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I Woke Up Like This: My Curly Hair Care Routine

I get a lot of questions and comments about my hair, mostly from strangers but enough are from friends (hi, Yana!), family, and acquaintances that I realized I should write a blog post about it that I can link them to so I don’t feel like a broken record when I say the same things over and over again. I will start by saying that my hair mostly grows out of my head the way that you see it. (Hence the title of this post, “I woke up like this.”) Key word there, though, is mostly. While I had embraced my natural curl pattern years ago, I was still plagued with frizz, flatness, and dryness when it came to my hair. I had a lot of issues with breakage and split ends. It wasn’t until about two years ago that I switched up my routine and the products I was using and saw a huge, dare I say drastic improvement in the health, growth, and overall condition of my hair. So while I may “wake up like this” on a daily basis, there’s actually a lot of thought and care that goes into my hair and is the reason I’m able to just roll out of bed and go most days.

What I DON’T Do

The main aspects of my haircare these days lies in the things I do not do to it:

  1. I do not use sulfate shampoos. I find them to be overly drying to my already dry hair. I also, therefore, do not use silicone conditioners, since silicones are not water-soluble (except for a special few) and require a harsh sulfate to rinse out.
  2. I very rarely use heat styling tools or hair dryers. Since my hair is naturally curly, I don’t have to curl it. I straighten my hair maybe once a year, if at all. And I hardly ever, if at all, use a hair dryer. When I do use a hair dryer, I do so on a low heat setting and I utilize a diffuser attachment. I also NEVER heat style without a heat protectant.
  3. I do not brush my hair. Seriously, never. I only own one hairbrush, and I use it for brushing out wigs for when I LARP. I do detangle it in the shower with a wide tooth comb when it’s soaked with conditioner, but otherwise nope! I also don’t tease my hair, never ever.
  4. I don’t dry my hair with towels. The fibers on towels catch on individual hairs and pull at them, disrupting the curl pattern and causing frizz. Instead I use old t-shirts to dry my hair with after a shower, and use a scrunching, NOT rubbing, motion to do so.
  5. I’ve never colored my hair with permanent hair dye. I colored my hair once with semi-permanent dye, but it was only the ends to make them purple and pink and it had faded out after a couple months. Even when I did that, I told my hair dresser not to use bleach at all and I was lucky that my hair is light enough to take the colors without the use of it.
  6. I’ve never chemically straightened my hair. I did do a section perm once, to try to get the top layer, or “canopy,” of my hair to curl like the rest of my hair, but it only worked temporarily and I never repeated the process.

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Deva Cut: Before & After

In December of last year—yes, I know, this is a very belated blog post—I went to get my very first Deva Cut, which is a specific method of cutting and styling curly hair. They cut your hair dry, so that the curl pattern is visible, instead of wet which can weigh down curls and stretch them out. Then they wash, style, and go back in with scissors to do any touchups. They never use a razor or thinning shears, and they cut each curl individually and at a specific point in the curl so as not to break it’s pattern. It’s a long hair cut, 1-2 hours, but totally and utterly worth it.

I was able to find a salon here in San Francisco, Madusalon, that caters specifically to curly hair and are experts in Deva Cuts. Previously I’ve had my hair cut at Ouidad in NY, where they also specialize in curly hair but they still cut your hair wet. When I moved to SF I was originally going to Barber Lounge until my stylist left the salon. I really liked my stylist there and we remain friends, but I had been wanting to try a Deva Cut for a long time now. (That post is from 4 years ago! Augh.) I’m glad I finally did, and am kind of kicking myself for not doing it sooner!

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Last night I had my 2nd haircut at the Barber Lounge, which would also be my 2nd haircut since I’ve been living in San Francisco… and guess what? I have another appointment in 2 weeks! :O

Those of you that know me well will know that I have paranoia when it comes to getting my hair cut—ever since my grandma once took me to her hairdresser to get a “stylish pixie cut”—I had photos of what I wanted and everything—the summer before high school and the hairdresser gave me a bob instead with one side shorter than the other… Yeah, you get the picture. I had to wait the summer for my hair to grow out and then get it reshaped before high school started, and it was still not what I wanted. Bleh.

Since then I have avoided getting my hair cut like the plague. I don’t remember how many haircuts I got in high school but it was not many… and in college I got my hair cut all of twice in 4 years. Yeah, that’s kind of bad, I know. And I’ve grown accustomed and fond of the length of my hair! Continue Reading


Fill-in-the-Blank: Hair

I was inspired to do this by Allison, and even though I’m not one to post memes I found this one to be intriguing.

Fill in the Blank Friday: Hair

1. My last haircut was too long ago, over a year. I’m definitely, definitely due for one.

2. My most daring hair moment was when I decided to get a pixie haircut, but it didn’t quite go as planned. I was 13.

3. A hairstyle I’d never be brave enough to try is dreadlocks, ick!

4. I’ve always dreamt of being a (blonde, brunette or redhead) … Neither, actually. I am a natural redhead and I LOVE my color. Wouldn’t change it for the world.

5. My go-to hair do is parted on the right side with top layer pulled back and secured with a hair clip. I put in a little bit of gel to old my curls and some conditioning spray, and that’s it!

6. My biggest hair disaster was that time I got the pixie cut… the hair stylist my grandma took me too did not do what I asked her to, and ended up cutting my hair shorter on one side than the other, and then just brushed my hair into a side part so I wouldn’t notice! I was pissed. I had to wait for it to grow out a bit (2-3 weeks) before going to get it fixed. Sad thing is I had to start high school with this haircut. 🙁

7. A hairstyle I am dying to try is something a little more daring than what I usually do, maybe with braids (but I’m terrible at braiding).

8. My best hair day was the day of my first Ouidad haircut. It’s a salon in NY that only cuts curly hair, and they have a specific method for doing so.

9. The worst hairstyle I ever had was see question #6.

10. My hair is red, curly, and thin. It’s fairly soft, but the top layer always turns into a frizzy mess, which is why I often pull it back with a clip.


Quest for a New Hair Stylist

When I lived in New York City, I went to the Ouidad salon to get my hair cut and styled—they specialize in curly hair, and I love and use their products every day. Sadly, there is no Ouidad salon or Ouidad-trained stylist in the SF bay area. 🙁 I’m not sure where to go, so I’ve begun scouring Yelp and Naturally Curly for salon reviews.

Despite my lamentation that there’s no Ouidad stylists in the area, there seem to be plenty who are trained in the “Deva” cut, which is another method for cutting curly hair. I’ve never had a Deva cut before, but it doesn’t seem like a bad thing to try. It won’t kill me, right? (Though, depressingly, the salon that pioneered the Deva cut, Devachan, is ALSO based out of NY.)

I’ve found a few salons that do the deva cut and a few that don’t specify, so I’ll have to make some calls to confirm. Then I’m set to make an appointment somewhere for next weekend, after my birthday, which is when I get paid next.