Curl, Interrupted

A pal of mine back in Da ‘Ville emailed me the other day and the subject line the message simply read: “Hair help!”

Before reading the body of the email I already knew exactly what my friend needed, not because I’m clairvoyant, but because I have so many gal pals and even strangers ask me for advice on how to manage rebelliously curly hair.

My friend is African American and has decided to bid farewell to her hair relaxer and go natural. (Yay!) Unfortunately, neither her friends nor her hairdresser are being supportive. But she’s sticking to her guns and she’s turned to me for help.

What do you do with your hair? she asked.

I decided to post some hair tips here on Georgia Mae because I know there are other curly girls out there with the same struggles.

Most mornings I wet my hair while I’m in the shower. (If it feels a little dry I’ll condition it too. I shampoo my hair at least once a week.) To fight frizz I apply Garnier Fructis Anti-Humidity Smoothing Milk. I comb it through and then apply Pantene Pro-V Restoratives Frizz Control Smoothing Balm.

My hair tends to get extra frizzy near the hairline, so I pull my hair back (these days with a stylish scarf) for a little while to stretch the root and then let my hair air dry.

Other products in my stash include John Frieda Secret Weapon and Mixed Chicks Leave-In Condition, which are both good for restoring softness and shine to your hair when it’s dry, and Tea Tree Oil, which is good for dry scalp.

Remember that deciding not to get a relaxer anymore does not mean you can never wear your hair straight again. For special occasions or just when I want a different look I’ll get my hair smoothed out at a salon. (I have A LOT of hair and I don’t have the patience, upper body strength or expensive Paul Mitchell flat iron to straighten my hair myself.)

You see when you go natural you can have the best of both worlds!

And the next time someone tries to tell you that you need a relaxer try telling them this (the piece below is a poem I wrote after one of my uncles suggested I get a perm):

My Hair Doesn’t Need To “Relax”

One day I realized

My curls were not uptight

Just poised

And that’s the day my scalp

Always itching for attention

Decided to chill out

My ends that had split up

Decided to work things out

And I decided to let them reach for each other

Reach for my waist

While I danced in the rain

No umbrella

Glory running wet down my back

Since every woman’s head of hair is different I’d love for any other gals out there with curly or natural hair to chime in with some tips too in the comments section.



  1. warning to your friend: the natural life is NOT for everybody! before going natural about 8 years ago, i had heard it was easier to manage than relaxed hair. that’s a lie from the pit of hell! my life is easiest when i have gone to my stylist and gotten my hair flat-ironed, because that means a little oil at night, wrap it, tie a scarf around it, and comb it down in the morning. and it means someone else did the hard part and did way better than i could have anyway.

    when my hair is in its natural state of four – yes 4 – different textures, i’m wetting it in the shower each day, following that with a little hair pommade from paul mitchell and combing it out to let it air dry and lay however it wants to. i’m combing out a dry fro every day that it’s too cold outside to wet it in the shower, or i wear two-stranded twists that i do myself over about a four-hour period. i’ve also been seen in one or two afro puffs, various scarves, wigs, and weave. for anyone transitioning, i highly recommend the twists or a weave as you transition, depending on your hair texture, if you’re not ready to cut all the way down to the new growth.

    for every day maintenance, i use some kind of rose oil from carol’s daughter. in the past, i’ve used and loved kimi oil.

  2. Javacia and I are first cousins so our hair is very similar with a few differences. The main difference being that my hair is more tightly curled than hers and that means my hair tends to be drier. So when I wet my hair everyday I have to apply conditoner, and comb it through. This is known as a “conditioning rinse” in the natural hair world. When rinsing I make sure to leave a small film of conditioner on my hair because my hair is abnormally thick. DO NOT TOWEL DRY natural hair!!!

    My next step is to part my hair in four sections. For each section I first apply mixed chicks leave in conditioner. I then apply a second product to help with frizz, Garneier Fructis Curl Sculting Gel. I make sure I finger through and not comb through each product. I usually pin my hair up for a while. Curly hair tends to dry better whil its up. This helps prvent your hair from shrinking too much.

    One of the things I love about my natural hair is that when I don’t feel like going through the process I just described I just don’t. So on days when I choose not to comb my hair I wear it up in this big curly poof. I touch my curls up and brush it up with a wet brush and Carols Daughter Hair Milk.

    There are a few times during the year where you’ll catch me with smooth straight hair. I no longer do this myself. But to help keep my natural hair straight and shiny I use Carols Daughter Hair Balm.

    The key to natural hair is to be patient,experiment and research. And you’ll eventually find what works for you

  3. I wet my hair every day to kill the frizz from the night before, condition every other day, and shampoo at least once every three days. I brush it out with my fingers and squeeze and towel out as much water as possible before combining Sunsilk Captivating Curls Gel and Creme Twist and John Frieda Frizz-Ease Take Charge Curl Boosting Mousse in my palm and running it through with my fingers.

    Sometimes I let my hair dry naturally if I’m not going out for a while but it lacks its trademark Texas-girl-country-music-hair volume if I don’t at least blow-dry it a little bit. I use a diffuser on my blow dryer, the attachment with the pokey things, that’s made for curly hair. I NEVER EVER touch my hair with anything while blow drying – that’s a recipe for the uber-frizzy blown-dry cat look. Not cute.

    I’ve yet to find a product that I can afford that successfully salvages frizzy curls mid-day and between washes but if I had the $$ it’d be Bumble and Bumble DeFrizz. I like Carol’s Daughter Kizzi Stay-Put Hair Pomade for this purpose but it can also make my hair really heavy…

    My biggest curly hair tip: it (almost) always looks better than you think it does. Curly hair is a beautiful rarity to most people and they don’t even notice the frizz. And if you’re quite sure it looks horrible, pull it back and put a scarf over it – some days are not curly days!

  4. I have been natural for 3.5 years now. I still haven’t gotten it together. I appreciate this post b/c i can use all the help/advice/tips I can get!!!!

  5. My hair was a frizzy mess until about seven years ago. I stopped using shampoo one day, and my curls have been great ever since. Conditioner is a cleanser too, and it doesn’t dry my hair out.

    thanks for always sticking up for all we curly girls, Javacia! Louisville misses you:)

  6. Great tips Jai! Everyone definitely has to find what works for them. I wash and condition my hair and then when I just want to wear it in it’s curly state, I put a little conditioner in it and comb it through and leave it in. Great conditioner I use to leave in is Pantene Pro-V Moisture Renewal. I use a little mousse for hold and then a little smoothing serum on it to help combat frizz. I go back and forth between letting it air dry or sitting under my hood dryer for drying it like that. Usually depends on if I am busy or not. I have found that the best way to sleep with my hair like this is to just go to sleep like normal but sleep on a satin pillowcase to combat breakage. Just do minimal fluffing in the morning and maybe a touch of smoothing serum. This usually lasts for a few days and then I am washing it again and repeating the process. Or if I am not ready to wash my hair again, then I can scoop it up into a cute curly ponytail.

    When I want to wear it straight or in big curls, I got get it flat ironed or rolled at the shop and maybe touch it up at home but I usually just have to wrap it after it’s done.

  7. I’m so happy you posted this =) I’ve been natural a little over a year, and I’m so happy I stuck with it. My hair is very kinky and coily vs. curly, and I love it. For a little while I followed regimens, but lately I just spritz my hair daily with water/coconut oil and wear my shrunken fro. I don’t like manipulating my hair too much, I’m lazy (lol) plus I’m starting locs this weekend (so excited) so I’m truthfully over my loose naps. Thanks again for showing naturals some luv =D

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