Learn To Love Your Curls

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By Tatin Yang for Yahoo! Southeast Asia

I can still remember the moment when I realized I had curly hair. I was 10 when my mom decided to have my hair cut short. After each snip of the scissors at the salon, it became evident: the only thing that kept my hair straight was the weight from its previous length. Without it, my now short hair snapped into ringlets. Back then, it felt like a huge disaster.

So, at the tender age of 10, I experienced my first chemical straightening treatment. It would be the first of many attempts to whip my hair into straightness. I had to suffer years of unnatural, stiff, straight hair that resembled a broom, as well as that awkward regrowth phase when two inches of my hair was wavy while the rest was still as stick straight as ever.

A couple of years ago, I decided to finally let my curly hair out of the closet, and it was the best decision ever. No more awkward regrowths, no waking up early to blow dry, heck, I wasn't even required to comb! All those years I had been going through chemical treatments to achieve wash and wear hair when I had it naturally all along. It was just a matter of learning how to manage it.

Tony Dusich, hairstylist and instructor at Center for Aesthetic says that most girls with curly hair always feel that every day is a "bad hair day." But don't fret. All you really need are the right products and know-how to let your curls reclaim its crowning glory title.

1. Get the right haircut

Dusich says that the right haircut is the first step in managing unruly curls. "A cut with long layers helps keep curls in check," he says. "Keep your hair length past the shoulder for manageability, but if you want to go edgy, a bob is best," he adds.

Yoga instructor Christina Mathis laments about how some hairstylists can't seem to know how to cut curly hair as is. "They usually straighten it first, then cut! It's weird!" Don't feel afraid to interview your hairstylist first before getting your hair cut, and make sure to bring visuals of cuts that you like so you will both have an idea of what you really want.

2. Find your product soulmate

The curls on your head can be your friend—or your foe, especially when it rebels. Keep any rebellious uprisings in check by finding the right product. For hair care products, make sure to look for ingredients like keratin, jojoba or avocado oil, glycerin, and shea butter. Keratin products have amino acids that give strength and shine to hair. It also helps repair hair that's been damaged by heat from the sun and from constant styling. Glycyerin meanwhile, helps contain moisture inside hair cuticle.

Hairstylist Hyatt Laurel advises against using oil styling products when you plan to use a curling iron to define curls. "Oil produces heat, which could damage the cuticle and cause even more frizziness."

Dusich recommends using a leave-on conditioner in lieu of the more popular curl product, mousse. "You can either not rinse out completely your conditioner in the shower or use a leave on," he says. "Mousse does define curls, but it can leave it crunchy and hard, and finger combing it during the day leaves an unattractive white residue, which is why I prefer curly-haired girls use a great conditioner instead," says Dusich.

3. Beat the frizz

Your curly locks' ultimate nemesis is frizz. Frizz is strongest in humid climates and unfortunately for us curly chicks, the Philippines is a hotbed of humidity (we have the sweat sticky skin to prove it every day).

Arm yourself with an arsenal of frizz fighters, like hair serums and anti-frizz gels or creams.  Dusich advises to concentrate the product on the lengths and ends of hair.  The amount will vary depending on the length and thickness of your hair, but make sure to rub the product between your hands first to make sure it will be deposited evenly on your tresses.

4. Shower ritual for your curls

Dusich shares the best shower ritual for curly hair: Use only lukewarm water. Showering with hot water opens up the cuticles, which could cause moisture to leak out, leaving you with dried out, brittle hair.

Shampoo only every other day. This keeps the oils from getting over-stripped, which could lead to oilier scalp and even dandruff. You can still wet your hair every day, but use only conditioner on your shampoo off days.

Finally, the best part about having curly hair is the lack of post-shower maintenance. While hair is coated in conditioner, run fingers through hair to detangle. After rinsing, squeeze out excess water with a towel, apply your anti-frizz product and let locks air-dry naturally.

Tatin Yang is a freelance beauty writer for Candy magazine, Good Housekeeping Philippines, and Philippine Daily Inquirer. Aside from writing, she's been doing makeup for six years and is also a self-confessed dog lover, bookworm and Steve Jobs devotee.