June does the curly girl (on her 2C, low-porosity hair)

I titled this so that men would rush over looking for p-0-r-n. I mean, till they got to the 2C part and then they were all, ?

Four or five years ago, The Other Copy Editor, fmr., said two life-changing things to me:

“Have you read The Curly Girl Handbook?”

and

“Do you think you might have ADD?”

Both were topics I needed to address. My doctor du jour confirmed I had ADD, and then later, I told my therapist du jour, “Well, I’ve been diagnosed with ADD, but I’m not sure–”

“Oh, you have ADD,” she interrupted.

Who knew?

All of you.

Ask me how often I remember to take my Ritalin. In fact, I forgot to today. Hang on.

…Okay. Now this post is gonna be EXTRA focused.

As for the second topic, I borrowed the Curly Girl Handbook from The Other Copy Editor, fmr., who has those kinds of thick coils of curls. She had them as a baby, too, and was ridiculously cute.

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I remember going home that evening and doing all the Curly Girl things in the book even though it was night and no one was gonna see me except Edsel, just because I was so excited to start. And I saw a difference!

Because here, for example, is how my hair looked before:

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I’m here to lead you into the battle of Little Bighorn

Here was how I handled my troublesome hair in the ’80s:

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I didn’t need to see that student number; I always remember it. That’s also how much I spent on perms back then.

Here is the very best my hair could look before the Curly Girl Method:

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I mean, I was trying hard to look good there, and my hair is, you know, not horrible, but mostly it looks like I just did the best I could with bad hair.

Here is another “June tries her best” hair look, with Faithful Reader LaUral at my birthday party:

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June hair. Now with boobs.

Mostly I thought I had hair that was kind of wavy and not quite curly. I was like, pick a shape, hair. And I never knew if it would behave or give me the General Custer hair you saw above. I had no control over it.

Anyway, here is my hair recently, on a regular old Sunday when I wasn’t trying to look good:

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Better, right? I don’t have perfect ringlets, but at least it, you know, curls and doesn’t just S frizzily all over my head. Here’s another from not long ago when I was headed out on the town:

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So, I feel better about my hair, but I also spend way too much time thinking about my hair. Shouldn’t I be worrying about the state of the world or starving children or, really, anything else?

So here I am writing about it.

People have asked, “Will you tell us about the method, and how you do it?” and I always said, “No. Buy the book.” It felt immoral to reveal its contents. But now, since all I do is think about my hair, I can tell you the method is all over the internet, so here is how I do the Curly Girl Method:

PRODUCTS:

Don’t use any sulfates or anything with “-cone” in the word, like silicone. Apparently those are terrible for curly hair. You’ll find yourself obsessing over shampoo/conditioner/gel ingredients at the store. Bring reading glasses!

There are all kinds of really cheap products with none of these bad ingredients in them (such as V05 Moisture Milks Strawberries and Cream Conditioner and Herbal Essences Totally Twisted Mousse).

What I started with, because I didn’t know about the cheaper stuff then, is the line of products the book hawks, the Deva Curl line.

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Dear Ulta, where I stole this image from: “Free gift” is redundant. Love, June.

I love the Deva Curl products (and I get Deva Curl haircuts, which you can Google to see where in your town they have them. When I started out circa 2014, I had to drive a long ways to get a Deva Curl cut, but it makes a difference. Now people certified in this cut are all over town).

The problem with Deva Curl products is they cost 11 million dollars. I mean, it’s okay if the shampoo costs a lot, because I seldom wash my hair. But I go through 6 tons of conditioner and gel, and the gel alone is almost $50.

This is what led me to the Curly Girl pages on Facebook. Girl. Don’t get started. Because it’s enormously helpful. They tell you things like determine what your hair type is:

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I think I’m a 2C.

And if you have high porosity or low porosity hair (I think I’m porous) (you spray your hair with water. If it just sort of sits on your hair, your hair is nonporous).

Then, based on this info, you have a

WORLD of products to choose from, lots of which you can get at beauty supply stores in the Women of Color aisle. You will do nothing but haunt Sally Beauty Supply and annoy the women of color who’ve been standing in the aisle unharrassed by white women for decades.

It is my belief that based on products recommended by Facebook groups, I have spent a year’s salary on low-cost Curly Girl Method hair products trying to find something cheaper than Deva Curl, and so far I mostly just like Deva Curl.

METHOD:

So, here’s what I do to my hair. First, I spend too much time thinking about it, but you knew that. See above.

Also, I get Deva Curl haircuts. Also see above.

Shampoo once a week:

Once a week, I wash my hair using low-poo shampoo and then I condition, using products without sulfates or -cones (silicones, etc.). There are now several low-poos out there. Who knew I’d ever say “low poo” and not giggle?

Conditioner other days of week:

Other days of the week, I might still wet my hair and just use conditioner.

In either event, I apply a TON of conditioner, and bend over in the shower–thank heavens I’m not in prison–and squish the conditioner in there, I squish squish squish till my hair hangs before me looking like seaweed.

Then I leave it in there as long as I can, maybe 5 minutes. When it’s time to rinse, I sort of scrunch my hair up with my hands to rinse it so it doesn’t stretch out.

Putting in product:

Afterward, I touch my hair AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE. Mostly I shake my head over the tub and make self dizzy. Then I use A T-SHIRT to dry it. Don’t use towels! The roughness makes your hair frizzy. That’s been a huge discovery.

There’s this method called plopping that people do (Google it) but it seems to make no difference to my hair so I just wrap it in a t-shirt and go about my business.

Some people put product in the moment they’re out of the shower, when hair is soaking wet, but this does nothing for me. I keep my hair in the t-shirt as long as I can, maybe 10 or 20 minutes, then add enough gel to kill a family of 10, if gel killed people. I bend over and use the same squishy seaweed method I used in the shower.

Then I DO NOT COMB IT. The only time I comb or brush my hair is in the shower, with a wide-tooth comb, to distribute conditioner. I look back at old photos and can see I brushed my hair and I look like Beethoven and it’s absurd.

I air dry, which is awful and takes forever and I don’t know what else to do because I can’t afford a $400 ionic diffusing fancy hair dryer.

I DO NOT TOUCH IT till it feels completely dry, then I scrunch out the crunch, meaning I get the gel cast off of it by scrunching, NOT pulling my fingers through my hair.

Sleeping on it:

At night, some people pineapple their hair, which does nothing for me. Others sleep on a satin pillowcase, which I do and it does help make my hair less frizzy.

Days I don’t wet my hair:

On days I don’t wet it, I have this curl refreshing spray I really like. I spray it in my hands, about 10 pumps, then scrunch it into my hair. It never looks as good as it does on day one, but at least it looks less absurd than it used to.

Deep conditioning:

On Sundays, I deep condition. If you get on those curly hair groups on Facebook, yet another thing you’ll obsess over is whether your hair needs extra moisture or extra protein once a week. Through trail and sad error, I discovered I need moisture, so I use this:

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I wet hair in shower, and put this on. Then I add a shower cap and look like Strawberry Shortcake. I get out of the shower and go about my business with Strawberry Shortcake shower cap on for at least 30 minutes. On ambitious days, I sit with shower cap on under my Layla Ali hair bonnet. So then I’m Strawberry Shortcake mating with Chef-Boy-Ar-Dee.

After 30 minutes minimum, I rinse my hair in the kitchen sink. Then I add product as usual and go about my day.

Truthfully I’m not that crazy about this product but can’t find one I like better.

Clarifying:

For me, all this adding moisture moisture moisture and little shampoo makes my hair look stupid after awhile. It just looks lank and lifeless like my sex life. So once or twice a month I use a Curly-Girl-approved clarifying shampoo.

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My hair looks infinitely better after I use this. Sometimes I wonder if I should use it every shampoo but I’m afraid to try.

So that’s my method, and that’s how I came to think way too much about my hair. I still play with different shampoo, conditioner, gel and deep conditioning masks, and if I find any where I’m all, THIS IS THE ONE! I’ll alert you.

But in the end, I went from this to this, so I’m glad I started on this Curly Girl path.

Hairily,
June

60 thoughts on “June does the curly girl (on her 2C, low-porosity hair)

  1. Love this post. I too will have to come back to read the other posts. Just got to hotel for college orientation with Eddie. They used to do orientation a few minutes before freshman year started.

    I used to have curly hair. Really curly. A few issues: hormones change your hair- I am told. So after 6 kids my hair changed. On top of that or maybe only this: I have celiac disease. Lack of nutrition because I was not absorbing nutrients while I was eating gluten REALLY messed with my hair. Made it horribly thin.

    I use a diffuser or air dry. I have to wear my hair fairly short because it drags the longer it gets from the weight and makes my scalp more seen than I prefer. Damn thin hair. Anyway I am left with a bit of wave to it, or some body.

    When I saw your ID pic I had to tell you that in high school I did not know I had curly hair. I did not own any product. So like everyone else in the 80s I went and got a perm. When I was a senior I arrived to school with wet hair- no more perm. A girl in homeroom told me I had curly hair and I just needed product. She was right! Until celiac and/or hormones ruined it.

    Like you I obsess about my hair. Might try a few of these methods to see if I can revive the curl a bit.

    FYI – my daughter has the curliest hair of anyone I have ever met. It feels like a poodle. On my blog her name is ‘Curly’ because I am original if nothing else.

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  2. Will read the comments later, but want to chime in now before I have to leave the house.
    I do some CG things. Crucially, no ‘cones and no sulfates. For gel, I make my own flax seed gel. Not much hold, but so shiny and bouncy on wash-day hair. (No effect to speak of on second-day hair.) I have learned, very expensively (wasted products), that my hair can’t deal with protein or glycerin. Air-drying (in spite of the time and inconvenience), no touching while drying, and no fuzzy towels are the three things that have made a huge difference. I recently switched to a “soap nuts” shampoo bar and it’s the gentlest thing my scalp and hair has ever known, miraculous for my sensitive scalp.

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  3. A post about hair – so, of course, I had to jump in – I’ll go back to read the comments.
    I also have curly hair – I’ve dabbled in the Curly Girl method and only took away a few things from it. I can’t use the no-poo; no silicone shampoos, etc. because I have a skin condition on my scalp (sexy, I know!). So I use a medicated shampoo twice a week (at night), condition the hell out of my hair, let it air dry and sleep with it tied up to keep it out of my face. Every morning, I need to soak my hair with water, re-condition it with Aussie Miracle Curl leave in conditioner (love this stuff) and then use Aquage Curl Defining Cream (kinda expensive but doable and I also love it), scrunch it all up with a micro-fiber towel then let it air dry while I put on my make up. Then I hit it with a diffuser for just a minute or two. I let it continue to air dry on the way to work – scrunch it out before I walk in and leave it alone for the rest of the day.
    I think each person’s curls react differently – so what you do may not work for me and vice versa – we just need to find what works for our hair.
    Seriously, I think I spend maybe five or ten minutes on my hair total. This routine has saved me so much time in getting ready in the morning. Drying my hair straight and flat-ironing or curling it used to take at least 45 minutes.

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    • You all kill me. I could never do all those things and then put a bike helmet on as I do three days a week. I’m in awe. But I have a close friend w really curly hair, she has a teen daughter w curly hair. In an effort to save her from a lifetime of mistakes and pain I will pass on all your wisdom!

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  4. I started Curly Girl on your recommendation and it has made a huge difference. I found a FB group and every single time I read an outlandish suggestion there that I knew would NEVER work for my hair, I tried it anyway and it worked. LA Looks Sport Gel? Success! Adding water to gel in my hands and refreshing? Success! Buff on my head to protect my wavy curls at night? Success! I avoided Deva Cuts because I felt like a fraud. Then I got one. My hair got curlier. In fact, I always thought I was a solid 2B, but I’m really a 2C/3A and I think you are too.

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  5. That Lottie is a great friend! Leftovers are the best.
    Your hair is stunning. I always thought you had pretty hair, but Curly Girl has made it stunning. I have real fine hair that used to be super thick, but not so much now. I usually just blow it dry because that is the fastest way to get ready. I need to invest some time in the Curly Girl method to see if I can get a new look going. I have discovered that long-ish hair makes me look much older, so I have decided short hair is the only way for me, but I still have the waves.
    Tee

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  6. I take biotin and wash my hair every 2 or 3 days. It is sometimes curly and sometimes wavy. I am just soooo happy that at my age I have as much hair as I do! yay. It helps to keep it a little shorter too…. and I use something I think it is – kinky curl creme…. not your mother’s…
    Keep it simple –

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  7. That’s a lot of work, but the results are amazing! Your hair looks great! I have easy to deal with hair, so the thing I obsess over is my crepey neck. All I can do is throw a scarf around it.

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  8. I started doing the CG method (thanks to you, June) a couple of years ago but mostly in a half-ass way. I have no idea what my hair is, I *think* it’s 2B/2C but depending on the day, hour, minute, it’s either super curly or a gray fright wig. I always have wiry hairs sticking straight up like antennas. I looked into getting a Deva Cut but I could never get an appointment at the few salons that offer it around here but I found a salon who specializes in curly hair so that’s where I go.

    I used to belong to a couple of CG pages on FB but I left those groups after a while because I wasn’t learning anything new and there were too many people who needed their hands held: “Is this product allowed? Am I allowed to not plop? Is it okay if I use products on soaking wet hair instead of damp hair?
    Can someone tell me in minute detail how to do the CG method?” What, do they expect the Curly Girl police to bust down their doors if they don’t follow the CG Method to the letter?

    I also follow the hashbrown curlygirlmethod on Instagram and well, some of those women have absolutely gorgeous curls but they also spend an hour a day on their hair using 12 jillion products and ain’t nobody got time for that. Although I have spent a lot of money on various products. Some work great, others were just kind of “meh.” Prose was a huge waste of money. LUS products were kind of “meh.” I do like Kinky Curly products. Come Clean and Knot Today leave-in conditioner are great.

    One thing I did splurge on was the Deva Curl microfiber towel and that has made a huge difference. Works so much better than a t-shirt. I cannot recommend it enough.

    Lovely post, Coot

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  9. My hair is super fine and wavy/kinky. I’m talking Diana Ross looking hair if I just let it air dry. I do not use anything special to wash or condition. Just cheap stuff because nothing changes. Then I hit it with the flat iron. I’m 67 and have lived with it so long it’s just part of life. I would never go to all that trouble.
    Guess I’m just too lazy. And too old to give a shit.

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  10. Honestly I could not be more jealous! Thin, fine hair my whole life but now falling out. Went to a dermatologist who diagnosed “age related alopecia”. She wanted to put me on a high blood pressure drug that has a hair growth side effect (blocks testosterone). BTW I do not have high blood pressure! No thanks. I already have enough problems.

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  11. Someone mentioned the cost of a Deva haircut and I have to admit that I did it and felt like the world’s biggest dumbass. She snipped 5-6 curls and wouldn’t cut more because she wasn’t sure I was ready! She charged a ton of money ($100+) to do something I later learned how to do on YouTube. I never went back and I now cut my own curls. I don’t like the DevaCurl products because of the residue it leaves in my hair, but I use a clarifying shampoo now and then. I prefer Dr. Bronner’s organic citrus hair rinse. I pineapple my hair at night, refresh curls with homemade rosemary tea in a spray bottle and I plop into a VERY thin towel. The t-shirt doesn’t absorb enough water for me.

    All this is just to show that, as June has said before, it is truly a trial-and-error process for each person with different results and different products that work best. I learned that products for summer (at least here in the Midwest) don’t work as well in winter and vice versa. That has helped me fight frizz.

    Lastly, it sounds a little complicated and may seem overwhelming, but I am extremely lazy about hair and makeup and fashion and this process has UNcomplicated my hair issues and routine to an astonishing degree. Mornings are much easier now whether I wash or not.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Do you condition too? I’m looking for a cheaper alternative to the Curly Girl stuff for my daughter. My hair is stick straight so I have no personal experience to pass on to her. She’s also got ADD/ADHD. Take your pills, June! 🙂

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      • My favorite conditioners right now are the Cantu brand conditioner (Wal-Mart and Target) and Trader Joe’s tea tree conditioner. I like the shampoo in both brands. I need to figure out something for more intense weekly or monthly conditioning. I don’t have anything for that.

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  12. Your hair looks fabulous! I’m just thrilled at my age I still have some.
    Another Karen
    Don’t know why I’m suddenly anon on your blog!!

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  13. I started the curly girl method based on a previous post of yours. Thank you! My hair is fine, high porosity, and is a mix of 2b, 2c, and 3a. I’ve been getting Deva cuts as well. I’ve also reverted back to my natural color, which has greatly improved the texture of my hair. While it’s a bit more work on wash days, time spent on other days is greatly reduced. I don’t re-wet my hair each morning. I just add more product and scrunch it in. If you’ve got some curl in your hair, give it a try!

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  14. I have had stick straight hair since the day I was born and am always so envious of curly girls. My younger sister has curly hair but always straightens it, much to my dismay…

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  15. Lovely post, Coot.
    My hair looks like your before pictures. I tried curly girl but never got the hang of it. I blow dry my hair with a round brush otherwise it would take me hours to tame my hair or I would look like a frizzy headed drowned rat.
    The best haircut I ever had for curly hair was in Louisiana. The girl really knew what to do with my type of hair. Have not had anyone cut it that good since. I do better when my hair is in layers, but in this day of stick straight hair or beachy waves, it is hard to find someone who can cut it right.
    Does your hair stay curly even on very humid days? Mine just frizzes. I already do no sulfate shampoo etc. I bet if you had your Medical DNA done you would have sulfur dominant disorder. It just means your DNA does not deal with sulfur or sulfates. You can google it. Disorders of Sulfur Amino Acid Metabolism.

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  16. I have always had very thin/fine straight hair. Then my mother died, and upon her entrance into Heaven, she apparently made a pact with St. Fabio, the Patron Saint of Curly Hair, because she always wished I had curly hair, and poof. Now I have very thin/fine moderately curly hair. Meaning, if I get caught in the rain, my carefully styled straight coif turns to fuzzy curls. However, I have no idea how to deal with curls and I don’t have enough hairs to embrace the Curly Girl Method. I’m just trying various things to keep the hairs I have.

    I am insanely jealous of your hair. IN.SANE.LY.

    Oh, but let me toss this out there so you can all be jealous of me for something: I can’t even remember the last time I shaved my legs or armpits and they are as smooth as can be. So there are some benefits to the sparsely-haired. (Ok, so I have to fill in my eyebrows. It’s a fair exchange.)

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  17. Good post. Your hair looks lovely. I have straight fine hair that is thinning due to age and medical condition. A few years back, the daughters and I spent the day at the beach. On the way back home, daughter 1 had beachy waves hair. Daughter 2 had slicked back chic hair. #3 had cute ringlets. Me? My hair looked like someone tried to drown me.

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  18. I have all the hair envy. I have super fine hair and hair loss. I obsess about products that help me keep what I have, and put in products that try to make what I have look thicker. I am the first woman on my mom’s side in 3 generations not to wear a wig 365 days a year. About five years ago I did shave my head but could not get used to the wig feel. Now I work with my own hair, and rely on a hairdresser that can help me do what looks best so there isn’t a lot of scalp showing.
    You go, curly girls! I live vicariously through you!

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  19. I’m totally a lather rinse repeat girl. Curls are new (hello menopause!) and hoo care what they do. Hope you put an Amazon link on all those pictures. You could be bucks up with this infomercial!

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  20. My daughter has curly hair. I think I’m going to start her on this. When she takes tome to do her hair it is the most beautiful hair and all the people are jealous. 98.5% of the tome she doesn’t do her hair. This makes me sad.

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  21. Well, this sent me down a rabbit hole trying to figure out my hair type. Definitely 2A. Just waves. Not quite curly, not quite straight. My hair is naturally blonde, so lots of products make it look greasy and dirty which makes me avoid products altogether. I’m going to try some new things to see what happens, starting with sulfate free shampoo.
    June, your hair is so lovely. I can’t believe what a difference from the Little Bighorn photo to now!!

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  22. Your hair is glorious! I am very jealous.

    My hair sounds a lot like Lisa NTL’s hair. It’s coarse, wavy in spots, straight in others, and then there’s the hair smack dab on top of my head that wants to curl. My hair has a disorder all its own.

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  23. I need to research this a bit more. I went to the Deva Curl website and it linked me to a salon in my area. When I saw what they charge for the Deva Cut, I fainted out of my office chair.

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  24. This entire post was riveting and right up my alley. I always WANT to be the type of person that can just wash and not STYLE my hair but I look insane if I don’t actually style it. You look like Sarah Jessica Parker in the “after” photo! And I definitely mean that as a compliment. You look stunning!

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  25. You are beautiful. And your hair is the stuff of my dreams.

    I used to have stick straight hair that was at least shiny and silky. Now it’s rather coarse and dull-ish and has a ridiculous semi-waviness that just annoys me. And there’s A LOT of it. One of my fears in my youth was that I would have thin hair and have to dye my scalp. (I spent a lot of time in the beauty shop with my mom. Too much time I’m guessing.) Now that I am old, I realize how many other things I should have worried about that weren’t even on my radar.

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  26. Oh, that sounds like so much trouble! It works great for you, though. Your hair is glorious! (I use cheap ol’ Suave clarifying shampoo twice weekly, the only two times a week I wash my hair.)

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  27. I also do Curly Girl and it has made a huge difference. But yes, I spend way too much time obsessing about my hair and products. I put my products on while I’m still in the shower, squeeze the water out with something other than a regular towel, then immediately clip my roots and sit under a old lady hood dryer for 18-20 minutes, then finish with a regular dryer and diffuser. It’s kinda fascinating to me how much trial and error it takes to figure out the best technique for your particular hair and how different curly hair can react from one person to the next. But it seems to be incredibly expensive no matter what.

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    • For thirty LONG years I’ve been effing with this hair and have probably spent a million dollars on product and haircuts. I don’t believe anyone’s routine or products are the same.

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  28. I think you’re mostly 3A, but I am forever saying something different from everyone else when people ask what their curl type is.
    Did you ever try making flax gel? I actually brought a bag of flax seeds, and when I got it home I looked at it and thought, “oh, absolutely not.” Anyone need any flax seed?

    I started Curly Girl-ing a few months ago, and while my hair is nowhere near as gorgeous as yours, it looks better! But I am 48, so no one notices and I hate the world.

    Oh! And if you have Amazon Prime you can get The Curly Girl Handbook for free on Kindle.

    Liked by 1 person

    • OH. Have you seen the Zotos All About Curls line at Sally’s? It’s supposed to be a Deva dupe. I haven’t tried it, but I’ve heard it’s good. And $10.

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  29. How did you decide to spend your $30? Your hair looks amazing! I have poker straight very fine hair so I do have a little hair envy.

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      • That Lottie is a true friend!
        Your hair is beautiful with curly girl. I have fine, straight and not much of it hair. And for a couple years now it’s been thinning. I have less than 1/4 of what I used to have. It’s very demoralizing. Now I have tears just thinking about it. Also, I am too hot to wear anything but a ballcap on my head when I leave the house so a wig is probably out of the question. For those of you with hair you hate, look on the bright side that you’re not going bald.

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  30. I can’t get past the Kinky Curly Come Clean title.

    But godammit if your hair doesn’t look fabulous! My own hair is wavy, not curly, and I can’t for the life of me figure out how to style it. Meh.

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    • I also have the wavy hair and my fix has been to let it all grow out to one length, then chop it off into a bob and flat iron the hell out of it. So far so good except now I look like I don’t care, which I don’t, but I want to at least look like I make an effort every day, which I don’t.

      Like

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