Reader Q&A: How Do I Create Lasting Curls?

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Now that we're knee-deep in holiday party season, we're constantly trying to come up with super-cute, soiree-worthy hairstyles. More often than not, curls win out! Here, an ESSENCE.com reader asks how to get the most out of her curly 'do, and celeb stylist Anthony Dickey of New York City's Hair Rules salon gives her pro advice... QUESTION: I love wearing my hair curly, but my spirals always seem to droop after awhile. How can I create curls that last for days? --Jackie Williamson, Columbia, MD ANSWER: Don't touch your hair until it's completely dry. "If you fuss too much with your wet hair, you'll disturb the curl pattern," says Dickey. "And the curls won't have a chance to set properly." Tuck curls into a bonnet or silk scarf at night. "You have to protect your curls at bedtime!" says Dickey. "And if it's long, first gather your hair into a high ponytail, using a loose scrunchy." Don't shampoo your hair every time it gets wet. "You"ll dry out your curls if you shampoo too much," says Dickey, who recommends using Hair Rules Daily Cleansing Cream Moisture-Rich No Suds Shampoo ($22). "I suggest a 'big shampoo' once a week. And don't worry about it not getting clean--when you wet your hair and rinse it, you're cleaning it!" Use steam to help refresh 2nd and 3rd day curls. "To redefine your curls, stand in the shower and let the steam seep into your hair," says Dickey. "It adds moisture, which is so key for bouncy curls.