SssBRING it on!

I hope that everyone (who lives in a four-season climate) made it through the winter relatively unscathed, both physically and emotionally. Days are getting longer, weather is getting warmer, and the sunshine is invigorating our bodies one day at a time. Ah yes, spring brings many things, among which is the reminder of our bodily hair existence. Perhaps you’ve begun waxing, threading, or even shaving again after a bit of a hiatus. Maybe your curly hair has been uncovered by a hat or scarf long enough for you to notice that you need a cut, trim, oil treatment or drastic makeover. Whether you have needs large or small, below is a little manual of next steps to help you feel your freshest and springiest. Enjoy and have fun!

littleAnjaLookin’ Fine: Good for you, you made it through winter and your hair is still on top of its game. Maybe you kept up a routine of oil treatments throughout the winter, and likely keeping hair covered with a hat protected it from sun and wind damage. Even if it looks amazing, exposure to harsh heating systems and clothing fibers rubbing against our hair means that we can always benefit from an oil treatment or hair mask every week or two. I am always surprised to see how much better my hair looks after one of these treatments. Here are Pro, Low, and On-the-Go options to regenerate those silky locks.

Mild Damage: This is to be expected as spring starts rolling in. Curly hair naturally benefits from added moisture in the air that comes with spring and summer, and the healthier and more natural your curly hair is, the more you will likely notice that you love your hair in humid weather. Follow the tips above to maintain a healthy conditioning regimen. If you’re interested in learning how to give yourself trims, next time you get your hair cut pay attention to how your stylist does it, and chances are he or she will be happy to show you how to do minor mainenance on your ends yourself. Make an appointment with your hairdresser and indulge in a healthy trim!

I’m Feeling Lucky: It is definitely possible to trim and cut your own curly hair. I do this all year long and generally go in for a professional cut once a year when imagesCAOEV51Zit starts looking too shaggy. Being blessed with curly hair, we can get away with uneven cuts, and cutting dry is a way to ensure that you are styling the hair the way it is meant to be styled. Our curls are not all the same, so cutting hair wet like stylists do with straight hair can be detrimental to our curls’ expression. Try watching a video and start with a little trim, and don’t expect final results in one session. I normally look at it for days and trim here and there as I see fit before I feel fully satisfied. You should also invest in a good pair of shears to avoid split ends. You’ll soon see how liberating and easy cutting your own hair can be!

Serious Makeover Needed: Perhaps you’ve considered all of the above and you need something a bit stronger. Book an appointment with your hairdresser, or ask women or men around you who does their hair if you particuarly like their curly style. Then spend some time researching hair cuts that appeal to you, and have photos with you when you go to your appointment. Explain to your stylist what your day is like, your realistic mainenance level, and ask any other questions you may have. They are usually happy to answer! Everything I know about curly hair I have learned from hairdressers and blogs.

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The Oil Treatment to End All

Hey folks! Well, we are in the final countdown to my much-anticipated wedding. It’s this Sunday and I will have a full report for you, along with pics of my hair style. I’m heading over to Arté Salon today to practice the style one more time with Amy, and then I’m on my own. She doesn’t do wedding hair, but has been practicing with me so that I can feel more confident doing it myself up in the mountains on the big day. I was reassured recently that I’m doing the right thing by styling my own hair at the wedding — no one has ever given me a fancy hairstyle that I like. Gotta take it into my own hands!

Image courtesy of NaturallyCurly.com

Image courtesy of NaturallyCurly.com

Before we get to all that, of course I have also been prepping my hair for the grand occasion. This includes split end trims (done in my bathroom at home, of course) and lots of conditioning, but most importantly, I’ve been going to Bliss Spa (Soho, NYC) for face and body treatments and I always add my favorite indulgence — Hair Dew. It is by far the very best hair treatment that I’ve ever had. The good news is, I’ve slowly broken down my treatment specialists and I HAVE THE RECIPE! It’s not expensive to get it done at Bliss, it’s about $35, so I highly recommend it if you ever go because they do a nice head massage. However, you can only get it as an add-on to other (more expensive) services.

The alternative is to buy the expensive ingredients and do it at home yourself as you wish. I’ll leave that decision up to you. But suffice it to say, this is the best oil treatment I’ve ever had! It has a balancing oil for your scalp (extra helpful if you tend to have a dry or itchy scalp) and amazing botanicals for the hair. This is A+ stuff, baby. So without further ado…

Ingredients:

Phyto Botanical Scalp Treatment

Phytocitrus Color Protect Radiance Mask

Phytosesame Hydrating Cream for Dry Hair

Procedure:

Start with dry hair, and it doesn’t matter how clean or greasy it is. First apply the Scalp Treatment. This comes with a pipette which is used to apply the stuff directly to your scalp. Use one full pipette per treatment. Place tip directly on scalp at varied locations and squeeze some out in each spot. My experience has been 7-8 sites on the scalp works best. Next, apply the Radiance Mask throughout hair. Lastly, apply the Hydrating Cream to the ends. Experiment with how much you use, based on hair length and thickness, but err on the less-is-more side since this stuff is $$$.

Once all has been applied, rub your scalp and give yourself a nice massage. If your hair is long or not staying put with all that cream in it, tie it up with an elastic band (alternatively — a less harsh tie that works well is the ends of sleeves on old t-shirts. Just cut them off in inch-thick strips and you have a round elasticy-but-soft hair tie.) Put on a shower cap or tie a plastic bag over your hair if you’re on a budg or like to upcycle. If you’re super attentive, put a heated cap or hot towel over your hair to open pores for better absorption. Let this whole thing sit for 20-30 minutes. You may also decide to sleep with the treatment on, which is what I do. Up to you! Take the heated cap or towel off before sleeping and tie a bandana or old scarf over your shower cap to keep it on straight and avoid staining sheets and pillows.

Wash out the whole mixture with 4 tablespoons lemon juice and equal parts conditioner, massaging into scalp. I’d suggest your least expensive conditioner for this step since it’s not in your hair for long, and its main purpose is to tone down the acidity in the lemon juice. Note: This will not make your hair blonde because you will thoroughly wash it out immediately after applying. Think of it as a shampoo. Do not leave it on for more than a few minutes.

Enjoy!

Voila! Your hair will be silky and amazing. I do this maybe a few times a year since it’s so expensive and is a lot of work. I’d suggest doing it a few days before any big event. Your hair has never been so shiny, believe me! One final note: Do not shy away from products that are for color-treated or very damaged hair even if yours is not. These just have more concentrated amounts of the good stuff and your hair will absorb it just as much as damaged strands. If you are ever choosing between two similar conditioning products and one is for damaged hair while one is for normal/dry, go for damaged.

Visit NaturallyCurly.com for more hair oil ideas!

In the name o3E2EBF0257E4D537FA90FA_Largef treatments and laughs, a tribute to one of America’s sweethearts. Thanks for everything you’ve contributed, Mr. Williams. You will be always be remembered. Who could forget the pie treatment mask?

 

 

Wedding on the Way!

Hi friends! It’s been so long! I wanted to update you with some of my musings, and I stand strong against posting unnecessary nonsense just for the sake of it. This probably is just that, but bear with me because I miss you!

Arte Salon in Soho, NYC

Arte Salon in Soho, NYC

As you may remember from a recent post, I found an amazing new hairdresser, Amy from Arté Salon in Soho and YES that means I’ve ditched Devachan and their lofty(er) prices. Who knows if I’ll return eventually, and I still use and preach their products, but the salon staff and atmosphere are a bit uptight and I forgot what the fun neighborhood vibe can be like in a smaller salon.

ANYWAY — the countdown is seriously under way to my upcoming wedding. It’s going to take place on August 17, 2014 and my beauty regimen has been implemented pretty much since our engagement last year. I’ve included my skincare routine that was dermatologist-recommended and approved below in case you’re interested, voyeur that you are! My skin has never been better.

The cut Amy gave me the first time was monumental. In the words of one co-worker, “the hair cut to end all hair cuts.” However, in order not to thin out the middle too much so I can pull off the mystery hair style I’ll be rocking on the big day (No hints! You’ll see soon enough!) my most recent shaping had to be on the stingier side. Because of this, I’m kind of hating my hair lately. I also haven’t fully solved the oil-clogging-the-shower-drain fiasco and every time I do an oil treatment the bath completely backs up and we have to use Draino — which is so bad for the environment and old pipes, y’all. I will definitely be applying one this weekend and washing it out in the gym showers because it’s way overdue, but it’s just not the same. Sigh, the trials of living in a gorgeous pre-war Brooklyn brownstone!

In the meantime, I’m making good use of funky buns, sassy braids, and lots of hair accessories. I vow to make it through this trying time (insert sarcastic eye-roll here)!!! I will also update you soon with video footage on ways to cut curly hair to add some life to it between cuts. If you have gorgeous, thick, voluminous hair it may not apply to you as much, but for those of us on the thinner/finer side, you will want to tune in. I also love cutting my own hair when I can because it feels liberating. Coming soon!

In the meantime…CQA Talks: SKIN CARE

PM Instructions

1. Wash face and neck with Ceravé Hydrating Cleanser. I only wash my face once a day because I believe that over washing is bad (have you been reading my blog?!) and the best time to do that is after a day full of facing pollution and pollen outside. To keep extra-clean, wash your pillowcase often.

2. Dry completely, and apply four drops of Tarte Maracuja Oil to palm, then rub it into your face, focusing on wrinkly or dry areas. I do not have dry skin in general and I use this every night and I haven’t had any break outs, scaling, or issues whatsoever over the past year of using it nightly. This was the most severe winter I’ve ever lived through in the city and every other winter I’ve had dry skin issues from the freezing wind, but this year I had none. *Only use it at night* Some people I know use Vitamin C oil and that should have the same effect. I used to have an oily T-zone, but not anymore!

3. Apply a thin coating of Ceravé Facial Moisturizing Lotion PM to face and neck.

AM Instructions

1. Pour a generous amount of Witch Hazel on a cotton swab and wipe off your entire face and neck. Witch Hazel is a time-tested and grandma-approved way to fight redness and remove all excess oils before facing the day.

2. When face is completely dry, apply a coating of Ceravé Day Time Facial Lotion to face and neck. The SPF 30 is crucial to avoid sun spots, wrinkles, and signs of aging.

Bonus:

41GGyPC+FzLIf any parts of your body are dry, potentially starting to sag (ahem, ladies, this is me trying to be subtle), or even if you have any muscle tension or aches, apply Castor Oil to a piece of wool flannel and let it sit on the affected area for as long as you can. You can also apply oil directly to skin if that’s easier. It works wonders to keep my skin super soft! I wouldn’t recommend using it on your face, it’s too thick. Extra Bonus: Castor Oil also does wonders for your hair!

Round or Flat? The Age Old Question Rages On

scissors_hairI have mentioned the importance of a proper hair cut on a curly head many times, but I don’t think that the subject can ever be given enough justice. There have been times that I’ve looked like a worn out hag or a wet rat because of my hair, and times that I’ve resembled a movie star strutting down the red carpet of my overactive imagination (major creative liberties being taken here, but you get the jist). Make-up and general face-issues not-withstanding, hair can really make or break a look. It’s based on the curl pattern and frizz factor of the day, but mainly, it’s the cut.

Until now, I have faithfully returned to my beloved Devachan Salon in Soho, NYC. They just get it. They cut curls dry without question, and use my favorite conditioners and gels. For years I’ve tried to cultivate this sort of “Mick Jagger” curly/wavy shag that fits my face shape, and sometimes it’s great, but it grows out really quickly and needs more maintenance than I can afford. Plus, I like the shag because it feels carefree and fun, and you can’t be those things when you’re always worried about your hair.

I have the types of curls that can be really glorious and well-defined, but also tend to either frizz or lie flat. I hate flat. Frizz I can work with, since you can use good hair oils and lots of conditioner and the right gel to keep it in check. But flat, blah!

I saw a great curly hair cut on a woman at the gym, and it was short and super layered. Think Meg Ryan in City of Angels. I had to ask her who does her hair, and it was a woman named Amy at Arté Salon, also in Soho. I was displeased with my last cut from Devachan, where one of the stylists I used to love seemed to rush me and not really listen to what I was saying. They also charge a s&^%load, as anyone who’s been there will know. I decided to go to Amy for my first consultation ever, since it was free and why not. I am in the tricky stage between wanting a hair cut I can love on the daily, but that isn’t too short or sparse to be used in a romantic ‘do for my wedding this August.

Course, thick curls cut in the traditional accordion style.

Course, thick curls cut in the traditional accordion style.

I loved Amy at first sight! She was so perky and knew exactly what I was talking about. She truly listened, and even more, she explained something that I hadn’t understood before. She has gone to many curly hair cutting classes, and the traditional way to cut curly hair has been to cut curls in a pattern that falls down your head in an accordion style, meaning that each strand is slightly shorter than the ones just below it. The reason for this is that it allows curls to fall on top of each other in a less upward-direction, diminishing the dreaded triangle, but also squelching voluminous roundness. Since curls have only recently become socially acceptable (hissss), there isn’t as much request for afro styles in the majority demographic. But take my word, they’re a-comin,’ and they’re fantastic.

Curls scooped out from underneath, with the shortest layers toward the bottom. This can be done with longer hair cuts, too.

Curls scooped out from underneath, with the shortest layers toward the bottom. This can be done with longer hair cuts, too.

This accordion cutting style works perfectly for people with thick or course textures, since they have enough hair to support some serious shape. But for ladies like me who don’t have as much thick beautiful hair, and top layers that tend to be more wavy than curly when long, Amy says that you have to do the exact opposite. You want to cut hair as if you’re scooping it out from underneath, so that each hair is slightly longer than the ones below it. That way the shorter strands underneath are pushing the top layers up. She even showed me how to do it myself between cuts so that I’m not constantly coming back for a re-shaping. It’ll take some practice, but when I have it figured out I will post a video.

The moral of the story: If you’re not happy with your hair, you deserve to be for all that money you’re spending! Ask anyone whose hair style you like where they get it done and book a consultation. If you immediately click with the stylist, great! If not, try to find a way to connect so that he or she understands what you’re asking for. Pictures always help! And remember to be vocal: I had to speak up so that she’d cut my curls dry instead of wet, and told her not to use shampoo on me, with which she was happy to comply. My requests solicited an irritated side glance from a male patron to my right, but then again, his hair was super boring.

Oil Slick

Hello dear readers! It’s been a while. I make a point of only posting when I have something truly worthwhile to say, so I apologize if you’ve been feeling neglected.

olive-oilI’ve come across a slew of timely new products that don’t seem to be a total waste of money and are worth the investment: Easy-to-use hair oils. They come in many different brands and consistencies with a plethora of ingredients and application techniques that offer various benefits to hair and styling. I’d feel remiss if I didn’t mention that this is not a “new hair trend” by any means. Go to the small but super important “coarse hair” section of any drugstore and you’ll see products similar to these that have been on shelves for decades. This bevy of new contenders just comes in prettier packaging with highly-marketed branding, and the oils tend to be a bit more distilled so that they don’t weigh down finer hair types.

seaspongeThe first thing you should know is that the coarser the hair, the bigger the “pores,” and the more moisture that is needed. Think of hair porosity in terms of a big sea sponge with huge divots. The holes of the sponge are big so that they can absorb a ton of liquid easily, but the water also squeezes out more easily than it does in a more condensed sponge. Hair is this way too — if it thirstily absorbs everything you put on it, it loses moisture just as easily.

Below I’ve broken down a few that I’ve tried, which I’d recommend based on hair type, and how to use them. But first, a few ground rules.

1) Concentrate on strand ends when using oils. The ends don’t get as much love from natural scalp oils, especially on a curly head, and this is a big part of what causes split ends. And don’t shortchange your shorter layers — they have ends too!

2) Just because a product says to use it on wet or damp hair only, this doesn’t mean it’s a hard and fast rule. Hair absorbs more when it’s not wet — this is common sense. When it’s wet, it has already absorbed some water. When it’s dry, it’s only absorbing what you put on it. If your ends are feeling very dry, I’d definitely recommend using oil on them when hair is not wet.

3) Regardless of what some packaging may claim, hair oils are not a replacement styling product. They can be, if you’re ok with a slightly less tame hair day, because they will not hold curls together in a cast while they dry the way gels, mousses, and creams do. For an everyday look, you should probably expect to wear hair in a braid or bun that day to hide the greeeez.

4) How much you apply depends on when you are using it. Refer to the point above. I don’t style with oils on the “first day” of a hair wash cycle. Usually it’s when I go on to a third or fourth day that I start to feel like it’s a bit dry from days without conditioner. However, with very light application, and with a lighter oil mix, you can get away with running a bit over your gelled hair without greasy side effects. We also tend to wash less in the winter, and that’s when hair needs moisture the most. You will not use oils as much in the summer, but they are a great little product to pack in the beach bag for use after chlorine or saltwater abuse!

5) Your scalp can also benefit from oils. Itchy? Painful? Flaking? All of these can be side effects of a dry scalp. Not everyone gets dandruff, and dandruff is not the only indicator of a scalp in distress. Even if you have one spot that seems especially painful, rubbing a dab of oil or conditioner on that spot will soothe it instantly. It’s like magic. So if you’re already applying it to your ends, why not go all the way? But beware — this is an application site that will make hair look pretty greasy and you may not want to do it just before stepping out for the evening or heading to work. On the weekend? Cover up the evidence with a cute bandana or hair scarf.

6) Why not just use the EVOO in my kitchen cupboard? Ahh, the million dollar question! You can do that if you spruce it up with lots of yummy-smelling quality essential oils and mix them together before application. Otherwise, you will just smell like a fry cook all day, and you may get sick of that (unless you actually are a fry cook, in which case, go for it!) This is why I recommend the homemade oil treatment as an overnight remedy, not something to leave in your hair during an average day. The products below smell amazing, so any questions regarding your hygiene should be quickly dismissed.

7) Use hair oils as often as you feel is necessary, based on hair’s absorption. There is no drawback to using them, but if you over-do it you will see that it gets super greasy because it can only absorb so much. Over-saturation serves no purpose! You will know how to toe the line with your hair as you become more accustomed to using oils.

8) Wash with a real cleanser at least once a week when you are using oils. They don’t wash out with water and conditioner like other products and environmental deposits do. Because of this, you’ll want to treat hair, and especially your scalp if you’ve used it there, to some DevaCare Low ‘Poo, No ‘Poo, Homemade Lemon Juice-Conditioner cleanser, or WEN’s cleansing conditioner during shower time.

9) Start small. A dime-sized dab in the palm will go a long way. My hair is down to the middle of my back and that’s all I usually need, concentrating on ends and mid-length. If you need more you can always add more, but add in very small increments. Rub palms together and rake the oil through hair where it’s needed most.

10) When in doubt, read the ingredients!! Google any that you don’t know and you should get a good idea of how good or bad they are for your hair. Some synthetics can be extra slick, coating strands with more shine than moisture, so it’s best to go with products that have as short an ingredient list as possible.

Now, without further ado…

OjonWandOjon

– Course to fine type –

Ojon’s products come in two super-handy applications for all hair types. The first is in a bottle, and you can use it based on your hair’s absorption power with a dab in your palm that you rake through pretty liberally. If you need more, use it, but start small. The second applicator is like a mascara wand that can be used for flyaways. If you have a ponytail, say, and there are a few baby hairs that just won’t lie down, skim the wand over the trouble spots and they will simmer right down. This also works really well for straight-haired and short-haired ladies and gentlemen with stubborn cowlicks, so surprise your un-blessed friends with your new-found hair-saving savvy!

PalmersPalmers

– Coarse type –

Palmers’ products tend to be a bit on the gooey-er side, and can be used even more sparingly than the others. Coarse is not synonymous with thin — this hair type breaks more easily than all others, so oils are essential and Palmers makes a great product. Just because it comes in a spray bottle, that doesn’t mean you have to use it that way — in fact, I don’t recommend it. With a dab in the palm you are better able to control the amount that you’re using and where it’s being applied.

hask-argan-oil-and-hair-mask-L-oOR53vHask Argan Oil

– Coarse to fine type –

Argan Oil can be found in many product lines now, and with a variety of thicknesses and added ingredients. I like the Hask version, and it smells like a creamsicle. I use it more than any others, and it’s pretty thick so use sparingly and mainly at the ends.

moroccan-oil-treament-25ml-regularMorrocanOil

– Coarse to fine type –

MorrocanOil makes a long line of Morrocan oil products that have been widely circulated through the United States and they tend to stick to sparse, helpful ingredients. Their trademarked original oil is another example of a top notch product without too many unnecessary add-ons.

OrganixOrganix

– Medium to fine type –

Organix Penetrating Oil Renewing Moroccan Argan oil is my newest favorite for my fine hair type. It’s light enough not to look greasy, smells so good, and comes in an easy-application pump bottle. It may not offer enough oomph for coarser hair types.

Curly Q&A on Facebook

cqa-fb Like us here! 

There are so many things that I want to say on a regular basis, and not everything is worthy of a full blog post. In light of that, Curly Q&A has entered the 21st century and joined Facebook! Please like my page and keep up on everything new that I and my curly friends have tried, seen, smelled, used, learned, visited; all in relation to wonderful curly hair. I’m a busy bee living in the greatest city in the world and I travel a lot and get to meet all kinds of people, so there’s always something new to share. Go ahead, give us a like, you won’t be disappointed!

CQA Interview: Katrina

Katrina-Curls1Curly Q&A: I love your hair, what would you say are some of the biggest physical challenges of maintaining natural hair? (rather than using extensions, keeping it very short, or chemically relaxing it)
Katrina: Thank you for the compliment! The only physical challenge I would say about maintaining my natural hair versus a relaxer or extensions is that I have to wet, condition and comb through my hair every day or every other day at the least because it tangles very easily. Otherwise, my hair is really easy to maintain because I pretty much wash and go.

CQA: What are your favorite products, and what do you use them for specifically?
K: I’ve tried a lot of products as I am sure most curly hair girls have. I really like the Ouidad products, especially the conditioner. These products are designed for curly hair. I also love Carol’s Daughter hair milk, it’s a leave-in cream with oil in it but it’s not oily. I like my hair to feel free so I look for products that are moisturizing without being oily. I also like Argan oil, but not too much, and if I put Argan oil in my hair I don’t use any other creams or oils. I also like Phyto products; especially the hair mask, which is only used once a week.

CQA: Do you have any particular styling tips?
K: The styling tip that works for me is to always apply product when hair is wet and never dry your hair upside down with a towel because this creates frizz. I use a towel to dry the ends of my hair. Once it’s dry, then you can flip it so your hair is not sticking to your head; you can lift the roots that way.

CQA: How often do you do oil treatments? Do you have any favorite types? What is your oil treatment method?
K: I have done oil treatments but not every week. I like Phyto hair mask as an oil treatment. I have also heard of girls that use mayonnaise, egg yolks and avocado as an oil treatment. I haven’t tried that, but since I’m always looking for inexpensive ways to treat my hair, I just might!

CQA: I love your hair cut! How often do you cut it, and do you have a favorite salon/hairdresser? Do you cut it dry or wet?
K: Thank you! I cut my hair when I feel that it needs it. I like the way that Rayna at Cutler hair salon in Soho cuts my hair; she understands curly hair. I’ve also had it cut at a local Dominican Salon in Florida and they did a good job. I’ve had it cut wet and dry and I would say dry is definitely better because you can see the shape of the hair.

Katrina-Curls2CQA: Curly hair can so often be used as a sociopolitical statement. Have you ever felt that you were treated differently because of your naturally curly hair?
K: Yes, there is one situation that stands out in my mind. I’m a model, and I was on a very high end hair job; the hair stylist that they flew in all the way from Paris kept complaining about my hair. Keep in mind that I had gone on a casting and 2 callbacks for this job, and my hair had been thoroughly inspected and fine-tooth combed (no pun intended) for me to get this job. I was also chosen out of about 50 girls, so the client was very sure about me. This “big shot” hair stylist kept saying, “You have a tough head of hair!” and she kept going on and on about how she doesn’t use products and in Paris they don’t use hair like this for hair jobs. She had also written a “hair book” and in this book there was not one curly-haired girl. I thought to myself, “Some hairdresser, she doesn’t even acknowledge curly hair! How can you call yourself a hair stylist and not include every type of hair under the sun in your book!!” Anyway, I just smiled and thanked God that I was blessed with curly hair that I was being paid to advertise.

CQA: She was obviously jealous. Are there any other tips or tricks that you’d like to share with Curly Q&A readers?
K: I would like to add that on my off days I like to wash my hair, put product in, and keep it in a braid. When it dries and I pull my braid out, it’s beautiful and wavy! Whether you are born with straight or curly hair, embrace what you’re blessed with!

Strong-Hold Gels

I had the pleasure of experiencing an evening at Devachan’s location on Broome Street last night, and as always, walked away with delightfully new-found knowledge. The woman who was washing my hair mentioned that she always thought she had straight hair, which I hear is often the case with wavy-tressed beauties, but is not something that I can begin to fathom.

It was when she started using a strong-hold hair gel that she found that she was able to maintain a more authentic curl in her hair, because the hold would cement the scrunched up curls that she created during the product application process. So I wondered if the reverse was also true–if I wanted to dry my curls by squeezing them in my usual downward-pressing motion to lengthen them, would it stand to reason that the strong-hold gel would retain the straighter strands that I’d created? Up until now, I’d always thought that the stronger hold gels were simply best at flattening hair down as much as possible. I definitely didn’t think they’d hold a wavy-haired persons locks to a curlier standard.

Well, alas my dear readers, it did! The curls dried much longer and looser (not flat, but loose and still voluminous) than they normally do when I wring them dry the same way. So new rule for strong-hold gels: They are best used sparingly on hair that is accustomed to lighter hold, maybe half the amount that you’d normally apply, but they are perfect for maintaining your hair’s shape if you want curls to have roughly the same pattern dry as they do wet. (ie: Scrunch hair upward for curlier strands, and wring them going from scalp to ends for longer, looser strands.) Be sure to scrunch the gel out once the hair is dry.

Note: Stronger gels will also stick to your hair and attract more dust, so be sure to use a cleanser next time you wash, and I don’t recommend using strong-hold gels as an every-day hair treat as they will really gook up your hair over time.

I Recommend: Devachan’s new DevaCurl Ultra Defining Gel. Just use sparingly–don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Blow it!

Me in Florida rockin’ the pigtail braids. I’m all about braids this summer.

Last week I did the unthinkable for any self-respecting curly girl. I was visiting a close friend in Florida, who has dabbled in curly girl extremism, when she suggested visiting her favorite (and the only) blowdry bar in Palm Beach County. Fly Dry was established earlier this year on the main drag in Delray when New Yorker-turned-Floridian Kate Fogarty moved to her new neighborhood only to notice that there was no fancy pants city-style blowdry bar anywhere within a 50-mile radius. This just would not do.

Since I hadn’t straightened my hair in a good 10 months, I figured, what the heck. I’ve mentioned before that it’s ok to do this from time to time, it helps relax your natural curl a bit, and lets you survey the health of your hair by checking out any breakage or split ends in their least-camouflaged state. But this was Florida. My number 1 rule has always been not to bother blow drying in humid, hot, or sticky conditions since it usually just ends in frustration and being even sweatier than I  already was. So, yeah, I was in Florida. Just before hurricane Isaac was due to hit. But hey, even if it only lasted one night it would be worth it!

At the hair-washing station I didn’t mention my shampoo-free lifestyle since I was on vacation and living like a totally relaxed fun-girl who cared not to mention such words as “sulfate-free” and philosophies like “lemon juice mixed with conditioner really clarifies hair better than anything!!!” But my friend, knowing me as well as she did, assured me that Fly Dry only uses sulfate-free ‘poos. Phew.

My friend Karol on the left, me on the right.

The results were fabulous! I loved that they offered the option to have a wavy or beachy look instead of just pin straight (which looks awful on me) and my amazing stylist Travis did all he could to combat the inevitable frizz that would result from stepping outside.

That night it did rain. And it rained a lot. In fact, we got all gussied up just to walk a half block, then promptly returned to the car after getting completely soaked. We figured that see-through dresses that weren’t supposed to be see-through wasn’t a cute look on anyone. We changed into shorts and tee shirts and had an awesome dinner near her apartment when the rain had slowed a bit.

The point of my rambling story is that I made lemonade out of lemons. I ended up braiding my frizzified hair, which has been this summer’s raison d’etre as far as my hair is concerned. I’ve been doing one long braid down my back, side braids, two braids hanging down, two braids pinned up and encircling my head with my bangs out, and braid ponytails. It was such a fun change to create these same braids with straight hair, because it just looked so much longer. Even if you’re braiding, the curl in your hair still shortens it a bit. Plus, without any gel or residual conditioner whatsoever in my hair, it lasted about 5 days without my having to wash it. (Friends at work cringed when I told them that part, but whatever, it smelled fine and looked great).

So why not throw caution to the wind now and then and treat yourself to a custom blow-out in your home town or city. It’s really fun to have someone else do your hair, especially when it lasts a week, and it’s a growing trend. So even if you don’t live in New York, Miami, or LA, there is an increasing chance that you may find a blowdry expert in your own backyard.

Added perk? Most of them offer some bubbly or vino while they’re transforming your gorgeous, swinging locks.

Some blowdry bars I’ve tried and loved:

FlyDry | Delray Beach, Florida

Blow | New York, New York

Drybar | New York, New York

The Skinny: DIY Deep Conditioning

We’ve all seen the little tubes of hot oil treatments in the hair product aisles of our favorite supply stores, but I’m sure that you’ve also noticed the squat tubs of deep conditioners that have become ever-so-popular among most hair brands over the past decade or so. They promise to add shine, restore thickness to thinning locks, tame frizz and more. Some say to leave the treatments in for 5-10 minutes, others only 3. What’s the difference and what does it all mean?!?

Last night I treated myself to a deep conditioning treatment at Devachan Salon in Soho, and I took the opportunity to grill my stylist. First of all, why is this treatment any better than my purchasing their deep conditioner and doing it at home? Here are some tips she had that will offer you the first-class treatment from your couch.

1) The deep conditioner has to get into every nook and cranny on your head, including your scalp. After thoroughly wetting hair down with warm water and then squeezing it mostly dry, the stylist recommended separating hair into sections, like you see when women are getting their hair braided, except larger sections are fine. You work it into each section thoroughly, and run a dab of it along your scalp line between sections. It helps if someone else can help you with this since you can’t see your own scalp, but you can feel it out and maybe do this in front of a mirror to help.

2) As with the oil treatment, you should then cover your head with a plastic shower cap. This holds in moisture like a mini-ecosystem, allowing any lost moisture to be re-absorbed. Put a long piece of cotton, or rolled up paper towels along the edges to hold a tight seal, and prevent any conditioner from leaking down your neck.

Revlon hooded dryer: $33

3) If you have room, and this is very important, buy a mini (haha) hooded dryer. They aren’t as expensive and ridiculous as you think, although there is a range, it’s just hard to find a place to keep it in a tiny chock-full apartment. If you want to save moolah on expensive conditioning treatments, though, I highly recommend it.

4) Lastly, it’s recommended to leave the treatment in, sitting under the dryer, for at least half an hour. It’s pretty loud so watching TV may be a challenge, but you can read magazines and just pretend you’re in some fancy salon!

When it comes to the difference between an oil treatment and a deep conditioning treatment, I think it’s one of those things where two is better than one. Both have their purpose. I’ve read that olive oil particles are too large for hair to absorb, but I know that they have a great, lasting effect on my hair when I use them. I’d say that both treatments have their place.

As for which deep conditioner brands to buy, just make sure that they have lots of moisturizing elements, such as glycerin, aloe, any kind of oils and butters; and as always these ingredients should be high up on the list. My favorite brand, of course, is Devachan’s Heaven in Hair. Most others will be comparable, though, just make sure that they don’t have alcohol (drying) or harmful sulfate and chloride ingredients. The oil treatment can be made at home. Happy conditioning!