Hair Today, Gorgeous Tomorrow
Calling all curls: These tips, tonics and treatments totally squash Houstonhumidity hair
Being a curly-headed person, humidity is my ultimate foe. And nowhere does the battle rage more fiercely than home in Houston. Occasionally my humongous hair is granted a reprieve from frizz, like when I visit my old friend in Santa Fe, New Mexico, for example. For any non-locals who've happened on our site, don't be fooled. Houston's heat is not a dry one.
In fact, it's sticky and stagnant, so much so that in the summers you feel as if you've waded into a warm bath instead of merely walked out your front door. You can practically feel your hair rise to horrendous heights. So I enlisted the help of some area experts on how to tame my tresses without totally betraying them.
Don't get me wrong, I love having curly hair. I feel less like myself without it, and I wanted solutions that didn't involve a flat-iron or a round-brush. Here's what I found.
Best Product: Kiehl's Superbly Smoothing Argan Collection
When I think Kiehl's, I think skin care. I think of rich moisturizers, traditionalist packaging and what to buy my mom for Christmas.
But Kiehl's has broken into hair care in a big way, and these silicone and paraben-free products smooth and condition without feeling heavy or greasy. Silicone, in particular, is loaded into many shampoos and conditioners for a sort of instant-gratification illusion. When you rinse in the shower, your hair seems, for the moment, ultra smooth and soft.
That is until you realize you've just coated your strands in fakery. A day in, you feel compelled to wash your hair when you're usually an every-third-day curly kind of girl.
In contrast, Kiehl's Argan collection relies on its namesake, Argan oil, which is a favorite moisturizer of Moroccan women. It's naturally high in oleic acid and essential fatty acids and is combined with sesame oil and cocoa butter for the shampoo, conditioner and hair masque offered in the collection. That their Argan oil is fair-trade is a bonus.
Best Tips: Courtesy of David Bamford at Therapy Hair Studio
David Bamford knows hair. And when I told him I always figured that styling products mattered way more than shampoo and conditioner, he quickly corrected me.
"That's like washing your face with 409 and slapping Chanel on top," he said.
I asked Bamford, head of Therapy Hair Studio, to teach me how to coif my curls. (Therapy regularly uploads great how-to styling videos, which you can view here). He started things off by giving me a maxi wash to strip off all those silicone-laden products I mentioned above, something he recommends doing once every few weeks. He also gave me some advice I'd never heard before as he fingered through my highlights — don't bleach curly hair.
You can color it, and even lighten it up, but bleaching curls (removing color) separates the hair follicle from its core and breaks the curl formation. So, now you know. Onto the styling.
David had me separate my hair into six sections and twist pieces around my finger all the way from the roots to the end. We first applied a light styling creme — no crunchy mousse or gel — in this case Kevin Murphy's Motion Lotion aftercare, one lid-sized dollop for each section. We made sure to twist face-framing pieces away from my face, and dried with a diffuser. (You can also let hair air dry, which is what I've done since with equal success). What I got was true, defined curls I wasn't afraid to touch.
Rather than worry about crushing these ringlets, as I do when I achieve them with mousse, I could pull each perfect curl into pieces and multiply it. Ah-mazing.
Best Bring out the Big Guns Solution: Brazilian Keratin Treatment
If you're at wit's end, there's always the option of bringing out the big guns. I'm talking months-lasting, humidity-proof, texture transforming Brazilian Keratin Treatment.
It'll cost you a pretty penny, yes, (mine would've been $550 — but my hair's stupid long and, as I said, humongous) but it works. I was blown away, and I've got friends (Greek friends, no less) who swear by it. The genius of BKT is that you can wear hair straight or curly (the number of swipes with the flat-iron can easily determine the finished look) and rather than break or ruin curls with chemicals that create hideous roots when it grows out, BKT coats each strand in naturally occurring keratin and simply fades over time. The more you wash it, the more back-to-normal it gets.
I got my BKT courtesy of Joel at Azur Salon. The process took around four hours, but has saved me god-only-knows how much time getting ready. If I were the type to often straighten my hair, it would be even greater. What used to take 45 minutes can be accomplished now in under 10 with a few strokes of my roommate's Chi.
The treatment lasts three to four months and, in my thinking, saves your hair from countless hours of hot-styling. And you've got options. If you're concerned by the trace amounts of Formaldehyde, opt for the still-keratin-based Brazilian Blowout.
If you're wanting a more temporary, wallet-friendly fix, the Kérastase Oléo-Relax Slim treatment, which lasts 12 shampoos, was given a hearty thumbs up by CultureMap's social media maven Fayza Elmostehi.
Ah, the things we do in the name of research.