Let's talk "Curls"

Lorraine Massey, creator of DevaCurl

Lorraine Massey, creator of DevaCurl

Let's talk "Curls." Do you have them? I do, and I used to hate them. I've grown to love my curls more over the years, but still had yet to master my hair--until yesterday.

A few years ago, my mom gave me a book for Christmas called, Curly Girl: The HandbookAt the time, I remember thinking, "This looks dumb (no offense mom)." So, suffice it to say, I never read it. It just stood, gathering dust, on my bookshelf.

Yesterday, while I was cleaning out my books and deciding which ones I wanted to give away, I stumbled across Curly Girl. I automatically threw it in my pile of books I was going to donate, but then I stared at it for a moment, and decided I would at least give it a browse.

THIS BOOK IS AMAZING. I'm serious. I so rarely find beauty/hair care products that I actually want to write about, because usually my thinking is, "So what?" But let me tell you. This book has changed my curly-haired life.

Lorraine Massey, the author, is a "curly girl" herself, and is the founder and co-owner of Devachan--a group of salons specializing in curly hair. She is also the co-creator of DevaCurl products (which are amazing, by the way). Massey discusses at length how so many stylists out there today don't have a clue when it comes to cutting and styling curly hair--which, if you're a "curly girl" who has gotten a haircut, you know this all too well. Massey also discusses how curly hair is basically skimmed over in beauty school, when really, there should be a whole program devoted to it!

What I love about this book (aside from its contents) is that it's a very easy, accessible read. Also, much of Massey's tips are affordable--she has various recipes for body scrubs/hair scrubs/hair cleansers. She also teaches you how to trim your own hair!

There are seven curl types, they are: Corkscrew, Botticelli, Corkicelli, Cherub, Wavy, S'wavy, and Fractal. To find out your type, all you have to do is measure the "spring" factor of one of your curls.

Pull one strand of dry curls down against your shoulder or neck to its full length. Leave your finger at the point where the strand touches. Now let go. With a ruler, measure the distance between your finger and where your curls naturally ends. The measurement is your personal spring factor:

9- to 16-inch spring: Fractal  (think Laura Izibor) 9- to 12-inch spring: Corkscrew (think Beyonce) 5- to 10-inch spring: Corkicelli & Cherub (Corkicelli: think Bernadette Peters; Cherub: Taylor Swift) 5- to 8-inch spring: Botticelli (think Shakira) 2- to 4-inch spring: Wavy (think Megan Fox) 1- to 2-inch spring: S'wavy (think Evangeline Lily)

If you have short hair, your spring factor will be about half as long as the figures above.

Easy peasy, right?! I have yet to measure (can't find a ruler), but based on the other criteria, I believe my curls are Corkicelli.

Here are some general rules for all curly hair types:

-DON'T blowdry (unless it's with a diffuser--even then, don't do it too much) -DON'T straighten (Massey likens the occasional straightening to the occasional cigarette--it does a lot of damage, even in small doses!) -DON'T shampoo (that's right--most shampoos strip hair of its lubrication and cause the hair's cuticle to stand straight up, so dirt and product build-up can't get out) -DON'T brush (most "curly girls" know this, but it's worth repeating--the only time to "brush" curls out is when your hair is wet and has conditioner in it. If you brush any other time, this makes your hair easily break) -DO use a sulfate-free cleanser and a botanical conditioner -DO use a lot of conditioner (curly hair is notorious for being "thirsty" for moisture--when you're restoring your curls back to normalcy, you may need to be using quite a bit of conditioner; as your hair gets healthier, the amount of conditioner you use will decrease) -DO leave some conditioner in your hair (your curls need it!) -DO scrunch your ends with an old cotton t-shirt (when you get out of the shower, use a paper towel, cotton t-shirt, or microfiber towel to absorb moisture, but don't towel-dry! -DO use styling gel (Massey notes: "As your hair begins to dry and the gel hardens, don't be alarmed by the crystallized curl cast, or 'gel cast.' This helps hold the natural curl formation until the hair dries, protecting it from outside elements like wind and humidity. Once hair is completely dry, you can dissolve and release the gel cast by tilting your head forward and gently scrunching hair upward toward the scalp... It's important to use a gel that's alcohol- and silicone-free, as it lives in your hair for 2-3 days."

Phew. That's a lot of information, I know. The book also goes on to explain how to wash your hair for whichever curl type you have.

Things I didn't know:

-Condition daily; if you see a "halo" of frizz appear, it means your hair is thirsty for more conditioner! -Look for conditioners that have: Emollients (soften and reduces frizz), Humectants (absorbs water from the atmosphere and hangs on to it), and Moisturizers (adds softness and control to hair: look for amino acids, aloe vera, olive oil, balm mint extracts, and propylene glycol) -Stay away from SILICONE, ALCOHOL, PARABENS, and PHTHALATES

One of the "recipes" Massey's book offers is called "Lavender-it-with-Love Spray." I have yet to try it, but it sounds great. This spray is meant to cleanse and deodorize the hair and scalp. You can make it in large quantities, keep some in a small spray bottle, and use when needed. You could also use this as a yoga mat cleaning spray, which I've done before.

Lavender-it-with-Love Spray

2 quarts water 5 drops pure (not synthetic) lavender essential oil

Fill a large pot with water. Cover the pot, bring the water to a boil on high heat, then turn the heat down to low and simmer for 1 hour to get rid of impurities (check occasionally to make sure the water isn't boiling away). Remove the water from the heat, add the lavender oil, stir to blend, and replace the lid. Let the lavender water steep until cool, then pour it into spray bottles. Store extra lavender spray in a cool space.

As you can see (hopefully), this book is amazing. There is also a section for guys with curls, kids with curls, gray-ing curls, and curls affected due to chemotherapy.

Massey endes her book with a fairly apt poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:

There was a little girl
Who had a little curl
Right in the middle of her forehead.
When she was good
She was very, very good,
When she was bad,
She was horrid.