Curls made a huge comeback last year, whether natural or not. Here’s why the trend is here to stay and how to manage your curls so they stay looking their most fabulous and fullsome.
We’re in the midst of a curl revolution which looks set to grow further in 2020. Former ‘secret’ curly hair owners are embracing their natural locks, and those not genetically gifted with waves are booking in for perms – yes really!
Award-winning London hairdresser Karine Jackson (karinejackson.co.uk) says her salon did three perms all year in 2005, while in 2018 they did 176. They currently book in 2-4 every day.
‘Perms are so popular but there are a multitude of ways to do them now,’ says Karine. While you can still book in for a traditional set, more modern techniques use bendy rollers to give more beachy, natural curls – so it’s less 80s frizz or 90s crunch, and more flattering waves.
Curly goes mainstream
According to recent stats, Superdrug has seen a 40 per cent growth in sales of curl-enhancing products in the last year alone. This indicates curly hair, including afro, is no longer a specialised hair type: it’s mainstream, natural and better represented than ever. So why the sudden love of all things wavy?
Experts suggest the appeal of the curl is down to a number of factors: celebs and non-celebs embracing their natural hair, the steer away from harsh straightening treatments, and the fact that curls are flattering, fun and easy to style up… once you know how.
‘Curly hair is bespoke and beautiful,’ says Karine. ‘It can be high maintenance and temperamental too, but as you get to know your curls and experiment with products, you will be able to embrace and enjoy them.’
Dryness causes frizz
Dryness can be common for curly hair as the oil produced at each follicle can’t get all the way down the bends leading to dryness and frizz.
‘Frizz is caused by the cuticles sticking up – they are meant to lay flat and overlap from root to tip,’ says Karine. Styling tools, tying hair up and colouring it all rough up the cuticles to cause gaps and breakages, to which curly hair is more prone.
That said, with a combination of the right treatments, styling products and minimal combing, frizz can be tamed – just not necessarily in the same way every day. ‘Curly hair plays by its own rules,’ says Karine. ‘Mine changes all the time, it can be perfectly curly, then a few days later looks much straighter.’
Curls can also be affected by the menstrual cycle, while some women have straight hair before pregnancy, then it goes curly, or vice versa.
Curly hair can also be fine or coarse, and abundant or sparse. Whatever you have will determine the products you use (see over page).
How to care for curls
Karine Jackson shares her top tips for looking after curly hair
Upon waking in the morning, leave your hair for at least 20 minutes before you touch it. Like your skin, which can crease on the pillow, hair needs time to calm down so you can then decide how best to style it for the day.
Brush hair well before washing (but only then!), and comb through with conditioner while in the shower. While you ought not brush curls when dry, you do need to detangle before washing. Also, brushing stimulates your scalp to spread oils along the hair shafts, which curly hair needs.
Use natural products where possible, avoiding artificial silicones which can coat strands and lead to dryness.
Apply a hair mask once a week, to deeply nourish curls and keep cuticles smooth.
Leave hair to dry naturally wherever possible, as any extreme heat can add to frizz and dryness.
The less you play with or try to style or brush curly hair, the better as it leaves curls intact. Visit a curl specialist for cuts. They may dry cut your hair to help work with the overall shape.
Curly hair heroes
Best for cleansing
Aveda Be Curly Shampoo (£20.50, aveda.co.uk) cleanses with care. It’s packed with wheat protein, which expands when hair is wet, then pings back when dry, keeping curls defined.
Best coarse hair detangler
Mane ‘n Tail Detangler (£7.99, lookfantastic.com) formerly designed for horses (yes really!), can sort out knots on the coarsest hair.
Best leave-on mask
Lee Stafford Cactus Crush Mucho Moisture Mask (£8.99, boots.com) harnesses the hydration, minerals and electrolytes from cacti, which have to withstand strong desert sun, to moisturise strands.
Best multi-tasking conditioner
Redken Curvaceous Conditioner (£12.75, lookfantastic.com) contains a curl memory complex with sugar crystals and moringa oil to replenish moisture and optimise definition. It can also be used as a wash-off conditioner for fine hair, or left on overnight for a coarse or dry hair.
Best for styling coarse curls
Kevin Murphy Killer Curls (£31, cultbeauty.co.uk) is an anti-frizz cream that fills in gaps in cuticles for smoother strands, thanks to watermelon and aloe vera leaf juice.
Best for a quick de-frizz
Living Proof No Frizz Instant De-Frizzer (From £10, living proof.co.uk) is a light oil to make curls shiny rather than heavy. One for your handbag to combat drizzly days.
Create faux curls
Not blessed with natural curls and don’t fancy joining Team Perm? Here’s what to do…
1 Mist hair all over with a flexible-hold hairspray.
2 Take two-inch-wide sections of hair and wrap around a heated tong, holding for up to 10 seconds. Catch the curl while it is still coiled as it slides off the tong. Hold it for a few moments until it cools slightly and then place it down. Repeat until all your hair
3 Mist with hairspray again.
Once all your curls are completely cool, comb through with your fingers.