Curls are close to my heart—so close that I co-wrote a book about them with curly hair expert Lorraine Massey. After almost a decade of trying to straighten my ringlets into submission I came to terms with them and fell in love with my hair by working with Massey on Curly Girl: The Handbook. Massey’s top curly commandments will help you get gorgeous curls, too.
1. You shall only use sulfate-free cleansers/shampoos. Traditional shampoos contain harsh detergents called sulfates. These foaming agents strip curly hair of its natural oils causing frizz.
2. You shall hyper condition your hair. Frizz is just a curl waiting to happen. It is hair desperately in need of moisture. “Once curly hair fibers are sufficiently hydrated with conditioner, they hold onto the moisture they need and the frizz disappears,” says Massey. The conditioner fills the porous surface of curly hair and smoothes the surface so that light can reflect off it. Leave some or all of your conditioner in your hair rather than rinsing. (Typically, the tighter the curl, the more conditioner you need.)
3. You shall toss your brush and comb FOREVER! And this goes forthosebrushes and combs that claim to be made for curls. Brushing and combing hair actually breaks up your delicate curls causing frizz. “Instead, drench wet hair with conditioner in the shower and gently comb it with your fingers,” says Massey. This is the only time or way you should comb your curls!
4. Honor your hair’s natural shape with gel. One key is to apply gel to sopping wet curls right after coming out of the shower. “Gel holds your curl’s natural shape until hair dries, protecting it from outside elements like wind and humidity,” says Massey. For best results, use an alcohol-free and silicone-free gel to give strong hold without leaving curls crunchy.
5. You shall not touch your curls with a conventional towel. A traditional, terry-cloth towel will absorb too much moisture, which curls need, and its harsh fabric will ruffle the hair’s cuticle causing frizz. Instead, after showering blot curls with a paper towel, old T-shirt, microfiber towel or old pillow-case. These are absorbent but they have smooth surfaces so they won’t cause frizz.
6. You shall not touch your hair while it’s drying. Once you apply gel and gently blot hair with your paper towel, old T-shirt, microfiber towel or old pillow case, keep your hands off your hair. “Touching hair while it’s drying interferes with the curls’ natural formation and creates frizz,” says Massey.
7. You shall have your curls cut ONLY when hair is dry. Whether you’re getting your hair cut at a salon or doing it yourself, never, ever wet hair before trimming. “Wet curls and dry curls are like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” says Massey. “Curly hair may be half way down your back when wet, only to spring up as much as six to 10 inches when it’s dry.”
8. You shall dry your curls with tender loving care. Air drying is best for curls. But if you need to speed things up you can use a blow dryer with a diffuser made specifically for curls. “Using a blow dryer on its own causes hair to frizz,” explains Massey.
9. You shall rescue your hair from under your purse strap. Long hair tends to get stuck under the strap of your purse or bag and your first reaction is probably to yank it out. But this only rips and frays hair. “Instead, take the time to lift the strap off your shoulder with one hand and gently remove hair with the other,” says Massey.
10. You shall not covet a straight girl’s strands. There’s nothing more beautiful or easier than accepting what nature gave you. (Just think of all the time, money and energy you’ll save when you don’t have to blow dry/flat iron your hair or spend time getting blow outs.) My favorite quote of Massey’s? “Straighten your hair and you’ll be happy for a day (unless it rains). Learn to love and care for your curls and you’ll be happy for life.”
Curly girls, what is your 11th commandment?