Like redheaded kids and McKinley High’s Glee Club, the curly-haired among us have been made to feel like outcasts. For years we have been tortured by popular girls like Jennifer Aniston and Gwyneth Paltrow, whose locks are as straight as their hips, and skulked to weekly blowouts in scarves and topknots, hoping for a miracle treatment. We have flatironed and keratined, relaxed and thermal reconditioned, but we’re not going to take it anymore!
Two seasons ago, Marc Jacobs, Badgley Mischka and Ports 1961 sent models down the runway sporting disco-fabulous curls. And this fall, the 3.1 Phillip Lim, Roksanda Ilincic and Catherine Malandrino shows followed suit, proving that curls have legs. From Rihanna’s corkscrews to Taylor’s ringlets to Gisele’s beachy waves, the hair zeitgeist is shifting in favour of curly hair styles. Our expert advice? "Most people have some wave, and the natural tendency is to fight it by wearing it straight," says Marc Anthony, a Toronto-based celebrity hairstylist. "But fashion is leaning toward a more sexy and dishevelled look. We’re bringing back the curl."
Expert advice: Shun the shampoo
There has long been a misconception that all curls are created equal, when, in fact, "like snowflakes, no two curls are the same," says Anthony. Fine, wavy and coarse curls come with their own sets of concerns and solutions, although one cruel universal truth does apply: "All curly hair is drier than straight hair, so shampooing should be kept to a minimum," says Morgan Willhite, lead stylist at Ouidad Salon in Santa Monica, Calif. This holds especially true for coarser hair. Because curly girls don’t brush their hair-hello, masochism-natural scalp oils have a harder time making their way to the tips. Willhite suggests shampooing just once a week and using conditioner in between. Fine hair can do with more frequent shampooing since it runs the risk of looking straggly, although Willhite advises using a dry shampoo that won’t strip the hair with harsh detergents.
Want some more expert advice on how to cut curly hair? Read on to the next page…
Expert advice: Style sans silicone
As if to add insult to injury, cruel dryness begets despicable frizz. And while this is what usually drives curly girls to the salon (and, probably, vodka), curl proponents like Lorraine Massey, co-owner of New York’s Devachan Salons, reasons that “frizz is just a curl waiting to happen.” She suggests a plan of attack that includes a good silicone-free conditioner—because the silicone only serves to coat the hair and doesn’t allow moisture to penetrate the strand—and a styling foam (for fine or wavy hair) or cream (for coarse hair) that allows hair to move freely while keeping excess frizz at bay.
To get big, dramatic curls, Jonathan Torch, founder of the Curly Hair Institute in Toronto, says that the key is to create movement at the roots. Start by rubbing a strong-hold cream into the root area and expanding out to the tips. For softer waves, like those seen on the 3.1 Phillip Lim girls, use a lightweight frizz-control product on wet hair, regroup the curls by twisting sections into ringlets and allow to air-dry. Once dry, separate the curls for a loose and controlled effect.
Expert advice: Snip Savvy
“So many things can go wrong when cutting curly hair,” says Anthony. “If you go too short, it can end up too wide, or too much texturizing can create a triangle effect.” He advises clients to come in with their hair already styled so the stylist can see the curl pattern. It should be cut wet to bring out the curvature of the hair and because cutting hair dry can be misleading. “When you cut it dry, you’re assuming that it will look like that every day, which is unlikely, especially with curly hair,” explains Willhite.
How to avoid the triangle effect on the next page…
The answer to a good curly cut is not in over-layering, contrary to what curly girls have been told all their lives. “People are always saying that they need to layer more with curly hair, but short layers won’t create more height,” explains Willhite. “They will cause a shelf effect, which makes hair look boxy and prevents the curls from cascading.”
At Ouidad, coarser hair gets the salon’s signature carving and slicing technique. By cutting into the hair’s interior, weight is eliminated. This de-puffs the silhouette and allows curls to interlock and pattern together, thereby avoiding the triangle effect. Willhite also says that eliminating the excess weight gives more root lift. For Anthony, the key is to add some texture to certain areas without taking off too much length. His trademark is long, soft, textured layers that keep movement in the hair while stretching out the curl. It all boils down to what Massey refers to as a “radical simplicity.” “Make the most of what you’ve got, and stop fighting it.” Radically simple, indeed.