While I identify in many ways––politically, ethnically, socially––there is one identification that I will always be proud of. I am a curly girl! If anyone is in need of a definition, it is simply a girl or woman with curly locks that range from beach waves to tight corkscrews. To most curly girls, our hair is a mystery to us. We go through trial and error, and trial and error, and some more trial and error until we find the right routine for our crazy hair. And again, most curly girls who go through the multiple trials end up having a love-hate relationship with their curls. Like most curly girls, I did too.
Then, I saw a book by Lorraine Massey called Curly Girl and I knew it was for me. Since skimming through the pages (and by skimming I mean reading the whole book from front to back), I have been forever changed. You might say, I’ve had an awakening…
1. Your Shampoo is Killing Your Curls!
Terrifying image, isn’t it? That is a closeup your hair. Well, not your hair (that would be weird and creepy), but you would be surprised that if you looked at your hair through a microscope, this is what it would look like. But how!? You wash your hair as much as it needs to and you mostly use conditioner. And when you do, you do use shampoo–well that’s it. LESSON 1: Most shampoos use a harsh chemical called sulfate. It’s the thing that burns your eyes and dries out your hair, but at least they make those pretty suds! It’s also an ingredient in a lot of detergents used to get the stains out of your dirty dishes and laundry (gross). So, ditch the shampoo in favor of a shampoo-like cleanser that is sulfate-free and all natural (like Devacurl where they adorably call it “no-poo“).
2. Moisture is Your Friend
All curly girls unite under one common enemy: water. Whether it be on the beach, through rain, or just the unsettling humidity in the air, we hate moisture. There have been many a times where I have walked out the doors of the Workman Publishing building onto the streets of the West Village with curls intact. The birds are chirping and the sun is shining, but alas, it is New York in the summer. My curls last no more that two minutes. “Darn you, moisture!,” I used to say, but after reading Curly Girl, I say “Bring it on, moisture!” LESSON 2: It turns out that I actually NEED moisture in my hair. Yes, think about it: It seems obvious now, but the reason we curly girls get frizz is because our hair is dry, not because there is too much moisture in the air. Once we learn how to take the sulfate out of our shampoo cleansers and the silicone (it repels the absorption of moisture) out of our conditioners, we could be walking in the middle of the rainforest with little frizz!
3. Don’t Just Chop Your Locks Any Old Way
Put. That. Scissor. Down. We have all been there. We have watched our ends be soft and freshly cut to–just a few weeks later–horrible, dry, and split. I was there just two weeks ago! I decided to take action against my shriveled ends. I put my hair in a side braid. I seized the tiny ends of my braid, held it between my index and middle finger (mimicking many hairdressers like my own), and cut those suckers off. You feel victorious for a moment because they’re gone. You may even feel that your hair is healing. Well, it’s not. You only gave yourself a temporary victory because they will come back. LESSON 3: In Curly Girl, I learned how to cut my hair the right way. I learned how to cut each section from sides to canopy (I didn’t even know I had a canopy!) and, even to only cut by the ‘C’s of my curls. Oh, and never cut your hair wet.
Okay, so that’s definitely not all I learned from this book. There is so much more for a curly girl to discover about her hair, which, let’s be real, is a real mystery most of the time. But in the meantime, be proud of your curls, and take good care of them. You can find out more in Curly Girl: the Handbook by Lorraine Massey, a fellow curly girl!