How to Style Curly Hair

5 Aug

Since my big chop back in 2009, I’ve loved wearing my hair curly. I get a lot of questions from readers on what products I use and how I style them, so here’s a quick tutorial post I’ve done in conjunction with my stylist, Casey, at Adelaide Salon in Brooklyn on how to style your curls.

This process works no matter the length of your hair, the key is being sure to have a good haircut. If you haven’t done so already, find a stylist who specializes in curly hair. Curls benefit from being cut while dry, and there’s a specific method to “carving” the curls together so the corkscrews interlock. A specialist will know how to do this for you and give you amazing, low-maintenance curls.

It all starts with washing your hair.  I use DevaCurl No-Poo, which doesn’t suds up and keeps my curls moisturized.  I also only wash my hair max twice a week.  On other days I only condition.  So start off by washing your hair with your favorite vegan, non-sudsing shampoo and rinse it out.

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Now comes the styling.  I usually do this while still in the shower, but for demonstration purposes Casey shows you how to do it here.  Using your fingers,  rake your conditioner (I use DevaCurl One Conditioner) through your curls while sopping wet, making sure the curls are defined and “clump” together.  As you can see in these photos, Casey grabs my hair in small sections working the conditioner through it roots to end until she’s covered all my hair.  You don’t want to comb your hair, finger raking works just fine and makes for nice, fat curls.

This is also the time you’ll want to part your hair if you wear your hair parted.  In this demo, Casey gave me a side part.

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Next, change your water pressure to low, and rinse the conditioner out.  The low water pressure is imperative, otherwise you’ll separate the curls you’ve just spent so much time forming.  When this is complete, turn the water off and flip your hair over.

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Now it’s time to apply your curl defining product.  Again, this is done while still in the shower while your hair is sopping wet.  During the summer, I like to use DevaCurl AnGEL, being it’s a strong hold gel that prevents my curls from frizzing in the humidity.  I’ll often switch to something lighter in the winter when it’s not as humid out.

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Squirt some product in your hands, rub them together, and then gently scrunch your curls from tips to roots.  It’s important to keep your touch gentle, other wise you run the risk of frizzing or separating your curls.

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Now it’s time to towel dry.  Take either paper towels, an old tee-shirt or a specialty microfiber towel and gently scrunch the curls again from tips to roots.  You still have to keep it gentle.

The reason you don’t want to use a regular towel to dry your curls is because the texture will disrupt the curl pattern and make your curls frizz.  The key here is not disturbing the curls.

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I usually while doing this process at home plop my curls in a microfiber towel while I put on my makeup.  That helps me get some extra moisture out before drying it and cuts down my drying time substantially.  It’s not 100% necessary though.

You can learn to plop (or plunk) here.  It doesn’t work for everyone, it really depends on how your curls are.  Mine luckily are pretty loose and plunking works really well for me.

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One your hair is towel dried, flip your hair over.

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This step is optional but makes a big difference.  Now using small banana clips, clip your hair at your roots to create some lift.  Curly hair is often so heavy while wet it just dries flat to your head.  By clipping the roots up, when it dries it creates some extra volume.

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Depending on your hair style, now would be the time to blow out your bangs if you have any.  Even though I had grown out my bangs, we decided to blow the front of my hair out during this haircut for a more polished look.  After the front was blown out, Casey put it in a pin-curl while still warm so it would dry with a loose wave.

Now that it’s summer and it’s hot as hades outside, I’ve been skipping this step and wearing it all curly.

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Now it’s time to dry your hair.  You have a few options.  First would be a bonnet dryer, like shown at the salon here below.  Nice part about the bonnet dryer is you set it and sit back, relax and read a magazine or something until your hair is fully dry.

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I wish I had room for a bonnet dryer in my apartment, but I don’t.  So I usually use a blow dryer with a diffuser.  This will be essential if you have really long hair, because a bonnet dryer only really gets the top of your head down to your chin dry.  A dryer and diffuser gets the rest.  The diffuser allows you to dry at a higher heat without blowing your hair all around and disturbing the curls.

Your third option is good ol’ air drying.  Most days, especially during the summer I’ll just hit my roots for a few minutes with the dryer to get the lift from the pinning, and then remove them and let it dry the rest of the way naturally.  It’s healthier for your hair.  The only downfall for me with this method is my hair takes forever to dry.  Even while in this short bob it still takes over three hours to fully air dry.

With a blow dryer and diffuser I can usually do the job in 15 minutes.  This is a huge improvement from my long locks, which took close to 40 to get blown dry and 5-6 hours to air dry.

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Once your hair is about 90% dry, it’s time to take your clips out.  Let it air dry the rest of the way, and then flip your head over and “scrunch the crunch” out.  When you flip your head back over, you have beautiful, frizz free bouncy curls.

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Using this method and drying my hair all the way dry, I’m usually out of the shower, dressed, made up and ready to go in about 45 minutes.

I hope this tutorial helps out anyone who was wondering how I style my hair.  If you have any questions, feel free to let me know!

PHOTOGRAPHY  BY // Joel Stigliano

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