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How I Revived My Curls After Years of Heat Damage

How I Revived My Curls After Years of Heat Damage

So you’ve realized the flat-iron isn’t all that…

I cannot believe that my high school self used to wake up at 5 in the morning to straighten her hair on the hottest setting before school to impress people who weren’t even thinking about her. Don’t look at me like that, I know you did something similar when your teenage brain was growing and trying to find an identity. When I was younger, I didn’t like my curly hair. If I had known how to style it back then, I probably would’ve liked it more since I wouldn’t have looked like I was straight out of the 80s. I still remember the one day I woke up too late to straighten my hair, my god, I was so embarrassed when I didn’t need to be.

After I got to college, I discovered it’s much harder to keep your hair straight when walking half a mile between classes in hot humidity. It was pointless to keep straightening my hair when it was going to be curly before I made it to my first class. So I decided to put my flat iron in the back of a drawer, away from my bathroom counter. The thing was, now I had a different problem: my hair was so fried, you might’ve not believed I hadn’t ever dyed my hair by that point. It’s taken years to find the right products, and routine, but once I found them my mornings became a lot easier.

Take a peek at the Curly Girl Method

I will be the first to say that the curly girl method is not for everyone–and certainly not for me. I will admit I am too lazy to take such good care of my hair this way all the time, but it was a great first step. However, it does work for other people. The curly girl method, or CGM, was designed by Lorraine Massey, a hair stylist with some amazing curly hair. 

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As a soft crash course in CGM, the main components include avoiding shampoos with sulfate, and particularly the daily use of shampoo. I know it seems gross at first, and everyone’s scalp oil production is different, but shampooing daily can lead to increased frizz because, for lack of better words, your hair can’t stick together long enough to form a curl. CGM also calls for the removal of combs and brushes, amongst other things. Instructions and products vary based by curl-type.

While this method is great for many people, it’s not a one-size fits all solution. If following this method step-by-step works perfectly for you, then that’s amazing! Don’t be discouraged if it’s not providing the look you’re going for. All human biology is personal to one-self, and not everything works for everyone. For example, the CGM method calls for drying your hair with a diffuser on low-heat setting. I would much rather “plop” my hair and hope for the best because I do not have the patience to diffuse my hair the “right way,” and it makes me look like a founding father anyway.

Curly Girl Hair method Chart simplified as reset wash, cowash, condition, and style
Possibly the most compact infographic I’ve seen explaining CGM

Identify your curl type

Identifying what type of curly hair you have is the first step to figuring out which products are the best for you. You may even find your curl type will change overtime as you continue to work on your routine. When I first started my hair repair journey, I thought my curls were in the 2b/2C range, and after all this time, I’m now in the 3A/3B range. It’s not uncommon for people to have multiple hair types on their scalp, so don’t worry if you don’t think you look exactly like the pictures provided. 

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A chart depicting different curl types
I think this is the best chart I’ve seen representing the differences between curl types, but feel free to look at more to be sure!

I do not care what anyone says, XMondo Wavetech is from heaven.

This is my miracle product. I do not know how Brad Mondo created this magical wave foam that doesn’t let my curly hair escape my natural frizzy mode, but I am sure he must’ve done something involving crystals and magic. All you do is brush it into your hair when it’s wet and BOOM, perfect curls from root to bottom that aren’t frizzy and make me feel like a gorgeous woman out of an oil painting. I’ve added a zoomed in picture of my hair before and after using Xmondo Wavetech below. 

A side-by-side comparison of hair before and after using XMondo Wavetech foam
Here’s what XMondo Wavetech does to my hair within 15 minutes of applying it. This was applied while mostly dry, but I added water as I brushed the wave foam through.

It’s also curly girl method approved!

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You have to invest in nice conditioner

Whenever I’m in the hair care aisle at a grocery store, I always look at the cheapest brand there and think of my mother who always said there was no reason for her to buy shampoo and conditioner over $10. A few years ago, my sternly frugal mother bought some higher-quality, admittedly more expensive hair care products when her salon was having a sale. She changed her mind. 

I normally will never push someone to choose a more expensive option, but I do believe it is more cost-effective than grabbing your favorite $4 bottle off the shelf at the grocery store. When buying products at a more inexpensive rate, I find I end up spending more in total for all the products that have to make up for the conditioner that leaves to be desired. Cheers to all who can maintain a two hour-hair routine in the morning, but I want to just shower with my nice conditioner, add some leave-in treatment or anti-frizz foam (love you XMondo,) and call it. 

I’ve tested this theory many times, but my most notable was the difference between using Aussie and Biolage. With Aussie conditioner, it took me so much longer to brush through the knots in my hair (my hair knots too much to brush without the help of a LOT of conditioner.) The bottle was half empty after a few days, and I still needed to add a bunch of leave-in conditioner and leave-in treatment for it to be somewhat okay. Thankfully, dear mom was generous enough to gift me some Biolage that has been lasting for longer than three months. My hair no longer takes ten years to brush through, and begins to curl by the time I step out of the shower. I can add leave-in treatment and other products, but if I don’t have time for both, Biolage has me covered well enough.  I’ve heard good things about Olaplex, so I might try that out soon. I don’t think it matters exactly what brand you use, so long as you look for quality ingredients.

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Get hair accessories that are silk!

I cannot stress this enough: your curly hair needs silk. Other fabrics like polyester are more likely to pull out strands of your hair. I usually recommend starting out with a silk pillowcase or silk scrunchies (leave those black hairbands on the shelf, they are not made for curly hair and will damage your strands.) Silk is well known amongst the curly hair community as a good fabric due to the little amount of stress it places on roots. Any time where your hair will be moving more than you want it to, such as when tossing and turning all night, you’ll want to have a silk pillowcase/beanie/scrunchie/anything for your hair to slide on, instead of getting caught onto the fibers of other fabrics.