Saturday, November 29, 2008

Super secret hair drying tips

If you follow the CG (Curly Girl) routine, as I do, you know these facts about drying your hair:

1. Don't use a blow-dryer without a diffuser
2. Avoid terrycloth towels -- they rough up the cuticle
3. Air-drying is kinder to your hair than blow-drying

Maybe you know some other stuff, too, but that's basically what you learn from the Curly Girl book. Well, shazaaam! I have stumbled upon a few other interesting tidbits, but they come to me via that old nasty teacher named Experience. Some of these may not work for you, but they worked for me and what the heck, I can't be that different from you, can I?

Give your hair a few minutes to relocate its curl after you apply leave-in and/or curl creme.

Lots of people apply styling products to soaking wet hair, but that doesn't work as well for me as applying them to hair that has had a lot of the water scrunched out first. My hair is more porous than most, I think, so if I let it drink drink drink, it expands and pays me for my trouble with frizzies. So, what I've been doing for the past few months is squeezing out as much water as I can, then raking through my curl creme (I use either Loma Imply or Pink Boots but that doesn't mean you have to), scrunching again, and then waiting a couple of minutes. My curls get a chance to assert themselves better when I do this, which is what you want before applying gel because gel will tend to set your hair in whatever curl formation its in when it meets the gel.

So, wait for some curl to set it, then scrunch in your gel (or use your Denman brush to distribute it if your curl pattern can take it). This tip is likely more applicable to those of us with 3a curls, by the way.

When you squeeze "families" of curls in the towel of your choice (I use a Curl-Ease), concentrate as much on the scalp as the hair.

For about a year, I wasn't doing this. And I kept wondering why my hair tended to be flat on top, had more frizz, and took forever to dry. I'm a slow learner, what can I tell you?

When you squeeze fistfuls of hair into your curl-friendly towel, press your towel-covered hand against your scalp to make sure that the towel is absorbing moisture from there, too. Hold your hand at each place on your head for a good 10 seconds -- really let the towel suck up that water.

My hair takes half as long to dry now as it used to. And it isn't trying to take in more water than it needs. Score!

Shorten the air-drying phase of your routine by lengthening the blow-drying phase.

Yes, yes, I know this is contradictory to what you think you know about using a blow-dryer. And obviously, this trick won't work for everyone -- everybody's hair is different. But I used to slavishly follow the advice in the Jessicurl videos, which says blow-dry to 80 percent dry. Well, I think I was afraid of overdrying so I probably stopped at 70 percent most of the time. And then I'd wait about 2 to 3 hours for my hair to finish drying. Who's got that kind of time?

I now blow-dry to 90 percent dry. And in about an hour, my hair is completely ready for crunch out.

Using the "cool shot" on your dryer may help stave off frizz.

I am still testing this theory, but so far, I think it might be true. I know that I'm supposed to do a final rinse of my conditioner with cold water, but I am not woman enough to withstand a barrage of cold water in the shower, so I don't do that. I am hoping that the cool shot helps to close the cuticle in much the same way as a cold rinse might. If anybody has thoughts on this, I welcome your comments.

In any event, it does help your hair keep from "cooking" too long. I liken it to blanching green beans -- you boil for 2 minutes and then throw the beans into ice water to stop the cooking. (Hopefully you are not boiling your hair, but I think you get my analogy.)

I hope these tips help you. If you have others, by all means, share them in the comments.

Monday, November 24, 2008

This blog meets curl fame!

The nice curlies over at have put my blog in their Top Ten Beauty Bloggers list! This is rather shocking to me, as I have been a little lazy about posting lately, but I'm jazzed nonetheless! Thank you, Naturally Curly!

I'm in pretty cool company, too, which makes it all the nicer. You'll find the other nine in my link list at right. Pretty nifty.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Ficcare sale!

Hey, with regard to my previous post, I just learned that Ficcare is giving 15% off everything (except shipping) from November 21 through December 14 if you use the promo code: FALL2008

And if your order is more than $80, shipping is free!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Beyond the bobbie pin

Not every day is a good hair day. So on the days when frizz hits, curls droop, or stringiness invades, it's good to know that you've got fabulous hair accessories.

Today was one of those days for me. I've been experimenting with Karen's Body Beautiful hair products, and although I love the conditioners, the hair cream seems to disagree with my hair. I'm not ready to rule it out of my rotation yet, though, because I probably just need to find the right way to use it. Until I figure the stuff out, though, I suspect I will fall victim to a few more yucko hair days.

I bought several truly striking hair accessories (I would call them clips or barrettes but they are so much more substantial than either of those words implies) from a place called Ficcare. If you haven't been there, check it out. You might at first recoil from the prices but trust me when I say that these accessories are of exceptional quality and they are killer stylish. People will comment on them when you wear them. Trust me.

Anyway, even though you can see how bad my hair looks, doesn't my "Innovation Clip" look stunning? I also have a couple of the Maximus clips, which serve a similar purpose but are curved to allow you to hold a lot of hair if necessary. Brilliant design, really. Here's a photo of one of the Maximus collections so you can see what I mean. These are serious hair accessories, which I love because I've always been pretty unimpressed with the tortoise-shell claw-clip doo-dads in the drug store. We spend time selecting our jewelry and making sure it's just right, why not also give the same attention to our hair accessories?

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Give your hair some muscle

Curlies are always trying to get as much moisture into their hair as possible. But sometimes in the frenzied search for oils, emollients, and moisture, we forget that our hair (at least 3a hair like mine) needs protein, too.

About three weeks ago, I noticed the top of my hair was looking a little flat, no matter how I would clip and dry it every day. So, last weekend, I gave myself a three-minute protein jolt with Nexxus Emergencee and BAM! What a difference! It's been a week since that treatment and my hair is still looking healthy and full.

I've also been using cassia obovata since March. At first I was using it once a month. In August, I started using it every three weeks. I still am unconvinced that it's truly doing anything. But I'm too afraid to stop! I had hoped that protein treatments wouldn't be necessary if I used cassia regularly but it looks like I need to abandon that hope. And yet, there's a little voice inside me that wonders if my hair would be even more limp if I discontinued the cassia... I'll keep using it through the end of the year, and then I will stop. We'll see if there are any effects. At least cassia is not expensive. By the way, if you're interested in trying it, you can read about it and buy it here.

But back to the glory that is protein! Don't be fooled by all the homemade treatments that recommend using raw eggs. Egg molecules are too big to penetrate hair, so applying it topically is not going to do much good. Better you should eat the egg than smear it on your head.

Using Nexxus Emergencee could not be easier. I get in the shower, get my hair wet, apply as much Emergencee as I would if I were using regular conditioner and I let it sit on my head for three minutes. I rinse it out thoroughly, and then I do a conditioner-wash. After I rinse that out, I condition my hair as normal. So, really, this routine adds about five minutes to your normal co-wash regimen. And it's totally worth it.

(By the way, the thinner your hair is, the more protein you need. Curlies with thick hair frequently find they need little to none. Why is that? I will explain in my next post!)