A thread to discuss the haircuts, methods and products associated with naturally curly hair.
I decided to go back to what was working for my hair and put the notion that nobody else's hair routine works exactly the same for everyone else. 😁 I will say that the Aussie conditioner is phenomenal - my hair felt like silk afterwards! Who knew such an inexpensive product could provide such great results.
I think leaving in some conditioner and using the curling custard is what gives me the best results (for now) as does applying it to soaking wet hair in the shower. I tried styling upside down again and it was kind of a mess. I gave it the ole college try and I might try again in the future but for now I guess I'll stick with what's working. I still haven't quite figured out how to lift up my roots and the hair at the back of my head (and it's kind of embarrassing because I feel like I have a bald spot back there - my hair is so fine - but I can work on it in the future. I also realize that when seasons change I will probably have to redo everything again. LOL Either way it's still a fun topic to talk about!
I literally just wipe gel across the back of my head with both hands. Length and ends first, then the back of my head, then the scalp and roots after I’ve already gotten rid of most of the gel elsewhere. So, I’m touching all of the strands with gel, but I’m not combing through it with my fingers or breaking up the strands that I made with the anti-frizz cream and big tooth comb.
Two other thoughts come to mind. Nobody else’s curly hair routine has ever worked for me exactly. I take bits and pieces. A whole lot of stuff doesn’t work. The other thing is that even when I find the perfect product combination, I can get wildly different results depending on how wet my hair is, how much product i use, and how I dry it.
For awhile there, I was getting dry ends and no hold because my hair was too wet when I applied product, therefore the product all slid off and down the drain. But then if your hair has too little water when you apply product, you don’t get ringlets. It’s weighed down and dirty looking with no definition.
It warms my heart that other curly-haired people are just as confuzzled about all this as I am, and that everyone is sharing info. We are not alone. LOL
I tried Skwigg's hair routine last night (upside down application of products in the shower, although my hair was probably more soaking wet) and I was really pleased with the results. Granted my family would probably look at my hair and not notice a single change, but I definitely felt like I had more volume and movement (as opposed to it being plastered to my head). I wasn't able to find Biotera Gel so I used what I had on hand, which was Badabing gel and I think has a really strong hold. The downsides were that the back of my head didn't have any hold - I'm not quite sure how to apply the gel to the top part of the back of my head when it's upside down.
Here's what I ended up with last night:
Unfortunately this morning it felt really dry and straw-like. I didn't notice that when I scrunched out the gel last night - it definitely felt soft - but this morning it was super stiff. I'm not sure if that's the gel or maybe I didn't apply enough curl cream? I realize so much of this is individual, too, and what works well for one person's hair may not work for another. Kind of like food, exercise, diets... 🤣
I discovered a couple of things: 1) Garnier products are not easily found in stores around here (at least not the Smooth Air Dry) and Garnier Curl refresher is NOT the same thing as Curl Renew. I bought the former as I couldn't find the latter and I assumed they'd be similar. I sprayed the Curl Refresher on dry hair (that I plan on washing tonight) to test it out and now I can barely get a finger through my hair it is so stiff. That will be going back to the store 😬 I'll check out Amazon for curl renew as I can't seem to find it anywhere else.
Thanks for the info on the conditioner! Right now I'm using a generic sally beauty supply one and sometimes the leave-in, which my hair seems to enjoy. Although I'm not sure a leave-in+curl cream+gel would do well together...seems like a lot of product?
Have you noticed your hair sticking to the back of your head when you flip back over after applying upside down? Not sure if that makes sense. Like when I put my head right side up the underneath pieces are all stuck and clumpy.
Also, what kind of conditioner does everyone like? Not sure if this has been mentioned. I can always scroll back 😊
Any kind of upside down drying helps with getting volume at the roots. Although, since mine is getting longer, I part it and let it lie flat. That seems so weird, but is definitely easier. For years, I didn’t part and just kind of stood everything up with my fingers. That no longer works once there’s enough weight on the the strands from the extra length. Every day is a new adventure.
I'm wondering if maybe towel drying upside down helps with getting the hair to unstick from the head? I might try that next time just to see what happens. I do prefer the volume I get in the roots when I've attempted to style/dry that way. For me it always seems like there's a trade off - if I want my roots to look decent I have to forgo the rest of my hair. If I want the bottom 2/3 of my hair of my hair to look good I have to forgo the roots. The sacrifices we make in life 🤣
Yes, I apply cream and gel upside down, scrunch water with hands, then towel dry. There is an art to how much water is in your hair when you apply product. Too much, and you wash away all the product, too little and you can’t get the defined strands to happen.
After a quick towel dry, I part it and pick up or twist any pieces that are flat or misbehaving. Curly hair dries exactly like it looks wet, so I have to make sure nothing weird is happening. It’s such a production. LOL
I do the same with putting products on soaking wet hair in the shower. Do you apply both cream and gel upside down and then scrunch out water with hands & towel upside down? That's the only thing I haven't quite figured out. I've tried all the tricks and trades of "rolling your head from front to back" and using chopsticks to "lift" hair off the roots and back but it still looks too plastered to my scalp.
I've also discovered that wetting my hair on the second day hair is both a help and a hindrance. Help in that when I take it out of my pony tail pineapple I can get get it to look a bit more presentable, but hindrance in that it washes out all the product. I haven't tried any sort of reactivating product other than water+conditioner in a spray bottle so maybe I'll check out Curl Renew.
And yes - I always think, "best laid plans" when it comes to styling my hair. Every time is a surprise. 😂
I put the Garnier Smooth Air Dry on freshly washed, wet hair. By wet hair, I mean I squeeze the water out of it but don’t towel dry before I apply the cream. Still upside down in the shower, I work it through with my fingers and then big-tooth comb my hair to separate it into chunky strands. I apply Bioterra gel (pretty strong hold) to seal the strands. After those two products are in, I scrunch any remaining water out with my hands and lightly towel dry. I basically just hold the towel to my head for 30 seconds or so to absorb water, no scrubbing it around. Then it air dries in crunchy ringlets, and I break them up before leaving the house.
I’ve also learned that I should resist the urge to wet second-day hair to refresh it. That makes frizz. I can spray some Garnier Curl Renew on second-day hair, revive the curls, and the anti-frizz cream will still be doing it’s thing from the day before. Third day, it all gets shampooed again, or at least very wet and products reapplied.
That’s my current routine anyway. As curly girls know, it can all change in an instant. 🤣
Is it weird that I get really excited when a new post pops up in this thread? It's always fun reading about everyone's experiences with what hair products do/do not work. Maybe it's discovering that the cheaper ones are preferable to expensive 😁
I'm curious about the Garnier Smooth Airy Dry frizz cream? Do you use it in combination with a gel or stand alone? I ask because most of what I read says you're supposed to combine curl cream with a gel but every time I try that my hair feels super gunky and weighed-down. I started using some leave-in conditioner because it's so dry and then a gel, although the "gel" is curling custard and I don't really know what that means.
@sunshine that's probably true about the chlorine in my hair providing a sort of "cleansing" application. I definitely find I have to seriously switch things up between summer and winter. I'm swimming daily in the summer and really don't use a shampoo (although that was partially because I thought I wasn't supposed to do anything but co-wash) but come winter+no swimming and all of a sudden my hair is brittle gunk. The shampooing has definitely helped with that, but I still struggle with some dryness. I guess it's trial and error, but I'm really interested in the curl cream.
I love it when a product provides hold and when you "scrunch the crunch" you're left with softness. In the past I've had either zero hold to get some softness or lots of hold with straw-like hair.
Also, what does glycerin do to your hair?
Skwigg I am right there with you in preferring cheaper products to more expensive ones. The lower and simpler the ingredient list on shampoo, conditioner, and styler, the better it works for me. I find that so many of the more expensive products have super-long ingredient lists. In addition, they all seem to have humectants, like glycerin, way up high in the ingredient list. I know that curly hair likes moisture, but personally, the ongoing draw of moisture from the humectants in products just causes a big poofy mess for me and I’m only wavy-haired!
Is this the Air Dry Cream you like?
I am on the market for a new cream. I purchased AG ReCoil but, in addition to being quite expensive, it had glycerin high up in the ingredient list. Ugh.
I love your hair Skwigg and think you could definitely pull off a similar hairstyle as Andie MacDowell.
Hailey, I bet the chlorine in the pool was providing a cleansing effect during the summer. I was jumping in the lake multiple times a day this summer, but it still needed frequent washing. When I used to swim in my parents' pool as a teen, I could go a while without shampoo, but I needed more leave-in to help with the drying effects of the chlorine.
My current favourite products are all cheap. The most expensive things are the shampoo and conditioner which are about $7 when not on sale. My gel is $3 a bottle. The expensive leave-in conditioner and the AG ReCoil I bought are more expensive and my hair looks and feels worse with them than with my $3 gel. I’m using them though because I hate to waste.
Just want to say that despite having only wavy hair at best, I read every word of your curly girl novels. :) Agreed that the cheap drugstore stuff is the best - I like Garnier too.
I loved reading your hair novel, Hayley. That's kind of how I ended up using cheap drugstore shampoo again. I thought it would really strip my hair and remove all the curly girl glop but leave it very dried out. No, all of a sudden I had shiny, bouncy clean hair with a lot more fullness. So, cheap drugstore shampoo it is! Bring on the sulfates! 😃
@skwigg this whole post is amazing! I don't know why I'm giddy and got warm fuzzies, maybe because I feel like "FINALLY someone gets it!" I have spent countless minutes (ok...hours) reading blogs, watching YouTube videos, and holding my thumb on an IG reel while trying to apply hair product in the manner of the Ig-er only to revert back to what I did before. Because truly at the end of the day I think we know our own hair better than anyone else.
It's funny you mention that about shampooing...I was sort of doing a natural "cleansing" of my hair every day during the summer as I love to swim. I never really shampoo'd it after being in the pool (maybe a co-wash) but once we closed down our pool and I quit swimming I realized my hair constantly felt gunky. I'd co-wash, apply a conditioner, leave in a little bit because my hair felt dry and/or weighed down, then use curl cream, then gel, and it felt awful. Finally I researched "clarifying shampoos for curly hair" and came up with something that seemed acceptable and I think that helped somewhat. But I realize now that when I washed my hair this past weekend for the first time after 5 days (once I'd straightened it) I was in a hotel room with my kids and used whatever the hotel had on hand (I hadn't brought my own). It had to be something cheap, but once I washed, applied leave in Kinky Curly Conditioner and finished with the Curly Custard I was shocked at how nice my hair turned out. I was thinking I wouldn't shampoo again for another week but now I'm thinking otherwise.
Can I pause for a minute and LOL 😆 about the Stooges pic? Because I have been there. Grown my hair out, had it all chopped off. Grown it out, chopped it off. Rinse, repeat. My hair wasn't as curly in my bob stage (I'm not sure if having Chloe altered things a bit and/or I'd gone through a keratin treatment that stripped my hair of life and soul) so it didn't look terrible but I was over the short length after about 3 days.
That's interesting about color and getting older, too. Looking back I think my hair has always been fine and thin except for when I was pregnant. With both kids I look back on my hair and realize it never looked and felt more luxurious. I tried taking prenatal vitamins after giving birth but it is not the same thing 😁
I couldn't even describe what color my hair is when I let the color grow. There were (are) some grays but it was really more of a dark, dull brownish mud color. If the new hair had grown in thicker, softer, fuller, more healthy I probably would've been more inclined to leave the color out but it didn't seem much better. At least not that I can remember....
I also agree that following bloggers, YouTubers, and IG influencers is futile and that Sally Beauty and Target offer products that are just as great if not better. Right now I'm having luck with the Kinky Curly products but sometimes when seasons change I switch products. I will definitely say that using curl cream+gel does nothing for my hair. I seem to do better with lots of moisturizing products as my hair tends to be dry. I also need a crunch or hold to scrunch out otherwise I end up with the bush. The problem I often have is hold provides me with a nice cast and when I go to scrunch I end up with dry, brittle-feeling hair. If I want soft I get no hold. Whatever I did on Sunday worked wonders (must be the cheap, crappy hotel room shampoo 🤣) but I will try to mimic it again at home.
With all of that being said, your hair DOES look fabulous! I love the length, curls, and Andie McDowell (I almost wrote Andie Griffith 😁) color/style!
Ok, here we go. 🤣
Color has really been a conundrum with curly hair. I loved my highlights. At times I also went with deeper browns to try to avoid breakage. It seems like once I hit about 40, my hair was so fine and broke so easily. I could no longer grow it past shoulder length without the ends getting very stringy. That was this stage.
At that point, I had been going for a cut and color every 8 weeks for like 20 years. Covid was the first time I gave that a break for over a year. So, let's see, I was 52 when I quit coloring it. I don't think I would have had the confidence to go grey any younger. I totally understand why women keep coloring. I admire anyone who has the guts to go grey in their 30s. I was not that person. Anyway, the weirdest thing happened. My "new" hair came in thick and strong. It was in dramatically better shape than the color treated portions. I was eager to get rid of those, so I did one more chin length cut, which I HATED. I felt like Larry from the Three Stooges. Short grey hair, especially with glasses, caused an identity crisis.
I let it grow for another year or two. I'd been wearing it in an inverted bob that was longest around my face and shortest in back, like so.
I'm amazed that it can be this long and still be thick and full. I'm sure the bob helped. The ends have more fullness when there aren't a lot of layers. It's getting too long to still be bobbed though. I saw Andie MacDowell in Maid on Netflix and thought, OMG, I want a wild grey mane!!!
So, at my last hair appointment, we began the un-bobbening, keeping the length and adding the tiniest bit of layering. The ends are still very full. I am a happy camper now. Even though my hair is grey, I feel younger and happier and more like myself with it long.
I'm going through a curly girl rebellion. I have just HAD it with expensive curly products that make my hair look weighed down and dirty. So many of them are full of "natural oils" and never really get your hair clean, especially if you're co-washing and not actually shampooing. I spent hundreds of dollars on Aveda and Curlsmith and the like. Do you know what works really well? Garnier. Their $3 Smooth Air Dry is actually better on my hair than the $40 Weightless Air Dry Cream from Curlsmith. Same with their Curl Renew spray. I like Head & Shoulders shampoo and Aussie 3-Minute Miracle deep conditioner from the drugstore. I use BioTerra gel that I get in a big one liter bottle from Sally Beauty for like $8. I shampoo my hair at least 3 times a week. I got really tired of having an itchy, flaky scalp and dirty hair. I felt like that was the norm with curly girl methods. I kept seeing conversations about how to scrub flakes with a rubber brush, or how to hide the smell if you haven't washed your hair in nine days. I was like, has everyone lost their minds?!
It's funny you mention the fuzzy hair after a salon visit, @Hayley. The same thing happens to me. I love my new stylist. I love what she's able to do with long curls, but she'll use a product saying, "This is so lightweight, it won't make your hair crunchy at all." And I'm thinking, oh, I'm screwed. LOL I like firm gel and hard cast on my hair that needs to be broken up after it dries. That's what makes ringlets. Soft-hold makes fuzz. So, I'll get a great cut, and then usually have to re-wet it and put more product in it when I get home.
I could go on and on. My hair has been through so many stages, stylists, and product schemes. I find it best to go with what actually works for my hair versus what the salon is selling or what bloggers are recommending online. Most of what I'm using, I arrived at by going to Target or Amazon, typing in "curl cream" or "conditioner," and reading reviews of the highest rated products.
@skwigg if you get a bonnet please share a pic. I think my family is finally (somewhat) used to me walking around in a heated shower cap (?) when I do a deep conditioning treatment or when I've plopped my hair in an old t-shirt.
I'm glad you resurrected this thread as I've recently gone through an obsessive-ish phase with my hair again. About 6 months before Covid I had my highlights updated for the last time up until this April. It was partially because i was so frustrated with my hair and this curly hair "guru" Scott Musgrave has a studio about 30 mins from my house. I found him online, he created this whole MAP course that I received access to, and he worked a miracle on my hair. I say that in the sense that I felt like I finally learned which products to use (and which not to use) and how to apply them. Of course once I got home and attempted to do it all myself it sort of flopped. I experimented for a while and watched and re-watched the videos, spent way too much money on various products, etc. I think this was maybe back in 2018? Anyway, I had my highlights redone at some point and was struggling a lot with my hair again so I went back for a visit with him. I felt like a scolded child when he told me how color was ruining my hair. He basically told me that I had no reason to complain because I was the one doing all the damage (even though I'd quit applying any heat - dryer or otherwise and was babying my hair as much as possible). After that I didn't take a single heating tool to my hair and I didn't apply any color. I loved that my hair grew long but it never got any healthier. I felt like highlights or not my hair was still thin, fine, and susceptible to damage. Then I found all of these curly girl sites on IG saying that sulphates weren't the devil and while color isn't great for your hair it's not satanic to have your hair colored. Which was great because after 3 years I couldn't even tell you what color my hair was. Brown? Dirty blonde? It looked like mud to me. So this April I finally went back and had my highlights redone and I loved the color. I was terrified of losing the length I'd finally gotten so he did a "dusting" and called it a day. I really needed more than that but alas that's what I went with.
I was noticing this fall that I wanted more brightness around my face so instead of waiting another 3 years I made an appt for a deva curl trained stylist at the same salon who would re-do my highlights. She did all sorts of fancy treatments to help with my dry hair, redid the color, and then told me I needed a couple of inches cut off because I had so many split ends (which was a fair observation). A couple of inches turned into about 3-4, which in curly world felt more like 6. I loved the way she styled my hair, but I'm not sure if she didn't apply enough gel or what because it was fairly humid here that day and it looked like I had a bush sitting on top of my head that afternoon.
Again, I attempted to style, re-style, wash, wet, and go through another exorbitant amount of products I already had at home. I went back to what worked before but with the cooler temps here I was fed up with constantly sopping wet hair. So for the first time in years I flat ironed my hair last Wed. It was fun and different and I liked that my hair was dry and I was able to wear a winter hat and actually feel like I looked half decent but 5 days later I really needed to wash my hair. I used the Kinky Curly Girl leave-in conditioner, rinsed it out, reapplied some more and actually left it in, and then used KCG curling custard, which I think seems to work well with my hair. I was in VA this past weekend with my kids at a hotel so I used a hotel towel to scrunch/dry my hair and left it alone. It was one of the best hair days I've had in months I was so excited. I'm sure the dryer air had something to do with it but I was very pleased. Which is NOT to say it will look like that today or tomorrow, which frustrates me about my hair.Every time I take my hair out of a pony tail and try to "refresh" it looks different than my wash day. Wash days are different despite similar/same applications and products. I guess it makes life interesting 😁
I probably didn't need to spend 6 paragraphs on my hair but alas, here we are.
My curly hair is so long now that putting it in a "pineapple" on top of my head with a satin scrunchy no longer works. I'm still rolling all over the curls at night. I'm considering buying a silk or satin bonnet. For some reason, this is a hilarious notion. If it happens, I will be sure to share a photo.
That's really interesting @sunshine and @Hayley! I don't think I've ever gotten as emotionally invested in my hair as I did food/body/weight, but I can totally see how it could happen. Curly Girl cults are very similar to diet cults with the transformation stories, true believers, and selling of solutions. If it doesn't work for you, clearly you're doing it wrong. Wow! I'd never thought of it like that, but that observation is right on.
I couldn’t agree more with that, too [@sunshine] I’ve had those exact thoughts. I, too have traded one sort of “addiction” for another.