Monday, August 24, 2009

Slooooooow Down

Whenever I get a new client, one of my main focuses is teaching her or him how to wash, condition, and style her hair independently. My thinking is that I see her maybe 4-6 times a year, and she is on her own for the remaining 360-odd days.

The hardest lesson to impart is to SLOW DOWN in terms of how we treat our hair. Most of us are much too aggressive in the shower, agitating our scalp and hair much too much and furthering problems such as frizz. What we do in the shower does effect how our hair will look once it dries.

A slow, deliberate, circular massaging motion on the scalp is all it takes to cleanse the scalp. A cleanser needs only be scrunched into the hair itself in order to break up product; there is no need to "scrub" the lengths.

Conditioning is much the same. Once conditioner is applied, work through slowly with your fingers or a wide-tooth comb. Once hair has been detangled and the hair feels slick and "noodly," gently scrunch the conditioner into the lengths to cultivate your curl. You are essentially re-setting your hair when you wet it down; this is the time to help reshape your curls. It helps to either lean from side to side to let the hair fall freely from the scalp, or to bend forward at the waist while detangling and scrunching. Rinse with COOL water.

When you scrunch-blot your hair, again--SLOW IT DOWN. One should do this without a sense of rush. Don't over-blot and make sure to leave a bit of water in the hair to better aid in application of a styler.

When applying your styler (gel, leave-in moisturizer, hair dressing) work from the ends up, in a similar fashion as you would your conditioner, scrunching slowing from ends to scalp. You should hear a definite "squish" sound as the styler is integrated into your curls. When the product has left your hands, you're done. Don't overwork your curls.

It is crucial to bear in mind that slowing things down takes practice, as we are used to (often) feeling rushed when getting ready. It may not feel completely natural at first to be this gentle with your hair, but give it time and a bit of patience. It may seem like you're spending longer on your hair because you're moving more slowly. In actuality, it takes less time utilizing a gentler, more methodical approach, as your motions are simplified and you spend less time futzing with your hair. Eliminate your wasted motion.

Each day you will become more and more familiar with how your hair feels at certain points along the process of cleansing, conditioning, towel-blotting, and styling. You are basically getting to know your hair all over again. :)


  1. Hi, Carolyn! I just found your blog, and it looks really informative and helpful so far -- I'm excited to read other posts you have written. I've only recently discovered the curly girl way of thinking, so I'm still learning and experimenting, but I think your tips will be a big help to me. :o)

    Just wondering if you've heard of the Kevin Murphy line of products, and what you think of them? I've just recently found them and right now they seem great (sulfate-free, and most of their products I've seen seem to be cone free so far), but just wondering what your opinion might be on them as I don't have any curly girlfriends/stylists I can ask. :o)

  2. Greetings, Arlene...I'm glad you're finding the blog helpful! Welcome!

    I did some quick research on Kevin Murphy products, and from reading the list of ingredients, I think you're good to go. There is nothing jumping out at me that would say "stay away." But, as in all hair products, every person is going to respond to them differently.

    I would give it about a month to see if it is having any ill affect on your curls-- buildup, limpness, increased frizz, etc. But also- as I've stated in a few blog posts - technique in application is a big part of it. The "Slow Down" post is a good place to start in terms of re-orienting yourself to gently but deliberately handle your curls.

    Also, I *HIGHLY* recommend that you check our's curl salon database. It's a wonderful resource for finding a stylist in your area (worldwide) with reviews that come from real curly clients.

    Good luck, and again, welcome! :)

  3. I just started the Curly Girl Method and am writing a blog to document my experience. I'm so glad to have found this blog that goes right along with mine, thanks for the encouragement and words of wisdom. I'm sure they'll come in handy in the next couple weeks/ months. :)