Curly Hair Resources: Taming the Beast

I was born bald. My mom prayed to sweet baby jesus to give me hair and rubbed my bald head with coconut oil.

You might be surprised to learn that my hair grew in straight:

It was only when I was about 8 or so that my hair was a frizz disaster and then transitioned into curls. Curls that were a mess because I did not know what to do with them. I had a phase where I would throw baby oil in my head and brush it back. It was ghetto-fabulous. I then discovered gel and I found my savior – Smooth ‘N Shine Gel
Having curly hair and embracing something other than the straight “norm” has become easier in recent years. There has truly been a move towards “natural” hair. I must say that there is nothing “natural” about my hair. It takes a ton of products to get the curled end result. A whole industry has come up to accommodate the “ethnic” (::eye roll::) hair market. I learned to embrace my hair in all its curled glory. I stopped fighting and learned to be the expert of the  temperamental beast on top of my head. This is the hair I have and I want it to be healthy and awesome. Just keep me away from open flames – god knows if the stuff I put on my head is flammable…
First things first – throw out your brush! You do NOT brush curly hair! Use a wide tooth comb or your fingers to detangle (curl experts use the fingers :p). One of the best resources out there is NaturallyCurly– they have a product searches with reviews,   hair type information and techniques. I love to google product reviews before purchasing or if I want to try something new – I look up the best products within categories.
For the most part, I have seen a trend in products for curly hair to NOT have sulfates (soap).
I condition my hair mostly every day. I wash with shampoo about once a week. My favorites are: 
1. Bed Head Hi – Def Curls Shampoo & Conditioner
2. Serge Normant Shampoo & Conditioner (I bought at Costco)
I use the rake technique to disperse the conditioner through my hair. I decided to be fancy like the curl experts and do away with the wide tooth comb. After washing out the conditioner the key is to not ring out your hair – leave it wet. With my head tilted over, I then begin applying all the leave in conditioners while in the shower:
I then apply my Smooth & Shine gel along with the Ouidad Define & Shine: 
About once a month or so, I deep condition as well:

1. Shea Moisture Deep Treatment Masque
2. Shea Moisture Anti-Breakage Masque

As you can tell, I’m a bit of a product wh*re and love finding products that work. If I see anyone with awesome curls, I might ask them what they would recommend. I think when walking into a hair product store you don’t want to end up with the latest product that they are trying to push or sell. I ask a  customer service rep with curly hair what they use on their own hair – what’s their holy grail and what do they recommend? I did this once at Ricky’s and the curled customer service rep told me about SunKissAlba and her Youtube hair tutorials

I would say that my Holy Grail of products are Giovanni Direct Leave in, Shea moisture coconut and hibiscus curl & style milk and Smooth & Shine gel – and I still rub some coconut oil (just like my mamma did) from time to time. Keep all products in the shower and style while your hair is soaking wet. I then take a t-shirt and dry it a bit. I then let it air dry – do not touch!!! Touch = Frizz.

It’s a lot of cr*p that I throw on my hair but you will be surprised to know that it is soft and not crunchy at all. Most of the products I have bought from the Shea Moisture Line I found on sale for about $6 at Duane Reade/Walgreens. With the Bed Head and Big Sexy Hair products – I have found these in large salon sized bottles for $15 at Marshall’s (225th Street in the Bronx). I also love shopping at Ricky’s because of their wide selection and I love speaking with their reps.

At the end of the day, it’s about being happy with what god gave you- be it straight, wavy, curly, kinky or crazy. Not everyone will have the same hair as me. Even my hair varies depending on unpredictable variables (fun fact – while traveling, the biggest factor for my hair is WATER. A different city can yield a horrible hair day on vacation). I think an awesome resource that really opens one’s eyes to the business behind the beauty business and the industry that has sprung around hair is the movie Good Hair:

I highly recommend watching this documentary. It is truly eye opening to see the lengths women (and men) will go to for beauty – Creamy Crack anyone? You can layaway your weave! But don’t you dare touch the HAIR!!!

I hope that my curly hair – though a very small drop in the bucket can go to show little girls that it’s ok to move away from stick straight and keep to whatever is easiest for the individual.

One thing I will say that it breaks my heart when my niece, who has naturally straight hair, looks at me and says, “Mary, I wish I had your curls.” The point is to work with what you’ve got and love it no matter what state or condition it’s in – expand the definition of Beauty.

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