Don’t Tame Your Curls; Train Yourself!

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Curly hair is having a renaissance. It is appropriate to start with an acknowledgment of generations of black women who were forced to do irreparable damage to their hair to be seen as socially acceptable and employable.

As of this writing, there are only two states in which it is illegal to fire a black woman for wearing her hair naturally: California and New York. Both states passed laws protecting black women’s right to wear their natural hair in 2019. Other women, to a much lesser extent, do the same thing to appear professional.

Of those who try embracing their curls, many will end up with frizzy hair and disappointment. Most people who have curly hair weren’t ever taught how to take care of it and that’s the problem. Taking care of curly hair isn’t the same as taking care of straight hair. The entire curl community owes a debt of respect and gratitude to the early members of the natural hair movement. As black women embraced the natural hair movement, focusing on healthy hair and scalps instead of Eurocentric beauty standards and ignorance, it grew. Now there are communities of curlies from all walks of life swapping tips and tricks about how to get their hair to be what it was meant to be: beautiful.

For the smoothest transition from fighting your curls to loving them, I recommend joining a curl community. There are entire websites dedicated to the triumphs and tribulations of people’s curl journeys. It will be a journey. Chemical and heat damage take time to repair and new techniques take time to master.

Curl communities are the best places to go to find out your curl type. Your curl type is the basic shape of your curl: wavy, curly or coily. Each of those has subgroups. It gets very specific. The information is out there, you just need to know if you have the right information. Reading a book on taking care of Tibetan mastiffs won’t do you any good if you have a Jack Russell terrier at home. Joining a group or following a content creator with your hair type is the best way to get specific guidance about your hair.

Luckily, there are a few rules that transcend types and apply to all curlies. I’ve gathered a few, such as, you should only wash your hair once a week. When you do, massage your scalp either with your fingers or a silicone shampoo brush. This will get rid of product build-up, improve circulation and promote hair growth. Don’t worry; you can shower more often, just don’t shampoo.

Cotton pillowcases and terry cloth towels are not your friends. These fabrics will snag your hair and cause knots that can do a lot of damage. They will also rob your curls of moisture because they are designed to be absorbent. Curls need a lot of moisture. You should upgrade your cotton pillowcase to satin or silk. Your tresses will glide across your pillow and your facial skin will thank you as well. As for the towel, trade it in for a microfiber hair turban or an old T-shirt. Curls love old T-shirts.

There are a lot of brushes claiming to be the end-all-be-all for curls. The more strokes you take to detangle your hair, the more likely it is to break. Some favorite brushes of the curl community are Tangle Teezer’s Ultimate Detangler, Denman’s Tangle Tamer line and the Felicia Leatherwood Detangler Brush. The namesake and creator of the Felicia Leatherwood brand and brush is a black woman at the top of her game. If you want to splurge a little on a nice brush and put your money where your morals are, I’d go with Felicia. If you need a budget brush, look for one that is lightweight with flexible teeth.

When and how you detangle matters. Brush your hair while it’s still soaking wet. Try flipping your head upside down if you can. Brush in your leave-in conditioner, your styling product, then wrap your hair in your T-shirt or turban. The best way to dry your curls is to allow them to air dry but there are alternatives online and some of them are inspired!

Once you’ve shown off your glorious mane all day; it’s time for bed. You need to minimize how squished your curls get while you get your beauty sleep. There are bonnets, braids, buns, pineapples and the tried-and-true T-shirt turban. It boils down to what you can tolerate. Most of those are self-explanatory except the pineapple. It’s an incredibly high ponytail secured with a preferably satin scrunchy. If you ask me, they’re pretty cute!

So, now you have a jumping-off point. Go find yourself some curl friends and get to know your natural curls!

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