Calling all naturalistas: Do you have urgent tress questions? If so, you're in luck. Every Thursday, natural hair blogger extraordinaire CurlyNikki will be solving your curly hair conundrums! Submit your questions by tweeting them to @EssenceMag with the hashtag #AskCurlyNikki.
READER QUESTION: My hair is very thick and wavy when it's wet, but as soon as it dries I loose most of the wave pattern. What can I do to hold the curly look after my wash-and-go dries?
CURLYNIKKI's RESPONSE: The secret to defined curls is moisture! That’s why your curls go so hard in the shower and why Jheri Curls, well, worked… you had to keep that joint wet to keep the curls popping! Now, I’m not advocating for you to walk around with a perpetually wet head, but you must find a way to retain the goodness from your wash day and lock it in. Here are my tried-and-true tips to bring all the curls to the yard.
1. Moisturize Your Situation: If you wash and style once a week, you need to deep treat once a week. All you need is your conditioner, a plastic cap and the heat you’ll generate from moving around. Nothing special. But if you’re feeling fancy, you can mix some oils, yogurt and honey into your conditioner for an added punch and/or sit under a hooded dryer. Also, avoid shampoos that contain sulfates as they strip your hair of natural oils and dry you out which is the opposite of what we’re going for here. Overuse of sulfates will send your curls into hiding, even in the shower. So yeah, no. Opt for conditioner washes or shampoos with detergents of the coco betaine variety. (Here are more tips on curl-friendly shampoos.) Finally, remember that hair health starts on the inside. Drink your water and eat a healthy diet!
2. Define Your Situation: Style on soaking wet, conditioner laden hair. My most defined curls happen when I leave my rinse-out conditioner in from the shower. After cleansing my hair, I apply a conditioner like Tresemme Naturals, finger detangle and only rinse a little bit of it out. I leave in the rest, get out of the shower and BOOM— curls galore. The moisture from the conditioner will not only leave you with more curls when it finally dries, but will also give you some added hang time, as the weight of the conditioner will reduce shrinkage a bit.
3. Hold Your Situation: While some women find that conditioners have ample ingredients to hold their curls, others find they need a little extra help from gels. You say your curls are thick, so you may need to start experimenting with gels. Smooth or scrunch in some gel (preferably one containing aloe vera) carefully and without disturbing the curl too much. Eco Styler Gel is a popular one in the natural community.
After following the three steps above, allow your hair to dry undisturbed. The more you touch it the more it frizzes you will get so "no touchy"! If you want more tips, check out my Fall 2012 routine where I go into excruciating detail about how I defined and lock in my curls on wet hair. Good luck!
Nikki "CurlyNikki" Walton is a successful psychotherapist and creator of one of the most credible online sources about natural hair care, maintenance, and decoding the psychological ties between black women and their hair. Visit her at her blog CurlyNikki or follow her on Twitter @CurlyNikki.