I have curly hair, so I deal with frizz on the daily. It’s especially hard to keep in check when you’re living in New York City, where the weather can change by the hour. Whether it’s me versus the humidity, rain, or extreme wind, keeping my coils under control can feel like an uphill battle.
My best defense against the elements is to armor up starting in the shower, where I focus on defrizzing and adding as much moisture as humanly possible. Any professional hairstylist will confirm that keeping curls hydrated is the key to enhancing them, so I make sure all the products I use are specifically formulated for hair like mine. After years of experimenting with different products to see what really works (trying kitchen items, drugstore faves, and even the bougiest goodies), plus a few years spent attempting to totally erase my curls altogether (the straightening obsession was real), my hair-care routine is pretty much down to a science.
This method works for me (and may even work for you depending on your hair type) because all the steps guard against the dreaded frizzies. Even if you shampoo, condition, and hydrate with all top-shelf products, there’s still a chance of your curls going haywire during the day. I layer up on everything, not only to set my self-care levels to 100, but to eliminate the risk of letting my hair get the better of me. No curl is left unattended — not when I double up on shampoo, pre-wash, deep condition — you get the idea. Though it may seem like the most, it ensures that my curls will cooperate for days on end, which for me, is totally worth it.
Here’s what I use to keep my curls defined and protected through all seasons, plus the go-tos I’m stanning for at the moment. Forget football or brunch — my hair-care ritual is the best thing about Sunday.
My goal on every wash day is to lavish my curls, so I begin with a mask. The Philip Kingsley Elasticizer directly absorbs into the cuticle, repairing while delivering moisture. This mask helps hair bounce back, like actual elastic, which is how the product got its name. I wet my hair, section it, and apply the Elasticizer on my midlengths, making sure to really saturate the ends. The oldest hair on the head lives on the ends, so this is where you need the most help. To really seal in the mask, I cover my hair with a plastic shower cap and leave it on for 20 minutes. If your hair is super parched, the Elasticizer can double as an overnight treatment.
In the shower
When that’s all done, it’s time to shampoo. I like the Color Proof Evolved Color Care BioRepair-8 Anti-Thinning Shampoo. Whether you want to put a stop to existing loss, prevent it from happening at all, or just want thicker hair, this product is a game changer. My strands are noticeably denser since I started using it (and I try everything).
The whole point of wash day is to feel like a princess, and the Miriam Quevedo Extreme Caviar Imperial Soothing Shampoo is the royal treatment. Yes, I use two shampoos when I wash. This is because aside from taking “rinse and repeat” to heart, I know that good hair starts at the scalp. The cleaner the scalp, the better the environment for hair growth and health. I’m also all about using multiple versions of the same product if it satisfies two very different needs (in this case, hair growth and smoothing the hair I already have).
This gentle cleanser is pure luxury. I lather the sulfate-free shampoo for up to five minutes before rinsing, because it’s too rich to waste one drop. After my double round of shampoo, I grab the IGK Smoke & Mirrors Conditioning Cleansing Oil, which almost defies description. A cross between a pre-poo and a pre-conditioner, this barely-there cleansing oil is powerful enough to replace all my wash day steps. I’ve used it exclusively as shampoo and loved the results. Now, I use it before my conditioner because it coats my curls in the best way and smells insanely good. Any excuse to work it in will do.
Because I’m a little bougie, I use the IGK Expensive Amla Oil Hi-Shine Topcoat. I like to think of the product as a liquid gloss for the hair, with all the shine you expect from a nail lacquer. If I had to pack for living on a deserted island and could only take one conditioner, this is coming with me.
I end wash day the same way I started it: with a good, long mask. Enhancing my texture is always #goals for me, and Txtr by Cantu Strengthen + Restore Moisture Mask boosts what mama gave me. I definitely don’t skimp on product, adding arguably, too much — I want to make sure it soaks into all of my strands. With shea butter, spearmint, canola oil, and baobab and watercress extracts, it’s a can’t-fail hair cocktail.
We don’t often think about it, but the water you shower with has a tremendous effect on your hair. Hard water can leave hair rough, contributing to tangles, breakage, and overall dullness. That’s why I replaced my basic showerhead with the Raindrops Luxe with Rainfall Shower Head, and I am obsessed. The filter eliminates 99 percent of minerals, bacteria, heavy metals, and chlorine from your water, just like a drinking-water filter. I’ve been suspicious of anything straight from the faucet since consulting a pro colorist, who put me on to the immediate benefits (from color to texture and health overall) of using a shower filter. Honestly, as someone who writes about hair nonstop, this was one of my greatest a-ha/duh moments. After finishing my mask, I turn the water all the way to cold for a final rinse. This seals the cuticle and gets rid of any excess product without compromising moisture — another can’t skip pro-tip I’ve heard more times than I can count.
Of course, my work isn’t over just because I’ve left the shower. I do a once-over on my hair using the One ‘n Only Argan Heat Square Paddle Brush, which is perfect for my thick hair. I’m never afraid my strands are going to make the bristles pop off or perma-dent, which has happened to me with other brushes. I hold my hair in a ponytail, brushing the bottom section first (to avoid pain and static), before working my way up to the roots.
When that’s done, I apply a handful of Marc Anthony Coconut Curls Define & Defrizz Smoothie Cream. The cream can be used on dry or wet hair, but I prefer the results when my hair is wet. What’s curly hair without volume? Limp, that’s what. No one wants that. The R+Co. Rodeo Star Thickening Style Foam plumps strands without weighing them down, which means bigger, aka better, hair. Don’t get it twisted — I want curls, but I’m not going for pageant-contestant vibes. To give my waves an edge, I scrunch in Kevin Murphy Hair Resort Beach Texturizer for an undone, effortless finish.
Any curly girl can tell you the importance of an oil, and I can’t stress it enough. There are tons on the market, available at all different price points, but if you’re going to splurge on any part of your regimen, it should be on a great oil. It doesn’t get any more luxe than the Miriam Quevedo Sublime Gold Oil, where actual 24-carat gold meshes with caviar and organic argan oil in a glass vat of hair decadence. Just a few drops (a little goes a long way) give me silky, light-reflecting strands — and it’s just as conditioning for your body (think of it as more bang for your buck). I recommend this oil for folks like me, who have medium to thick hair and suffer from the effects of both dryness and damage.
Though technically a primer, the IGK Sold Out Curl Priming Basecoat can be used at any point in my curl-defining process. It’s effective on hair that’s wet or dry and will aid in frizz reduction for all curl types. As a last step, I mist lightly, giving my coils a final hit of hydration.
But I’m not ready to walk out the door just yet. If it’s too cold to air-dry, I reach for the CHI Touch 2 Dryer with the diffuser attachment. I set mine to a cool temperature to avoid undue heat damage. After all that, if my curls are still in need of a little oomph, I reach for the foolproof Beachwaver S.75. The smaller barrel Beachwaver is perfect for creating tight curls with tons of bounce. My favorite thing about this curler is that it’s automatic, so it does the work for you — all you have to do is hold it and feed your hair around the barrel for envy-inducing twists.
And with that, my wash day, aka doing the utmost day, is complete. I’m officially ready to rock my ringlets.
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