There are very few things I am an expert or specialist in this life: I may not be an expert in being a good adult or in maintaining relationships or friendships, but there is one thing I can say with great pride and without false modesty that I am a specialist in, and that is curly hair.
Thirty-two years with curls in my head, many tests, many mistakes, and some successes have given me the necessary experience to be able to talk about it without too much fear of being wrong and, thus, tell you what the most common mistakes we make when taking care of curly hair are.
Sulfates in soaps and shampoos have a particular and beneficial effect in some cases: they are very cleansing and wash away almost any product, buildup, or residue that may remain in our hair. The problem? They wash away moisture and oils from the hair. Most shampoos on the market have more or less mild sulfates among their ingredients.
This is especially problematic on curly hair because its natural moisture and oils have a harder time reaching the entire strand due to its curly pattern. This does not mean that we can never use sulfates, but it is advisable not to overuse them. In addition, using pre-poo oils is recommended before using a shampoo with sulfates as it protects the hair strand a bit.
We tend to wash our hair several times a week. Personally, every time I saw that my curls were not like the first day, I washed my hair. This is also quite problematic. Although each of us will know what frequency of washing works best for our hair – depending on our lifestyle and circumstances – it is advisable to extend the washing for a few days to avoid over-washing and to drag out moisture and oils.
Being afraid of water
For a long, long time, I thought I had to keep my hair away from water to avoid frizz. The reality is that we don’t use enough water in our hair. Curly hair benefits greatly from hydration. We can not only use specific products such as masks or conditioners, but every time we add water to the hair, we are moisturizing it. Don’t be afraid to refresh your products with water.
Doubts about brushing
The million-dollar question is whether or not to brush curly hair. The general advice is never to brush it and certainly never dry brush it. The answer is, unfortunately, not as simple as that.
Indeed, if we want to wear our curls ideally for several days, we should never brush them between washes. But if we’re talking about brushing to untangle when washing, it’s not so simple. Some hair becomes weaker and breaks more easily when it gets wet. If this is your case, it may be more advisable for you to detangle your hair dry. To do this, you can use a moisturizing mask or leave-in conditioner to make the task easier. In any case, if you still prefer wet detangling, it is preferable to do it when you have the moisturizing mask on.
Pro tip: use your fingers for this task and stay away from combs. In any case, it all depends on the needs of your specific hair and its characteristics.
Not knowing our hair type
Not all hair is the same, and not all hair has the same needs. If this is true for any hair type, it is even more true for curly hair. Not only because curl patterns are very different from one person to another, but because depending on whether we have fine or thick hair, with low, medium, or high density, low or high porosity, etc., we will need different things and benefit from different products. One of the main mistakes we can make when caring for our curly hair is not knowing our hair well, not knowing what type of hair and curl we have, and using the same things other curly girls use. Knowing our hair is key.
Abusing hot air
I’m not going to lie to you. As someone who takes hours to dry her hair, I understand the benefits of the hot air dryer and the temptations it gives us. However, hot air (and with a lot of pressure) affects our curls, dries them out, and generates a lot of frizz and dehydration. The best recommendation for drying hair is to air dry – more definition, less volume – or use the dryer at the lowest possible temperature and power settings. This way, the hair will move less, be better defined, avoid frizz, burn the hair, and avoid dehydration.
Not taking special precautions when dyeing
Chemical dyes are a part of our lives, and we have all had our hair colored or highlighted at some time or another. However, we may have all discovered that after a strong dye or highlights – and we don’t even talk about bleaching – our curl pattern is affected.
All chemical treatments affect the structure of our strand and open the cuticle losing hydration, but this, in the case of curly hair, can mean losing our curl. This does not mean that we can not give ourselves highlights, but we must take special care: apply preventive protein treatments and after dyeing and highlights.
Cutting when wet
The mistake par excellence in hairdressers when we talk about curly hair is to cut it wet. Unfortunately, our hair does not benefit from this technique, and it can cause us significant discomfort. Those of us with curls know that each curl curls differently and shrinks differently. The only way to learn – more or less – how our curls will look after cutting is if we dry cut curl by curl, taking into account the pattern of each curl. If we cut wet, we don’t know how each curl will look when we dry it, and the shape will not look like it does when wet.
Use any towel to dry
Personally, I don’t use any towel when drying my hair, but I remove the excess water with my hands – never rolling or squeezing too hard – because I have noticed that it helps me to have a better definition. In any case, if we want to use a towel, we should never forget to use a microfiber towel. Any other towel will generate frizz and frizz and take away too much moisture. Remember that curly hair needs moisture and that water is moisture. If we dry too much, we lose some of this moisture, and we will notice it.
Thinking it is not elegant or professional
This is the mistake that saddens me the most and that, nevertheless, almost all of us curly hairstylists have experienced. Fashions have a lot to do with how we see ourselves, and for a long time, curly hair has been considered too juvenile, wild, and unstylish. Many of us straighten our hair for special events, weddings, etc., to look more elegant and groomed. The reality is that curls can be perfectly professional, elegant, and groomed. And, besides, they are part of us.
Cutting by emptying and parading layers
Another mistake we often find in salons is that they empty our curls or cut the layers to remove volume. By doing this, our curl loses strands, is not equalized, and therefore, the curl has less hair and is unstructured. The cut we get should allow each of our curls to have the same amount of hair along their entire length. In addition, the same density should be maintained at the top and at the bottom of the hair. Volume is beautiful, and the chances are that the more we take care of our hair, and the more we get used to our curl, the more volume we will want.