It’s been two weeks now, and everyone within my zip code knows I’ve run out of conditioner. Riding in my little PT Cruiser, I’ve almost caused dozens of accidents with people taking their eyes off the road wondering if it’s a woman or Animal at the wheel.
I can’t just go out and buy conditioner either. Three reasons: 1) The conditioner that works on my hair has been discontinued; 2) It took me 30 years to find one that works; 3) I refuse to pay more than $4.99–and that’s on my most frivolous day.
But it’s all good now. The roads will soon be safe from the distraction that is my hair. And people need no longer be blinded or puzzled by the looks of me. It’s all good, thanks to my super awesome daughter. In the middle of studying for midterms, she took several hours to search the interwebs for viable, cheap solutions to my hair predicament. What a sweetie!
So for those of you plagued with curls like mine, but have no awesome daughter to find you a solution, I’ll share her findings:
First read this. It’s a good summary of the Curly Girl Method, which is just the name of a book that someone wrote about taking care of curly hair. — http://dormroomcurly.blogspot.com/2008/12/style-definitions-table.html
Then figure out your hair type. People who talk about curly hair online often reference these hair types. There’s a list of general tips at the bottom of this page, and a list of suggested styling products on the right: http://www.naturallycurly.com/hair-types
Then read about the No Shampoo Method. Make sure you read all five pages, even the parts about how to towel dry your hair. http://www.naturallycurly.com/curlreading/curl-products/all-about-the-no-poo-routine-2
Look here for recipes for cleansers and conditioners you can make at home: http://www.naturallycurly.com/curltalk/recipes-%97-hair-body/
And these are lists of sulfate and silicone-free products (this is a really good site to just browse through): http://healthycurls.net/product-lists/sulfate-protein-silicone-free-products/
You can also just go to the grocery store and read the labels (I know that Sauve has some decent stuff, and I’ve also heard that you can use baby shampoo as a substitute for the more expensive gentle shampoos). This is an explanation of what you don’t want in your shampoo, and they also have a list of suitable products on the left side: http://curlgirljourney.blogspot.com/2008/12/curly-girl-method-approved-products.html
If you can’t find anything or don’t want to bother with the no-shampoo method, then read this for a list of the really bad sulfates and the okay ones: http://www.naturallycurly.com/curlreading/ingredients/curlysuzy-qa-which-sulfates-are-safer-than-the-others
Random Tips and Tricks
1. Don’t use a towel to dry your hair. Use an old tshirt or a microfiber cloth. Regular towels dry your hair unevenly, soaking up too much in some spots and sucking all the moisture out of the ends.
2. Lots of curly-haired people like to do an apple cider vinegar rinse every once and a while. Supposedly it makes your curls shinier and bouncier: http://healthycurls.net/diychemical-free-treatments/apple-cider-vinegar/
3. Some of these articles say that you should rinse the last conditioner you use out of your hair, but I think that works mainly for super fine hair. I never rinse out my conditioner (even when I use a deep conditioner), and sometimes I reapply it to the ends after I get out of the shower. BUT: after combing your hair in the shower, make sure you squeeze out all the excess water before using the conditioner so that your hair doesn’t drip out all the product. And clip your hair up after you do that so you don’t accidentally rinse it.
4. If you put a plastic bag/shower cap over your head and run a warm hairdryer over it after you get out of the shower, it helps the conditioner soak in. Don’t apply heat directly to your hair though–especially not after it starts actually drying–or else you’ll make it frizzy.