Monday, February 22, 2010

Hair Routines

A lot of us have established, rarely-varied, almost-religious hair care routine we use on a regular basis to maintain and style our curly locks. The question has been asked, however: is having a hair routine a must?

I don't think there is any "right" or "wrong" answer to that, frankly; I think that depends on you, your particular hair and your lifestyle. So let's look at the possible reasons to have or to not have one.

If you are like me, having an established hair routine means the difference between sanity and insanity in your daily life. Like many of you, I am a tremendously busy woman: I am a wife and a mother, I work in a salon about 30 hours a week, and I run Live Curly Live Free, which is an almost full-time business, on top of it all. There isn't a whole lot of additional time factored into my day and I don't particularly want to spend the precious few extra minutes I do have fussing with my hair. And, truth be known, as much as I love doing the hair of others, I have very little patience for doing my own. Having an established routine means I only have to spend 10-15 unthinking minutes a day, tops, on making my curls look the best they can be...and that suits me and my busy life just fine.

Also, I find my own particular hair responds best by having some sort of structure in how I wash, condition and apply my products. My curls seem to relax when I use a regular routine, almost as if they have made a silent pact to behave as long as I don't surprise them with anything new. I know how my hair will respond to each step in the process, regardless of weather or season, because I've used that same process so many times before. It's comfortable, familiar ground.

On the other hand, however, there is a lot to be said for changing it up. Some women tell me their curls look better if they don't fall into a set pattern: by switching their products and product application technique frequently, their hair keeps a fresh look they say they can't achieve by using the same routine consistently. Depending on what products you use, making a switch can also help you to avoid build-up issues or prevent your products from losing their effectiveness with long-term use.

Being more varied in your routine additionally leaves you more open to discovering new products or techniques that you might not have otherwise found had you settled into an unchangeable, unvaried routine. Although I stick to my usual routine whenever possible, I do a considerable amount of product and method testing and I can definitely vouch for the fact that I have found more than a few great products and techniques during one of my experiment phases.

Like everything else in our mad, crazy, wonderful world of curly hair, whether or not you have an established hair routine is a very personal choice and one only you can make for yourself. Let your glamorous selves shine by always doing what YOU think is best for you and your own beautiful curls!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Curl Whisperer on Naked Hair

Relax...the article is still going to be rated 'G', so no worries about reading it in front of the kids :)

What, exactly, do I mean by 'naked hair'? When I talk about 'naked hair' to my clients, what I am referring to is hair sans any kind of product: no conditioner, no gel, no curl cream, no pomade, no oil, no nothing. Just your own glorious hair strands, as bare and pristine as the day you were born, and nothing else.

I often have the 'naked hair' conversation with my clients during the course of a client consultation for one reason in particular: there are many girls with curls who are still using products with ingredients I don't consider to be curly-friendly, such as sulfates and non-water soluble silicones. And when I mention my concerns about some of these products to a client, the reaction I sometimes get is, "But I just love how these products make my hair feel! It's so smooth and super shiny."

My next question to my client, then, is, "So how does your 'naked hair' feel? You know, your hair when you don't have any product in it?"

Without exception, the response I receive is, "Oh, it's just terrible. It feels dry and tangled and it's really bad. I can barely get a comb through it in the shower and if I let it dry without any product, it's all frizzy and it's just like straw."

I bet. And I can tell you there is a reason for that.

What we sometimes don't realize (and what product manufacturers certainly don't tell us) is that products loaded with curly-unfriendly ingredients--the products that make your hair feel so 'good'--are also the products that make it feel so 'bad.' When you put a product that is not manufactured for optimal curly hair health onto your strands, the ingredients in it are going to start causing issues like breakage, splitting and dehydration, and you are going to start feeling dry, tangled and unmanageable. The 'good' feeling you get from that product is because the product is disguising the very issues it is causing. It creates a dependency in you that leads you to believe that very product is necessary for your hair health and well-being because, well let's face it, your hair could never be that smooth, healthy and silky without it, now would it?

Wrong, wrong, wrong!

If a product is good for your hair, it will never, ever cause your 'naked hair' to feel anything but moisturized, healthy and strong. A product that is good for your hair will not cause dehydration and frizz, it will not cause you to be tangled and unmanageable, and it will certainly never contribute to hair breakage and hair loss. If your 'naked hair' can't and won't feel good on its own when you are using a particular product, then that product has absolutely no business being in your hair. My 'naked hair' is silky, shiny and strong because I use products with healthy, curly-friendly ingredients that deserve to be in my hair, not products that will destroy the foundation of hair health I have worked so hard to create over the past eight years.

Your 'naked hair' deserves no less either.