This article was originally published on CurlzandtheCity.com.
Every now and again, we hard-working city girls need a vacation. So two months ago I packed my bags, turned off my work phone, grabbed my passport and headed to Morocco for two glorious weeks.
I rode camels across the golden sands of the Sahara Desert. I got lost in towns with streets only wide enough for people and donkeys to walk though. I traversed the great Atlas Mountains. I explored the beauty of the rich textiles and brightly colored mosaics Morocco is known for. I was proposed to by more than a few strange, yet very kind and sweet men. To sum it up…I LIVED!
As I prepped for my trip, I debated about what I wanted to do with my hair. I considered Havana twists for a while so I wouldn’t have to fuss over my hair at all, but I really wanted some pictures of me in the Motherland with my tapered curly crop I love so much. Since my wash & go’s usually last about 5-7 days, I was in search of a way to stretch my ‘do’ the remaining week of my trip without having to take up space in my suitcase with a blow dryer, diffuser or hair products.
Days before my departure, I stumbled upon fellow Harlem-ite and head wrap designer Paola Mathe of FANM DJANM (which stands for ‘strong woman’) at the pop-up Sugar Hill Market. She was displaying her new collection of African print headwraps and as I approached her booth, gazing at the beautiful fabrics displayed on the table, Paola greeted me with a smile and spun me around to try some different wrap styles on my crown.
THE LOVELY PAOLA TRIES SOME HEADWRAPS ON ME AT SUGAR HILL MARKET (PHOTO: FINDING PAOLA)
She wrapped the scarves so effortlessly, creating works of arts on my head so stunning it made even me do a double take at myself in the mirror. I had found THE PERFECT solution for my hair maintenance while abroad. I snapped up two different wraps in versatile prints that could be worn many ways and headed out for Morocco.
My headwraps were a huge hit among the locals and tourists alike in Morocco. Paola got my creative juices revved up so much during our mini wrap session back home that I found ways to make headwraps out of other scarves I had brought with me on my trip that I only planned to wear as neck-scarves or cover ups.
Compliment a woman on her hair, and the response generally goes a little something like this: “Yeah? I wish it had more volume!” or “Ugh…I miss my long/short/medium-lengthed hair,” or even “It’s too…perfect. I want something edgier!” No matter what the texture, I venture to say that every woman has had their share of hair issues. Mine, growing up, were centered on finding someone who could deal with my naturally curly, über frizzy and (often) tangled -- mane. Instances like the day my 9-year-old self went swimming wearing a ponytail and subsequently stayed up all night with my mom cursing me and slathering conditioner on my matted hair to detangle it, race to mind. (Love you, Mom!)
Over the years, I’ve tried seemingly every hair product; from those in the “regular” aisle of the beauty supply, to the ones in the “ethnic” section -- sometimes a mix of all of ‘em. I’ve also tried a host of local salons in LA who specialize in curly hair styling. My hair has been relaxed, pressed, flat ironed, blown out, braided and re-curled by a variety of contraptions. Through all my experimentation -- coupled with new, innovative products and a culture that’s starting to embrace the hair’s natural state -- I’ve picked up a few tricks. My findings? The right resources, products and cut are essential to the health and beauty of your hair. And of course, I have to share my faves with my fellow curly girls.
“Knowledge is power.” This definitely applies to a Made Woman’s hair. I can’t over-stress the importance of educating yourself about your curls. Every curly hair product will not work on every curl! Are you Wavy, Curly, Curly Coily or Coily? What are the pattern, porosity, density, width and length of your curls? Chances are you have no clue. Naturally Curly will help you figure out your hair texture type; and their “Curltalk” forums, articles, photos and more will bring you that much closer to the curls of your dreams.
The “Queen of Curls,” Ouidad (yes, simply Ouidad), opened the first curly hair salon in the US in 1984. As a true curly hair pioneer, her website offers amazing resources for those of you looking to really define your ringlets. Use her “rake and shake” method to achieve the lustrous, perfectly-defined curls you crave. She also has a Curl Profiler to help determine what your hair needs to look its best. Check out more information on her salons below.
If you know me, you know I SWEAR by this line of products. These ladies helped me retire my flat iron and learn to embrace my natural hair. I felt so strongly about them that we had to profile them among our first Made Women of the Month! I’ve tried out other leave-in conditioners, but Mixed Chicks leaves my hair soft and touchable, while gently defining my curls. I love a slightly tousled, less perfect look; and this leave-in allows me to get the volume I love. I swear by their sulfate-free shampoo, deep conditioner and hair silk shine serum too!
I have used Miss Jessie’s Quick Curl Crème a few times, and I loved the smell and found it to be very moisturizing. While I personally prefer Mixed Chicks for my curls, I’ve heard great reviews from ladies with natural hair of various textures -- from thin and wavy to coarse and kinky. They also offer a slew of products, from puddings to meringues to baby butter crèmes. This is a great line to experiment with and find what works for your particular hair texture. They’re on the pricey side though, so try out their free samples first.
Ouidad Salon, Santa MonicaI first visited Ouidad Salon in Santa Monica a couple of years ago. With flagship salons in Santa Monica and New York City, all Ouidad certified stylists are trained in the trademarked “Carve and Slice” cutting technique that helps make hair a lot more manageable. Upon my visit my stylist, Morgan, introduced me to the “Rake and Shake” styling technique, which helped to really define my curls. As you can see from the photos below, Ouidad is a great option if you’re looking to cut out the frizz and get more of a “wet look.” The salon also offers a variety of treatments to suit your hair needs.
Batia and Aleeza Salon, Beverly Hills
After just one cut, Batia became my go-to gal for haircuts and styling. She has mad skills with the scissors, effortlessly chopping away while telling intriguing stories in her incredibly charming accent. Of Israeli descent, Batia’s curly hair knowledge (and that of her sister, Aleeza) comes from personal experience. I found her when I wanted a much shorter ‘do and a more tousled look, and she gave me just that (see below). I ended up with a cut that I could grow into: when she finished, she told me I didn’t need to come in for six months! I prefer a low-maintenance hair routine, so this was music to my ears.
No matter what type of curls you’re rocking, knowledge, the right products and the right cut are paramount. I hope this list will help you step away from the flat iron (at least sometimes!) and embrace your God-given curls.
Did I miss something? Let me know your favorite curly hair resources, salons and products in the comments below! And don't forget to enter our We <3 Curls Contest!
You heat it, you strip it, you dye it, you cut it. Every day your hair goes through major trauma. So what are the staples that you use to protect and care for your hair all year long? We asked our staff (since they always look so good) what their must-have hair care products are. No matter what your hair type, the products we use might be right for you too. Take a look:
Redken Smooth Down Butter Treatment: My hair is relaxed and I've been trying to grow it out. Redken allows me to easily comb my hair. – Brook Turner
ANTI.GRAVITY by Kevin Murphy: Smells AMAZING and gives my hair great volume for two to three days! Even in humidity. – Lindsey Jones
I really like Redken Clear Moisture shampoo and conditioner. I have very thick, naturally straight hair and it makes it so soft and light without adding the static most moisturizing shampoos do. – Lindsey Tewell
I love Oyin Handmade products for my hair. I have super thick hair and their products keep my hair moisturized and soft. – Nailah Blades
Hai Flat Iron. It always makes my hair smooth and instantly fixes a bad hair day. – Beth Livesay
Mixed Chicks. I have really curly hair and it's the only thing that can tame the frizz but keep my hair soft and touchable. Hard curls that lack body are not the biz. – Lindsey Day
My hair is fine and straight. I have to use conditioner, otherwise it's impossible to get a comb through it! I like Dove's line. – Amanda Szalasny
My hair is naturally kinky/curly and I style with tools that add heat, so I like Neutrogena Triple Moisture Cream Lather Shampoo because it hydrates my hair but gets it very clean. – Serena Watson
I have thin, curly/wavy hair so I need something good to define and hold curl shape. I swear by Curls Rock cream from Tigi. – Jessica Dumont
Have you tried any of the products we mentioned or know about a product you think works wonders? Tell us about your experience in the comment section below!