For many women, a trip to the salon offers a nice bit of luxurious pampering–some authentic “me” time, and you leave with a completely new or refreshed curl, cut, color or style. Less heard about is how for most curly girls, a simple trip to the salon can wind up being on the level of a house of horrors Halloween spooktacular. This is because for the most part, historically there’ has not been enough known about how to uniquely care for coils, tiny curls and all the curlier forms of natural hair. And while one might be inclined to imagine that the salons that cater more to African American hair would be well-versed on the various techniques and concerns with different processes, and how they relate to curly hair, think again. All of those delicious effects for straighter versions of hair can seem out of reach for curly girls, and unless you know that a hair colorist is adept with coloring curly hair, you’re going to be playing Russian roulette with your hair.
Stand up for Your Curls
One of the most important things that any curly girl needs to have in her curly arsenal is a good, strong measure of self-advocacy. You know your hair and how it responds better than anyone else and learning how to speak up will save you. If you’re in a salon, you are paying them well, for their services, and it’s their job to please you. At any point during your session, if you get a bad vibe, it’s your obligation to your curls to stand up, remove the cape and walk right out the door.
Special Curly Requests
If you are at a new stylist. it’s advisable to request that they only use half of their normal amount of color. For one thing, curls are fragile hair, and something like a semi-permanent gloss can be just what your curls need to enhance your sheen and vibrancy. These glosses get down to the cuticle and actually make your hair more manageable. Starting out slowly is the best way to develop a strong relationship with your colorist while you make an assessment of how the communication is going. Make sure your colorist protects your hair to be colored with an ample measure of moisture foundation before coloring.
Woah, Nelly–How Much???
For many women, a curl-coloring specialist is eons beyond the budget, leaving them to seek color from a stylist not formally trained at the level of pro colorists. If your coloring will leave you deciding whether or not you really need electricity this month, there are some good more generic stylists who do good with curly color, too. Don’t be afraid to ask all your questions, and make sure that you fully understand what is going to happen before any mixing begins. While it may seem over the top, a pre-procedure Q & A might help tremendously, even if you have to pay for it. Often, offering to buy the stylist a cup of good coffee somewhere nearby will suffice, and there, you two can discuss your concerns.
Curly Hair “Shows” Differently
Due to all of the bends and angles in curly hair, along with the virtual space within the curls, it reflects light distinctively. For this reason, it doesn’t require as much color to amplify your hair’s reflective quality–as in less is more. Added color shows up more readily in curly hair, and with fewer chemicals, you get less chemical damage. For this reason, it’s best to start out with highlights that are somewhat close to your natural color. Extreme color jumps mostly become regrets, and very soon. Easy does it–you can always go lighter, but going darker will not be your true natural color.
Foiled by the Foil
Never a good idea for adding color to curls, which translates to too much guesswork for application spots and volume, so check this one off your bucket list. There’s a technique called Pintura (which is similar to balayage,) that involves painting color directly on strands and no foils. It allows for specific placement of color that can add light-reflecting highlights for added intrigue and dimension. Regrowth with this process is less noticeable. It’s important to leave enough uncolored hair, and make sure there are sufficient spaces between highlights. The art form strategy lies in the color placement.