Thursday, April 30, 2009

Curls Up!

It’s slowly becoming warmer and more humid, and the desire to throw our hair up and out of the way is increasing right along with it. :)

There is a bit of method involved in putting our curls up, and being mindful of a few things will help our hair not only stay in place but stay healthy in the process.

When to put your curls up...

Never wet!!  Next to the hair being pulled too tightly, pulling your curls back when wet is the quickest path to breakage.  Curls are naturally prone to porosity which reduces hair strength, and significantly weaker when wet.  Once hair is dry the stretch-factor of the strand decreases immensely, and it is much easier to tell when the hair is being pulled too tightly.  If you must put your curls up when wet, scrunch as much water as possible out of your hair with a microfiber towel or t-shirt, and tie back loosely with a non-binding fabric tie, such as silk.  Or, gather your curls up into a silk scarf to hold the curls in place without stretching them.  Which leads to...

How to put your curls up...

There are lots of very beautiful and fun ways to put your hair up or back without losing its curliness.  I have a few favorite tools for this, which are...

Bobbi Pins-- These are a personal favorite because when placed properly they are invisible in the hair and will not pull.  I have bobbi pins in two sizes:  normal size and “jumbo” which is a bit thicker and longer and holds more hair.  One of the easiest, quickest ways to put your hair up is to gather it in the back, twist gently a few times and pin up into place.  Shorter curly styles can also utilize bobbi pins well to simulate a headband look by placing them around the forehead about 2 inches back.  My advice?  Buy a box of pins and play in front of the mirror.  Move your curls around in different positions and see which ones catch your eye.

Fabric headbands-- These are very fast, very lovely accessories for your hair.  No matter the length of your hair, a fabric headband is a great way to move hair away from the face and showcase the spill of curls in the back. sells a nice variety of these in all sorts of colors and patterns:

Scarves-- Hair scarves are finally getting a bit more recognition for their versatility and easy of use.  Like fabric headbands, they safely hold the hair back without pulling.  The benefit of a scarf is that your styling possibilities are endless.  You can tie it around your curls as you would wear a headband.  You can weave it throughout a long pony tail or braid.   You can wear it like a bandana.   As with bobbi pins, the style possibilities are endless.

The above image comes from an Etsy shop named Watsijiru.  She makes beautiful and elegant hair scarves and her shop url is at this link:

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Every now and then I will post something not directly related to curly interests. :)  

I recently completed a photo shoot featuring my curly clients and was aided by the wonderful and innovative Genevieve Ruebel.

In May, Genevieve will be receiving her BFA in Graphic Design with a minor in Digital Photography and Conceptual Sculpture from the University of Wisconsin-Stout.  She has done work with the Crate & Barrel photography studio as well as worked on catalogs for Best Buy.  I suggest perusing her portfolio online to get a taste of some of her work:

I would not hesitate to work with Genevieve again on future projects...she is a FANTASTIC Minneapolis-based resource for photography, graphic design, and illustration.

Image is mixed media- illustration and photography- by Genevieve Ruebel.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Microfiber of it All.

I can't stress this you cleanse, condition, and DRY your hair has just as much effect on your finished curls as how you style it.  

Having the proper tool to towel-dry your hair will make a huge difference in the overall appearance (and condition) of your hair.

My number one recommendation is a microfiber towel.  Microfibers are great because they absorb a tremendous amount of water while at the same time keeping your curls calm and frizz-free.  When you towel-dry with a conventional terry cloth towel, the fiber loops will grab and pull at your hair, causing a bit of a "halo" effect and disrupting the natural fall of your locks.  

In a pinch, an old t-shirt is also a good choice.  Since it has no nap to pull at the hair, it is an effective scrunching device.  Your only compromise is absorption so if you have longer, fuller curls that hold a LOT of water, a t-shirt might not quite get the job done.

I have tried quite a few microfibers, and my favorite is the Plunking Towel offered by JessiCurl.  It is a big 24" x 32", so even the longest, thickest hair can be properly dried.  It has a good thickness and holds up very well to repeat washings.  For $15, not a bad deal.  :)  JessiCurl also sells a smaller, thinner version called the Scrunching Towel, which might be more appropriate for shorter, finer hair.

You can purchase the Plunking Towel at the link below:

The smaller Scrunching Towel:

Also of note... Jessica (who runs Jessicurl) has some great videos on her site demonstrating various drying techniques with a microfiber... be sure to check them out!!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Hair Dryer Recommendation

It's interesting how the same question can pop up from several clients at relatively the same time.  I've been asked lately for hair dryer recommendations, and I figured I'd share it here.  :)

My pick...the CHI Pro Low EMF hair dryer (pictured below with concentrator nozzle attachment).

This is their basic, no-frills model, and for the money, their best.  Two speeds, cold shot button ... couldn't be easier to operate.  It comes standard with a diffuser attachment and concentrator nozzle.  But the best features of the dryer, personally, are its light weight and negative ionic charge.

What is negative ionic charge, you may ask?

Simply put, it helps to break the water molecules in your hair down into smaller particles, thus dispersing moisture more efficiently, requiring less heat to dry the hair (and thus the cuticle does not open as much and consequently compromise hair integrity) and ensuring a quicker drying time.  If you are diffusing your hair and wish your curls to stay beautifully formed and shiny, negative ionic charge is a must.

The CHI Pro Low EMF is available at many online retailers, as well as ULTA stores.  Expect to pay about $110 for the dryer.  An investment, but entirely worth it.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Got Texture? Two great book recommendations!

I have had a few clients recently ask about books and resources for highly textured hair, and I have two to offer...

Textured Tresses: The Ultimate Guide to Maintaining and Styling Textured Hair
Diane Da Costa, author


No Lye:  The African-American Woman's Guide to Natural Hair Care
Tulani Kinard, author

Product Review: DevaCurl Mist-er Right and Set It Free

Type: curl enhancers
For:  all hair types

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, these two products are probably the most misunderstood of the entire Deva line.  Both products perform multiple tasks in the hair, and therefore can seem a bit confusing when it comes to proper application.  I hope that this entry helps clear a few things up on how to get the most out of these two very unique products.

Mist-er Right

Those that own Curly Girl may recognize Mist-er Right from the recipe given in the book for "Lavender Mist."  When the Deva line was developed, that homemade remedy turned into Mist-er Right.  
The product describes itself as an "herbal cleansing tonic," and in the most poetic way, this is true.  It is not, however, a "cleanser" in the traditional sense.  I think of it more as a refresher, great for second or third-day hair between washings, or as a perk-me-up in the middle of the day when the curls can go a bit flat.
The active ingredients in Mist-er Right are the lavender oil (giving it that clean, fresh scent) and the propylene glycol and castor oil, which provides just enough emulsion to give a nice, even cover when sprayed directly onto the hair.  It is not, however, a moisturizing product in the way that we thing of a leave-in conditioner.  
The best way to use Mist-er Right for refreshing hair mid-day is as follows:  Bend forward at the waist shaking your curls out.  Mist all over your hair generously, but don't SOAK the hair.  Count to ten in order to give the product time to absorb a bit into the hair, and re-scrunch your curls gently and deliberately.  Flip back over, and you're good to go.
The best way to use Mist-er Right for second or third-day hair:  Bend forward at the waist and shake out your curls.  Mist can get the hair as wet as you want, but it isn't necessary to do so.  Count to ten, and re-scrunch.  Often if the hair is a bit damp I will diffuse my hair for about two minutes as an added boost.
Also, your bottle of Mist-er Right has other fantastic can be misted on the skin to cool yourself down on a hot day.  Some clients have used it as a room or linen spray.  
My only wish is that it was sold in a smaller version for carrying around at work or for travel.  I'd suggest getting a 4 ounce spray bottle and using that for on-the-go.  Once you get the hang of Mist-er Right, it becomes addictive. :)

Set it Free

When I was doing my training at Devachan in New York, this product by far got the most questions from the class participants.  People would read down the ingredients, see beeswax, and get spooked, rightly so.  But what makes Set it Free work is given away in the small size of its 6 ounce bottle.  This is a product meant to be used very, very sparingly.  A little of this goes a long way.
I call this a "winter weight" product because it really does shine in dry, cold, windy weather.  Its job is to re-hydrate the hair while at the same time putting a seal over your curls, protecting it from the elements.  The beeswax in the product is part of this seal, and it performs remarkably well when it comes to frizz control.
Set it Free also has a slight hold--just enough to help the curls keep their shape, but not anything that will create a "cast" like that of Angell or Arc Angell.  In fact, the directions recommend using Set it Free to help break the cast of your gel.  
Set it Free can be applied wet or dry, but I only recommend dry application in two circumstances...if you have very dense, very thick hair, or if you are breaking the cast of a gel after your set is dry.  In the latter scenario you would only apply the product midway down your hair to the ends, using your hands to distribute the product throughout the hair.  In both cases, you will rarely need more than 4-6 sprays.  Make sure to hold the bottle at a bit of a distance before spraying to ensure even coverage.  Even better, spray the product directly into your hand, emulsify, and then scrunch.
So, how best to use Set it Free overall?
For fine hair...use very sparingly.  I fall into the fine hair camp, and I will use it wet BEFORE I apply my gel if my hair is feeling very dry (usually in winter).  The curls will have a softer set, but the moisture boost is well worth it.  Use it dry for second or third-day hair if you feel your curls could really use some added moisture, but only apply from midshaft downwards and scrunch VERY slowly and deliberately through the hair.
For medium hair...again, use sparingly, but you will have a bit more flexibility in application than those with finer curls.  Set it Free will work great as a cast-breaker on medium hair.
For thick/coarse hair and/or dense hair...Set it Free will work wonders to help cut the frizz on your top crown and re-hydrate dry ends, which is especially an issue with longer thick curls.   

Both products, when mastered, can truly be an asset in your daily styling.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Book Recommendation!

Inventing Beauty: A History of the Innovations That Have Made us Beautiful
Teresa Riordan, author

I ran across this book sitting on the coffee table of the salon I went to before I became a stylist.  A highly addictive book, it traces the development of the modern Western beauty industry from about the 1800s forward.  As with most aspects of beauty aesthetic, the development of the beauty industry runs parallel with the social, political, and economical lives of women themselves.  Riordan does a good job of outlining the major developments in areas such as makeup, hair, and fashion while injecting thoughtful social commentary along the way.  It's educational without being argumentatively circular, and humorous without being dismissive.  


Product Review: DevaCurl and DevaCare One Condition

Type: conditioner
For: all curly hair types (DevaCare formulated for chemically treated hair)

I’m reviewing these two products together because they share many characteristics that make them One Condition. 

One Condition has a wonderfully luxurious feel to it and moves well through the hair. It rinses well and has remarkable softness.  

The differences…moisture level and an extra ingredient. DevaCare has a higher conditioning concentration, as color treated hair is in a more fragile state and needs a bit of a boost, moisture-wise. DevaCare also has vitamin C, which is a natural sunscreen and anti-oxidant that helps prevent fading.

Now--do you have to use DevaCare if your hair is colored? No. DevaCurl will in no way deplete your hair of moisture or contribute to fading, so if DevaCare feels a bit too moisturizing, DevaCurl might be an option.

Do you have to use DevaCurl if your hair isn’t colored? No. If you have a very dry scalp and your curls tend to the brittle side, DeveCare might be a better choice.

For some, it boils down to scent. Some prefer the lemon-lime fragrance of DeveCurl to the orange notes of DevaCare, and vice versa.

I have been using One Condition for over two years now and have yet to have a problem with build up. I’ve never had a conditioner hold up for that long….a true testament to the quality and perfected formula of the product.

Also remember that BOTH conditioners work as a deep-conditioner if left on for about fifteen minutes, then rinsed with cool water.  Happy conditioning!