Curly Since Birth: Here's how I learned to love and maintain my curls

I cursed my frizzy, curly hair as a child of the '90s. Back then, there were no Korean stars with gorgeous perms so everyone coveted the sleek, straight ‘do they saw in shampoo commercials. Like most girls that time, I regularly rebonded my hair for years and years! When I moved to the US for graduate school, I discovered that rebonding procedures are not common there and that regular trips to the salon would be way too much for my student budget. There was also no way I could afford to spend hours with a straightening iron everyday. I felt that I had no choice but to grow my hair out and slowly cut the straightened ends until they were completely gone.

In (slowly) learning how to style it properly, I began to like my curly hair. When I moved back to the Philippines, everyone thought that I had gotten a perm when in fact they were seeing me with my natural hair for the first time! A lot of my friends ask me how I get my curls to look the way they do - they do require a bit of upkeep but it's nothing terribly difficult or expensive. If you're a fellow curly-haired gal, it's time to let your hair down!

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Use a gentle shampoo

Coming back home quickly reminded me why I'd chosen to rebond my hair so often. Our hot, humid weather makes curls super frizzy! So one of the first changes I made was to switch to a gentle shampoo formula, and I haven't looked back since. Just as with facial cleansers, sulfate-free shampoos are your best bet for gentle cleansing because sulfates strip our hair of natural oils and cause the strands to dry out.

I’m currently liking the Belo Baby Hair and Body Wash (P220 at leading supermarkets). Human Heart Nature also has a variety of sulfate-free shampoos at affordable prices. Some people can’t stand the non-foaming properties of sulfate-free shampoos, though. I find that the Innisfree Green Tea and Mint Shampoo (P288 at Althea.ph) offers a great lather without overly drying my hair.

Follow up with a moisturizing conditioner

Wait: aren’t all conditioners moisturizing? Yes, but some do a better job than others, and when you have curly hair, you need all the moisture you can get. Curly hair is often drier than straight hair because it takes longer for the oils on our scalp to coil down to the ends of our hair. The dryness can result in the frizzy mess that kulot girls like me dread experiencing.

When shopping for conditioner, I look for nourishing oils in the formula. I love the Yves Rocher Nutri-Repair Conditioner (P695 at Yves Rocher) because it has jojoba and sweet almond oil, and Kiehl’s Smoothing Oil-Infused Conditioner (starts at P495 at Kiehls) because it has argan and babassu oil. A good pocket-friendly alternative is the Pantene 3-Minute Miracle (starts at P60 at leading supermarkets). It doesn’t have any oils but the silicone really does help prevent frizz and leave my curls looking formed.

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You deserve the hair treatment

As I have previously mentioned, curly hair needs all the moisture it can get, most especially if you color your hair as I do. Hair treatments can be a bit of a hassle to apply so I prefer them in the form of treatment oils. My favorite right now is the Snoe Hair Heroes Intense Cleansing Conditioner (P699 at Snoe) which can be used both as a regular conditioner and as a leave-on treatment, which is my favorite way to use it. After shampooing, I simply apply it and leave it on for fifteen minutes before rinsing. It has argan oil and pequi oil that give an extra boost of hydration to my dry hair.

Cocktail your hair products

I feel that this is the most important lesson on wearing your curls well. When I started researching about how to style curly hair, I noticed that many girls use more than just one product for their hair. This may not be necessary for girls with fine hair, though. The average Pinay has pretty thick and coarse hair. Coupled with the high levels of humidity of our climate, it’s really too much to expect one product to do all the heavy lifting! 

I typically use two products but I’ve seen others with very thick hair use as much as three products. I like to apply a cream such as Yves Rocher Anti-Frizz Milky Serum (P695 at Yves Rocher) or Catwalk Curls Rock Amplifier (available at select salons), and then seal it with an oil like CPC LAB Argan Glow Hair Oil (P520 at Althea.ph). There’s no exact science to it and takes some trial and error to see which products work best for your curl type. Also, don’t forget to scrunch your hair after applying your last product to get your curls back into shape!

 

Find a good stylist (and make the most of it!)

Having a good haircut is important to keeping my wild mane under control. When I talk to a stylist, I always make sure that they see my hair before I get shampooed so they know how it normally looks and behaves. I explain to them in detail the nuances of my hair and what I want to happen specifically. Remember, you know your hair the best, and the more specific you are, the more likely they'll understand what you want to achieve.

Bringing in pegs is also helpful but be sure to manage your expectations. Most of the time, styled hair does not look the same as natural curls. Also, don’t assume that someone who cuts permed hair will be good at cutting curly hair. Permed hair (and other ways of curling hair) creates uniform curls. On the other hand, real curly hair can have two or three different types of curls going on! So it’s important to take these into consideration when going in for a cut.

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This is how my curly hair looks like on a regular day, after doing my hair care ritual. Bonus tip: coloring your hair is a great way to flaunt the shape of your curls! It's best to have this done at a salon, where they can expertly apply a base color and a highlighting shade for emphasis. 

Do you have curly hair, too? Do you wear your tresses down? Share your own tips for managing your gorgeous curls!