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2018 is the year of embracing your natural hair texture. For curly girls with big bouncy ringlets, or short spirally coils, it’s time to put down those straighteners and embrace the curl pattern you were born with. But taking that first step towards achieving dream curls can be difficult, and at times daunting — especially if years of heat-styling or chemical straightening had left your hair damaged. Luckily, our quirky, curly-haired stylist Sarah Nash is on hand to help give you the best tips and tricks to embrace and revive your curls, from products to styling. Who better to learn from than a fellow curl-advocate?
If you’ve decided to wear your hair curly again, the best place to start is with a new haircut. This is where weight distribution becomes really important. Sarah says that;
“Cuts for straight styles differ from those with bouncy locks. This is because, while straight hair doesn't tend to vary from person to person, each person’s curl pattern is unique to them. With curly, there’s also a lot more freehand cutting involved. It’s a bit like hedge cutting because you have to look at the hair from a three-dimensional perspective, as opposed to just lengthways. If you leave it at one length, it can look flat with no bounce or movement.”
As a result, curly locks suit styles with a strong cut because softer shapes tend to get lost in the curls. If you’re keeping hair long, opt for choppy layers, or if you’re going short, a blunt bob with bangs is a perfect choice.
Once you’ve got your new cut sorted, you’ll need to know how to style your curls properly to get their bounce back. While first instinct might tell you to reach for your straighteners after that initial wash—hold off. Fully regaining your hair pattern takes time, but Sarah has some helpful advice for those frustrating in-between stages.
“As the very start, you may have to encourage your curls to form”, says Sarah. “The best way to do this is to twist dry the hair. Take small sections of your hair and wind them into a twist. Then tip your head upside down with dry with a diffuser.”
Before you begin drying, make sure you protect your hair from the heat. Kerastase’s Fluidissime spray is designed to give curly hair shine, shape and definition. Importantly, don’t touch your curls after you have begun drying them. While you might get the urge to scrunch and fluff, hold off until your curls are completely dry. Once it is, take your fingers and shake your curls at the root, push and pull it about, to give you volume and height.
Another option is to leave your curls to dry naturally. After prolonged exposure to heat styling, curly hair can be particularly prone to damage. What’s more, because curls are naturally dryer, constantly singeing your locks with hot tools only dries it out further. Sarah’s firm favourite is Redken’s No Blow Dry Air Stylers. Featuring Air-Tex technology, this formula is packed with flexible polymers which create soft spirals with maximum hold. With three formulas for medium, thick, and fine hair, all curly girls can take a break from heat tools, without sacrificing the texture of their locks. This wash-and-go style is perfect for an on-the-go mum, or just anyone who prefers minimal time spent styling.
While ensuring that you use a hydrating conditioner is a great first step, caring for your curls doesn’t end there. Sarah says that “the main complaint clients come to me with about their curly hair is that it looks and feels dry”. A deep conditioning mask at least once a week is the best way to solve this. Sarah swears by Redken’s All Soft Heavy Cream Mask for her curly-haired clients, which replenishes the hair and maintains the essential moisture balance, to leave your curls quenched. The range also includes All Soft Argan Oil enriched with omega-6, which can be applied to wet or dry hair to lock-in lasting softness and shine. As with all things, however, Sarah notes that curly hair is a balancing act. “Adding softness is great, but you need to balance this with a holding product to avoid the hair becoming too fluffy. I love the Redken Thermal Shaping Blow-dry Gelée because it adds extra control, a holding your style in place for longer.”
“Less is more with curly hair. The less you do to it the better it gets” says Sarah. It's easy to think that washing your hair adds hydration, but regularly scrubbing your locks can actually strip them of their natural oils, causing them to dry out further. As a result, Sarah recommends stripping back your routine, only washing your hair once or twice a week. “To revive your curls in-between washes, simply wet your hands and scrunch to re-hydrate. Because curly hair can tend to lose its texture, you could use a Redken’s sea-salt spray, or Kerastase’s gentler Eau de Vagues sugar spray, for beachy waves with added hold.”
After many years of hairdressing, figuring out what to do with her own curly hair, Sarah has ultimately learned to embrace her natural texture. “I once went to a hairdressing function when I was first starting out, and straightened my hair to fit in and be cool. But once I got there, I was disappointed because everyone looked the same. I just blended in. Now I say, the bigger the better. Having curly hair is the one thing that makes you different to everyone else, it’s the one way to make you stand out.”
While it might take time, patience and a bit of extra effort, looking after your curls can be a great boost — for your confidence and your hair. For more tips and tricks like this from our Chapel stylists, feel free to explore our expert advice hub.