Ok, I’ll call your bluff

On Friday, August 13, 2021, I posted a photo to Instagram of my hair; proud of how long I’ve managed to get it since shaving it for St. Baldricks in January of 2017. I mused about how long would be long enough and whether or not I’d shave it for charity again.

Cue the random Instagram account who slides into my comments asking me to message him. Ok fine. He starts by offering me $100 to give to any charity of my choice if I shave an undercut or side panel into my hair. You know what? Ok. It’s just hair, it grows back, and when I made clear how much hair I was willing to cut at this particular moment in time, he initially tried to get me to follow through right that second and then switched to lowering the amount he would send since “That doesn’t seem like a lot of hair for $100.” We went back and forth for a while and agreed on a lower amount of $50 to any charity I wanted in exchange for an undercut to the skin. Joke’s on you, guy. I was going to cut it that short anyway. When I asked when I should expect to see the money I was told essentially “tomorrow because it’s late here.” When I followed up on Saturday, he left me on read.

Are you surprised? I’m shocked. And surprised. So, so, so very shocked and surprised. I’m happy I was sitting down when I saw that my message had been seen 40 minutes ago. There’s no way I could ever have seen this coming.

Did I lay it on thick enough? I wasn’t surprised in the least bit. However, I had already shared the beginning part of the tale on Instagram and Facebook and decided that one way or another, at least $100 was being donated today.

When I asked my followers where the money should go, I received a few really great suggestions. Today, our money was split 3 ways.

One of my good friends and another very good client of mine both donated to heifer.org, who’s mission is to “end hunger and poverty in a sustainable way by supporting and investing alongside local farmers and their communities.” They purchased two flocks of chicks along with the training that will empower the recipients to provide nourishment to themselves, boost income through sales of extra eggs and offspring, and allow this knowledge to be passed on in the community and through future generations.

I chose to fund the remaining $100 personally, and split those donations between the Palatine Food Pantry and Wings Program, which are both local to me. I’ve mentioned Wings here before and I’m sure that I will again. Wings Program provides assistance and shelter options to people escaping domestic violence situations, and we all know how food pantries help the community.

If you want to donate as well, feel free to give to the charities that mean the most to you, or click the buttons below to donate directly to the same causes.

If you just want to roll your eyes, I’ve saved the message thread for your convenience. I would normally redact personal information before sharing, but something about this just feels like anonymity is not what this guy needs.

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I’m switching to Olaplex!

A while back I wrote about the differences between Olaplex and B3, and why I was using B3 instead of Olaplex. My main hang up that pushed me towards the B3 over the Olaplex initial was that the Olaplex had the second step that just took extra time we don’t always have. In my previous salon setting, a lot of the procedures were dictated for us and we weren’t really supposed to stray from “these are the instructions and that’s how we do things.” I have the advantage of continuing to fine tune my behind the chair practices, so I did more research on how I could make my practices more efficient.

Turns out, I can multi-task and let your step 2 sit while I cut your hair, because it takes me about the same amount of time to cut your hair as your treatment needs to sit. Then we shampoo it out and using Leaf and Flower’s 7 Minute Blowout, get a great finished look in a fraction of the time.

Other great ways I can incorporate Olaplex into your services:

  • Stand-alone treatment: to be added to your root refresh or cut and blowdry for maximum repair.
  • Shine bomb: add a clear glaze to your root refresh or cut and blowdry for even more shine.
  • Take home color bomb: Include Olaplex No. 3 Repairing Mask to your color extending conditioner to maintain the brightness of your fashion color.
  • For a scalp targeting experience, consider adding a treatment from MalibuC and/or Leaf and Flower.

If you’re interested in purchasing any of the take home items, please arrange that before your appointment so that I can ensure I have the products you’re looking for.

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What really happens when you use kitchen oils in your hair

It seems like we hear it around every corner: “coconut oil is a miracle worker” or “have a problem? Try coconut oil!”

To an extent, sure thing!

The biggest difference between the coconut oil you use in the kitchen and the kind that’s added in hair products is that the coconut oil that goes into your hair products has undergone a process called hydrolization. ThoughtCo had a really great breakdown of what this process is in easy to understand terms, but the basic gist is that it’s a chemical reaction where water is used to break the bonds of a specific substance.

Why is this useful? Because sometimes we just don’t need every single bit of an ingredient and this is the best way to target the useful molecules that we need. Hydrolyzed oil will penetrate the cuticle, non-hydrolyzed will sit on top of the cuticle and more than likely cause a barrier or film

Don’t I need oil to seal my hair and add moisture?

Kind of. Your hair needs to have the right balance of protein, moisture, and ceramides (also known as lipids). We already know that protein and amino acids are the building blocks of the hair strand, and that hair needs moisture. Ceramides are a type of fat molecule found naturally in our body, mostly as the majority of the top layer of our skin. They’re beneficial in the hair by creating part of a barrier to keep moisture in where it’s needed and, ideally, other environmental debris out. Once you have everything in the strand that you need, you can seal it in with a lightweight oil or serum that’s designed to be removed with shampoo, as opposed to heavier oils like coconut that you need to shampoo over and over and over again to remove effectively.

Coconut and other similar oils can also soften the hair too much, which leads to your hair strands being overly stretchy. Why is that super bad? Soft stretchy hair is more prone to snap and break. Super coarse hair can sometimes benefit from those softening features, but that’s about it. What other oils can you find on the list of oils that are beneficial when hydrolized? Olive oil, sunflower oil, babassu oil, and a few more are on the list of beneficial penetrating oils. Much to my surprise, jojoba oil is on the list of oils that don’t really penetrate the hair at all.

In summary: yes oils can be extremely beneficial to your hair under the right circumstances and when processed the right way. The oils that you’re planning to cook and bake with have been produced for that purpose, and that purpose only. Using them on your hair is just going to result in your hair and scalp being coated with a film that’s difficult to wash off, which can actually increase dryness in your hair strand and cause problems at the scalp with your hair follicles.


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Leaf Shave Razor Review

Easy to customize shave, environmentally conscious, long lasting, elegant design

Price, finish availability varies, can get slippery without guard

The journey to be more environmentally conscious is a long one. I had been trying to find a more environmentally friendly way to shave for a long time. I’ve tried the typical safety razor in the past but not only did I scar myself with it (literally), I just don’t like the shave I get with only one blade. When I saw that the Leaf Razor had the option for multiple safety blades I was intrigued immediately. The cost was the big hang up for me at first, but eventually I was in a position that it was time to treat myself and I sprung for the kit.

You’ve got a few options when you first decide to try out Leaf Shave. Fortunately, everything on their site is broken down and super easy to figure out. Your best value (as is the case just about anywhere you’ve got the option to bundle products) is to get a bundled kit. I chose the original Leaf kit that comes with replacement blades, a stand, and a recycling tin. As a bonus, you have 6 different finishes to choose from so you’ll be able to match your decor or personality easily, or just be able to keep yours separate from someone else’s!


All of the packaging I didn’t keep was able to be recycled with the exception of a few stickers, one of which was around the stand and I haven’t gotten all of the residue off yet. To be fair though, I haven’t tried very hard. The razor and stand themselves are elegantly crafted, feeling sturdy in the hand but not heavy or cumbersome. Together they take up very little space overall.


It’s very clear that a lot of thought went into the design of the Leaf and Twig razors. On the rear of the head you’ll find a dial that you turn clockwise to tighten and counterclockwise to loosen. Loosening it fully allows you to open the blade holder and insert your desired number of blades, before closing and tightening.

While some people may find this razor fairly intuitive to use, the company provides easy to follow instructions for loading, prepping your skin, shaving, and even care and maintenance of your razor.

Care and Maintenance:

With anything that’s designed to last you for a long time, there’s usually some level of maintenance involved. Luckily with the Leaf and Twig razors the requirements are minimal. After every 1-3 uses you should open the blade holder and rinse everything off, drying thoroughly before reassembling. Once a month or so, take everything apart and clean the blade holders with a drop of dish soap and a soft brush. If you find your razor still needs a deep cleaning you can soak it for up to 10 minutes in a solution of 1 part white vinegar to 2 parts water before cleaning with soap; especially great if you’ve got issues with hard water and buildup.

Blade Replacement:

Just like with hair maintenance, replacing your blades can follow a general schedule whether it needs it or not, or lean more towards taking action when you’re not getting the results you want anymore. Straight from the FAQ section, even Leaf suggests experimenting to find the right frequency for you. Most people tend to change their blades every 6-10 uses, but depending on your hair texture and the amount of shaving you’re doing, you can go a few months on a single set of blades.

Blades can be purchased directly from Leaf Shave, or you can get standard safety razor blades and break them in half (safely, inside the paper) to use them.

Blade Recycling:

Gone are the days of disposing of old razor blades through the hole in your medicine cabinet! As weird as that may sound, I promise you that was an actual thing once upon a time. Instead you can use either the collection tin that Leaf has, or any small tin you have laying around, securely package it, and mail it right to the company at the address provided on their website. Alternatively, you can contact local scrap collection centers or your local recycling guidelines to see if there’s an option near you for disposal.

My personal feelings:

I stopped using any kind of shaving cream/lotion/etc a long time ago when most disposable cartridges started coming with a lotion strip and typically used that to help determine when the head needed to be replaced. My very first shave with Leaf was in a bath that also had coconut oil in it, so the blades got gummed up pretty fast. Totally my fault.

I struggled through a few more shaves before changing the blades and throughly cleaning the rest of the blade holders and trying again. While I don’t necessarily feel like I have overly sensitive skin, I did feel like my skin was somewhat irritated by using 3 blades with nothing but water so I switched to using some sort of soap, lotion, conditioner, etc when I started shaving and definitely felt like I was getting more desirable results.

I tend to shave my arms, underarms, and legs 1-2 times a week and so far with just thoroughly rinsing once a week I feel like my blades have been good for about a month or so. My only real complaint about the design is that the metal handle tends to get slippery when you mix in a shaving lotion and there’s even a solution for that! There’s a sleeve you can add to the handle of your razor to make it easier to hold on to while you’re using it.

For me, I think I probably need to be replacing the blades more often than I have been, but I’m still really happy with my choice. I got my husband a set for Father’s Day, and so far his only complaint was that when his sideburns were really long he needed to hold them out of the way with one hand to keep the longer hairs from being caught up with the sides of the blades.

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Eleven Australia Shampoo/Conditioner Bar Review


Environmentally friendly, smells good


Bit of a learning curve to use

What’s a shampoo bar anyway?

Shampoo bars are a low waste and no water option for cleaning your hair. They can be a little tricky to get the hang of using, especially if you have longer hair, but they’re a great product to look at when trying to minimize your personal environmental impact.

What does it look like?

Essentially they both look like a bar of soap. Both bars come in a recyclable cardboard box, with the conditioner bar also coming wrapped in a small papery bag. The shampoo bar is a little bigger than the conditioner bar, but they both fit easily in the hand.

What’s in it?

What does it smell like?

It’s described as having a pear scent. To me, it smells a little more floral than that, but I don’t find that the scent lingers heavily after use.

How do I use it?

I found it odd to use at first, but the shampoo bar was a bit easier to get the hang of than the conditioner bar. I did like how the shampoo made my hair feel, but wasn’t as thrilled with the conditioner on my first use. For me, what seemed to work best was trying to section my wet hair and scrubbing the bar right on my scalp in a bunch of places, and then setting it down and working it into a lather from there. The conditioner bar feels more tricky to use, to me. For this one it felt easier to “lather” my hands with the conditioner and work it in from there, or to grab large sections of hair and sandwich each section between my hand and the conditioner bar, and then comb it through afterwards before letting it sit.

It says that it will last you up to 125 washes. That’s a lot of washes. Since it’s so great at cleaning head to toe, you may find that it doesn’t last you quite as long; but even if you half the number of washes that’s still just about 2 months of daily head to toe use. I’ve enjoyed using the shampoo as a body soap most of the time. I’ve tried using it as a shaving lotion and while it was effective, I find that it tends to make my skin itchy if I use it during or after shaving. However, the same can be said for pretty much any lathering thing, so I usually soap before I shave. The conditioner bar, on the other hand, was really nice for shaving with; even if it did mean having to rinse my razor more frequently. I was also able to apply it almost like a lotion before I got out of the shower and didn’t feel like I needed as much lotion to keep my skin from drying out post shower, so that was really cool.

Where can I buy it?

You can pick one up at your next appointment with me, or click the button below to have it delivered right to your door!

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Meat sauce

Hello! I’m back again with another episode of “please don’t follow this recipe if you need structure” because, like pretty much all of my recipes, this is not the recipe for that.

Today we have a simple recipe for a tomato based meat sauce using whatever you have handy. For me, that was:

  • Italian sausages
  • An onion, clove of garlic, and a zucchini
  • 4 tomatoes that came in a produce order I forgot to skip
  • A small can of tomato paste
  • Beef bouillon and other spices

What you’re going to do:

  • Get your meat cooking. For me that entailed squeezing the meat from the casing into a pot to let it start cooking.
  • While the meat was cooking I cut up one onion and the clove of garlic and added them to the meat to start cooking them down.
  • While stirring the pot occasionally to keep it from burning, I cut the ends off of and peeled the zucchini before slicing it into bite-size chunks. When the meat seemed adequately cooked I added the zucchini.
    – The zucchini went in for a few reasons. First, because I’m not a huge fan of zucchini and knew that if I didn’t use it in a way that I would eat it, it would either go bad or my husband would cook something with it I’d feel bad picking around. Second, I was hoping to use some of the water from the zucchini to add water to the dish.
  • While that cooks, cut the stemmy parts off of your tomatoes and toss them, and put the rest of the tomatoes into a blender or magic bullet or just mash the crap out of them.
  • Now that everything that’s currently in the pot is pretty much cooked where we want them to be, add in a scoop of bouillon paste or a cube or whatever you’re using, and mix it in. Now add the can of tomato paste, the tomato liquid, and your seasonings (I think I used salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, and maybe something else), and mix that all together.
  • Put a lid on it and let it cook until it doesn’t smell or taste like raw tomato anymore. At some point there you should probably make some pasta, unless you’re planning to eat this like a stew, which is also totally fine.

Serve and enjoy!

Curl Care Series Part 4: Where do we start with products?

I have always maintained that the beautiful and terrible thing about home hair care is that there’s more than one right option. It’s hard to pick just one product in many cases, since so many factors can impact what the right choice for you ends up being. If you have something that should be added to this list, let me know; either in the comments or by emailing me at Sam@awildcoloristappears.com!

In the shower:

In my salon I tend to go for Eleven Australia and Leaf and Flower first. Hydrate is powerful but still lightweight, giving needed moisture to just about all hair textures. Smooth is a little bit heavier but adds an extra layer of frizz protection. The bars are probably going to be better if you can easily get to your scalp for the shampoo. Leaf and Flower has CBC and CBG in addition to CBD to add moisture and optimize scalp health, promoting new growth and balancing sebum production.

There are obviously a lot of other options, but I have extensive hands on experience with these ones.

I do also want to list some of the other products I’ve seen recommended for shampoo/conditioner:


For moisture my top two choices are usually Cult+King’s Balm for a heavier finish and Eleven Australia’s Miracle Hair Treatment for a lighter finish.

For frizz fighting I also like the Balm, as well as Frizz Control Shaping Cream from Eleven and the Leaf and Flower Instant Frizz Remedy.

My top serums/oils are Leaf and Flower’s Phytomolecular Oil, and Eleven’s Smooth and Shine serum.

For curl enhancing I love Cult+King’s Jelly and Style, Eleven’s Curl Defining Cream, and homemade flax gel


It’s easy enough to make some of your own products for styling, but there are also some really great small businesses that cater to this as well. Flax gel is one of the easiest ones to make yourself at home, and a few of my curly clients swear by it! Naturally Curly has a great recipe you can follow at home.

EcoSlay is also a company I recommend a lot when looking for small-batch curl-oriented products; and as a bonus the owner is a very sweet and knowledgeable person.

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Curl Care Series Part 3: So how am I actually supposed to style my hair?

First and foremost I have to warn you that the answer may not be straightforward. What comes below will be a great starting point and may work just fine for you, but if you see someone with a similar texture hair and wave/curl pattern to your own and you love how it looks, ask them what they do for styling!

Now that we’ve covered that part, let’s get into how are we styling all these glorious curls and getting the most out of them? I think some of the best general advice I came across came mostly from the Curlfriends group:

  • Take care of your emotional and nutritional health. Your hair is also fed by what goes into your body.
  • Choose one hair goal at a time and work towards it
  • Properly formulated lower ph conditioner does the job of closing down the cuticle over the water, sealing in moisture.
  • Figure out what balance of moisture and protein that you need; your happiest hair is going to come from having the right balance
  • You’re going to have to experiment to find the things that your specific hair likes and doesn’t like. Use the ingredient list to decide what you’re buying rather than marketing promises
  • Don’t over-manipulate your hair, particularly when it’s dry. If you can avoid having to refresh and restyle, the better your hair will usually feel.

In shower styling:

Depending on the amount of moisture your hair needs you may actually end up better off trying to add your styling products before you even get out of the shower. The downside to this is that you’re probably going to use a lot more product at once, but the upside is that you can probably get away with minimal refreshing during the in between days.

There’s a few reasons that this method may work for you. First of all, it cuts down on mess because anything extra just goes down the drain. It also uses the products to trap the water in your hair so you’re not drying out before you even have a chance to style. For a more controlled experience and/or to minimize waste, bring a bowl into the shower or wherever you’re trying to style.

  • Start with shampooing/cleansing if you need to. When it’s time to condition, squish to condish. The short version is that by applying the conditioner in an upward motion, you’re more likely to drive the additional moisture/protein benefits of the conditioner into your hair strand. You can also take this time to brush or comb out major tangles and then scrunch it back up.
  • When it comes time to rinse you’ve got a few options based on time/comfort level/etc. You can:
  • Rinse everything thoroughly and hope for the best
  • Rinse just your roots under the shower head, leaning forward so your hair is upside down if you want/are able to
  • Lean forward over your bowl and use a cup with some clean water to rinse out just your roots. Utilize the conditioner filled water at the bottom of the bowl to continue squishing the product back up into your curls while rinsing the conditioner from your scalp
  • It’s important to pay attention to the products you’re using and what your hair needs are for that day. Leaving in a heavy product will add more buildup than is necessary and will weigh your hair down if you don’t actually need that much of it.
  • Here is where you would add in your gel and/or other products. There are a lot of effective combinations of products but in general the following statements hold across most of them:
  • The more water there is in your hair the more it will dilute the product you’re putting into it. That gives you the chance to use that to your advantage when it comes to the products you’re using. It may sound counterintuitive to apply products to soaking wet hair, but remember that your curls need moisture and that’s what water is. By trapping in some of that water with product, you’re helping to nourish your hair.
  • You may have to reapply and/or layer the products you’re using once some of the excess water has naturally been evaporated, or if you plop with something absorbent once you get out of the shower.


One of the most popular terms I came across while educating myself on curly hair and styling is plopping. It’s called plopping because in essence, you’re plopping your hair on the top of your head to let it dry and enhance your curls. How do you do this?

  • Set aside a soft cotton t-shirt or a microfiber towel and wash your hair like you normally would
  • Apply the products you normally would to your wet hair and use a little more than you usually would since the towel or t-shirt will also absorb some of the product
  • Lay out your shirt or towel on a flat surface, leaving the sleeves of the shirt at the bottom if that’s what you’re using
  • Stand in front of it and flip your head forward so that all your hair is in the center of the towel and at the top of your head, bending at the waist depending on your counter height
  • Grab the shirt or towel that’s behind your head and flip it over your hair onto your neck
  • Grab the sleeves of the shirt or the bottom of the towel, and fold it over your forehead towards the back, and tie the cloth together over the backside of the fabric

Once your hair is secured you can do one of the following, depending on your time and energy:

  • Leave your hair plopped for 10-20 minutes and let your hair air-dry or blowdry with a diffuser
  • Leave it until it’s totally dry or diffuse it with your cloth in place
  • Leave it overnight so you wake up with dry hair

Diffusing vs air-drying:

The decision to diffuse or let hair air dry is usually based on comfort level and time available. There’s no right or wrong answer, but I do feel like it’s important to know how to do both if you’re able to. Most of the “tips” for air drying come from product application and not touching it afterwards if you can help it.

Diffusing, on the other hand, has a lot of options and may feel overwhelming if you’ve never done it before. There’s more than one “right” answer here too, so play around to figure out what works best for you.

  • For the most volume, I recommend flipping your head over if you’re able to. This allows your roots to dry standing up which makes them less likely to flatten out during the day.
  • There are a lot of “universal” diffuser attachments available on the market, but if you’re not sure where to start there’s a few “at home” attachments you can use as well.
  • Believe it or not, a sock. Sock diffusers are also widely available but you can get similar results with one of your own (clean) socks at home. The downside that I’ve run into is that I have a hard time keeping the sock attached to the end of the dryer so I ended up holding it with my hand.
  • A colander can also be used effectively if you don’t have a diffuser attachment for your dryer. It also has the extra benefit of keeping your hair together and less “messed with” from the airflow of the blow dryer.

Ok it’s dry, now what?

In general, the best way to maintain the most definition of your waves or curls is to leave them be. If you feel like they need an extra boost of product, I usually recommend applying by scrunching the product in sparingly (remembering that the more dry your hair is the more concentrated the effect of anything you put on it), and then letting it finish drying. If you have a crunchy feel, or cast, to your curls, I suggest scrunching the crunch out. That will break up the extreme hold while also generally leaving the shape of everything intact.

Refresh days:

This is such a personalized part that it’s difficult to really give one solid piece of advice. Where I usually suggest starting out is one of the following:

  • If you’re someone who needs to shower first thing every morning, try scrunching water from your hands into your hair, or doing a full soak down and add conditioner back in.
  • You can try getting your hair wet in a sink or with an attachment from the shower.
  • You can try a spray bottle of water, possibly with some detangler or conditioner mixed in, or just straight spray detangler.
  • Sleeping with your hair in a loose French braid can help to prevent knots, and sleeping on something silk or satin (or with a similar sheen) can help prevent excess frizz.

Great resources you should definitely be looking into:

I will never know everything about hair in general, nor will I ever pretend to. There’s also a lot about hair that isn’t my place to be educating about much further than “you need to be knowledgeable and mindful and learn from someone who’s lived or is living what you’re trying to learn.” It’s still things I need to be knowledgeable about, but isn’t my place to be teaching. Here are some of the places I found online that have a lot of really great information and is where I would recommend starting your more intensive knowledge journey.

Curlfriends has been my main source of information on my own journey to educate myself more on curly hair. I cannot emphasize enough how informative that group has been, and it is a safe space for everyone.

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Curl Care Series Part 2: What are those ingredients and what do they do?

As mentioned in Part 1, my main issue was with how things were presented. For instance, being told to completely avoid sulfates and alcohols. Well, it just isn’t that simple; especially if you’re just starting out and learning the difference between all the kinds of sulfates and alcohols and everything else.

It’s incredibly important to remember that your health and diet play a huge role in your hair health. Your hair is fed from a tiny blood vessel leading to each follicle of hair, so if you’re lacking water and protein, your hair probably is too. External ingredients can only do so much with the canvas that they’re provided.

What are sulfates and why do we have feelings about them?

Sulfates are surfactants, commonly used as cleaning agents and degreasers, and to help water spread the products more easily. The short version is that they’re mostly responsible for the lather that most people associate with “clean”. They’re effective cleaners for sure, but more heavy duty than most hair requires. Being so effective at cleaning is what removes your color and the moisture your hair needs to stay healthy. They also have a history of being common skin irritants.

Healthline had a few great articles about sulfates in shampoos and skin care if you want to read a bit more there.

To save you the same time I spent going down this rabbit hole, I’ve tried to condense a few of my notes for you.

What’s an emollient?

Emollients are the part of moisturizers that keep your skin soft. They fall into a few different categories depending on how oily or greasy they are, and what the desired outcome will be. The higher the oil content, the more effective it is at forming a protective layer on your skin (or hair) to trap moisture in (or out).

  • Ointmets are the heaviest kinds of emollients. Being extremely thick allows them to most effectively keep moisture where it needs to be. On the downside it can be harder to spread and stain clothing and other fabric.
  • Creams are a mixture of oil and water, which makes them easier to spread but less moisturizing.
  • Lotions are mostly water with small amounts of oil, which means they’re the easiest to spread and the better choice for finer hair textures.

The Curly Girl Method specifically mentions using Shea Butter, and olive and vegetable oils. The theory isn’t bad, good fats and nutrition that’s good when you put them inside of you. I’m definitely not suggesting you avoid these things, because when used properly they can be quite effective, but do make sure you’re looking into it first and not just grabbing a bottle of oil from your kitchen to take into the bathroom with you.

  • Shea butter has hit and miss search results. On the one hand, yes, it’s super moisturizing. For the skin. On the other hand it’s often overdone and can actually keep your hair strands from absorbing the moisture it needs from the water in the air, or from actual, you know, water. Same goes for coconut oil, by the way.
  • Olive and vegetable oils: the short version is going to be that if it was designed for use in the kitchen, it probably wasn’t designed with your hair or skin in mind and should stay in the kitchen. Will some of those things be found in your products and derived from the same ingredients? Of course, but things put in hair and skin products were usually designed for that purpose and most people don’t have the hair type that would benefit from such extreme measures.
  • So what happens when you use an extremely effective way to seal your hair strands that doesn’t wash away easily? It becomes that much more difficult to get moisture in the next time and eventually leads to your hair being too dry.

Proteins and moisturizers

I combined these two because it’s so important to have the right balance of moisture and protein, and to be aware that those needs may shift depending on the season/your diet/etc. Overdoing it on moisture tends to result in limp, lifeless curls, where as overdoing it on protein tends to result in dry, brittle hair.

  • Keratin is probably the number one thing that comes up when dealing with protein for hair products. This is because it’s the main protein that your hair is made of.
  • Wheat, wheat germ, and soy based proteins came up the most frequently after that. How you’ll see them in ingredient lists most commonly is as “Hydrolyzed wheat protein” and “Hydrolyzed soy protein.” Being Hydrolyzed means that the protein has been broken down into smaller chains of amino acids (the building blocks of protein), helping them penetrate the hair strand more effectively. If you have a topical sensitivity to soy or gluten, I would recommend avoiding products with those ingredients in them.
  • Collagen is another common recommendation, but much like the oils in the emollients, the way you use it will matter. The most effective results will probably come from your diet, but in your external products, a Hydrolyzed collagen will probably be the most effective.


Humectants are actually considered to be part of the moisturizer family. They’re used to increase the retention of moisture.

  • Common humectants are panthenol, vegetable glycerin, and sorbitol
  • While an important ingredient, this is one that I wouldn’t base my entire purchase on. Humectants pull moisture to the surface of whatever they’re on and sometimes this backfires when it comes to hair. Naturally Curly and Curly Hair Lounge both have incredibly detailed information on this that I just can’t do justice in a summary.,


Silicones are used to help detangle your hair, as well as to add shine. The biggest reason they end up on the “avoid” list is that not all of them are water soluble, which means that they build up on your hair and end up causing more harm than good in the long run.


Most alcohols are drying, so if you see them on the ingredient list, you may want to avoid that product. There are a few exceptions to this rule in hydrating alcohols, which include cetearyl alcohol, cetyl alcohol, myristyl alcohol, and behenyl alcohol.

Other mentioned ingredients

PVP and PVP/VA were mentioned as something to look for in gels. Much like a lot of the other ingredients we covered, this one has some mixed results when searching. At the end of the day, only you can decide what ingredients are compatible with your goals and lifestyle.

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Curl Care Series Part 1: The basics of curly hair and The Curly Girl Method

It’s not a secret that sometimes curly hair can be a bit overwhelming to have and to care for. There’s no end of suggestions for curls ranging from extremely detailed instruction lists to “let’s just wing it and see what happens” and everything in between. I feel the need to preemptively reiterate here that this is my opinion based on my current knowledge and research. Hair care is a very individual and personal thing, as it should be because hair itself is very individual and personal.

Doing some digging into the Curly Girl Method is giving me all sorts of feelings. In theory it’s not a bad idea, but it feels full of scare tactics the more I read up on it. I’m still a big fan of “if it’s working for you then by all means keep at it” but the CGM is not something I’m prepared to suggest as a professional; if for no other reason than the fact that while the steps they’re giving you aren’t necessarily bad the reasons that go along with them aren’t always scientifically sound. It’s almost like saying “you shouldn’t drink bleach because it will kill the bacteria in your gut and throw off the balance of your digestive system”. Like, you definitely shouldn’t drink bleach but I really feel like that’s not the reason to use for why. Of course I am in no way comparing the Curly Girl MethodMethod to drinking bleach, I promise. The basic gist of the method overall is that it’s essentially the “no ‘poo” method but designed more for curly hair. I take some issue with the no ‘poo method as well for similar reasons. Once again the theory is there, but the reasons aren’t as solid to me.

Starting at the beginning: basics and curl typing

So let’s start by talking about some of the basics we already know about curly hair (and possibly brush up on hair basics in general). The hair’s cuticle (that protective outer layer) is what helps to keep good moisture in and frizz causing moisture out. It’s actually made up of multiple layers that need to lay smoothly (think shingles on a roof) to create that smooth shiny look. Because the hair naturally bends as it grows with curly hair, it does tend to be more difficult to get that sleek shiny look without straightening it, but it’s absolutely not impossible.

Now that we have a better understanding of some of the basic hair makeup, let’s move on to curl typing. Some folks swear by the 2/3/4 a/b/c format, but honestly for most people it’s hard to match a type exactly and then you feel like nothing is working because you’re not using the right product. It can be a great tool for dialing in a care plan for curls, but if you’re just starting out it’s usually better to keep it a little more simple and stick with typing to wavy/curly/coily/kinky. Curious where you fall? Let me help you out!

You probably have wavy hair if:

  • The curl or wave starts further down the hair strand as opposed to starting right at the root. You can still have spirals towards the end of your hair, but unless those spirals go all the way to your head it’s still wavy hair.
  • Looks straight or less wavy when wet.
  • Mostly S waves that straighten out after a day or two or when the hair gets long. The length and weight of the hair can reduce the amount of curl/wave visible, and would also lead to curls or waves more towards your ends rather than throughout the hair.

You probably have curly hair if:

  • The curl forms in a spiral straight from the root and is still curly when wet.
  • Length and weight of hair don’t affect the curl shape as much; you still have ringlets starting right from the scalp even if your hair is long.
  • Ringlets are usually the size of a pencil, pen, or Sharpie. This just means they share the same diameter.

You probably have coily or kinky hair if:

  • The curl is a tightly formed coil approximately the size of a pen spring. This may also present as a tight zigzag pattern.
  • High shrinkage when dry and not affected by length or weight of hair.
  • Common misconceptions are that this hair type is always coarse or rough; a majority of it is actually very fine in texture.
  • Typically doesn’t have as many cuticle layers, which makes it more fragile and prone to breakage and dryness.

These images are a great visual for you to compare your hair to and see where you fall. It’s important to make sure you’re basing your information on the majority of your hair rather than one or two small sections that differ or have a more intense curl pattern. This will help to ensure that you’re taking the right journey for your hair type. If the products you choose are for curlier hair than yours, it’s highly likely that your hair will feel heavy and weighed down. If you’re choosing something that isn’t intense enough, your hair will probably look and feel dry and frizzy. It’s a delicate balancing act and worth noting that you may need different products for different times of the year or even different days, depending on local weather and whatever activities you have planned, etc.

The “avoid” list:

Circling back around to the things you’re being told to avoid and *why* you’re being told to avoid them. The Curly Girl Method in particular recommends totally avoiding shampoo, heat, combs and brushes, sulfates, non-water soluble silicones, and alcohol. It’s easy to see why, on the surface, this sounds like a great idea.

Shampoo and sulfates:

  • I’m putting these two together in the same spot for a reason: the number 1 reason I saw for recommending cutting out shampoo entirely was because of sulfates. The most common sulfates in shampoos are sodium-lauryl sulfate and sodium laureate sulfate.
  • Generally sulfates are on the “avoid” list because they’re such effective cleaners and remove everything both good and bad from the hair.


  • The biggest issue with heat, in my experience, has been misuse. It’s easy to want to crank the heat to “sun” and blast your way through whatever you’re doing but the “low and slow” method of cooking is popular for a reason and using the highest heat available on your hair to try to speed up your drying time is like cranking the oven up to bake your cookies faster; all you’re really going to accomplish is burning things.
  • If you can get away with a totally heat free styling that’s usually what I recommend. However a lot of people find that they need some sort of heat to help with styling, and that’s ok too. Using the right products for your hair to protect and prevent damage, along with making sure you’re using the right heat setting, will usually give you the results that you’re looking for without causing more damage than is necessary.

Combs and brushes:

  • With limited exceptions, don’t avoid these. Hair needs to be maintained to stay healthy and a good comb or brush can be vital to getting the results you need. The catch? It may not be needed where you think it is.
  • For almost every curl type, unless you’re trying to get big poofy curls (which is a-ok, by the way), don’t comb or brush your hair when it’s dry. Instead, try using a wide tooth comb or detangling brush in the shower to untangle and separate out your curls while your conditioner is in your hair.

Fragrances and alcohols:

  • I also combined these two because they tend to be added to lists for similar reasons. Some alcohols and fragrances are definitely drying to the hair, and some fragrances can also be major skin irritants. There’s also the deeper issue of the fact that the label “fragrance” is sort of a catch all when it comes to added scents.

Non-water soluble silicones:

  • Silicones are typically added to hair products as a smoothing feature since they help the layers of the cuticle lay down and stay there. They’re also great at helping to detangle and add shine, but if they aren’t water soluble they’ll build up over time creating other issues.

The Curly Girl Method

Some of the do’s and don’t’s are more product directed, so that will be covered in Part 2. Here I want to focus more on the directions of the CGM.

It starts by explaining that the CGM “trades in damaging habits (like shampooing and heat styling) for a healthy curly hair regimen using just conditioner and gel)”. The particular site I found the instructions on did give you the benefit of telling you that you should feel free to modify the recommendations to suit your hair, but, to me, it almost felt underhanded.

Honestly I think my biggest issue is that it always feels like it starts out with OH MY GOD DON’T USE ANY OF THESE THINGS EVER WHY DO YOU HATE YOUR HAIR BECAUSE CLEARLY YOU DO IF YOU USE THEM and then turns right around and makes suggestions that really do fall under the categories of the things it’s telling you to avoid, rather than taking the time up front to try and explain the differences enough that you don’t have to dig through the entire method multiple times to really see what you need. So let’s dig.

✨ Step 1: Start by gently scrubbing and stimulating the entire scalp with your fingertips and conditioner. They make sure to emphasize not to use your nails at all, and say that the friction will lift residue, sweat, and oil to be rinsed.

  • For the most part, yeah. The avoidance of fingernails is to make sure you’re not causing unnecessary irritation to your scalp. Conditioner is also a fairly good lubricant, so you’re not creating a ton of friction by using it on your scalp; instead your hair strands are more than likely creating the needed friction to lift residue. You can also use a silicone tipped scalp brush (I also recommend nothing scratchy) if using your fingers for an extended period of time is bothersome for you. I also still recommend using an actual cleanser from time to time.

✨ Remember earlier when it said “never use shampoo”? When asking how often should you cleanse your hair the recommendations given are:

  • Wavy hair – you can use regular shampoo but only once a week and always condition before and after using shampoo
  • Curly hair: cowash with water and conditioner every 7-10 days
  • Coily hair: In between cowash days, wet your hair and go straight to step 2
  • “Cowash” is a fancy name for washing your hair with conditioner. There are true cleansing conditioners on the market that are great for using this method of washing that have cationic surfactants which really do help to cleanse and condition at the same time. Even still you’ll want to use a more clarifying shampoo 1-2 times a month to really ensure you’re removing excess buildup.
  • “Regular shampoo” here, in my opinion, is a shampoo meant specifically for cleaning rather than a cleansing conditioner which potentially won’t remove as much residue.

✨ Step 2: Condition! Smooth conditioner over your hair in sections until all your hair is covered and then let the water distribute the product evenly.

  • Wavy hair: Rinse for just a few seconds, it’s ok if a little bit of conditioner is left on the hair.
  • Curly hair: Rinse or leave the conditioner on depending how much moisture you need.
  • Coily hair: If you have the time, wrap your hair and apply heat for 15 minutes for an added moisture boost and then rinse completely to avoid a visible film.
  • In my opinion, the texture of your hair is going to have a bigger role in how much conditioner should or shouldn’t come out than just basing it on your curl pattern. While it’s true that the curlier your hair is the more moisture it needs, coarser hair will benefit the most from minimal rinsing and finer hair will be weighed down more if a lot of product is left behind.
  • The type of conditioner you use here is also important. If you have fine wavy hair but use something designed for coarser wavy hair, it’s very likely that even with a full rinse you’ll feel like your hair is still weighed down.
  • If your hair tends to get really tangly, especially when it’s wet, this would be a good time to use your brush or comb to work some of those out and make sure the conditioner is evenly distributed. Be sure to start at the bottom and work your way up, and don’t be afraid to let the running water help you move the conditioner around.

✨ Step 3: Dry and style – bend forward and blot your hair dry by cupping curls in a towel, making sure you’re not wringing or disturbing your curls, and then air dry or use a diffuser if you’re in a hurry. It says next to scrunch gel from the ends toward the scalp starting at the nape and working up, scrunching the top layer last and clipping the roots for lift, but doesn’t specify how much moisture should still be in your hair when you do that.

  • Wavy hair: encourage your curls to form with extra scrunching or by doing pin curls.
  • Curly hair: When hair is completely dry, bend forward and fluff from underneath to create lift, taking care not to touch the top layer to avoid frizz.
  • Coily hair: Recommended to just wash and go, however you can style any way you want as long as you try to avoid heat.

✨ There are a loooooot of things that could potentially affect the style of your curls or waves, and we’ll go into that more in Part 3.

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