Once you have all the pieces of the puzzle on how to take care of your curls, your hair suddenly becomes relatively simple. If you are using even one of the wrong tools, however, you may still be left with broken, tangled hair that hurts to comb, or you end up having to cut out a barrette. Here are some of the tools that have made caring for my curls so much easier.
The most important styling tool will be your brush.
This is what builds your curls. The right brush will actually cut down on the damage caused by combing hair wet. Because the combing is being done by a particular style of brush. This is the Denman brush or a Denman-style brush. They are usually found in salon stores, and they cost a bit more than a regular brush, but they are worth the price. These are good, sturdy brushes that will not fall apart when combing thick hair; they have “give” in their bases, so they will be gentle on your hair.
The best type of Denman brush is a brush top with a rubber base and seven to nine rows of rounded nylon teeth.
Every row has about twenty-two teeth each. They come in different colors but are most often found with a black or white handle and a red rubber base. The rubber base has a great deal of give, so the give comes from your brush and not from your vulnerable hair. The nylon teeth are smooth and rounded. Never get a brush that has teeth with balls on the ends, because your hair will tangle on every one of them.
When I was searching for a way to comb my hair, I used to buy cheap drugstore brushes.
If the brushes didn’t fall apart the moment I tried to tug them though my curls, they fell apart within a few uses. Our hair is heavy-duty hair. It needs a good, giving, but strong brush. I think it’s best to try out a Denman ﬁrst, so you can see what it does and how well it holds up to your curls. Then you can branch out and try other brushes that work the same as a Denman.
When you ﬁrst use this brush, brush with it gently. Be careful not to accidentally smack your head with it when your hair is wet. And keep in mind that any brush will damage your hair if used roughly.
Holding Your Hair Tools
The best items to use for your hair are as simple as possible. Look for things that seem almost primitive. The fewer grooves, hinges, and working parts, the fewer places your curls can catch on and tangle.
Sometimes, when I shop for a new item, I run it lightly over my hair. If it tangles, I don’t buy it. It’s better for you to discover that it will knot up in your hair before you’ve spent the money on it than to ﬁnd out later. Also, check the teeth or any surface that will be in contact with your hair, and make sure there are no rough edges, especially those on the inside of the plastic tortoiseshell pins. If there’s a rough spot in the seam, it will tear at your hair when it is put in and taken out.
Never use plain rubber bands, such as the kind taken off a newspaper.
You will be cutting the band and chunks of your hair out every time you try to remove it. Always use the kind of band that is meant for hair, one covered in nylon or a thin fabric. It’s best to put the band for a ponytail on loosely. Your curls will hold the band in your hair. Wrapping a band around your hair in a stranglehold will break your hair from the stress of being too tight. For a low, loose tail, a smaller band wrapped once is all right, or use a larger band doubled so that it just holds your hair back. Make sure your hair has breathing room inside the band.
For a higher, ﬁrmer tail, you can use a clip with handles that squeeze open; then put your curls in it and close it ﬁrmly in place.
Try to use a clip that has larger teeth but fewer of them. The best clip that I’ve found for a high ponytail has only three prongs, which keeps the tail close to my head. Using a clip instead of a band saves wear and tear on your hair. Wrapping a band repeatedly in your hair while pulling very long curls through, over and over, to tighten it will produce too much stress on both hair and scalp, with no relief, because the severe band holds tight all day.
I almost never use gel. Leaving conditioner in my hair does everything I need.
Even so, I have a low hairline, so there are several inches of hair to hang over my eyes. My curls are thick and seem happiest when they’re draped over my face, so I need something strong to hold them back— sort of like a dam. I consider this product to be more of a spot-welding service and apply it only in the area where I need help, and only for special occasions. That’s why I go for the strength of a spiking gel or paste. Know that a little product does go a long way, and it can make the spot you put it in as hard as papier-mâché. If this happens, you can simply go over it with water and dab it with a paper towel to absorb the excess.
On the very rare occasions when I might use gel, I don’t worry too much about the ingredients in it. I use gel only to hold my hair in place in certain spots, so sticky ingredients on the ingredients list are expected.
I’ve found that the best ones to keep my curls off my face are spiking gels and pastes.
Because conditioner keeps my curls well formed, I need the gel only for the speciﬁc purpose of holding back my front hair. I look for a holding paste that sounds somewhat conditioning, but I know what its purpose is, and most of the pastes seem to fulﬁll it. To be honest, with these products, I go with whatever smells good since I use it so rarely, and only at a small area of my hairline.
After all this time, at least now I know what the substances inside the conditioners actually are and what they can and can’t do.