Tag Archives: Curly Girl

The Evolution of Curls: A Pictorial Review

Believe it or not, I didn’t have naturally curly hair when I was little.  I remember well all of those Saturday nights I spent unable to find a comfortable way to lay my curler-laden head (and I have very thick hair, so it was a LOT of curlers) so that my hair would be nice and curly for church on Sunday morning.

Here’s an example of a very small me with curler-curled hair, a superman t-shirt, and one of my best buds, MJ:

And a picture of me a little older showing off my long, only slighty wavy hair (and my rockin’ early 90’s t-shirt clip):

In the second grade, I decided I needed a perm, of course:

By the 6th grade, my hair had started to be a little more naturally curly, and I began the long, long process of learning how to live with my curls (yep. that’s MJ again).  It was several years before I would really figure it out:

Somewhere around 16 years old or so, I had finally mastered the curl-care routine that would be my standard throughout high school and college.  It involved obscene amounts of mousse and/or gel, and lots of scrunching as I blowdried.  I don’t think I have to point myself out in the picture below—the hair is kind of hard to miss:

By college, I had grown out what I now lovingly refer to as “the doo-doo bangs” (don’t ask), and went through a couple of phases of very long and very short hair, and every length in between, still working the regime of lots of mousse/gel and scrunching:

A couple of years ago, I discovered something called Curly Girl, and it gave me the most awesome curls EVER:

I’ve blogged about it before.  But it was a lot of work.  Plus, I’ve always enjoyed the flexibility of being able to wear my hair straight or curly, and I couldn’t do that with Curly Girl.  I felt trapped.  I blogged about that too here and here.

So finally, taking some of the ideas from Curly Girl, I developed a curl-care routine all my own.  These days, before getting out of the shower, I turn my head upside down and rinse with cool water.  Then, I scrunch my hair with a towel for a bit, and gently stand up right.  I spray it with a dose of TreSemme No Frizz Ultra Light Shine Spray, and then put a dollop of conditioner in my hand.  I water it down a bit and apply it very sparingly to my hair almost as if it were gel.  My goal is to just tame the frizz enough to let it curl on its own.  Then I flip back upside down and blowdry on low while scrunching until my hair is about 80% dry.  That’s usually all the patience I’ve got, so I just let it air dry the rest of the way.  I think that helps with the frizz, too.

The result is a softer, more natural-looking head of curls than my old mousse/gel routine, even if the curls aren’t quite the ringlets that they were with Curly Girl:

I’m really happy with it!  (Most days, anyway.)   I hope you enjoyed my trip down hair memory lane!



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A Curly Girl’s Guide to Straightening

I’ve written this post in my head the last few times I’ve been sitting in front of my mirror straightening my hair (which has been consistently lately thanks to an un-curl friendly cut… what was I thinking wanting a short bob??), and I figured it was time to finally type it out.

I’ve had many years of experience with fighting my natural curl. See Exhibit A:

6th grade 4H Queen.  I know, you’re jealous.  You’re also jealous of my hair, my tan, and my black tights.  This was obviously long before I knew what to do with my hair, much less how to straighten it in a way that was actually appropriate for leaving the house.

I have finally learned to love my curls, but sometimes you just want to mix things up a bit, and I’d like to think that I’ve mastered the art of making my hair look naturally straight when it is straight (except in high humidity… in which case it’s a losing battle).  Here are some tips regarding some common mistakes that I see curly girls make when straightening their hair.

1.  Blowdry your hair in at least 3 layers.

For both blowdrying and straightening, I use 3 layers.  For the first layer, I use my fingers to make a part straight back from the tops of my ears and dry everything below that.  For the second layer, I make a part from my temples back.  The third layer is the top part.

Drying your hair all in one layer makes it really hard to get the bottom back of your hair completely dry, so it winds up being really fuzzy.  It also scorches the top layer of your hair, making it dry and unmanageable.

2.  Use a round or paddle brush.

I see so many curly girls who think they can just use their fingers to comb through as they are drying.  This is just asking for unnecessary frizz.   pulling your hair straight with a brush while you dry helps make your hair smoother, easier to straighten, and gives it great body.

3. Absolutely use a round brush to dry the hair around your face.

It give it the most natural look.  A lot of times, if I have inadvertently made a crease in my hairline with the straightener, I’ll even go back, dab a little water around my hairline, and re-dry with a round brush.  Your hairline will give away more than anything else that you straightened your hair, and it drives me crazy when I see otherwise well-straightened styles with giveaway hairlines.

4.  Use a straightener.  A good one.

There are several good brands out there, any salon-quality brand would do.  I personally use a Chi and love it.  They are kind of expensive, but so worth it.  I originally tried to be frugal and bought a cheap one at Wal-Mart, but it just really does not compare.

5.  Straighten in layers too.

Like blowdrying, if you try to straighten you hair all in one layer, you’re inevitably going to miss a lot of the underneath and wind up with a frizzy underside.

6.  Check your hairline again.

Does it look natural?  Use your round brush until it does.  Don’t be afraid to re-wet and re-dry.

I hope that someone finds this helpful.  I’d love it if any other Curly Girls want to chime in on how you achieve a great straight style.


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I’m taking a break from Curly Girl

Hi!  My blog (and this post) has recently packed up and moved.  Click here to read about my break from Curly Girl.



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My Love/Hate Relationship With Curly Girl

I love it because when I do it, my frizzy waves turn into soft ringlets. I hate it because I can’t dry my hair straight when I do it. I love it because it is so good for my hair. I hate it because it has totally spoiled me with the aforementioned soft ringlets so that I don’t like my curls without it. I love it because it takes so much less time and makes me feel so “low-maint.” … … So (at least for right now) the loves are winning out and I’m back to Curly Girl. If you don’t have a clue what I’m talking about, see my posts here and here, and also try checking out NaturallyCurly.com’s Message Board (especially the Going shampoo-less forum). Really, it had a lot to do with this picture of me in the staff directory, which was taken about 3 weeks into CG. I know I’m cheesin’ like a fool, but I just love how healthy my curls look (don’t mind that my bottom layer never curls well, just look at those fabulous ringlets on the top layers)! This was taken at the end of a long day, so it’s a little flat, but you get the picture:

It will take a while to get back to that. I am 3 days into it right now and it is mostly just frizzy (although Josh says it looks beautiful *rolleyes*). Here we go…


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A Confession

I stopped doing Curly Girl just a couple of days after my gushing post about how awesome it is.

But it’s not because Curly Girl is, in fact, anything less than awesome. Don’t get me wrong. I just really missed having the freedom to fix my hair straight when I wanted to. I felt chained to my curly hair. And then I realized (in the most humble way that one can possibly realize such a thing) that I have great curls even when I use shampoo! Why do I need to be stressing myself out over never being able to wear my hair straight, when it looks just fine with or without shampoo?? The thing I’ve always loved about my hair (okay, not always, but since early high school when I actually learned how to fix it) is that it looks great both straight and curly, and I was taking that away from myself!

So there you have it. My dirty ugly secret. I’m not a Curly Girl anymore. I am, however, a much happier girl! 🙂

This picture was taken two weekends ago at Amy & Todd’s wedding reception, just a few days after I rekindled my romance with shampoo:


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One Month Sans Shampoo!

Monday was exactly four weeks since I’ve used shampoo on my hair.

No, my hair isn’t an oily matted nasty mess. It’s actually looking better than ever. 🙂 Please, allow me to share with you the best thing that has ever happened to curly-haired girls:


It’s called Curly Girl, and it is a book written by Lorraine Massey, a New York stylist who has naturally curly hair of her own and has been cutting and styling hair since she was 13 (according to her salon’s website).

The basic premise of Curly Girl is that curls need lots of moisture (think conditioner) to maintain their curl. However, the main ingredient in most shampoos is a harsh detergent (such as sodium laurel sulfate, ammonium laureth sulfate, or sodium laureth sulfate), which dries out your curls (making them frizzy to boot).

So you stop using shampoo and start using tons and tons of conditioner. Your conditioner can’t have any words in the ingredients that end in “-cone” or else it will build up and leave your hair flat and gross. I scrub my scalp with my fingertips every night when I shower, and once or twice a week I put some conditioner on my roots and scrub them with it too. Washing your hair with conditioner is like washing your face with a really mild facial cleanser like Cetaphil (which I also use). It cleans your hair, it just does it without stripping your hair of all of its natural, beneficial oils.

When I get out of the shower I just scrunch my hair for a minute with my towel and let it air dry for a while. Then, when I am styling my hair, I take some more conditioner and use it on my hair like I used to use hair gel and gently blow dry and scrunch until it is almost totally dry. If I still have a few frizzies after that, I take about a handful of TRESemme mousse and scrunch it into my hair as well (but you have to make sure your gel or mousse doesn’t have any “-cones” or alcohol in them).

Honestly, the second and third weeks are the hardest. The first week you’re thinking, “Okay, I can do this! My hair is going to LOVE me for it!” Then around the second and third weeks you really have to be pretty stubborn (which thankfully is not a problem for me… or IS a problem, depending on how you want to look at it :)) and push through the stage where your hair hasn’t quite yet realized that you’re not going to strip its natural oils every day, so it’s still pumping out lots of oil. But take heart because even though your hair feels oily and your scalp itches, it doesn’t look oily (okay, or at least mine didn’t). Those are going to be your less than stellar hair days when you will probably wear your curls in a pony tail quite a bit.

But now, on the other side of week four, my curls are AMAZING! They are SO MUCH curlier than they have ever been, my scalp has adjusted and isn’t the least oily or itchy, and my hair has so much body! I’m also loving it because I know this is so much better on my hair than drying and flat-ironing it every day, so it is going to look better and grow faster.

Seriously, if you have curly or even wavy hair, you have GOT to try this!

If you want more information about Curly Girl, buy the book, rent it from your local library, or visit The Unofficial Curly Girl Website.


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