My Hair Routine Series
Part 1: Cleansing
Part 2: Conditioning
Part 3: Styling
Part 4: Honorable Mention Products
Part 5: Styling Tools
If you have curly hair, you have a product stash. I can pretty much guarantee it. You have that cabinet, that drawer, or that bin full of every promised miracle/holy grail. Mine happens to be a drawer. But over the years, I've thinned out the collection to where almost every product in my drawer has a purpose. Some products I'm keeping around just because I tried them, they didn't work, and I'm not willing to accept that just yet! You know the feeling I'm sure! But most of that drawer contains things that, while I don't use them every day, I do use them often.
These are my products for when I think my hair needs more hold then what the mousse provides (which is next to nothing). I might find I want more hold on super humid days when my hair wants to expand horizontally, or super dry days when it just wants to hang limp. On days with these dew point "extremes," I will layer a gel over my leave in and mousse.
A few thoughts on gel: I don't like gel that leaves my hair feeling dry or super duper crunchy. If it is a gel that dries crunchy, I must be able to "scrunch out the crunch" to a point where my hair feels normal again. Producty-feeling = instant rejection in my book. I like aloe based gels. Heck, in the past I've just used straight up aloe on my hair with success. But it's a finicky ingredient that disagrees with some people. On that note, if you find that your hair reacts very badly to a certain few gels (or any products, really), check out the ingredient list! Look for commonalties.
The lightest holding gel that I reach for regularly is Curl Junkie's Curl Queen. It's glycerin-free, which works well during those dry winter days. Glycerin tends to try to "equalize" your hair's moisture content with that of the air around you. So if it's humid, it will pull more moisture into your hair. But if it's very dry, your hair may have more moisture than the air around you, so the gylcerin will help your hair give up some moisture to the surroundings. So I try to use only glycerin free gels during the winter months when it is dry. This gel is very light. It's only a little thicker than water. It's aloe-based (aloe is very high on the ingredients list). This gel is Curly Girl method friendly. It has a light hold. I do not find that it dries with crunch on my hair unless I use too much. I only need about a nickle sized puddle, so the bottle lasts me a very long time.
Points for a product that is super easy to get anywhere on the ground! Herbal Essences Totally Twisted has been a stand by product for me for a long time (it's mentioned in my Curly Girl guide!). It's a simple, light-medium hold gel. I find that I only need about two pea sized dollops for this to do its thing. It does dry crunch on me, but I can scrunch out the crunch. It's good in either humid or dry weather I find.
Kinky Curly Curling Custard is definitely one of the most popular products for curly heads. This is now easy to find on the ground at places like Target and Walgreens. It's a strange product with a strange consistency, and it definitely has a learning curve. What works for me is to take two fingers, dip them vertically into the jar to my second knuckle, and then lift them out. Whatever sticks to my fingers is how much product I use (nothing like an exact measurement, am I right?).
Curling Custard dries like helmet hair level of crunch! Don't be alarmed though. Let it dry completely. I mean 100% dry so that when you shake your head you sound like a grass skirt. Then and only then, scrunch out the crunch. This requirement that you wait until completely dry to scrunch out the crunch makes it so that I don't use this product unless I have a lot of time to get ready. I don't like walking around with crunchy hair, so I only use this product if I know I'll have time to let it dry before I leave home. But it's a wonderful product when used correctly (however that is for your hair!) that adds clumps and shine and definition to curls.
For an intense protein treatment, I love Nexus Emergencee. It's very intensive protein. I only use it about once a month (or however long it takes me to think to myself, "Hmm...I don't remember the last time I used this!"). You wash your hair, then apply this stuff. It feels like a slick oil at first but then it'll quickly become hard to distribute, so you have to work it through small sections quickly. I leave it on for a few minutes, then you have to wash your hair again. Then condition, then done. You can see why this is a "sometimes" treatment!
For a more time friendly protein treatment that is a bit less intense than the Nexus Emergencee, I love Aphogee 2 Minute Keratin Reconstructor. Don't let the name scare you off. This is really just a very protein heavy conditioner. It has the same texture and packaging style as a normal conditioner, and the instructors say to just use it in place of your normal conditioner. I use this maybe every 1-2 weeks. Helps give my hair a little pick me up!
For an intense moisture treatment, nothing beats Spiral Solutions Deeply Decadent. However, since they are currently having stock issues, my runner up is Curl Junkie Curl Rehab. This stuff is very rich and easy to work with. I get my hair damp out of the shower using a spray bottle or my hands and work this through my hair. I leave it on for a long time, generally at least a couple of hours. Then I hop into the shower and wash and condition as usual. Really lovely stuff. The tub will last you a long while as it's pretty potent stuff. You can stretch it out longer by mixing it with another conditioner or some coconut oil (or any other favorite oil!).
Sometimes I like to straighten my hair, and sometimes I like to be rather ridiculous and blow dry my hair and then use a curling iron on it. I really can't explain why, as a curly haired girl, I even own a curling iron. But it's fun to have those "perfect" curling iron waves sometimes.
Whenever I'm going to take a blowdryer to my hair, I use about a golf ball sized dollop of Suave Professionals Volumizing Mousse and work it through my roots to give me a bit more texture on my very fine hair so that it doesn't end up looking lifeless. This is super cheap and easy to find pretty much anywhere. The bottle claims to work as well as Matrix mousse. I can't speak to that claim, as I've never tried that product, but this works well. It doesn't leave my hair crunchy or producty feeling when dry. It makes my hair feel like my hair, only with a bit more volume and texture.
After I dry my hair, I use some coconut oil to smooth away frizzies. You only need the tiniest little fingernail scrape of it possible, otherwise you're going to need another shower. But for me, just a pencil tip sized dab spread all over my hands and gently run along my hair makes it less frizzy after blowdrying and shiny. I also feel it gives me a bit of heat protection. I find it at almost all of my local grocery stores now. Sometimes it is with the baking stuff, sometimes it's in the organic foods section.
Then, I style my hair (I will be talking about styling tools [brushes, hair dryer, towels, curling iron, flat iron, etc] in another post soon!). Sometimes easier said than done.
After that, I give my hair a few sprays of my favorite hair spray, Tressemme Tres Two. This is cheap, easy to find (noticing a pattern yet?!), and smells good. I find that it doesn't leave my hair feeling stiff or crunchy unless I overdo it. I do not take it and make a hair spray cloud around my head. I hit my hair from underneath with two-three targeted sprays, where I know my hair is likely to curl (if I straightened) or uncurl (if I curled it).
1) Yay for Superbowl weekend! I'm using this weekend as an excuse to try out lots of unhealthy finger food recipes from Pinterest. The dough for these knock-off Pizza Hut breadsticks is rising in my kitchen as I type, and I bought the supplies for these meatball-stuffed biscuits today. I'm not making them this weekend, but this recipe for knock off Red Lobster biscuits is spot on. Tastes just like the restaurant variety.
2) I was going to include the make and model of my hair dryer in this post, but it died today. I went out to TJ Maxx and grabbed a new one, so after I try it for a few days, I'll post a styling tools post all about what I use when I'm feeling creative with my hair
3) I'm currently applying for summer internships and man has the market got me down! Another great reason to justify all these yummy superbowl weekend foods...I'm in need of a pick-me-up from all these quick job rejections!
My Hair Routine Series