Six years ago, I saw a book displayed in my local library. From the looks of it, it was probably produced by some teeny-bopper magazine and talked about hairspray and flat irons. What caught my eye, however, was the redhead on the front. The redhead with long, beautiful curls.
In my flat-on-top, frizzy/wavy-on-bottom world, this was über hair. I pulled down the book, intrigued...then I read the title: Curly Girl: The Handbook (A Celebration of Curls: How to cut them, care for them, love them, and set them free).
Wait, not produced by Tiger Beat? This was a serious book for grown-ups?
Turns out it was one of those moments in time where your life is changed forever. I'm not putting it on par with Salvation or anything, but as far as hair care goes, this was IT. After perusing it in the library, I checked it out. Then renewed it. Four times. Then bought it.
The whole book focuses on celebrating ― instead of resenting ― your natural curls. The beginning explains the science of curly hair. Basically, it's drier than straight hair, which is why it curls up and frizzes. And why using shampoo all the time (which strips oil) is not a good thing for Curly Girls. Yes, my "'poo-free" status refers to shampoo. As in, I don't use it. Ever. Ew...
Well, that's what you're thinking, right? "Ew"? That's what I thought the first time I tried it, too. Turns out, all some of us need to cleanse our scalps is friction and a medium with which to carry away dirt and excess oil. I still go through the motions of shampooing (massage product into scalp with fingertips, rinse away), but I use conditioner instead. I also mix a little brown sugar in mine to exfoliate dry patches (it dissolves). Guess what? I don't get dandruff and severe itch all the time like I used to ― because I'm not drying out my scalp with shampoo anymore. After the "cleansing" step, I follow the conditioning steps for my hair type. Once out of the shower, I scrunch my hair dry (NO rubbing) and scrunch on an anti-frizz curl treatment.
The book divides Culry Girls into three types: wavy, Botticelli, and corkscrew. Thought I was wavy, but after doing the Curly Girl process one time, I discovered I'm actually Botticelli!
Here are my before-Curly Girl and after-Curly Girl pictures:
One of my biggest frustrations had always been how the top of my hair was flat, instead of wavy or curly like the rest of my hair. I figured it was because the weight of my long, wet hair was pulling it flat as it dried. For years, I only ever took showers at night, so my hair could dry splayed out upon my pillow, but it still never quite curled from root to tip. Enter Curly Girl! Part of the Curly Girl drying process involves lifting your hair from the root so air can circulate and dry it, while also lifting the rest of your hair to prevent weighing-down. I modified the method from the book so I could leave the house with my wet hair still lifted and not look like a crazy person while my hair dried properly. Here's what it looks like:
Incognito! You'd never guess there was 3 feet of hair tucked up in there. I get a lot of compliments on this style, and people are always afraid I cut my hair! LOL It's so simple to do, too. Basically, I get tiny claw clips, pouf forward a section of wet hair along my hairline, and clip it in place. Repeat from ear to ear. Then do a second row behind that one, off-setting the clips so they pick up hair from two of the clips in the front row. The long hair hanging down in back gets divided into four quadrants, and each quadrant gets folded over and scrunched up against my head, then held in place by a medium-sized claw clip. Voila! Instant "short" hair. The next day, I take out all the clips and my hair is curly root-to-tip.
My boys are both curly redheads, and we follow Curly Girl with them too. No hassle, no tears.
My husband calls this their "ninja picture". (We were couch jumping.)
I highly encourage you to check out this book, if you or someone you love has natural waves, curls, or frizz. Two thumbs waaaaaay up!