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Expert Advice

Curl Confidence

Elizabeth Jakaitis | June 7, 2016 | 8:56 AM
Hair: Robin Sjoblom
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Hair: Shai Amiel
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Hair: Isabella Vázquez
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Hair: Najah Aziz
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Cut and styling: Mona Baltazar Color: Marissa Gold
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Hair: Scott Musgrave Photography: Evelyn Diaz
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Curl specialists with major social media cred troubleshoot client challenges and the services and solutions that celebrate texture.

Beauty bloggers occupy a large space in the digital world of texture, which has led to a flood of mixed information on curl care coming from beauty enthusiasts rather than licensed professionals. Fortunately, some professional curl specialists have taken to platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Periscope and YouTube to share education and inspiration that can be taken back to the salon.

 

Here, six of these social media influencers discuss the common concerns that clients bring to the chair and the solutions stylists can offer.

 

Cutting

THE SHRINK FACTOR

A common concern for curly clients is that too much hair will be cut, which can happen when hair is cut wet and then shrinks as it dries. Length can be difficult to achieve with curly hair, so a mistake like this could be devastating to a textured client.

 

To assess the potential for shrinkage, Isabella Vázquez, founder of curlpopnhair.com, says to pull down a curl and measure the length between the strand fully extended and where it naturally rests. If, for instance, the curl is two to three inches longer when extended, this means that when you cut a full inch off of wet curls, they will appear two inches shorter when dry.

 

“There is a place for both wet and dry cutting techniques,” Vázquez says. “When a client wants a tailored look and wears her hair both curly and straight, an all-over dry cut might not be the best option. Dry cutting has erratic pieces, so when blown out, the hair may appear uneven and make it difficult to blowdry. Erratic works for curly but not so much for straight which is why it’s important to talk about how clients wear their hair during the consultation.”

 

AVOIDNIG THE PYRAMID

 

When textured hair is cut using the same layering methods that are used for straight hair, the result is often a head of hair with a pyramid shape and too much bulk. The effect can be compounded by stylists recommending siliconebased products that coat the hair and prevent ingredients from penetrating the hair shaft to moisturize it, resulting in frizz. So what should stylists be doing differently to save curly clients from puffy, triangular cuts? Scott Musgrave, founder of Curly Hair Artistry, begins each appointment before the client arrives, with an email consultation to get an idea of the condition of the hair and the products that are used.

 

“I cut the client’s hair dry, curl by curl—each formation is cut by hand only, with no brush or comb,” Musgrave says. “Once the traditional layering methods that produce a triangle shape are gone, I then remove all buildup of silicone and lathering agents and hydrate the hair properly.”

 

Color

EXPECTATION VS. REALITY

When it comes to curls and color, the first thing to determine during a consultation is whether the client’s color goal can be achieved on that hair type and without causing extensive damage. Because curly hair can lack moisture and be more porous, there can be a limit to how much color it will accept and how light it will lift before altering the curl pattern.

 

Vázquez likes to have clients prepare for a color service by creating a folder of pictures or Pinterest board with different color looks that draw their eye. This can teach a stylist a lot about the client’s style and goals, and hopefully at least some of the looks they choose are achievable on their hair type. 

 

“Often, we try to achieve as close as possible to what the client wants and forget about what the curl can handle,” Vázquez says. “Using high volumes or raw lighteners will alter the curl pattern completely. It can also enhance dryness, porosity and lack of natural shine, as well as cause breakage.”

 

Assessing hair’s integrity, elasticity and porosity are important preliminary steps, according to Vázquez. She recommends using color brands that promise the least amount of breakage and the highest amount of technology to keep the hair healthy during the color process. If lightening, use lighteners that contain ingredients like vitamin B.

 

“We often make the mistake of working with curly hair as if we’re doing hair that is straight, using exact measurements and angles and then ending up with extreme lines in the hair. Focusing where your eyes see the curls living will help with creating soft lines that disappear and curls that intertwine with each other.” —ISABELLA VÁZQUEZ

LIFTING AND LIGHTENING

 

Another common color challenge is lightening past the orange phase. Again, it is important to manage client expectations. When lightening from dark brown to blonde, don’t promise a pale-yellow result after the first service. Let the client know the process will take up to a few months to achieve in order to maintain the integrity of the curls.

 

When painting on lightener, Vázquez recommends using a lightener that will stay moist throughout the process, but won’t bleed or spill onto the rest of the curls.

 

“Clay-based or oil-based lighteners on the heavier side are good for this technique,” Vázquez says. “When utilizing foils, a lightener that can lift as much as possible using a lower volume is best. If you have to use a heating lamp, be sure not to position it too close to the head.”

 

Hair Health

DAMAGED ENDS

 

Many textured clients come to the salon in need of help for their hair’s heat-damaged ends. The damage can be incurred by chemical services to smooth or loosen curls, heat styling at home or—perish the thought!—damage done in the salon when a stylist flat irons hair before trimming the ends. Not only does this result in a bad cut but it can cause damage that will set a curly client back months in hair growth.

 

Of course, the most effective way to deal with damaged ends is to cut them off. Some curly clients may be willing to go for the big chop and remove all of the damaged length, but others may prefer to take it more slowly and gradually remove the ends.

 

“Dry cutting curls in their natural state is the best way to achieve a good curly cut,” says Robin Sjoblom, owner of Southern Curl Salon in West Midtown, Atlanta. “We are able to see each curl type and are able to assess the damaged ends, deciding what needs to go and what needs to stay.”

 

Shai Amiel, owner of Capella Salon in Los Angeles, agrees that a good cut is the best way to start the repair process. He recommends trimming the ends every three months because this gives the hair time to grow between trims, but also stops split ends.

 

Beyond cutting, Sjoblom has found that Olaplex standalone treatments can be used to improve the condition of compromised curls. “After a good trim, Olaplex can repair the bonds of damaged curls and give life to them again—although it does not repair curls that have been driven off a cliff.”

 

THIRSTY CURLS

 

Another conditional ailment common to curls is dryness. Najah Aziz, owner of Like The River The Salon in Atlanta, says the first step in tackling this challenge is asking the right questions during the consultation. Ask these clients how often they are getting chemical services, if they are taking any medications (this can contribute to dryness), get details on their hair history and find out what products they are using at home. Silicone-based products could be the culprits behind the hair’s need for moisture.

 

“I always recommend deep hydration treatments and pre-shampoo oil treatments in the salon,” Aziz says. “We use a steamer with the appropriate treatment to address dry hair. Textured clients generally come for salon services a minimum of two times a month, and I would recommend getting moisture treatments each time.”

 

Styling

VOLUME AT THE ROOT

 

It might seem like curly clients have hair with plenty of body and thickness, but for many, volume is on their list of styling wants—especially at the roots. This can be challenging for clients whose curl pattern grows out flat on the top. Mona Baltazar, hairstylist and colorist at Muze Salon in New York, first addresses this concern by educating her clients on their curl pattern so they understand why flatness at the roots is occurring.

 

“I show them how to help boost the roots by diffusing or fluffing the roots once hair is dry,” Baltazar says. “I also try to find another area in their hair to enhance, creating a custom shape just for them.”

 

INCONSISTENT CURL PATTERNS

 

It is not uncommon for one curly head of hair to be home to multiple curl patterns, which can result in styling confusion. Products and practices that work on one section of hair might have an unwanted effect on another. Plus, varying curl types need to be styled so that curls look consistent throughout.

 

“When a client has new growth above damaged ends, that new growth will be a lot curlier,” Amiel says. “It is usually very noticeable where the healthy hair meets the damaged hair. The two different textures will require different styling methods sometimes, and the damaged hair will absorb product differently, so it’s ideal to know how to style each texture.”

 

Because heat styling is often the reason behind the damaged ends, it is best to avoid that type of styling when creating consistency between the curl types.

 

“If the damaged section doesn’t hold a curl, you can wrap the wet hair around a straw and allow it to dry into the perfect ringlet,” Amiel says. “This does not damage the hair like a hot curling iron and leaves it shiny and soft. I have different sized straws for creating different curl sizes. You hold the hair around the straw with a bobby pin, and it dries pretty quickly if you let it air dry.”

 

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