What do Solange and Scary Spice have in common? They both serve as hair saviours for a generation of young women. As a mixed Bajan-Polish-Canadian kid growing up in the suburbs, there weren’t a lot of curly-haired icons out there for me to emulate. I longed for Denise Huxtable’s long, loose curls, but mine never grew past my shoulders. I sprayed my bangs into straight submission like every other ’80s pre-teen (split hair into two sections, insert curling iron, roll up, insert iron, roll down, spray until wet, blow dry), but my ponytail betrayed my true frizz. My hair was chemically relaxed for the first time when I was nine. Yes, my scalp burned. But oh, so smooth, so shiny, so straight! My parents wisely didn’t let me have it done again.
By high school, I was straightening in the winter and pulling my hair into a crunchy ponytail in the summer; a compromise that didn’t make me entirely happy. But then in 1996 a little ditty called “Wannabe” hit the radio…and Scary Spice became my big hair spirit animal. Now, I could write a whole essay on the idea that curly hair is scary and straight hair is not (how many times does a curly/frizzy haired film heroine get a makeover blowout?). But this isn’t about curl-ist philosophy. This is about what works. Friends, I’ve tried it all and can promise you great things with the products below for curly hair of all textures and ethnicities. Tweet me @FLAREFashion if you test any of them, or if you have a product you love.
Five Tips for Managing Curly Hair
1. Curls crave moisture: don’t squeeze hair dry, roll up in a towel turban or rub dry. Give it a blot or two and just let the water absorb into each strand. Product will adhere better and your curls will be smoother.
2. Water-based products absorb well, provide more moisture and leave hair easier to manage and style. Look for alcohol-free.
3. Once you’ve applied product, use your fingers to shape curls for more definition. This is especially effective around your face. If your hair is short to medium, finger curls work well. If you hair is longer, grasp a section of curl at the tip and gently twirl.
4. Diffusers are our friends. A regular blow-dryer laser points a stream of air which can muss up the hair follicle, causing frizz and depleting shine. A diffuser creates that all-around salon dryer effect leading to evenly dried, shiny curls.
5. One of the oddest behaviours I’ve gotten used to over the years is the fact that strangers want to touch my hair. I hope this is because it looks soft and not crunchy (I really don’t know why it happens, but that’s my guess). If your hair feels crunchy after it’s dry, just run a bit of smoothing cream through and gently break up the more tighter ringlets to leave your hair soft and stranger-ready.
Top Products for Curly Hair
1. Matrix Total Results Curl Shampoo*; 2. Ouidad Curl Quencher Moisturizing Styling Gel; 3. AG Recoil Curl Activator; 4. Aveda be curly curl enhancer; 5. Pantene Pro-V Curly Hair Moisture Renewal Conditioner; 6. John Frieda Frizz Ease Secret Weapon Finishing Crème
*All lines include a range of products from cleansers to stylers. Try a line to see if it works for you, but mixing and matching is a great option, too.