4 Chic Hairstyles for Curly Hair
Before: Shameka Brown Barbosa, 36
“Everyone in my family had chemically salon-relaxed hair, but I wasn’t allowed to get a relaxer until I was 16,” says Shameka, who is an associate creative director at an advertising agency. “By the time I was in my senior year of college, my hair was really dry and damaged from all the chemicals. After a trip to Zimbabwe that year, I decided to reclaim my heritage and go natural. I went back to relaxing a year later. But when I gave birth to two daughters in 2006 and 2008 and was faced with three curly heads to deal with, I let my salon ritual fall by the wayside. I decided I’d straighten my hair on my own, at home, with an elaborate process that involved washing and conditioning, then hand-twisting my curls under a dryer every Sunday afternoon. It took two hours!”
Her goal: a polished look that doesn’t take hours to style.
After: Shameka Brown Barbosa
What Denis did:
•Trimmed the back and sides with regular haircutting scissors—thinning shears are not recommended on curls as they can induce fuzz—to reduce the width of her grown-out cut.
• Taught Shameka to hydrate her hair properly: She now uses a sulfate-free shampoo (it’s less drying to curls), and a deep conditioner in place of her regular conditioner once or twice a week. She also rinses her hair leaning forward in the shower so that the water hits the nape of her neck rather than her roots, where it could strip naturally hydrating scalp oils. Last, she works a moisturizing, curl-defining serum into her wet hair and allows it to air-dry—no twisting necessary.
Her reaction: “My hands-on time is now 20 minutes, compared to two hours! I think I’m officially done with relaxers.”
Products used at the salon: DevaCurl No-Poo Cleanser ($19), which cleans and conditions hair with no lather; DevaCurl Heaven in Hair ($25), a deep moisturizing treatment; and DevaCurl MirrorCurls ($25), a shine serum; all available at devachansalon.com. Others to try: Aveeno Active Naturals Pure Renewal Shampoo, $7.50, walgreens.com; Pantene Pro-V Curly Hair Series 2-Minute Deep Conditioner, $17.50 for a pack of three, amazon.com; Suave Professionals Keratin Infusion Smooth & Shine Serum, $3.50, soap.com.
Before: Sharene Jones, 49
“My hair has always been curly, and I always hated it. I grew up in East Tennessee, where girls did not have curly hair. Plus, I had to survive the Marcia Brady ’70s without styling products; they hadn’t been invented!” says mother of two Sharene, who works from home as a recipe tester. “I did tame it a bit with big hot rollers or pin curls. And then, in college, I got a cut that calmed it a bit more. I stuck to hot rollers throughout my work career, but in 1995, when I started having kids, I let it go curly. And now it’s part of my identity. It’s here to stay.”
Her goal: Something “different.” Sharene feels like curls are limiting, style-wise.
After: Sharene Jones
What Denis did:
• Sharene’s hair needed more “verticality” (stylist-speak for height) and less width, so he gave it a wedge shape in back to build height.
• He incorporated her gray streak into her style by cutting graduated angles around her face.
• Sharene had a regular conditioning routine, but because her hair was extra-dry, Denis encouraged her to use a styling cream in place of the usual serum step in his hydrating regimen (see: Shameka).
Her reaction: “I thought I wanted all-over color, but I love the way Denis used my gray streak. I’ll stick with this style. It’s fun and I can do things with it.”
Products used at the salon: DevaCurl No-Poo Cleanser ($19); DevaCurl One Condition ($19), a highly moisturizing conditioner; and DevaCurl Styling Cream ($25), to define her curls; all available at devachansalon.com. Others to try: Ouidad Curl Quencher, $26, ouidad.com.
Before: Selene Rosenberg, 25
Says Selene, an advertising copywriter, “My hair went curly when I turned 13. My mom’s hair is straight, so she couldn’t really teach me how to style it. Finally, in my junior year of college, I met a girl with long, beautiful curls who showed me her regimen. I started using more conditioning styling products, not touching my hair while it dried—and only using my fingers to detangle it in the shower. Although I have blown it out occasionally, it takes way too long to do daily; that’s just not my lifestyle.”
Her goal: a low-maintenance style with a nice shape and defined curls.
After: Selene Rosenberg
What Denis did:
• Layered the hair at her crown to create more verticality and less width. He also trimmed the back significantly into a wedge shape, which gave the hair more lift. He left some longer pieces in front to frame her face.
• Added highlights throughout the sides of her hair to brighten her face.
• Adapted his hydrating routine for curls: Since her hair is not quite as thick as, say, Shameka’s, Denis advised she use a daily conditioner, not a deep conditioner, after shampooing.
Her reaction: “It’s not puffy anymore! I’m happy because I still feel like I have some length—the long pieces in front—even though it was cut.”
Products used at the salon: DevaCurl No-Poo Cleanser ($19); DevaCurl One Condition ($19); and DevaCurl MirrorCurls ($25); all available at devachansalon.com. Others to try: BlowPro Hydraquench Daily Hydrating Conditioner, $17, ulta.com.
Before: Erin Texeira, 41
“My hair was straight until I hit puberty, and then it went ‘electric,’ ” says the stay-at-home mom of two. “I tried to control it with products throughout my twenties and managed to make it wavy. But nine years ago, when I started having kids, my curls returned, frizzier than ever. My hair curls in different ways in different spots, so although it blows out in 15 minutes, it’s generally easier to just throw it in a ponytail. People with curls like mine need to do and redo our hair all day: We put it up, take it down, add more product, and repeat.”
Her goal: a cut that she can wear curly daily.
After: Erin Texeira
What Denis did:
• Layered around her crown to give her very fine hair extra body.
• Added face-framing highlights to add luminosity to her skin.
• Taught her to mix (or “cocktail,” as stylists say) her styling products so she’ll use a bit less of each and they won’t weigh down her curls.
Her reaction: “It’s fuller and curlier. It’s by far the best cut I’ve ever had.”
Products used at the salon: DevaCurl No-Poo Cleanser ($19); DevaCurl One Condition ($19); and DevaCurl MirrorCurls ($25), along with DevaCurl Frizz-Free Volumizing Foam ($25), which adds volume while taming frizz; all available at devachansalon.com. Others to try: Alterna Bamboo Weightless Whipped Mousse, $22, sephora.com.
Denis DaSilva’s Tips for Curly Hair
• Make sure you go to a stylist who will cut your hair dry. If you cut it wet, it will spring up two to three inches and look shorter than you expected when dry.
• Curly hair is naturally drier than straight (the oils from your scalp have a more circuitous path to travel down the hair shaft). That’s why conditioner is so crucial. Use it from mid-shaft to ends after every shampoo.
• Stay away from harsh detergent (high suds) shampoos, which dry out your hair. Look for SLS-free (or “no-sulfate”) products.
• Let hot water hit your nape first, not your roots (in other words, lean forward when you rinse out shampoo). Hot water is drying to all those natural oils produced at your roots.
• Apply hairstyling product while hair is soaking wet. This helps “set” the curl pattern, which is most pronounced when hair is wet. Squeeze dry gently with a towel after and then air-dry.