In the perfect-curl world of hairstylist Lorraine Massey, a blow-dryer is referred to as a blow-fryer. And a curly-haired woman who uses one to take the curl out of her hair is called a straight jacket. "A straight-jacket is somebody who is afraid of her own natural look," says Massey, owner of Devachan Salon. "She's afraid of her curls. She's the one at the beach who is miserable because the humidity is curling her straightened hair. She's not spontaneous; she's in denial. She's not free." And, Massey says, the woman's hair is fried.
Think of Nicole Kidman, Massey says. "She has tiny broken hairs around her face from straightening her hair. Her hair is so decayed now, even her naturally curly hair would need time to look better." Making damaged naturally curly hair look better is Massey's claim to fame. People seeking healthy shiny bouncy curls — and even those with straight hair — travel from all over to her Manhattan salon.
- Stop shampooing your hair. "Shampoos contain sodium lauryl sulfate. Sodium lauryl sulfate is a chemical; this chemical is a detergent and is universally known as a skin irritant. It hurts your skin. It really dries out hair because it's an inorganic chemical and hair is organic. Shampoo strips hair of natural moisture." Instead, she says, use just a little conditioner on a daily basis.
- Shampoo hair with conditioner. "Just use a little bit and rinse it thoroughly," she says. "It may take some trial and error to know how much you need. After a while you'll know exactly what to use. Start small. Think of how much lotion you put on your face; your scalp is not much more surface area. Gently wash the scalp with the conditioner and rinse well."
- Stop combing and brushing hair. If you cleanse hair with conditioner, tangles will fall out naturally while you are rinsing hair. Combing and brushing hair merely adds potential for damage and frizz. Curls will stay contained within themselves and the hair's surface will remain smooth.
- Really get to know your own hair. "Your hair isn't mine. It isn't your friend's. It isn't the girl next door's. You must touch your hair; feel it. Understand what your hair is like healthy, what it feels like, so you can maintain it. If I gave you a cashmere sweater and a cheap synthetic, you would know which one is best by touching
- Don't use gels, silicone products and frizz-free products. "Hair product manufacturers use the cheapest ingredients," she says. "Many people with naturally curly and naturally wavy hair look for genies in the bottle. There is no genie. Gels and silicone products are Band-Aids. They don't heal hair; they just lie on top and take away moisture. For a minute, hair looks less frizzy, but inside moisture is sucked out."
- Go softer on the products, she says, and for a few days your hair may look beaten up. But eventually the conditioner-regimen will take hold and you'll see and feel a difference. "We call frizzy hair roadkill — it's lifeless hair without moisture. If you keep enough moisture within strands of hair by only using conditioning products (and not using shampoos!), your hair will not leave itself to look for moisture, each beautiful curl stays clear and crystallized."
- Find a hairstylist who understands how to cut curly hair. Curly hair has to be cut dry," says Massey. "That's the only way to know if hair is cut evenly. " The problem right now is hair dressers are not trained on curly hair she says. "They're only taught to blow-fry curly hair to straight-jacket kingdom. I spend a lot of my time at hair conventions, nobody focuses on curly hair."
- Love your curly hair. "Once you know how to care for your hair, once it's understood," says Massey, "it says so much about who you are to keep it curly. A woman who shows us her naturally curly hair, shows us she knows herself and loves herself all the way through. She's not afraid to be herself. For more information go to DevachanSalon.com.