I Finally Figured Out How To Style My Curly Hair

It only took me eight years.
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Rikki Ciminsky
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It only took me eight years.

Today is a momentous occasion. "Why?" you might ask. Well, because today my curls have finally achieved "profile picture-worthy" status. (See my Twitter, InstagramandPinterest profiles for proof.)

Rikki profile picture

We all know this is no easy feat. So how'd it happen? After chatting with a professional hairstylist several weeks back, I realized it was time to restore and embrace my natural curls. RememberCharise Bauman from Aveda? She gave me a harsh—but much needed—reality check. She told me what I was doing wrong, but lucky for me, she also told me how I could fix it.

And guess what, guys?! I totally did. I followed her advice and went on an epic hunt for the right products. I searched far and wide. (Not really though. Just to Shoppers Drug Mart and back... hehe.) I tested products, techniques and styles until I found *drumroll please*...

The ultimate curly hair routine

Let's hop to it! If I put zero product in my hair, brush it, and let it dry... It does this:

Rikki with untamed curls

And this is on a good day. Permission to laugh!........... Okay, enough of that.

Nowadays, my curls look a lot more like this:

Rikki with curly hair
Rikki with curly hair - side
Rikki Ciminsky

They may not be the perfectly even spiral curls that come from a curling iron, but I really can't complain! I don't even remember the last time I liked the way my curls looked enough to wear my hair down.

Here's how I did it:

1. Do the prep work

Charise suggests starting off with:
a) One hair colour
b) A cleansing shampoo

So, I ditched my pink-Ombré-turned-faded-rosey-gold dye job, and went for a plain ol' brown. A bit blah compared to what I usually do (since I like to think I'm daring with my hair colour), but for the sake of my curls....

Next, I used TRESemmé Deep Cleansing Shampoo to remove build-up from past products.

TRESemme Deep Cleansing Shampoo

TRESemmé Deep Cleansing Shampoo, $6.99

 After using it, I finally understand the concept of "squeaky clean." It seemed as though I actually got rid of all the crap I had been loading into my hair over the years.

Note: Even though the bottle says the product can be used once a week, I'm gonna go ahead and say, don't listen: Try once a month. I just finished off two bottles of Head & Shoulders Dry Scalp Care 2-in-1 (classic choice) just to get my scalp back to normal! But that's a whole other post.

2. Find a slippery product to fight frizz

Since I've damaged my hair so much from hot tools, I like a frizz fighter that can also mend my poor hair wounds. Right after I get out of the shower, I use two pumps of Pantene Overnight Miracle Repair Serum and run it through my hair.

Pantene Overnight Miracle Repair Serum

Pantene Overnight Miracle Repair Serum, $8.99

Yes, I know the product says it's for "overnight" purposes only, but I've always been kind of a rebel. (Okay, not really.) It smells way too good for just my pillow, and it doesn't leave hair oily at all.

3. Don't be afraid to brush your hair

Many hair professionals say you shouldn't brush curly hair after the shower because it can "disrupt" the curls.

But let's face it: There is no way we can brush the curls out of our hair... or else I wouldn't be writing this post, amirite?!

So don't be afraid to brush your hair. You are allowed to (and should) get rid of those shower tangles. My current go-to brush is John Frieda's Sleek Finish Paddle Brush.

John Frieda Sleek Finish Paddle Brush

John Frieda Sleek Finish Paddle Brush, $19.99

I prefer using a brush where the bristles are sparse, although a wide-tooth comb would probably work just as well. I prefer thicker, more obvious ringlets, and I notice that if the bristles are too close together, they separate my curls a bit too much for my liking. Plus, with a brush you can make sure you get the frizz-fighting product throughout all of your hair.

4. Use the Holy Grail of mousses!

Okay, ladies. I don't want to get you too excited... BUT GET EXCITED.

I have found the best mousse of all time. Well, at least in my past eight years of trying/using mousses. No matter how much mousse I pile into my hair, this one doesn't leave my curls crunchy; a huge hiccup with certain brands. The crunchy feeling usually comes from too much alcohol in hair products which sucks out all the hair's moisture, leaving it dry. But, my product doesn't do that!

Let me formally introduce you to the Pantene Silky Moisture Whip Moisturizer + Styler (wow, mouthful). 

Pantene Silky Moisture Whip Moisturizer plus Styler

Pantene Silky Moisture Whip Moisturizer + Styler, $8.99

What separates it from other mousses is its creamy, thick and whipped texture... hence, the name.

How-to use it: 

a) Pump out enough product to cover the palms of your hands with mousse.

b) Run it through your hair until most the mousse transfers. (Note: Focus on the ends of your hair; super-frizzy tips just really kill any curly look.)

c) Give your head a quick throw to the side to really get all your hair falling that way. Don't worry! Your head won't pop off. Put your hand under the tips of your hair and scrunch upwards towards your scalp (several times over the area). Flip your hair to the other side and scrunch again.

d) Flip your head down/forward and scrunch that way too—'cuz no one wants flat hair near their scalp!

5. Why use towels when you can use T-shirts?

Your hair, sopping with water and mousse, will need to be wrung out.

Don't go running for the towel you just threw in the hamper. The coarseness of a towel will just frizz up all your hard work!

Do go for a soft, cotton T-shirt. To wring out your hair, place the T-shirt over your hand and go through the same scrunching motions as when you applied the mousse. This motion also really solidifies the spiral shape of each curl!

6. Patience is a virtue... and necessary for great curls!

While your hair dries, you have to let it do its thang. Running your hands through your hair divvies up any thick, natural spirals and creates frizzy single strands of hair. I always find that I don't like how my curls look until my hair is completely dry. The in-between stages are reminiscent of dreadlocks... eek!

To finish off, I like to encase my curls with Redken Fashion Work 12 Versatile Working Spray.

redken fashion work 12 hairspray

Redken Fashion Work 12 Versatile Working Spray

There you have it! I really took Charise’s tipsto heart to my hair, and they actually worked. She was right all along; there are the perfect curly-girl products out there for everyone. It involves a bit of experimentation. You just have to, um, do this until you find ones that work for you.

Keep calm and curl on

Hopefully my finds will help you to rock your natural curls too!

Do you avoid wearing your curly hair down and/or au naturel?
What are your favourite curly hair products?
Got any other curly hair tips?