Getting Kinky: Whipping Your Curly Hair into Submission

Update: I suggest looking at the new, rereleased versions of Herbal Essences saying they were sulfate free. They added confusing packaging (the shampoo is silicone free, and the conditioner is sulfate free. Which means next to nothing because that’s normal).

When we’re at conventions, I’m often asked by my fellow geek girls “how do you get your hair to do that?” And by “do that” they mean how do I get my curly hair to look more like Hermione’s from the movies, and less like Hermione from the books .

Hermione in the book, vs Hermione in the movie.

Illustration by: Robin Tatlow-Lord

The good news is, it’s not hard, once you figure out works for you and your hair. The bad news is, it’s a painful journey to find out exactly what that is. The go-to source is NaturallyCurly.com, and that’s where a friend pointed me when I was in awe of her tamed hair. But, it’s a bit overwhelming. There’s just so much information, and so many different opinions on what you should and should not do to curly hair. I suggest starting by taking the hair type quiz. It will give you at least some idea where to start, and a handful of quick tips.

If you’re like me, this is where you stop. Well, that and the product reviews. Everything else was just too much information. I’m going to lay out what works for me, as simply as I can (its still a lot of information). I have hair type 2c, so the instructions here will be geared toward that curl type.

Curly Hair Tools

It’s dangerous to go alone! Here, take this:

  • Expensive Gel – This is your day one gel. Think of it as your foundation. It should be lightweight, waterbased, and silicone free. I like DevaCurl Arc AnGEL.
  • Cheap Gel – This is for day two (and three if you’re lucky). I use cheaper stuff since my foundation from the day one gel is still pretty solid. My favorite is L’Oreal EverCurl Cream Gel, but I’ve also had good luck with Kiss My Face Upper Management Gel.
  • Leave-In Conditioner – Curly hair is dry, which is why it gets all frizzy. Leave in conditioner is your friend. I’m a big fan of L’Oreal EverCurl Leave-In.
  • Sulfate-Free Shampoo – You won’t be shampooing everyday, its harsh on your hair. But when you do, use sulfate-free. Sulfates are what makes shampoo foaming. It’s unnecessary and drying. I use Healthy Sexy Hair right now, mainly because I color my hair and it was part of the liter sale at Beauty Brands.
  • Super Moisturizing Conditioner – I’ve tried everything. High end salon lines included. My favorite is still Herbal Essences Totally Twisted. It has the bonus of smelling good!
  • Hair Dryer with Diffuser – I don’t use my hair dryer much. If I’m going through the bother of drying my hair, I’m probably just going to do it straight. But if you do choose to, go with one with a nice diffuser and the anti-frizz ions.
  • Microfiber Towel – There are tons of these available with all kinds of fancy jargon to try to get you to spend more on one. I picked up one for $6 from CVS, and it works fine. Bonus: When I dye my hair I don’t have to worry about getting dye on the good towels.Why microfiber? The little “hooks” in terry cloth make your hair frizzy.

Day One Curly Hair Routine

Nicole's curly hair at Gen Con, in Hermione costume.

My day one “Hermione Hair” at Gen Con.

I try to plan this around when my workouts are, so I don’t have to shampoo any more than I have to. Shampoo strips hair of moisture and curly hair is dry enough as it is.

  1. Shampoo.
  2. Condition. Probably twice. While conditioning I flip my hair upside down and scrunch it to pre-form waves.
  3. Apply your good gel. Work in small amounts in sections with your hair flipped upside down. Squeeze the gel into your hair.
  4. Dry with your microfiber towel. Again, still upside down. Still Scrunching.
  5. Use your leave-in conditioner. You can me right-side-up for this part. I scrunch the leave-in in over the gel to help lock out any sneaky frizz.
  6. DO NOT TOUCH. This is the most important part. Do not touch your hair. Touching is frizz.
  7. After it’s dry, you can lightly run your fingers through it to loosen the curls. Less is always better.

And that’s it! I’m lucky that I can go to work with wet hair (which is why I don’t blow dry). So while this seems complicated I’m bed-to-door in thirty minutes. And that’s with makeup.

Day Two Curly Hair Routine

Day two curly hair

My second day curls.

Day two is a bit easier, but the curls don’t look as nice. Its fine for your every day work day, but I’d go a bit further for a date night.

  1. Get hair just a little wet. Some people use a spray bottle, I just use a bit of water when showering.
  2. Add your second day gel. Don’t flip your hair over, just scrunch it in like you would your leave-in.
  3. Of course, use your leave-in. If you get nothing else from this post, understand you need to always be moisturizing.
  4. You’re done!

General Curl Tips

  • Cassandra from Doctor Who

    If your hair could talk, it’d sound like her.

    Have your hair cut by someone who knows how to cut curly hair. Seriously, this makes a huge difference. They’ll also be able to show you how to style your hair. That’s actually how I learned. If you’re in Indianapolis, Cassondra at Salon du Jour is who I see. You can also use the DevaCurl stylist finder.

  • Be patient. After years of abusive heat styling it might take a couple of weeks for your curls to really form. I know mine never look right the day or two after coloring.
  • Shampoo as little as possible. Even if you want to wash your hair every day, “wash” it with conditioner instead. You still get the clean feeling, and your hair doesn’t get stripped of moisture.
  • Moisturize. Seriously, I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to keep your curly hair well conditioned.
3 Responses to “Getting Kinky: Whipping Your Curly Hair into Submission”
  1. solidgoldeats says:
    • Nicole says:
      • solidgoldeats says:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.