my place-holder birthday, this week is going to have a bit of a “me” theme.
How very narcissistic of me, no? Well, yes, I suppose. After all, it’s a personal blog, which is a bit narcissistic by nature. But I know that I usually love it whenever bloggers I enjoy reading share more about their personal lives.
Assuming that you’re here because you enjoy reading what I write (still a bit of a mind-boggler!), I figured I probably wasn’t the only one who gets curious about the person behind the computer screen and also figured that birthday week was as good a time as any to blab on about myself. If you’re not interested, I won’t be offended at all. Don’t worry. We’ll be back to our regularly scheduled program next week.
So, today, instead of a recipe, a craft, or a project, I’m going to answer a question I get asked on a semi-regular basis, which is: how do you style your curly hair?
This question makes me smile for two reasons:
1) I like that my hair is finally long enough again for people to be able to see that it’s actually curly rather than just flippy. After having long hair for pretty much my entire life, I hacked it all off when—you guessed it—I had kids and spent about three years wearing a variation of this ‘do (which I like, by the way; not hatin’ on the short hair):
This was taken two years ago on our 4th anniversary at the restaurant where we ate the night Shaun proposed (though he didn’t propose at the restaurant; I’ll tell you the whole story someday).
2) It kind of cracks me up to have people ask me how I “style” my hair because, most of the time, I really don’t. It has a bit of a mind of its own, and I often let it have its way.
Still…here are the basics (by the way, if any of my straight-haired friends out there are about to slam your laptops shut in disgust at my ignoring you, DON’T! Please. I have a few tips for you too).
My hair: it’s incredibly thick, people—the kind of thick that gets comments like, “Whoa! You scalped her!” every.single.time people see how much hair is on the floor after one of my haircuts. Then, of course, they look up, see how much hair is still on my head, and do a double take. The only way to avoid a super-attractive “hair pyramid” is lots and lots of layers and thinning shears. When my hair was short, my stylist would attack it with a razor until half of it was gone (and I still had a normal person’s head of hair left).
My hair also defies conventional curl wisdom. Instead of springing up into ringlets when it’s cut shorter, it begins to swirl and wave. I only get the defined, ringlet-ish curls when my hair is long and all basically one length. Also, it’s very uneven in terms of texture. Some parts are kinky/coarse, and others are fine and straight(ish).
So, how do I get it to do what it does?
Okay, so not that big of a cocktail, but, after many years of experimentation, I have landed on the Garnier Fructis line for curly hair as my go-to brand. It’s not like a “special” hair relationship or anything. I don’t feel guilty when I try something else, and even these products are far from foolproof, but I’ve tried more expensive brands and never found anything noticeably better.
Specifically, I use the shampoo/conditioner for curly hair or dry hair (whichever I can find at the time), the Curl Construct Mousse, and the Curl Scrunch Gel (extra strong).
- I shampoo my hair in the shower, and sometimes I condition it too. But usually I just shampoo, rinse, then wrap my hair in a towel and get dressed/put my makeup on. NO rubbing or tousling.
- Next, I unwrap my hair, and finger-comb about a quarter-sized glob of conditioner through my hair. I don’t rinse this out. It may not technically be made to stay in your hair, but it sure won’t hurt it, and I’ve found that this step acts as a very effective frizz-fighter.
- Then, I distribute two decent-sized handfuls of mousse through my hair, again with my fingers
- I squirt a quarter-sized amount of gel in my hand and gently smooth it over my hair (this step sort of seals everything else, so I try not to separate the curls)
- Finally, I grab the towel my hair was wrapped in and carefully squeeze/scrunch sections of my hair to remove any excess moisture
- Notice that I didn’t mention a comb at any point during this process. As my hair gets longer, I’ll have to add a wide-toothed comb to my routine, but right now, all a comb does is promote frizz.
I’ll do a bit of arranging of strands if it looks particularly wonky once I flip my head back over. But I almost always let my hair air-dry, only drying it with a hairdryer when I’m in a hurry to get somewhere and don’t want a wet head or when I want more defined curls.
In the case of the defined curls option, I always use a diffuser. Diffusers are a curly-girl’s best friend. If I ever use the diffuser-less dryer option, the results aren’t too pretty.
After all that, this is (more or less) what I end up with:
Certainly nothing fancy, but it works for me.
And now for the part where I stop ignoring my straight-haired readers.
If you’ve ever wanted curls but despaired of ever getting so much as a wave, try this:
- Wash your hair like usual
- Towel it dry and rub a handful of mousse from root to tip (make sure every bit of your hair gets at least a little bit of product)
- Flip your hair over and blow-dry it with a diffuser (when you dry your hair with a diffuser, you choose sections, stick the “fingers” of the diffuser into that section and then hold it still until that section is dry; no rough-housing!)
- Stand up and try not to scream when you get a glimpse of your newly volumized hairdo (I hear it’s a bit traumatic to go from smooth and sleek to the wildness that curly-girls experience on a regular basis).
- Give your hair a gentle shake to see where it falls. Tame any flyaways with just a dab of conditioner or hair-wax, and then spritz the whole thing with hairspray.
Will you have ringlets? Probably not (okay, no, if your hair truly is straight). But I’ve tried this on several friends’ hair who didn’t think they would get so much as a bend in a single strand, and they ended up with really pretty beachy waves and lots of volume (I remember one friend’s stylist saying, “How did you know her hair could do that? I had no idea!”). It depends on the person/hair, but it’s at least worth a shot, right?
And this concludes my dissertation on styling curly hair. Thank you for your attention.
So, what about you? Curly or straight…what works best for your hair? I’d love to hear your thoughts (especially on getting curly hair to straighten well; I’m usually too lazy, but I do enjoy going straight every once in a while).
Hope you have a terrific Tuesday. I’ll be back tomorrow with Thrifted or Grifted!
P.S. Don’t forget that Thursday is the first ever 5 Things Thursday linky party, and the theme is:
You don’t have to stick with a travel theme, though. The idea is just to link up a list of five things (preferably with pictures) on your mind—movies, recipes, memories, projects, paint colors…anything goes! I’ll consider it your birthday present to me if you decide to participate! ; )Like what you read? Like M is for Mama on facebook (pretty please?):