Having wavy to curly hair has been a long process of discovery and trial and error, of slowly figuring out how my hair works. My dad has tight, tight curls, and my mom has slightly wavy hair. Put those two things together and you get my hair.
There are a few things I’ve learned over the past, oh, fifteen years about what to do and not do with medium curly hair. Whereas anyone with hair like my dad’s could never mistake their hair for straight, I thought mine was normal straight hair well into my teens, when the trend was for perfectly straight, shiny hair. So through high school I tried things like blow-drying it straight, using a curling iron, washing and brushing it every day. One of my friends told me once that it looked “nappy.” He was a boy though, and in retrospect, I think I didn’t do too too bad as far as teenage hair goes.
At some point I figured out the following:
1) This hair should never be brushed. At least, never when it’s anywhere near dry. Combs and brushes should stay far, far away from it lest it turn into a big, big ball of frizz.
2) Blow drying without a diffuser is a also recipe for disaster. This is actually pretty frustrating, because hotel hair dryers NEVER have a diffuser, rendering them basically useless to me. So I typically have the choice between lugging my own hair dryer with me (and it’s French, so it won’t work in the States), or air drying for the length of my stay (which is more or less doable, of course, depending on the outdoor temperature!).
3) There’s no need to wash my hair every day. However, shampooing without conditioner is out of the question—my hair becomes a massive, massive knot. So I’ve taken to shampooing my hair twice a week, and am thoroughly annoyed by the tiny, tiny conditioner bottles in France. Could someone please just sell me a good quart’s worth of conditioner rather than making me buy a new bottle every three weeks? Shampoo bottles last me months, on the other hand.
4) There is nothing I can do to make my hair look good in the morning without wetting it. I don’t know how some women do it. Is their bed head not monstrous like mine or do they simply not care as much?
Last week a friend mentioned the Curly Girl method for curly hair, so now I’m heading even farther into the curly hair universe and trying it out. The idea is 1) to ditch shampoo as much as possible, or to use sulfate-free shampoo, and to use silicone-free styling products, 2) to “plop” your hair before drying (=wrap it up in a t-shirt to start it drying), and 3) to be extremely gentle with it once it’s on its way to drying (=use a diffuser, don’t touch the curls, etc).
So far it seems to be having a pretty dramatic effect:
The only problem is that, even as natural as it is, it takes a lot longer than my normal hair routine. I’m on vacation now so I have time to wander around the house with a t-shirt on my head, but that time will be up on Monday. So either I half-ass it, or I get up fifteen minutes earlier.
Also, silicone-free styling products (I was specifically hoping for a leave-in conditioner) appear to be nearly impossible to find in Poitiers. Most of the websites I’ve browsed, even in French, recommend products that seem to be distributed only in the UK or the US. For now I’ve only found Timotei’s “pure” après-shampooing (no real surprise there, this is a brand that claims to be “natural”) and Franck Provost’s “24h mousse coiffante, expert boucles” (this one, on the other hand, was quite surprising). Fortunately, these are two of the cheapest products at the grocery store.
It remains to be seen whether my hair will get greasy without shampoo… anyone else out there with this kind of curly hair?