In Peanuts, a characteristic that Frieda (sometimes seen spelled Freda but it's Frieda in the strip where Linus introduces her to Charlie Brown) constantly brags about. Her first words to Charlie Brown are "How do you do, Charlie Brown? I have naturally curly hair!"

And, of course, from A Charlie Brown Christmas when the children are being assigned parts in the Christmas play:
"Do innkeepers' wives have naturally curly hair?"

She asks me why, I'm just a hairy guy.
I'm hairy noon and night, hair that's a fright.
I'm hairy high and low, don't ask me why, don't know.


I have naturally curly hair. It's been curly my entire life, only changing in color from my babyhood platinum blonde through honey-brown to its final, faux-firey state. In my 19 years, I've learned invaluable guidelines for dealing with my unruly mane, which I outline below. I have extremely dry, spiral-curl hair. The individual hairs are thin, and it comes down to about my waist. Other curl types may not have much success with my methods.

Curly, Fuzzy, Snaggy, Shaggy, Ratty, Matty
Curls are caused by one side of the follicle producing hair faster than the other, making it spiral around as it grows. No amount of straightening or conditioning will be able to change this feature of your hair; even if you torture it into an Aniston, the individual hairs will still be 'longer' on one side, giving them a physical need to curl. That's just science, man.


Let It Fly in the Breeze and Get Caught in the Trees
There are a bunch of things that people do to make them think they have 'unmanageable' hair. You may be doing some or all of these things, but you shouldn't be doing any of them. So stoppit.

  • Too much washing. And by 'too much', I mean more than about once a week. "But that's gross!" Stop being such a baby. Washing is bad for your hair, plain and simple. So are styling products. The best thing for our hair would be to get up every morning and put in a big blob of bacon fat, but that's not really an option unless you want dogs following you to work. You could be the Dog Queen, but they'd just lick your head when you told them to kill, so...
  • Too much styling. Hair dryers blow. So do hairspray, most gels and pretty much everything else you can shellac onto your mane. Most of these products have alcohols of various kinds in them, which screw up your hair something fierce. Moisture is key. Alchohol steals your precious moisture. Remember that the majority of hair products are geared towards people with normal, straight hair. These people can usually afford to lose some scalp grease now and then without getting a case of pyramid head.
  • The wrong haircut. Lots of curly folks have the wrong haircut. The shorter your hair is, the less it will weigh and the more it will curl, meaning that it will be less manageable. Same goes for short layers. Short curly hair will also have the added bonus of making you look like Little Orphan Annie or possibly Carrot Top. People will point this out to you. Incessantly.


Give Me Down to There Hair, Shoulder Length or Longer
Let curly hair grow long, past your shoulders. People will coo over it and profess jealousy (idiots), and when you're sick of it you can put it back in a bun, which is a priceless luxury. To facilitate bunning, invest in some bobby pins and some claw clips. Learn how to twist your hair into a rope that you can then coil around on the back or your head. This coil is secured by stabbing it with bobby pins or clutching it with one of the claw clips. Don't ever use anything that wraps around or ties into your hair. No rubber bands, string, or CAT5 cable. If you simply cannot master pins and clips, go ahead and get a scrunchie. But they can look dumb, so watch out.

Go to a professional salon that knows how to cut curly hair. I live in Seattle and make Scream my only destination for my very occasional trims. When you call a salon to make an appointment, ask straight-out if they have someone who specializes in curly hair. If you are at all dissatisfied with your cut, tell them so and never go back. It's important to have a salon you can trust. It's that, or cut your own hair. Keep an eye on your ends. Curly hair has a tendency to get split and straggly at the ends, and it can be unsightly. If you must cut your own hair, get some special hair-cutting scissors from the drug store. Other kinds of scissors screw up your hair.



Shining, Gleaming, Streaming, Flaxen, Waxen.
Now that you have the right haircut, you need to learn how to care for it. Instead of washing your hair normally, use a gobbet of conditioner as you would use shampoo. Lather in (it won't lather much, but just pretend), rub it around gently, maybe let it sit for a while. You can take advantage of this slipperiness by using your comb to detangle with minimum pulling and crying. Now rinse it out (combing while rinsing also helps detangle, since the downwards flow of the water keeps the hairs in line while you comb). It will take out the same detritus and dandruff your shampoo would, but it won't strip out the oils you need so desperately. If you can stand it, rinse your hair with cold water. To avoid getting the all-over shivers, bend at the waist, flip your hair forwards and stick your head under the water. It helps to aim your shower head at the floor so the water is coming straight down instead of at an angle. I bet a handheld shower would work even better.

If it's really vital that you shampoo (maybe you tried that bacon fat thing), only shampoo your scalp, and don't scrub it in. Never scrub your hair at all. Don't wash the actual hair, either. It'll get any benefit the shampoo can offer as the shampoo comes by on its way down the hair shaft while you're rinsing. Shampoo your scalp, not your hair. Just like arcanamundi, in her wisdom, says in the above node.

If you're like me, hairs shed between showers stick in with the rest of the hair and only come out during the shower-combing. Don't let this stuff go down the drain unless you don't mind picking it out later when it's all gross. Just stick it to the shower wall or hang it on the faucet or something and throw it away when you're done.

Now you're done with the shower. You can gently slick your hands down your hair to remove extra water, but do not wring it out, EVER. Gently 'turban' your hair, not wrapping it too tight. My hair is so long that I have to use a full-size bath towel. They make special turbaning towels, but I've never used one. Let the excess water leech into the towel for a few minutes while you gather your gear. See below for my list of equipment. An ascension kit for curls, if you will.

Unwrap your now-merely damp hair and grab a couple squirts of the Hair Serum and squish it around in your hands. If you shampooed your hair instead of doing the conditioner thing, now is the time to put a blob of Hydrating Curls into it, too. Finger-comb the Hair Serum through your locks, paying special attention to areas where you have frizz issues. Next, get a dollup of Curls Rock and do the same thing. Smells nice, huh? Use your comb again, working out any last knots and evenly distributing the junk all over your hair. Your hair may start to dry out while your combing, which is bad. Use your spray bottle to mist hair that gets too dry. When you're done combing, 'scrunch' the curls in your hand. Start at the bottom and sort of raise your hands up, letting the curl coil in your palm. This reinforces the helix. Lifting hair from the scalp a little (more scrunching) helps with body.



Bonus Stage! "Plopping": If you want some more body, flip your head over again and comb the hair that way. Get another towel or a head scarf or something, lay it on a table or the toilet, and pile your hanging hair into it and then wrap it onto your head, bundling your curls close to your head. Hang out for a bit and let your hair take the shape. A discussion of this technique with pictures can be found here: http://tinyurl.com/samu. I've done it, and it does indeed make me even curlier, but it also increases tangle.



Now what? Well, if you have the time, let your hair air-dry. It's the best thing for it. If you don't have the time, you can blow dry on a 'cool' setting with a diffuser. When your hair is dry, attack any remaining frizzies with "Secret Weapon". You can use Secret Weapon whenever you need to regain some control and don't have time for the whole shmear.

You're done! Additions to this node, comments on technique, complaints from angry customers are all welcome. /msg me.


Products

  • Catwalk "Curls Rock" Curl Amplifier (this stuff is GODLY. It's pro stuff, though, so you may need to make a trip to a salon or one of those mall specialty stores.)
  • John Freida Frizz-Ease "Hair Serum" (comes in three strengths for varying levels of curlz0r)
  • John Freida Frizz-Ease "Secret Weapon" Flawless Finishing Creme
  • Pantene Pro-V Hydrating Curls Conditioner (I use this stuff because it really works for me, and has for six years or so. However! Many stylists and noders told me that it's BAD BAD BAD FOR HAIR OMG. Alternative recommendation: Aveda products, which I personally have not tried but come highly praised. The benefit of the Pantene method is that all this stuff is found in your local Walgreen's. Use what works.)

Noder-Recommended Products

  • Body Shop coconut oil hair wax (comes in a little red tin)
  • Toni and Guy Moisture Injections
  • John Freida shampoo for curls
  • Tools

    • wide-toothed plastic comb with no sharp edges or knobs, just straight or tapered tines. Goody makes a variety of these. Don't brush your hair.
    • spray bottle with "mist" setting
    • hair dryer with diffuser



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Information for this node was harvested mainly from years of absolute terror and suffering under a mushroom cloud of a hairdo. Daddy always said, "You have to suffer to be beautiful." He was right. I hope to ease your way, my curly brethren.
"Plopping" appears courtesy of NaturallyCurly.com
Lyrics from Hair
I wonder how many synonyms for 'hair' I used in this node.

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