Like that unwelcome house guest, it makes us both keenly aware of its presence while forcing us to suffer through. We don't want to accept that it's raiding our fridge and sleeping on our couch until noon but what are we to do?
Well, ladies - Knowledge is power so take these tips and use them to have power over that menace once and for all!
The cuticle layer of the hair - the outermost layer - is made up of downward facing shingles - like shingles on a roof. These - when smooth - protect the hair, provide shine (light bounces off the smooth surface) and holds in moisture, color and more. Some people have lots of layers of their cuticle and some don't.
The cuticle becomes damaged through many things - heat and mechanical damage (flat irons or dryers), chemical damage (color / bleach) and also there are some heredity factors here - as those with curly hair have to deal with a more fragile cuticle which tends to be more open because of bends in the strand which make it curly.
That cuticle - when dealing with damage or other factors - starts to bow out, like a pine cone and that pine cone effect - to our eyes - is frizz. That open and vulnerable cuticle is letting out all of your moisture and your color.
My curly girls tell me that it can often feel as though their hair wants to hold onto the water after being in the shower and not let it go. That's because the cuticle is open and your poor locks are thirsty.
Control the moisture - That frizzy look is a cuticle open and losing moisture.
Layers - for the love of everything - curly girls, get layers. Long layers are great if you want it to be more seamless or you can get adventurous with stronger, box layers; either way, the layering of the hair allows those curls to lie naturally. If you have thin, fine, curly hair - go with long layers because the vertical cutting required to create the layers does remove the most weight. Keep the layers subtle. If you have the super thick curly hair, be willing to look into getting box layers - or a strong layering technique - to pull that weight out.
Layering is a vertical cutting technique (there's no such thing as a 3 layered haircut) and that removes the most weight from the hair. Remember - Vertical cutting removes weight while horizontal cutting builds weight. That's why - curly girls - if you've ever gotten a one-length (i.e. "Blunt") haircut, it looked triangular or "mushroom-like"...
DO NOT let someone near your beautiful, curly hair with texturizing or "thinning" shears.
I cannot stress this enough. People think that it removes that "weight" from the back of the neck / nape area when, in reality, it cuts some of the hair causing spring-back. That's why you feel like you've gotten heavier back there. Just say NO to those.
Anything that is alkaline in nature will open the cuticle. Alkalinity is how we open the cuticle to put color in or take color out. It's also how perms and relaxers change the structure of the hair. On the PH scale, that which is acidic will do the opposite - it will close the cuticle. That's why some people have used cider vinegar and felt their hair was super shiny afterward - the acidic properties close the cuticle down and that shine is light bouncing off of it's freshly-closed goodness.
It's not great for moisture though.
Look for products that have things like Avocado, Almond, Flax, Hemp Seed, Safflower, Sunflower or Olive oil in them. Those are all acidic in nature and not drying like vinegar-type products can be. Also, your head won't smell like a salad.
Using sulfate-free products helps because the extra sulfates aren't there to add to the drying. Be sure to note that sulfate-free shampoos tend to not foam or "bubble up" as much as their sulfate-laden counterparts because that's one of the things the sulfates do is create bubbles. Believe me when I say: that does not mean that it's working better or more. Bubbles do not equal effectiveness.
Sulfate free products for shampooing and conditioning cut down on the stripping. You can also (if your hair tends to be dry) skip a shampoo or two and go for the rinse and condition, instead.
Just be aware that if you're a heavy spray / product user, you will want to clean that up on the regular.
Silicone-based products (like frizz ease) may work great but they are often misused. If you "must" use them, be sure that they always go on last because any conditioners or moisture or styling aids you put on after slip right off. Be sure to make that the last thing you do if you use them. I am a believer in finding something that doesn't have silicones.
Sleeping with a silk scarf over your hair is known to encourage control and moisture retention.
Just remember that it's all about the moisture so, if you're not a heavy spray / product user, you could get away with just rinsing and conditioning the hair. I like the usage of a leave in conditioner or a hair oil.
I prefer an oil that is more microblended and not too heavy for easier absorption.
Also be sure that you're "walking" the oil / leave in / conditioner up from the ends. Don't apply from the top down. Your scalp has it's own oils. The ends need it more.
Another product that you'd GREATLY benefit from is a hair masque. These are done weekly and provide extra love and conditioning that can help keep that cuticle strong.
If you straighten your hair a lot or blow it dry be sure to use a leave-in or heat protectant.
Naturally, if you have extensions, don't put these oils and conditioners on your bonds.
If it's humid out, be sure to put that moisture in so the cuticle isn't reaching for the air to get it. Molecules always move from greater to lesser concentration so, if the hair has what it needs, it won't look elsewhere and grow bigger and more unruly in the process.
I hope this information helps you love your hair like I do.