When she was in her teens, Laurie Mackenzie dreamed of being a straight-haired girl. She would tug and pull, slick and smooth to no avail -- her natural corkscrews just bobbed back into perky place. Today, Laurie, the copy chief for Canadian Living and Homemakers magazines, has developed a more "amicable" relationship with her hair. "I've learned that you just can't fight curly hair," she says. "The curls always win."
Letting your hair's natural bent win is a good move -- especially now. Catwalks are crowded with curls and manufacturers can't get curl products onto the shelves fast enough.
Need more convincing? It takes a professional approximately 35 minutes to straighten a head of curls; at home, double that time. "There's never been a better time to give you and your hair a break," says Toronto hairstylist Marc Anthony, who created his Strictly Curls line of products to help curly-heads break their blow-dryer addictions.
Here's how to get the most from your curls with the least fuss.
A cut above
A good cut makes all the difference between wonderful and way out. For curly-heads, layers are a must. "But be sure to get layers cut in at the right length," cautions Anthony. "Too short and your hair will be too round and full; too long and the hair will fall flat." Ideally, ask your stylist for mid-length layers that bring spring to your spirals.
Fabulous versus frizz
Curly hair tends to be dry -- that's because the protective outer layer of the hair shaft, the cuticle, is pieced together much like fish scales; when curly hair loops and bends, those scales lift, releasing moisture. The result: frizz.
A gentle shampoo packed with moisturizers is the first line of offense against the dreaded frizzies -- for example, LaCoupe Perfect Curls Bounce Curl Enhancing Shampoo and L'OrÃ©al Paris Vive Curl-Moisture Shampoo, which contain restorative proteins and shine-boosting ingredients. The claim to fame of the New York-based Deva line of shampoos (available at specialty beauty stores) is that they're latherless. The company's No-Poo and Low-Poo DevaCurl suds-free shampoos stay mainly on the scalp and come packed with essential oils.
Tip: Really thick, coarse curls can benefit from a leave-in conditioner, such as Aveda Elixir Daily Leave-On Hair Conditioner. "The leave-in will provide extra weight and added conditioning," says Anthony.
Page 1 of 2
Drying and styling
Out of the shower, wrap hair in a towel, but don't rub. Then apply a curl-defining lotion or cream -- such as Matrix Biolage Curl-Defining CrÃ¨me or Marc Anthony Strictly Curls Curl Defining Lotion -- containing silk protein or dimethicone (a silicone derivative), two ingredients that wrap around the hair like plastic wrap. "These ingredients coat the hair shafts, creating a slick seal that prevents the cuticle from getting ruffled up," says Cindy Leyland, operations manager at Beautymark in Vancouver. "Curls are more manageable and appear shinier." Stylists are adamant: don't use fingers to apply. Comb through hair using a wide-tooth comb to cover every tendril.
To dry, hands off is the best approach. "The biggest mistake is messing with your curls as they air-dry," says Charles Booth, founder of LaCoupe salons. "You want to allow the surface of the hair to set." If you're in a hurry and need to blow-dry, use a diffuser attachment to minimize disturbance of the hair's smooth outer layer. And leave hair slightly damp. "A little bit of moisture left in the hair allows curls to remain supple and the cuticle to lie flat," says Anthony.
Tip: Keep curls in their place by creating a no-budge curl cocktail. Mix a quarter-size dollop of your favourite curl-defining cream with a dime-size amount of a gel such as Pantene Pro-V Curl Defining Scrunching Gel or Aussie Tizz No Frizz Gel. (For finer hair, use a little less cream and a little more gel.) Apply to towel-dried hair before styling.
Page 2 of 2