Clare's hair was straight until she was about 18 months old. Slowly, large waves, then ringlets, and finally full-blown tight curls formed. People stop us in stores and make Shirley Temple references. Some people want to touch her hair. Some people don't even ask!
But Clare hated her hair. She wanted Rapunzel's long, straight hair. She has been teased. Mornings, especially school mornings, have been miserable and she dreaded being told it was time to fix her hair. Our favorite stylist at the walk-in salon we normally visit let Clare go by while she skipped to another client because I don't think she wanted to tackle Clare's curls.
This summer, I decided to do as much as I could to help Clare accept and love her beautiful hair. I read all the curly hair tips I could find and amongst the information, I learned about the Deva Curl system. Stylists can be trained and certified in this system which includes cutting hair dry and an intensive conditioning process. Each curl or small groups of curls is cut separately and stylists carefully examine the way the curls lay. There is a line of Deva Curl products available for purchase and you can search their website to find a certified stylist near you.
Through the website, I found Planet Curls in Houston. It's a salon dedicated to caring for the special needs of clients with naturally curl hair, although they cut straight hair and even give perms for those who wish they were curly heads. Our stylist was Charlie and I agree with the many positive on-line reviews I found for him. He took such care in cutting Clare's hair and he explained everything he was doing as he also gave me tips. Clare enjoyed the whole experience. She was able to see women and little girls with hair like hers and she walked out feeling like she was beautiful. It made me teary-eyed to see her walk so happily and proudly as we left the salon. I'd like to share some of the tips I've learned from books, websites, and from dear Charlie for any other naturally curly- haired friends out there!
|After: Happy girl! Happy curls!|
|Her hair is not wet in this picture. This is how dramatic the After picture was.|
1. Hair cuts
Find a Deva Curl certified stylist near you, if possible. If you can't find one, ask around to see if there is a stylist who seems to be more skilled with curly hair. Ask the woman in front of you at the check-out line who cuts her beautiful curly hair. Everything I've read says curly hair needs to be cut dry so the stylist can see how the curls lay because each person is so different and there are different kinds of curls. I could tell a big difference in the feel of Clare's hair while it was still dry, before the conditioning process. Her 3-step Deva Cut was $35. This thrifty mom offset the cost by driving the Corolla instead of the mini-van! Even in the van, it would have been worth the cost. We've never had a stylist who really knew what to do with Clare's curls.
|Planet Curls had booster seats and special kids' capes. They are equipped for and welcoming to children.|
The book Clare is holding is called The Curly Girl Handbook. I'm buying a copy soon. It is FULL of helpful information including tips to pass on to hairstylists and even tips for cutting your own curls. It is a perfect first stop for information.
A few weeks ago, we switched to a sulphate-free shampoo. It made a difference after the first wash. We have tried Eden's All-Natural Peppermint Shampoo and Not Your Mother's Way to Grow Long and Strong Shampoo. Both were available at Wal-Mart. Another great line is the Tea Tree Tingle line from Trader Joe's. The benefit of Eden and Trader Joe's for school-age children is that they contain peppermint and tea tree oil. These are both supposed to repel head lice. You can also add drops of these essential oils to your shampoo of choice. Sulphates are added to shampoos to make them rinse quickly and they strip hair. Naturally curly hair tends to be dry so it needs to maintain its natural oils.
Curly hair should not be washed every day. It's best to wash it every 2-3 days. When washing, focus on the scalp. Use the majority of the shampoo there and really massage the scalp. Run the left-over shampoo through the hair to the tips and more shampoo will reach the tips as you rinse the hair.
Maybe I'm behind and everyone else is already doing this, but Charlie showed me the best way to condition hair. Use a deep conditioner after shampooing the hair. Separate the hair into at least four sections. You might even use combs to divide it out, depending on the length. I separate Clare's into about eight sections. Start applying the conditioner to the tips at each section and work you way up, working the conditioner thoroughly through the section, with less of the conditioner near the scalp. The ends of the hair need the most. This results in the best coverage of the hair. Let the conditioner sit for about 5 minutes. Applying the conditioner seems to remove most tangles, but if there are any left, use this time to gently comb through the hair with a wide-tooth comb.
Rinse the conditioner with cooler water. You don't have to rinse as well as you do with shampoo. It's a good thing for curly hair if a bit of the conditioner remains.
Right now, we're using Trader Joe's Tea Tree Tingle and Pantene 2-Minute Deep Conditioner--Curly Hair Series (square-shaped tub).
4. Drying Hair
Charlie showed us what to do after rinsing Clare's conditioner. He had her stand on a towel and lean over so all her curls hung down. Then, he worked a leave-in conditioner into her hair, while it was still completely wet. Next, he worked in a dime-sized amount of styling gel. Then, he squeezed and scrunched her hair. He said you want to hear that "wet shoe sound."
Next, he used a microfiber towel to squeeze her hair. He said you should wait to do this until after you've applied the leave-in conditioner and gel so you can lock-in the moisture. At home, we use a white t-shirt to squeeze and wrap Clare's hair. Microfiber towels and t-shirts don't cause the friction of a standard towel, so less frizz results. The difference since using a t-shirt has been HUGE. Plus, the bottom of a t-shirt easily wraps around her head, like one of those pre-made hair towels. We never rub her hair; we just squeeze and wrap. I just grab one of my husband's undershirts to use for Clare's hair.
It's best to let her hair air-dry. If it must be dried by an appliance, a diffuser is a must. The Curl Deva one is great! When she is older, we may invest in one, but for now we are able to let her hair air-dry. Yes, it is shaped like a hand and the curls don't even move as it dries them. Charlie held the diffuser under Clare's curls, with the diffuser vents upward, just to dry her tips.
I'd like to eventually try all the Deva products after this month of back-to-school expenses.
5. Leave-In Conditioner
It's a must! We use it for touch-ups on dry hair and for morning styling. I made my own by mixing Clare's conditioner with water in a spray bottle. Shake well before using. For school-age children, you can add drops of peppermint, lavender, or tea-tree oil (or a combination of tea-tree and another) to this mixture for lice-repellant benefits. We mist Clare's hair with a combination of water and lavender oil when we're done with her hair. She loves the smell.
It is suggested that those with naturally curly hair sleep on satin pillowcases to reduce friction in the hair. This will reduce frizz. Also, it's become a must for Clare to sleep with a "pineapple" hair-do. We gather all her hair high upon her head with a scrunchie. They're cheapest at a dollar store! No more tangles and mats in the morning!
For many more tips, check out my Pinterest board for Naturally Curly Hair: