Hair Ritual

Wella professionals, highlightsI love curly hair. I love mine, and I love it on other people.

I’m not saying every day is a good hair day for me (ha!), but I’ve tried almost every product with “curly” on the bottle, and I’ve got a routine that I’m really happy with. So, as a firm believer in the importance of sharing information, here’s what works for me.

I have fine curly hair. That means:

  1. My hair is very sensitive to humidity. The drier the weather, the straighter my hair. But if I can wash my hair when it’s raining? Glorious!
  2. Using a hair dryer — even with a diffuser, even on a cold setting — seems to make my hair more straight.
  3. My hair really needs the right products to turn soft, undefined, 70s style fluffiness into curls.

My shampoo trials have been a long and difficult road. A lot of “curly” products seem designed for thicker curls, and as a result they seem to weigh me down. I am now firmly committed to Frederic Fekkai Luscious Curls Shampoo and Conditioner ($23 each). The price is a little scary after years of drugstore purchases, but I’ve discovered that you need a comically tiny amount to get the job done — like, maybe 1/4 tsp. This stuff lathers like you wouldn’t believe. (I wish I’d figured this out a little sooner.)

vented hairbrushAfter I wash, I squeeze dry with a towel (don’t rub!), and brush through with a soft-bristled vented brush. I’ve tried finger combing, I’ve tried not brushing at all… and I like my brush. After it’s brushed, I flip my hair over and tousle (to give the curls a chance to separate). Then I go back to bed.

I admit, this is a ridiculous step, but I seem to get the best volume and curl if my hair air-dries in a horizontal position. So I get up earlier than I want to, wash, then go back to bed. When I get up “for real,” I finish the process with a curl-promoting spray.

These sprays basically act like a soft-hold hairspray. They define curls (keeping my hair from getting too soft) and maintain shape until the next wash. They’re not as crunchy as hairspray used to be. I use $5-6 John Frieda Spiral Style. Another excellent option is GHD’s Sea Spray for Matte Waves ($18, last I checked).

I hope this post wasn’t too random, and I hope some of what works for me also works for you ladies. And if YOU know of a miracle product, dish!

Click here to read my original reviews of Fekkai Luscious Curls, John Frieda Spiral Style, or GHD Sea Spray.

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12 Responses to “Hair Ritual”

  • Thanks for this post. I have curly hair too and I love it. I had a friend in college who swore by the “going back to bed” routine for her curly hair…maybe you guys are on to something and I’ll have to try it too!

  • Pau says:

    thank you! i also have curly hair and love it so much, so i totally understand how hard it can be to find stuff that actually works for naturally curly hair. you should totally try the “t shirt towel” trick, instead of drying your hair with a towel, try patting it try or twisting it up in a turban with a cotton t-shirt, it dries beautifylly and with no frizz at all!

  • Jayna says:

    I love good old Fekkai Glossing Cream for curls. It smooths everything out but doesn’t weigh my hair down.

  • Megan says:

    Ugh, I love Fekkai shampoo. I do not love the price.

  • Jennifer Tong says:

    Your hair reminds me of a little girl playing in the fields and having the sun kissed on the highlights of her hair. AH!

  • Emily says:

    I have curly hair too, but mine’s super thick and bulky. It’s taken me a long time to understand how to not have “Christmas tree hair” (flat and weighed down on top while the sides get increasingly bigger at the bottom). I’ve finally landed on Ouidad products. They just really seem to work for me. They’re water soluable, so I don’t have to wash every day with shampoo. I just rinse the previous day’s products out with water, usually add a little more conditioner to the ends, and comb with a really wide tooth comb in the shower. When I get out, I add a leave in conditioner or Moroccan Oil and a little gel, then I wrap my hair using an Aquis plopping towel. It pulls a mad amount of water out, but it leaves my curls drying on top of my head so they don’t get weighed down. I wash at night and try to leave it in the towel for 20-30 minutes. When I take it down, it’s still slightly wet, but the curls are well formed. The final step is to add a couple of strategically placed duckbill clips. Stand them on end and grap the hair at the root going from the front of your head to the back. This lifts the roots while it dries the rest of the way. The I go to bed (for good!) When I wake up, my hair is dry, the curls are formed, and the roots are lifted. All I do is remove the clips and run a little Ouidad frizz controlling pomade through it to shape it up. Voila!

  • wendy lieberman says:

    hi karla!!! i’m a curly girl too!!! i have fine hair too but, i think mine’s super fine. i’m 42 and i’m worried about hair loss. i find it at the bottom of the bathtub drain, pulling it off my coat, etc. i went to the doctor and took blood tests. he said everything was good. and, i really do eat a balanced diet. i think it’s birthdays. anyway, i’m using the entire line of devacurl products. i really like them. but, i’m frustrated because it’s hard to find a hair designer, especially where i live, to not butcher my hair. thankyou for this…i’ve used fekkai products before. they’re very nice. unless it’s from a drugstore, all these products are expensive. i appreciate all your reviews. you are the best!!! xo

  • Samantha says: is a godsend. And curl junkie products are the greatest thing ever.

  • soaper1 says:

    your hair is gorgeous!

  • Liz K says:

    I L.O.V.E your hair – such gorgeous curls.

  • Homer says:

    Thanks for the post, Karla. I suspect this is in response to my request…

    I feel like I’ve stumbled into a secret society of non-blowdrying women! I have naturally curly hair, too, but it’s also thick. For me, applying Paul Mitchell Round Trip to damp towel-dried hair and then just letting air dry works well. There’s no stiffness or stickiness, and I get nice glossy, frizz free curls. The hardest part is to keep my hands out of it while it’s drying.

    I also find that I can’t use a comb after shampooing because it breaks up the curl too much. A brush – same type as yours – works the best.

    It’s just weird that the less I do to it, the better my hair looks. My styling routine is literally 5 minutes every other day!

    I always felt like I should be doing more when I hear everyone else talk about the blow drying, diffusing, straightening, etc., but now that I know other people do things this way, I no longer feel a secret shame about not working more on my hair!


  • Cleo says:

    This post was not random at all, it was FABULOUS!! I have very fine AND VERY oily (lucky me) curly hair too and I can relate to every single statement you made in this post! Thank you, thank you, thank you for the recommendations, I’ve spent my whole life looking for the right product combos to use. I’ll share my ritual for any who are interested: First: I have to shower every single day or it’s a stinky, greasy disaster. I find that sulfate-free products (L’oreal EverSleek is my fave) work best. I towel dry with a microfiber turban for at least 30 minutes and comb with a wide-tooth comb. Then I use an obnoxious amount of original strength Moroccan oil (amazingly doesn’t make me greasy), comb through again, then use 3 pumps of Bain De Terre Recovery Complex Anti-Frizz serum mixed with ONE pump of Fekkai Coiff Straightening Balm (because I like loose beach waves, not curls). Comb through again. Last I finish with either Bed Head Spoil Me hairspray or L’oreal Elnett hairspray all over. Let air dry and Voila! All day manageable, frizz free soft waves with a decent amount of volume (as much as you could ask for with fine hair). Hope someone finds this useful, good luck!

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