Quick Hair Conditioning

pic_of_cellophane_hair_conditionerWhat many people do not know is that leave-in conditioners are a hoax. When I say that, I am being super judgemental and opinionated, as my Certified New Yorker Status entitles me to be. But in all seriousness, this product category is normally a way for haircare companies to squeeze extra money out of us. So next time you’re shopping for a quick and easy on-the-go conditioning product, skip the leave-in conditioners and try one of these tried and true options:

Just Leave Your Conditioner… In

This is the easiest and you can do it as often as you’d like. Before you get out of the shower after washing, put some One Condition (or your chosen high-quality conditioner) on your hair concentrating on the ends. Then, only rinse out about 75% of it. You will know when you’ve left enough in because after you’ve hung your head back to rinse it out, feel it with your hands and it should still feel slightly like wet seaweed. Not as soft as when the conditioner is still there full-force. It may take some experimentation to work out the percentage to leave in. I usually co-wash my hair with a cheaper conditioner like Aussie Moist and save the good stuff for my leave-in. Remember: while quality conditioners are pricier, you can use a lot less for maximum benefits.

Spray Oils

Spray oils are great for the busy guy or gal. I’ve used it on my husband’s hair when he complains of dry scalp or hair. My favorite is an Argan Oil version, and I put about a “dime-sized amount” into my palm, rub my hands together, and lightly whisk it through dry hair on my way out the door. You want to use enough to really get the ends, but not so much that it looks greasy. Again, experiment.

Hair Masks

If you want an overnight or few-hour solution but don’t feel like going to the hassle of concocting a full oil treatment or dealing with a lot of mess, use a hair mask and put a shower cap over that before bed or before lounging around the house on a lazy day. You can use as much as you want and rub it into your scalp and hair, and then rinse it out with equal parts lemon juice and conditioner to get it all. I usually do 4 tbsp. of each. There are endless hair masks that you can try, and at varying price points.

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Product Review: CURLS’ Gel-Serum Hybrid

yhst-67007254324410_2269_51235305Howdy friends! It’s been a while, but I made a promise never to post nonsensical traffic-driving blog fodder. I’m also SUPER busy planning my wedding (less than a month to go!) and will not forget to let y’all know about my upcoming appointment with my fabulous hair stylist Amy. You may recall that I’m doing my wedding hair myself, but I wanted to see if she could help me brainstorm and test styling techniques. I am not finding pictures of exactly what I want anywhere online, so I’m inventing it!

Wedding chatter aside, I have been waiting to update you on my most recent product purchase until I’ve given it a good thorough testing. The reason is because it’s very expensive, and I didn’t want to give advice either way before being totally sure. Let’s get into it.

CURLS’ Curl Gel-les’c, besides being really hard to type out, is a cutely-named, nice smelling, interesting styling elixir. Not a serum nor a gel, it embodies positive aspects of both: the conditioning qualities of a serum, but not the heaviness that usually drags finer curls down. It also has the control of a light gel. The love-child of these two styling products is a thin, syrupy mixture that can be used in very small amounts — and thank God because the bottle is super small and $25!

Absurd, you may say, to spend so much on an 8-ounce styling product, but one blogger made a good point by saying that she only trots it out on special occasions. I think that the benefits are probably greater for those with coarse hair types that need lots of conditioning with their styling aid. For me and my fine little mixed-Euro-ancestry curls, it made my hair bouncier, curlier, shinier, and much softer than usual. I used a pea-sized amount on each side of my head. My hair is down to the middle of my back when wet, but very layered. The concoction made my top layers super curly, so if you’re going for an extra-curly day, this is your product.

For me, my overall review is that I probably wouldn’t buy it again, but am glad I have it to use from time to time and it will last me a long time. My favorite recent find is still Curl Junkie’s Curls in a Bottle gel. But if you have a coarse hair type that needs lots of conditioning, or any hair type that gets dry very easily — even with regular use of conditioner (see: co-washing) and gel — I’d recommend giving it a try.

Product Update: Curl Creme

frizz-cremeThis past weekend I had the pleasure of partaking in a new hair maintenance product thanks to Sephora samples that were sent to me along with my most recent perfume purchase. (They sent me like, 8 amazing samples, btw. The best two were birthday gifts, but the others were just included in my purchase.) Now, if you’ve been reading my blog, you probably know that, for me, the basics have always been rich conditioner and a hearty gel. I’ve most definitely learned that mousse is not a friend of mine (leaves hair frizzy and sticky), and creams have always left my hair feeling overdone and clumpy.

I decided to try this curl creme sample because I was going for a post-oil-treatment, post-chlorine-and-sun-abuse lazy Sunday afternoon look. I figured it would just give me some nice shine and maybe eventually I’d have to put my hair up when it got insanely frizzy. Friends, I couldn’t bring myself to put it up, even later when I’d gone for a long sweaty bike ride! I don’t know the last time my hair has looked that good, seriously. It was definitely post-treatment too, which made it feel less product-y, but it was above and beyond the norm. I highly recommend it.

Below is how I used: Living Proof Nourishing Styling Cream

  1. Aprés-swim, I used some Devachan No-Poo to rid my hair of chlorine without drying it out even further with a detergent-heavy shampoo.
  2. I saturated my wrung-dry hair with MoroccanOil Restorative Hair Mask, and rubbed it into my scalp. Note: I alternate my treatments so that my hair doesn’t get too used to any one thing. The most effective is the homemade oil treatment, but it’s best to switch it up now and then for maximum benefit. Heavy oils are less needed in the summer months.
  3. I covered my hair with the usual treatment cap, tied it on with a bandana over the top, and went to sleep.
  4. The next morning I concocted the 4 tbsp. conditioner/4 tbsp. lemon juice mixture and poured that over my hair, concentrating on working it into my scalp, distributing it through my hair, and then thoroughly rinsing it all out. You don’t want any lemon juice left in your hair. I used my Aussie Moist conditioner for the cleansing mixture since it’s a decent and inexpensive conditioner that won’t be sitting on your hair for too long anyway.
  5. After rinsing, I applied one more slap of one of my new favorite conditioners, Avalon Organics Conditioner Volumizing Rosemary. It smells like I’m in a spa and works really well in rotation with my other two favorites: Creme of Nature Argan Oil Intensive Conditioning Treatment and Devachan’s One Condition. Again, you don’t want to use the same exact products every day. Rotating products, while keeping one styling product and one conditioner as your staples, keeps hair fresh and moisturized. I always apply conditioner to the middle and ends of my hair while my head is upside down in the shower, and then rinse it out about half way. Wring hair dry with your hands.
  6. I normally add in my base gel at this point, but instead I got out of the shower, toweled off, and raked Living Proof’s creme through my hair in a very haphazard way. Some of you may have noticed before, this is often the beginning of great hair days — not caring! Curly hair definitely has a sense of humor.

Without further fiddling, I let it dry throughout the day, and I didn’t even use clips at the roots for vertical body. It created the most beautiful curls on the hottest and most humid day that I’ve ever experienced in NYC. Zero frizz, my friends. This after a sweaty bike ride, a night sleeping on it, and a spin class the next day. Still going strong and still smelling amazing. This one is worth a try!

DIY Spray Gel

In addition to my most recent post on proper conditioning at the beach and the pool, I wanted to share an easy DIY way to benefit from the wonders of hair-taming gel on the go. We all know that moment where we wonder to ourselves: Is it really worth letting loose and diving head-first into the pool, or frolicking with my summer love during high tide, at the risk of my beautiful curls turning into a poodle-y mess? Well, fret no more.

After applying your leave-in conditioner (again, be sure that you have experimented with the right amount of moisturizers so that your hair won’t look super greasy after application), spritz on some homemade spray-gel to keep strands in line.

Take 1/2 cup of your favorite gel and 1 cup of boiling water, stir them together, let it cool, then add it to a spray bottle. Easy-peasy! Experiment with amounts of gel vs. water over time to see what works best for you. Then just lie back on the beach towel and let your beachy-cool locks unveil themselves!

Spray gel recipe by Curly Girl

Beach Beauty

I realized over the weekend, while lounging on the beach under a beating sun, that I should remind y’all to keep your hair hydrated during the summer! We equate winter with harmful drying conditions, but it’s just as likely to happen in the summer when you’re swimming in the pool or ocean and getting lots of sun exposure.

While you should continue the weekly oil or deep conditioning treatments in any case, another handy trick is to bring a bottle of special super-hydrating treatment with you to the beach. What I like is to get one of those little travel-size bottles, and I mix up a combination of quality daily conditioner, deep conditioner, and some hair oil. You want to have something that’s thin enough in consistency that it will not make your hair look all chunky and gross. You also don’t want to use more than necessary.

I slick a dime-sized amount on my long but fine hair, mostly at the ends, before I go into the water so that it is saturated and won’t absorb as much pool or ocean water. When you get out of the water and are back on your towel or chaise, put enough in the palm of your hand to be able to evenly coat both hands with a thin sheen of it. Wipe that through your hair from top to bottom. Always apply product in this way — going the other direction, or even side-to-side, will ruffle the hair’s cuticle and cause it to frizz and break.

If you don’t use too much, it should soak in by the time your hair has dried. If you do use too much, it’s ok, you will just have that beachy-wet look a bit longer. Wash it when you get home either way, since salt and chemicals will still be on the hair.

My recipe:

* 1 Tablespoon Moroccan Oil

* 1 Tablespoon One Condition

* 1 Tablespoon Heaven in Hair

* 2 Drops essential oil of your choice (I like sage or cedar)

Shake it up and enjoy! Depending upon how much you’ll need, adjust amounts accordingly.

Get Wet!

While lounging poolside over Memorial Day Weekend (important side note: thank you so much to our troops, I truly appreciate everything you’re doing for our country!) I read in In Style that the wet hair look is in right now. This is great news for us curl-meisters, we just have to be sure to do it the right way. When I worked for a large publishing house years ago, I’d attract looks of scorn when I’d run into the elevator amongst the most judgmental of beauty editors and fashionistas with my hair still wet from that morning’s shower.

As we all know, diffusers are often more trouble than they’re worth. Curly hair looks best when it’s left to air dry, and in the summer no one wants to go near a hair dryer if they don’t have central air. I’d eschew their silly rules and go wet anyway, and my hair would be dry and glorious by lunch time. It’s just the price you have to pay for bounteous curls. While I was working there, one of the big-name glossies actually had a blog post about how bad wet hair looks at work.

Well, preposterously fickle beauty world, now it’s ok to rock wet hair. This is thanks to new red-carpet looks that favor severely slicked-back ponys and buns. It’s especially beneficial since you can gloss your ends with your favorite oil treatment or conditioning glaze and no one will be the wiser!

How to do it:

1) Wash and condition as usual in the shower. Leave in a touch more conditioner than you normally would, because no one will know and it’s good for your hair. It will also increase drying time, leaving you wetter longer. Skip the gel at this point.

2) Before stepping out, quickly run your head under the water flow one last time, then squeeze mostly dry (don’t scrunch, you want to elongate strands).

3) With your head upside down over the tub, coat the hair nearest your hair line with gel, on top of and under your head. Just one dollop will do. Don’t worry about your ends since they will not be seen. Instead, coat ends with a few drops of an oil serum.

4) Still upside-down, twist all hair into a bun on top of your head (I prefer this step without elastic, keep reading). Straights can do a low ponytail, but we know we’ll end up with a frizzy mess. Buns are best, even if you choose to do a low bun at the nape of your neck to up the class factor.

5) Don’t fasten your bun with an elastic — instead, anchor the bun to your head in the desired position with as many bobby pins as it takes.

6) There should not be any stray hairs hanging out, if you have bangs or really short layers that are not contained in the bun, be sure to bobby-pin them so that they appear to be part of the bun.

I paired my wet bun with a small scarf (think handkerchief-sized, but more chic) from American Apparel for my commute to work in order to soak up the drippings. By the time I got to work, my hair was dry enough to whisk off my scarf, and voila!