When I was a kid, my mother would lovingly call me, among many things, Curly Sue. I remember feeling both touched and bothered by a term of endearment that stemmed from something that made me different – a head full of curly, sometimes unruly black hair.
To this day, I feel both touched and bothered whenever significant (and not-so-significant) others call me “kulot” as a term of endearment.
Mostly, it’s because curly hair, despite its splendor and innate fanciness, can be a pain to manage.
It doesn’t help that in a country like the Philippines where shampoo and conditioner ads almost exclusively feature slick-straight hair with nary a kink (or bend!) in sight, hairdressers who can enhance curly hairstyles, instead of asking you every 20 minutes if you’d like your hair straightened, are few and far between.
The trickiest thing about curly hair is that, when styled wrong, it’s in a state of flux – some days you’re a Merida but on most days, you’re a wreck. And then there are days when even your curls give up and you look like a wet poodle. Fun times.
Texturizing, said hairstylist Lourd Ramos, is key to taming curly hair. He cut my hair using a criss-cross technique to make it thinner but fuller at the same time. Layers are a must to prevent bulky and unruly hair. The technique and explanation make no sense to me but it works. My hair felt lighter after, but looked bouncier and full of life – as if it had yet to go through the agonies of adulthood.
The true test of the cut, really, was when it survived an entire day out without having to be tied. Every curly-haired person who’s had a bad haircut (or two, or three) would know the struggle.
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Here are a few tips for anyone with curly hair, as told by Lourd:
Get the right cut. It goes without saying that the right cut can do wonders for your kinks. I thought my previous stylist had done an okay job – but it turns out it was uneven. Yikes. The cut Lourd did wasn’t so much about removing volume but reducing the bulk that comes with my thick, curly hair.
Through the years, I’ve discovered that getting the right cut for curly hair is easier said than done. There are hairdressers who cut curly hair dry, wet, or – and this was admittedly odd – after it’s straightened out with a blow dryer. A high price tag doesn’t always equate to a good cut.
So ask around, arm yourself with patience, and hope for the best.
Maintain that cut. Lourd, hairdresser to the stars and everyone else in between, recommends a haircut every two months, regardless of hair type and even if you want to grow it out. Doing so prevents split ends and ensures that your layers are still intact.
Lourd is a big believer in embracing and making the most of what you already have – the unfortunate premature debut of white hair, included. For hair that hasn’t been treated too many times in the past, Lourd recommends not masking the white strands but working with them – lowlights in a lighter color than your natural shade make the white hair stand out less, for instance.
Use the right product. Conditioning is key for curly hair, to avoid unwanted pouf and frizz. Lourd recommends using products with coenzyme Q10 or argan oil. Leave-in conditioner is also an option, just to make sure your hair never dries out.
Lourd styles curly hair by applying oil (a really small amount for the entire head of hair) onto hair, twisting and scrunching it, and then using a diffuser.
Air-drying curly hair also works, if you’re not in such a rush. I personally like air-drying my hair, mostly because I don’t have the time or patience to dry it with a diffuser. I’d rather expose it to as less styling damage as possible, and partly because I think the curls set better through gentler means. I’m personally biased towards pomade, because I find that it keeps my curl pattern intact the longest.
If all else fails (and if you can afford it), get a perm. Lourd occasionally recommends clients get a perm if their hair is especially unruly, if the curl pattern just doesn’t want to cooperate, or if a client’s hair is really kinky. Curly-haired clients who want to sport bangs sans the hassle sometimes get a Brazilian blowout, but just on their bangs.
We’ve come a long way from the days when curly hair-friendly products were hard to find in department stores and drugstores (although it really wouldn’t hurt for more local companies to release more products specifically for curly hair). With the right styling (and stylist!), that head of curls can be your biggest asset to date.
Got any curly hair tips you wanna share? Leave them in the comments section below. – Rappler.com
Creations by Lourd Ramos Salon can be found at Bonifacio Stopover in Taguig City. He has several other locations around the metro as well.