Q & A: Curly Hair

curly hair tips, curly hair products

Well beauties, for today, here’s an answer to a question I get a lot (it’s so sweet of people to ask)…


Warning:  I am a hair junkie.  You ready for this? 

Aveda Be Curly Curl Enhancer – For years and years and years (!), I have used this Aveda  Curl Cream.  Works beautifully (I used it in these photos).  But I always hated spending so much money on it, so I was always on the hunt for something cheaper.  NEVER found anything that I liked as well (I’ve tried just about everything).  But I recently heard about …

Garnier Fructis Curl Sculpting Cream/Gel.  I tried it and to my amazement, I think I love it as much as the Aveda Curl Cream.  This was a major breakthrough for me…Because it is a mere $2.98 from Wal-Mart!  And I am pretty darn certain it gives me the same result as the Aveda Curl Cream.  I now have (8) of them stocked in my cupboard (a NY girl has to stock up at Wal-Mart when she can, you know.)

Highlights / Lowlights – I also find that hair color (highlights) are very, very important for curly hair.  I find it actually gives my curls more definition & makes them pop a little more.  I definitely had highlights going on in these photos, but whenever I don’t have highlights, I miss it.  Also, I highly, highly recommend “hair painting” as the technique to add highlights to curly hair (or straight) cause they add the color right to the natural separation and wave of your individual curls.  Plus you don’t get a line at your scalp so as it grows out so it looks SO natural.  I already mentioned  my favorite hair salon in New York.  They know how to do it right.  Victoria, the owner, is amazing.  I am also a huge fan of Aubrey Nelson.  She used to work at Whittemore House, but now lives in Salt Lake City.  You will die over her style.  I’ve hardly seen anything like it.  She is available for freelance haircuts & can be reached at aubreycolorshair@gmail.com.

Haircuts –  People who know me know that I am picky about my haircuts.  I have such thick hair, that it can get screwed up easily.  I am currently looking for a new stylist in NYC, actually (please leave any suggestions in the comments!)  But here are some of my all-time favorite stylists:  Rubi Jones (she is now doing hair in Paris and also has this hair blog.  Again, greatest style I’ve seen.  She knows her stuff.)  I also love Annika Lohrke, the owner of AeroLab Salon in Salt Lake City.  I was lucky enough to have her cut my hair back in the day and even talked her into flying to NYC periodically to give all of us NY girls some haircuts.

Moroccan Oil Treatment– The day before these photos, I used Morroccan Oil on my hair – it was left on all day/all night, then washed out with shampoo the next morning.  I tell ya, that Morroccan Oil does wonders.  It makes my hair so soft and the curls better than ever.  I forget about using it sometimes and should do it more regularly.  I think it works best if you really give it some time to soak in.  And it’s probably something you could do as often as once every one or two weeks, if you were really diligent.

John Frieda Curl Around Shampoo/Conditioner – I’ve used all the fancy pants brand shampoos – Bumble, Aveda, DevaCurl, etc.  But I love this John Frieda stuff perfectly fine.  It doesn’t seem to build up any residue on my hair overtime.  And, I can get it at Duane Reade.  And, it saves me a ton of money.

Bumble & Bumble Does It All Hairspray – I love this stuff and I’ve used it for years.  It seems to last a long time.  It’s light weight but still adds something and really, you can’t get too much of it.  I usually spray this on my wet hair after applying the curl creme.   And then I use it on my dry hair to make it look more finished & to define the curls some more.

Sachuajuan Spray Wax -This stuff is lifechanging.  🙂  I spray it on damp hair and then usually one more time after my hair dries.  It gives the curls really cool definition.  This product you have to be careful with, however, as you can get too much of it.

Bumble & Bumble Surf Spray–  I use this stuff from time to time to give my hair some cool, beachy texture.

Bumble & Bumble BrilliantineLove this stuff.  Adds some shine after my hair is dry.  Gives my hair a messy, slept-in look but somehow makes it still look finished.  A little bit goes a long way, but with all my hair I wish it came in a bigger tube.

Shower Routine –  I just comb through my hair in the shower, with the condition in.  Then barely rinse the condition out (leave a tiny bit in) then towel dry lightly.  Scrunch all over.  Add curl creme.  Scrunch some more.  Maybe spray in some hairspray or my spray wax or surf spray (or all three).  AIR DRY (important!).  Fluff when almost dry, upside down.  Fluff some more when fully dry.  That’s it.
I have experimented with the Devachan Salon techniques (a major curly hair salon in NYC).  But for me, they don’t make my hair look any better than what I’ve been doing for years.

Now, if you really want to know …. I only go through a shampoo & dry about twice a week.  On the other days, I simply don’t do a thing to it.  I literally spend 0 seconds on it, unless I am adding some baby powder to my roots.  Good thing New Yorkers are down with bed head.  In fact, they’re down with anything.  It’s kind of liberating.

Well, beauties, I am happy to share all this with you.  Now go rock your curls!



P.S. In true hair junkie / addict fashion, I am dying to hear what your favorite hair products are…. DISH! 

P.P.S  After writing this post, I got a call from Woodley & Bunny, a super chic salon in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.  They want me to be a hair model next week in front of 100 people while SACHA MITIC (!) himself does my hair.  He is the founder of Sachajuan, the Swedish company mentioned above.  SWEET!   Pics will be coming….

curly hair tips, curly hair products

curly hair tips, curly hair products

curly hair tips, curly hair products
(Photos by Saydi Eyre Shumway)

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  1. Erin October 13, 2011 at 2:47 pm - Reply

    You've got gorgeous hair Mara. I am so glad that you wear your curls rather than straightening them. I used to use the Garnier Fructis Cream Gel but about 7 months ago I started using the DevaCurl system. I am really happy with it. It works better (for me) than anything else I have ever used!

    I am so jealous about your hair modeling! How fun!

  2. Amanda Blair October 13, 2011 at 4:34 pm - Reply

    Since you already go to Whittemore House, you should have Reagan cut your hair. She's a hair genius and a dear, dear friend of mine. Her hair blog is http://www.hdofblog.com. She is truly amazing and has made my hair look the best it's ever looked. Plus, she's probably the sweetest/coolest/most stylish girl you will ever meet! If you go, tell her I sent you 🙂

  3. droitetgauche October 13, 2011 at 6:27 pm - Reply

    Oh you're pretty curly hair! I'm so jelly 🙂

    I also have tried a lot of fancy pants shampoos and conditioners and find that they are about as effective as almost any drugstore brand worth $3.50. My big issue right now is that we don't have a water softener and I would pay serious cash for a shampoo or conditioner that could help with hardwater. (I swear it makes a difference! Especially for us longhairs!) I've been really curious about oil treatments so I'll have to investigate this Morroccan variety. My hair is straight and thick, but I also really love B&B Brilliante (if not solely for their use of "languid" on the back of the tube) but I have to use a lot on my hay bale. My hair drinks that stuff like Hemingway on martini night!

    Aerolab is on my street! I've always been curious about it, great info! And congratulations about getting picked to have your hair done, what fun!

  4. Scarlett October 13, 2011 at 7:53 pm - Reply

    Thanks for this, Mara! You always have such gorgeous hair. I love Bumble & Bumble curl creme, but maybe I'll try the Garnier stuff for the times when money is tight. I've got a bottle of Paul Mitchell spray wax in my bathroom cupboard, but never quite figured out how to use it. Will try your method tomorrow! I also like the John Frieda conditioner. Everyone else must too, because every time I try to buy it at Duane Reade or anywhere else in this city, it's sold out. Have fun being a hair model! Can't wait to see pics.

  5. Sam and Rachel October 13, 2011 at 10:20 pm - Reply

    Mara I have always loved your curls. I have no curl to my hair at all though. Think it will still work?

  6. Molly October 13, 2011 at 11:06 pm - Reply

    Like others, I found you from Design Sponge. I love reading what you write and look forward to your posts! In fact, I had a dream the other night that I was at a salon and was going to tell the stylist that I wanted my hair to look like yours. Dreams are funny.

    Anyway, I'm glad to hear you have thick hair! Gives me hope for my own. I comb my hair in the shower, too, with the conditioner in. I think I'll try just barely rinsing it next time. Then I scrunch it, spray it with Garnier Fructis hairspray, and that's it. I've used the Garnier Curl Sculpting cream as well, but I get lazy and just use the hairspray. My hair isn't as curly as yours, though. It's mostly frizzy. 🙂 I just need a haircut now.

    And the baby powder on the days when you don't wash your hair–how do you keep it from looking powdery on your hair?

  7. lizzie October 14, 2011 at 1:16 am - Reply

    I have absolutely no wisdom to add to this post, but I am eager for my hair to grow out a little bit more so I can try some of your techniques and maybe start learning to work with my waves rather than against them.

  8. Laurie October 14, 2011 at 3:29 pm - Reply

    Love all the tips, now all i need is naturally curly, long, gorgeous hair like you!!!! I am a hair junkie too. I was getting called out about it last night at girl night… the point was I care way too much what my hair looks like, and a bad hair day can put me in a cranky mood 🙂 darn, i'll have to work on that!~

  9. Sage October 15, 2011 at 11:58 am - Reply

    I love your hair too. My hair has always been fine and straight. Only recently have I figured a few tricks out. Number one, because I have eczema I started using baking soda and a vinegar rinse instead of shampoo! And I only clean it every other day. My hair finally has body! I am also too cheap so I cut my own hair, but have a good colorlist do highlights. I also use coconut oil a few times a year. Makes my hair great. I could still use styling tips. I did start using a shine spray that makes my hair all silky. And a Fructis root booster.

    Thanks for your courage to be beautiful! I'm working on that.

  10. rubi October 16, 2011 at 10:01 pm - Reply

    You know I love your curly hair Mara, thanks for the sweet words about my haircuts. 🙂 Can't wait to hear about your cut with Sacha!

  11. Valerie October 17, 2011 at 11:07 pm - Reply

    I love this, Mara. Mostly, I just love to hear people dish about curly hair. My process is ever evolving.
    Also, I am a recent recipient of a very bad haircut. Le sigh. Let me know if you find anyone wonderful (to cut your hair).

  12. Amanda October 18, 2011 at 7:26 pm - Reply

    If I lived in NY I would give this girl a try hdofblog.com – I have been following her blog for awhile and LOVE her tips and info.

  13. debsfreckles October 19, 2011 at 5:26 am - Reply

    Homegirl you need to simplify your hair life and get the book Curly Girl! It will change your life! The author had a salon in NY and I am dying to go. Seriously, get it you will not be sorry. I tell everyone I meet with curly hair.

  14. mara2 October 20, 2011 at 2:52 pm - Reply

    Sage – good for you for working on being beautiful. You're awesome. Just FYI, for many, many years I did not feel beautiful. Not one bit. My former husband let me know over and over during our 7 year marriage that he was not attracted to me & never had been. And the result? I became less attractive! My physical countenance was dim for years and years. But once I figured out how to FEEL beautiful despite him (goes back to basing my happiness not on circumstance + it also helped to tap into my worth as a daughter of God), I began to feel and look radiant!! Because of that, I now know that TRUE BEAUTY IS NOT ON THE OUTSIDE!! It really, really isn't. EVERY single one of us can be radiant and beautiful. 🙂

  15. mara2 October 20, 2011 at 2:55 pm - Reply

    Molly – to keep the baby powder from looking powdery, i used my fingers to work it in and fluff it around. It helps to turn your head upside down and work it in. Or grab a towel and dab it around til it looks less powdery. I have tried dry shampoos, and I love them. But I find baby powder works great, too, and costs me less money. I recommend finding an unscented powder.

  16. Jennifer Rod December 5, 2011 at 9:39 pm - Reply

    This was very helpful! I have very curly hair and i tell you, it's taken a long while to figure it all out. I use John Frieda, for almost everything and some Garnier. I am interested in trying that Bumble and Bumble product you mentioned. As far as shower steps, we are in sync, but i usually blow dry the hair, it's really humid in Miami so i feel i get more control when i blow dry about 80% and then air dy the rest.

    ps: i just got higlights and i love the bounce they give my hair!

    im really enjoying it here. thanks for openly sharing so much to bless us!

  17. Kate January 18, 2012 at 1:09 am - Reply

    My hair is more wavy than curly so I'm always looking to enhance the curl. I've used DevaCurl products for about 2 years and in combination with a great hair cut (dry cut) they have worked really well for me. The shampoo is low/no suds so it takes some getting used to, but my bad hair days are gone!

  18. Rarebutwelldone March 9, 2012 at 5:07 am - Reply

    I love the ouidad products and think they are amazing for curly hair – as are the haircuts – a real lifesaver for me

    • mara March 11, 2012 at 5:06 am - Reply

      I recently heard of that product line. thanks for the recommendation. I'm such a sucker for products 🙂

  19. Taunia May 9, 2012 at 8:44 pm - Reply

    I too have curly, curly hair! I use Tigi Catwalk Session Series Salt Spray, it is less than Bumble & Bumble Surf Spray. I also use Tigi's True Wax. I love Sebastian Drench shampoo/conditioner, but I may have to try John Frieda Curl Around as Sebastian is a little pricey (I grab it when it's on sale at my salon). Suave Captivating Curls Whipped Cream Mousse is awesome too! Thanks for your tips & product list.

  20. Anonymous July 18, 2012 at 5:32 am - Reply

    I love this blog, and I love my curls! I've been going with The Mixed Chicks look for my curly hair for months now. Go curly!

  21. k8te August 22, 2012 at 4:22 pm - Reply

    i'm always interested in the routines of other curly haired ladies! i have super thick curly hair. my day-to-day routine is similar to yours, but i'll have to give curl creme a try…i usually do a combo of mousse + gel, then a light hairspray. i always feel like my curls look slept on though, so i wash daily 🙁

  22. Cecilia September 14, 2012 at 6:31 pm - Reply

    Your pictures are beautiful, as is your hair! It looks so pretty. I have curly hair that can sometimes be hard to manage, so I love reading these kinds of things to get tips from other people who have had some success. Thanks for posting!

  23. Anonymous December 8, 2012 at 7:42 am - Reply

    We have almost the same exact hair, however I have to use a diffuser on mine to get my curls big and bouncy. If I didn't my hair would be really flat. Also, sometimes my bangs are way too curly and I have to re-curl them (tame them) with a 1 inch curling iron to get them to lay the way I like them to. Ever do that?
    I just bought the cream/gel you suggested and tried it tonight, I like it! I generally don't put anything other than some sort of gel (usually spray gel) but you give several good suggestions here. I'll have to give some a try.

  24. Black Hairstyles March 6, 2013 at 5:57 am - Reply

    I like your hair a lot, are all these natural curls or you twist them with the support of curling iron?

  25. What to do with frizzy hair March 10, 2013 at 10:53 am - Reply

    Great post. I just located your blog and wished to let you know that I have certainly loved reading your blogs. At any rate I’m going to be subscribing to your feed and I really hope you are writing again soon.

  26. Aline March 13, 2013 at 10:38 am - Reply

    Beautiful curls and highlights you have.

  27. Anne-Marie August 5, 2013 at 6:12 pm - Reply

    Do the bangs around your face naturally have their smooth wavy look?

    I have hair like yours and I'm glad someone else is sold on the air-dry, wash-your-hair-not-too-often method. But I still wonder what to do with my bangs since they're thick and pretty curly, and I want to frame my face nicely.

    (P.S. What a rare and wonderful find: your blog! Looking forward to reading more of it–on everything that I relate with so well.)

  28. Joseph Caron February 12, 2014 at 8:20 am - Reply

    Nice QnA section here.. You deliver detailed answers of all questions.


  29. Fajar Sinteniki August 4, 2014 at 2:19 pm - Reply

    i think naturally curly hair especially long hairstyles is great. love it.

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