Return to me How I lost my natural curls—and how I plan to get them back!

AnnaLynne McCord curly hair How I lost my natural curls—and how I plan to get them back!

I used to have a wicked awesome natural curl in my hair. Maybe not quite as wicked as Miss AnnaLynne McCord here. But she is definitely at the top of my list when it comes to fricken’ amazing natural curls.

However, after years of torturing my hair with hot tools and dye, my strands are punishing me by being limp, frizzy, and scariest of all… bendy. Yes, I repeat, BENDY. Not curly.

After chatting with Charise Bauman, academy educator at the Aveda Institute and Academy in Toronto, I finally accepted that I am the only one to blame for my curls losing steam. Kindly, Charise did not point any fingers at me. Instead, she explained WHY my regular hair routine stretched out the coil in my curl, and HOW I can begin to repair it!

I, Rikki Ciminsky, vow to restore and embrace my natural curl. Who is with me?!

Here were my mistakes, and Charise’s simple fixes…

Mistake #1: Colouring my curls too light and too often.

I am 100 percent guilty of changing my hair colour as if it were as humdrum as changing my socks. While constantly dying your hair isn’t really great for your tresses, the real problem is when you go lighter. It gives you puff on the top and limp hair at the ends.

Let me break down how it happens:

1. Lightening your hair lifts the hair cuticles (in order for the bleach to reach the core of the hair shaft), but often they won’t lay flat again afterward. This can make your hair appear more thick and more full than it actually is. This discovery was what made my eyes widen in horror. Us curly folk know volume is raarreelllyyy never ever ever EVER a goal.

2. Bleaching is one of the harshest things you can do to your mane. By overprocessing your hair, you also kill the texture along with it—leaving the ends with nothing but pathetic frizzies trying so hard to be curls!

The solution: Try to stick to one colour!

Key word: TRY!

Now, it’s possible that you can keep your curls in pretty good shape even if you lighten your hair, as long as you totally baby it…  but if you love to dye it a) often and b) different shades all the time, then yes, you’re in the danger zone.

So if you don’t want to sacrifice your hair colour changes for your curls—and girlfriend, I totally get you—then Charise suggests trying a semi-permanent hair colour. The chemicals are simply not as harsh as permanent.

My personal favourite at home semi-permanent hair dye is L’Oréal Paris Healthy Look Crème Gloss Color.

LOreal Paris Healthy Look Creme Gloss Color How I lost my natural curls—and how I plan to get them back!

Out now for $14 (Canada) or $9 (U.S.); click here to learn more and/or buy online.

This line of hair dye has no ammonia in it, a chemical in most dyes that damages the proteins in each strand. The only catch: a semi-permanent won’t lighten your hair.

Mistake #2: Frying my curls with heat stylers.

“The biggest challenge for women with curly hair is inconsistency and frizz,” says Charise. “Curls are never exactly the same after each shower, which can get annoying”.

Hence: us curlicues try to create a consistent texture by using hot tools.

Think of the 400+ degree plates you squeeze your hair in between every time you straighten or curl your hair. Since our hair is “technically dead,” it doesn’t have a fighting chance to tell us when we’re hurting it (like our skin would) when too much heat goes near it. And then we end up sizzling it and causing damage that makes curls lose their bounce.

Solution: Use the right styling products.

Charise gave me several tips here…

1. Start fresh with a cleansing shampoo.

Heavy product build-up leaves a synthetic waxy silicone coat on hair, which weighs down curls. A super-easy solution is to use a different shampoo specifically made for getting rid of the junk stuck to your hair.

Pantene’s Aqua Light collection includes a daily shampoo, conditioner and leave-in conditioning spray that are free of silicones, so hair isn’t weighed down:

Pantene Aqua Light line How I lost my natural curls—and how I plan to get them back!

Out now for $7 each; click here to learn more and/or buy online.

Or try TRESemmé Deep Cleansing Shampoo to remove build-up. (It’s meant to be used once a week.)

TRESemme Deep Cleansing Shampoo How I lost my natural curls—and how I plan to get them back!

Out now for $7; click here to learn more and/or buy online.

2. Say hello to pomades, serums, and oils—the creamier, the better!

Products with “emollients,” a.k.a. slippery products, help to fight frizz.

To be sure you are grabbing the right product, Charise suggests testing it on the back of your hand. If it feels sticky within a minute or so, it means there is probably alcohol in the product. Alcohol suck up the hair’s moisture and gives you that gnarly crunchy curl. No thanks. So, no gels or mousse!

Charise’s current favourite: Aveda Be Curly Curl Enhancer.

Aveda Be Curly Curl Enhancer How I lost my natural curls—and how I plan to get them back!

Out now for $30 (Canada) or $22 (U.S.); click here to learn more and/or buy online.

“It’s perfect for someone trying to get their curls back,” says Charise. It has wheat protein and aloe, which enhance the curl, and a Brazil nut protein to condition the hair.

3. Don’t be afraid to ask for testers!

You don’t have to commit to buying a product you’ve never used before (and have no idea will work). “Most hair salons will gladly give you little testers to try at home,” says Charise. “We are hair professionals and know you need to experiment!”

Apparently it’s just that simple. If you are looking for that perfect product, all you need to do is ask!

4. Now that you have a new product… Be patient! Like a week or two kind of patient.

I am sooooo beyond guilty of this.

When it comes to finding a new hair product, I use it once, get angry that I saw no difference, and revert back to whatever I was using before (regardless of whether I liked it or not).

Charise told me we need to wait at least two weeks to see the full potential and benefit of a new product. You hair needs to adapt and get used to the new stuff!

Pro tip: Make sure to put the product in your hair when it is still SOPPING wet, says Charise. Even though most products say “use me in towel-dried hair,” waiting that long on curly hair allows the dreaded frizz to set in.

The moral of the story

Like I said, it’s my own fault I lost my natural curl. My hot tools, hair dye and product habits caused my curls to run away. But I want them back, and with Charise’s tips, I definitely plan on it. I’ll keep you posted!

Are you sick of fighting your curls with hot tools?
Have you noticed you’re losing your curls from hot tools, hair dye and/or product build-up?
What tips do YOU have for embracing your natural curls?


Friday, February 22/2013 at 1:59 pm

any good hair cut suggestions for curly hair?


Friday, February 22/2013 at 5:26 pm

love this article. i have a friend who has cork screw curls naturally. she straightens her hair with keratin and burns the crap out of her hair with tools. i wish she would embrace her natural texture because it is so beautiful.

im going to tell her about this article :)


Monday, February 25/2013 at 11:57 am

It’s nice to see an article about naturally curly hair. I have long, naturally curly hair and am searching for the perfect cut that will not leave my hair flat at the top and puffy at the bottom. I’m also searching for the perfect hairdresser who doesn’t run screaming when they see my curls, nor do they pretend to know what to do and cut it as they would naturally straight hair. Suggestions in Toronto?


Sunday, March 10/2013 at 2:19 pm

Danielle, Evoke Salon has been my godsend. I go to the one at Yonge/Eg, but there is also one at Yonge/Bloor and I’m sure you can’t go wrong. Just tell the receptionist you need someone skilled at cutting curly hair – they will recommend someone for you.

I used to see Jill at the Y/E location but she recently left, so last time I saw Sam and she was equally great. Just tell whoever you see exactly what the issue is (and make sure they see your hair dry – so important!) and I am confident you will get a great cut at Evoke.


Monday, March 11/2013 at 9:25 am

Thanks for the recommendation Katy! I will definitely check them out. I’m waaaay overdue for a hair cut!


Tuesday, February 26/2013 at 9:37 am

I actually love some frizz in my curly hair. I also HAVE to highlight to get some volume at the top of my head – when I was striving for healthy curls, the curls looked amazing but it was flat against my head. I personally prefer some damage :)


Thursday, February 28/2013 at 12:09 pm

Thank you for enlightening me as to why my bangs looked terrible when I went blonde. My hair is straight but the “fluff” of bleached hair made them never hang right and now I’m enduring the grow-out.


Sunday, March 10/2013 at 2:05 pm

Timely article! I am currently experiencing this phenomenon and am keen for my once-tight curls to spring back into action. I have (almost) always embraced my natural curl and it’s only as of late that I’ve been heat styling more regularly; but I’ve still noticed an increasingly limp – and yes, BENDY – trend for some time. It’s also the longest it’s been in my adult life, so that could be a factor. I was recently told to try salt water – a tablespoon of salt dissolved in warm water in a small spray bottle… sounds kind of crazy, right? But apparently has the same effect as the ocean, which is usually pretty great. Has anyone tried this (or one of various products with the same idea)? Imagine, all these curly-haired women discussing how to make their hair CURLIER! Love it.


Saturday, March 30/2013 at 5:46 pm

Katy, OMG that is such a good idea!!! I’m definitely gonna try that!


Friday, July 5/2013 at 5:37 pm

I dyed my hair red a few days ago and I’ve notice pd that my usual wild curls aren’t just as ‘wild’ although I do straighten my hair every so often I do really love my curls. I really want them back. I will use your advice but any more advice for my particular situation?


Tuesday, February 25/2014 at 2:45 pm

Shame that an article on the preservation of curlu hair has a bunch of pictures of the sleekest locks I’ve ever seen below it. Boo.


Tuesday, April 15/2014 at 12:01 pm

Hi! I want to thank for the article. For the last few months I noticed I was losing my curls… I have wavy/curly hair and after I wash it put curl Enhancer and always had great curls. For some reason was losing bounce and look horrible. The problem was the bleach since I want too light last time I colored my hair.
I have very dark hair and I damaged it. This weekend I’m going to the hair salon to cut a big chunk (it grows fast lucky me). I know I will get my curls back. Never will bleach that light ever again.
Thanks again!


Yailyn P.
Monday, June 30/2014 at 1:48 pm

I’ve straightened my hair for good, do you have any tips on getting my natural curls back without using any curlers on anything that has to do with heat?


Saturday, August 30/2014 at 7:48 pm

so recently ive noticed that my hair isnt as curly or poofy as it used to be . Im wondering if doing this will work because my hair is still a bit curly but not just the way it used to be and Ive slowed down on using the flat iron.


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