I have very, very, very curly hair – I had no idea. Sure I’ve let it air dry before but it always just looked so bad that I almost didn’t see it as curly, but more big and frizzy. Obviously, I now know that this is because I wasn’t using the right product or process to let these golden ringlets shine. But curly hair is special and when done right I think looks far cooler than a blowout – no matter what society tells me. So yes I had to be re-programmed from thinking that blown out smooth/ wavy hair is how I look “good”, and likely I would have gone on forever blowing it out once or twice a week except for these TWO facts:
- It rains a lot in the winter in Portland and even when it’s not raining it’s humid, so there is no point in blowing your hair out if you are going to say, walk the dogs 2 hours a day (which has become my winter anti-depressant).
- I’m desperate for my hair to be long and healthy, and heat styling it is so damaging and causes breakage.
So my options are to A. never leave the house or B. figure out how to style my curls to look good.
My Curly Hair Fears:
I’m just going to say it because it’s my truth: I was scared that shoulder-length curly blonde hair would read as “middle-aged MOM”. Which I am. I’m in that phase of life where 1/2 the time I have the mature perspective to not consciously chase “youth” or care if I look “cool” but y’all, but the other 1/2? I still do. I want to look as young as I feel (27 years old) and like I have a sense of style because I do. But I am not Keri Russel in year one of Felicity. I’m a 42-year-old mom who mostly wears athleisure, a baseball hat, and has a super messy car. So when I do my hair, a wavy blowout is what society has deemed is “pretty” and I know that it makes me feel/look good. We all know that what is actually “cool” is not only embracing who you are, but feeling confident in that. And I was neither embracing nor feeling confident with my curls 2 weeks ago – thus the blowout. We all have a lot of deprogramming to do. I don’t want Elliot to have the same thoughts feelings about her hair/skin as I have and I don’t want her to look at herself naked in the mirror with the same thoughts that I do. It’s part of a larger conversation that most people in their 30s, 40s, and 50s find themselves in – this “how do I look on the outside the way I feel on the inside (young, cool, fun) without giving in to societies dubious expectation of women, shoved upon us via marketing, celebrity culture, and the patriarchy??” I still get lashes extended, skin self-tanned, and gray hair covered (amongst other things tbh) but maybe this is step #1 to self-acceptance? Learning how to style my curly hair to look cool, thus getting closer to embracing myself how I naturally am. I mean, it’s worth a shot.
Janine Jarmon is a friend of mine who owns a salon in LA (and fun fact came in second on Bravo’s Sheer Genius around the same time I was on DesignStar). She has been working for years on behalf of curly-headed folks (of all ethnicities) to create a great product and method. It’s called Curl Cult and I’m an official member now. So with my humid atmosphere and with her new product, it was time for her to teach me how to make my curly hair look cool two different ways.
THE EASY, EVERYDAY ROUTINE
The wash and let air dry thing always mystified me as mine was more “wash and prepare yourself to look like a lion for the rest of the day”. But Janine knew that it was a matter of product and method. So here is what I do most days when I have time to let it air dry.
STEP 1: WASH/CONDITION WITH REFRESH SHAMPOO & REVIVE CONDITIONER
First, wash your hair start with a quarter size of the Refresh shampoo (if you have curly hair you need curly hair shampoo). You may need to rinse and repeat up to 2 times. This is a sulfate-free shampoo so don’t look for suds (that’s what sulfates help produce) instead look for the hair to feel clean. Follow with a silver dollar amount of the conditioner and apply to the middle of your hair to the ends and rinse.
This is pretty standard procedure – just with good product that is paraben & sulfate surfactant-free. Janine told us that a lot of shampoos can actually be overly hydrating, meaning that it is not water-soluble. With straight hair that can be okay and really helpful to keep it straight, but with curly hair, you need water-soluble stuff so that it reactivates the curls and doesn’t just build up on your hair. FYI, Curly hair is naturally dryer than most, so Janine recommends that you don’t wash your hair as much (she washes hers once a week). I work out every day so I was washing my hair almost every day but now I just rinse and condition and then wash with shampoo once or twice a week per Janine’s advice. Basically, frequent washing with curly hair agitates the cuticle layer and makes your hair frizzier. Whoops.
STEP 2: PAT DRY WITH 100% COTTON TOWEL
Whatever you do, do NOT use a terrycloth towel to dry your hair. Janine used a flour sack type towel which is delicate, lightweight, and absorbent. You can also use a microfiber towel or a cotton T-shirt, so don’t think you need to go out and buy new towels.
STEP 3: SPRAY WITH MAGIC SPELL
Magic Spell is their leave-in conditioner spray that you can use every day to refresh your curls. If you are spraying it after a shower, it’s best when you spray it on soaking wet hair but you can also spray it on dry hair throughout the day (I do). This leave-in conditioner is not just for curly hair folks. You can use it on any type of hair because it’s a natural heat protectant and helps prime your hair for any other product you put on top of it. It is vegan and paraben-free so it’s safe to use on all hair and on kid’s hair too (Birdie uses it too!). This stuff is AWESOME. I have used it even on the days that I do blow my hair out and it detangles and conditions like no other.
STEP 4: COMB WITH WIDE TOOTH COMB
For my kind of curls, without some detangling it will get VERY frizzy so Janine taught me to use a wide-tooth comb like so. You can also use a wet brush but not a regular brush as that will amplify the frizz. I know that most of you curly hair’d ladies know how specific the process is but I’m just now learning it and boy is it specific.
STEP 5: APPLY CURL CREAM
To help support the curls, use Curl Cream which enhances and controls natural curls. Use 2-4 pumps, rub on your hands like lotion and then with a clawing motion apply throughout your hair to the ends. With a curl-enhancing product like this, you don’t need it on your roots, just where your curls start. This product you shouldn’t use every day but more so every other day and ONLY on very wet hair.
STEP 6: LET AIR DRY
That’s it? I just let it dry? So I sat there for 3 hours while Ryann got a perm (coming at you soon) and waited to see what would happen.
STEP 7: ONCE DRY, SHAKE IT OUT AND USE FINGERS TO MASSAGE ROOTS TO GIVE MORE VOLUME
CHECK OUT THOSE CURLS!!! GAH! Can you believe it?
I mean, the difference is actually wild. Clearly, the right products and technique does wonders.
THE ELEVATED SCULPTED LOOK
Now before I left Janine wanted to teach me how to do the “sculpted look” which is basically just bigger curls by using a brush to control the ringlets. This is higher maintenance but boy did I love the look.
REPEAT STEPS 1-5
Steps 1-5 are the same, remember the product and process is just so important.
STEP 6: SEPARATE INTO SECTIONS
Here’s where it gets more complicated, but it’s still very doable. You have to put it into sections and just work with one strand at a time.
STEP 7: APPLY THE SCULPTING TECHNIQUE
The sculpting technique is huge on TikTok, guys. What you do is feed strands of hair through the brush so it twirls and also perfectly detangles it. (This is step is probably better explained on camera, so definitely check out the video below (just wait for the ad to play).
Here’s me trying it out which took me a second to figure out. SO fun. It is a very involved process as you have to go strand by strand but the result is so pretty (as you’ll see ;)).
It’s like training your curls to create this unbelievable shape – which curly hair can do easily (whereas straight hair can’t).
Now Janine helped me in the back, where it is harder to do, but just takes some practice. At the front, I sculpted it away from my face (parted in the middle) because I love that look.
STEP 7: LET AIR DRY
The key is to not touch the sculpted curls AT ALL. This part was killing me. You must just sit and wait for them to air dry so I picked up a gripping new thriller.
My hair takes a long time to dry (especially underneath) so I think this was an hour under the heat lamp or 2 hours normal.
STEP 8: SHAKE OUT THE CURLS
I was excited and nervous to see how it would look (we did this look first, with the everyday look after).
I LOVED IT and more importantly, I couldn’t believe this was mine and ZERO styling beyond the sculpting and then using my fingers to comb it out (i.e. no product after, no curling irons – nothing). And the best part is that both hairdos get better every day – just like a blowout day 2 is better than day 1.
Day 2, 3, and 4 I just used the conditioning spritz and it controlled the frizz and it didn’t make it curlier – just less frizzy which I was happy about. I actually loved the sculpted look more but it was more work.
SO, WHICH ONE DO I LIKE MORE?
I honestly love both – I think technically the sculpted is my preference but it’s not that much better to sacrifice the time. This does make me want to go blonder though 🙂 Since I learned this, I wore it curly for the first 10 days but we were in Palm Springs and it was dry out there so it looked AWESOME. My main/only issue with it is that it takes a while for my hair to air dry so that if I have a 9 am Zoom I have to shower at 6:30 am for it to dry and loosened up by then. By 2 pm it looks awesome if I’ve done it right. So much respect for Janine for spending the years and likely a lot of money in research and development on this project.
Thank you, Janine!!!! All of us naturally curly-haired ladies are better because of you. Janine is giving us 10% off if you purchase the products through any of the links in this post (the price is already marked down). I seriously love every product and use the leave-in conditioner almost every day.
Photos by Sara Ligorria-Tramp