I AM TWO MONTHS DEEP IN with about $50 worth of curly hair products organized in my beauty cabinet and a few tabs worth of a spreadsheet detailing all the notes and tactics I am using to embrace my naturally curly asian hair when, on the day of my first official curly cut as part of the journey, my hairstylist gives me a little plot twist that made me almost fall off my salon seat.
She said that if I wanted my hair to be voluminous and full while achieving curlier strands, I should shampoo more often and condition less. Or not at all. When she said that, what I heard was, “Rosie, take all those products you just excitingly purchased, throw your money down the drain and take whatever you learned from the internet, take whatever you learned in life and throw all that stuff out the window because it’s just not going to work for what you want.”
…SHAMPOO MORE OFTEN AND CONDITION LESS. OR NOT AT ALL.
I was so surprised to hear her say that I should be conditioning my hair less considering everything that I have been reading online about curly hair is about conditioning constantly! If you are just as shocked as I am, here is the kicker: my hair is exactly as she promises utilizing the tips she has given me. This plot twist is the perfect example of what you can learn from establishing a set of goals early on in your journey.
BEGINNING YOUR CURLY JOURNEY TIP: CONSULT WITH A CURL EXPERT & GET A HAIRCUT
When I sat down for a consultation, my hairstylist asked me what I was doing with my hair. I got so excited and was caught up explaining to her all the fun and frustrations I have had in experimenting with my hair trying to “get it right.” She asked me, “Rosie, what do you want to see out of your hair?” I explained to her that I wanted to see how curly and big (voluminous and full) my hair could get. She explained that because I have fine, curly hair, to achieve my goal I would want to shampoo more often and condition less. That I should switch from the leave-in conditioners, oils and creams I was using for gels and mousses strictly, and to apply the product in my hair sparingly and thoughtfully. A curl expert, much like seeing a fitness trainer, can help you determine the steps you need to take to achieve your goals. Once your curl expert has a better understanding of what you want, they can propose the type of cut your hair needs to make it look its best.
BEGINNING YOUR CURLY JOURNEY TIP: IDENTIFY YOUR HAIR’S NATURAL QUALITIES
The plot twisting advice that my hairstylist gave me is not a matter of what is right or wrong. She was not saying that conditioning my hair or using heavier products like creams and custards and oils are bad. She was simply advising me on how to accomplish what I had in mind with consideration to my hair’s natural qualities. The science behind what she was talking about: fine hair has a tendency to fall limp and using heavy products or conditioning ends will weigh hair down. For my type of hair, I should be focusing on gels and mousses to achieve hold and definition of curls. This goes back to why it is important to see a curl expert: they can help you understand your texture better and have a better sense of how to care for it.
BEGINNING YOUR CURLY JOURNEY TIP: DECIDE ON WHAT YOU WANT OUT OF YOUR HAIR
The more shampoo/less conditioner tip was a suggestion based on not only my particular hair type (I have fine, 3A curly hair), but also on what I wanted to achieve out of my hair. It is important to consider what look you want to accomplish with your hair on a daily basis so that you can determine what routine and products you need to use to get to you where you want to be. An even better example: before she cut my hair, she asked me if she should be giving me a “straight” cut or a “curly” cut. If I had a preference for using heat styling products to straighten or curl my hair, she would have given me a straight cut, but because I made a declaration to embrace my curly hair, I told her that I was 100% committed to getting a curly cut. And that is exactly what she gave me. Communication is key.
THE PLOT TWIST THICKENS (LITERALLY)
Above, you will see a few of my “before” and “after” comparisons. You can notice the difference in how voluminous and full my hair now looks from top to bottom. I have taken the advice of my hairstylist very seriously, but there will be more trial and error to witness as I continue to experiment.
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You can follow my hairstylist Melanie, who is a very good friend of mine, via Instagram: @cor_mel
Videos & photos by Rosie Chuong