asked & answered: where did my curls go?!?!!

dolceinscence asked:

Heyy! I just recently got my hair straightened and I thought i was gonna die when i washed it and my curls were close to non-exsistent, How long does it usually take for them to bounce back? I have very thick type 3b/3c hair. its been maybe 3 weeks and its still not curling up the same:( I never thought i would miss the thickness of my hair until now.

Firstly, let me lend you my condolences. I know that exact feeling of hysteria while waiting on your hair to snap back after it’s been straightened. this is the very reason that I pretty much only straighten my hair a handful of times a year, even in winter–because it feels like such a gamble doesn’t it?!! sure everything went well last time, but what if THIS time is the time that your curls are ironed out for good?? It has happened! I hear stories all the time about women who straightened their hair once and their precious curls were never seen again. This fear is what keeps me from only straightening my hair only a handful of times each year.

But, I DO straighten it, and I have had scares. I can’t say whether or not your curl pattern has been shot or give a direct prescription on how to get it back, because I don’t know what kind of temperament your hair has (I know you gave me your hair type, but I kind of think hair typing is a bunch of BS so I don’t pay that system any attention) and I don’t know what your straightening routine is like. And also, you just never know—it really can be a gamble every time you straighten your curls. I can share my story and offer some tips, though.

I kept wearing my hair straight after transitioning for nearly 2 years. Throughout my transition and for months after, I washed, blew out, and flatironed my hair every two to three weeks. Miraculously, I didn’t sustain any major heat damage. It took me quite awhile to find the balls to wear my hair curly after I cut it, and even after I found them and grew to love what my hair does naturally, I still straightened at least once a month. There was never any damage, no scares—until one day.

I straightened my hair as usual, wore it straight for about two weeks, then washed it out and my curls just kind of laid there there. my curls weren’t as curly, my coils weren’t as coily, and it was just an overall boring, undefined, lazy mess. I freaked AAAALLL the way out, but calmed down after I asked the handful of naturals I knew if I was in trouble. They all said that it can take a few washes before your curls bounce all the way back, so I tried hard to be patient. Over the next month or so, I had to do a LOT of loving and apologizing to my hair, and it eventually came back.

Here are some things to remember and practice when you find yourself ready to put out an APB for your curls after a harsh straightening.

Know the difference between what your hair does naturally, and what you want it to do. I don’t mean to insult your intelligence here because you may already know this, but one scalp can produce like a THOUSAND different textures. Before you freak out about part of your hair not curling the right way, be sure to note: has it ever curled up like I wanted it to? It could be that your hair just doesn’t do what you want it to do naturally, and there is not a product in existence that you can rub in your hair that will give it curls that you don’t have. I don’t care what the packaging says. Products ENHANCE your hair texture; they can’t change it without some chemical process. So, be sure that what you’re seeing is an actual change in the hair texture that you have. If it is, then you’re all clear for freak out.

Don’t freak out just yet! Remember: it can take a few washes before your curls come all the way back. While you’re waiting, take extra extra fabulous care of it. Here are some things you can do:

  • Clarify your hair. By this I mean give it a good deep cleaning to remove any product build-up that may be left in your hair from your straightening session. A lot of the products we put in our hair when straightening contain silicones, mineral oils, and petrolatum, which can all weight down your natural curls. Get them out of there! Give your hair a good shampooing with a sulfate shampoo (this is important; sulfates are the only/best way to remove mineral oil and silicon from your hair), and/or an apple cider vinegar rinse. When I had my curl scare, I did both—shampooed, then followed with an ACV rinse. The ACV always seems to breathe life into my curls—I try to do it once a month as part of my regular routine.
  • Moisture moisture moisture! To get your curls at their springy spoingy best, moisture is always the key, especially when dealing with distressed hair. You should keep it good and moisturized anyway, but doubly so now. Co-wash more often (if co-washing is your thing—my hair personally doesn’t like it so much); seal your ends with a good oil; pre-poo before every sulfate wash, and follow it up with a good deep conditioning; try a hot oil treatment; keep your scalp oiled and supple (coconut oil is GREAT for dry scalps); whatever processes and products give you the most moisture, go for those and obsess over them for the next few weeks while loving your hair back to its regularly scheduled bounciness.

Make sure you’re straightening routine is as healthy as it can be. The best way to nurse your curls back to health is to not hurt them in the first place. I personally don’t think any straightening routine is guaranteed—it’s kind of like birth control pills. Sure, your womb is 99% protected, but there’s still that 1% to worry about. There’s always a chance you could be sent down a path of hysterical sorrow in both cases. But, to be as safe as you can, make sure these steps and tips have a place in your routine:

  • Pre-poo and Deep Condition. You’ll want to make sure your hair is at it’s strongest to withstand the heat you’re about to put on it, so do what you can to get some good nourishers and conditioners and moisturizers in there. Start with a pre-poo to keep your shampoo from stripping too much of your hair’s natural oils and follow it with a deep condition to replace what moisture is lost. Personally, I always DC with my favorite oil and Cantu Shea Butter Leave-In whenever I straighten my hair. Speaking of…
  • Use products with silicon. The silicon adds a protective barrier between your hair shaft and your straightening tool. I know that usually naturals don’t dig silicon too much, but here’s one time when it’s very helpful.
  • Use a heat protectant. I will admit—this is something that I do not do. For some reason, my hair looks horrible when I use a heat protectant, but I recognize that this is just my hair’s response to them, and I still know how important it is to protect your hair from heat as best you can. So definitely, use a heat protectant—you can probably find one that works for you (I just got lazy in my search for one…if my hair falls out the next time I straighten, it’s my own damn fault!). Better safe than sorry!
  • Don’t get that iron too hot! If you’re like me, you don’t believe anything until it burns a little bit. I need my mouthwash to scald me just a tad bit in the gums before my mouth feels clean, and if I don’t see a little smoke, I usually don’t feel like my hair’s really getting straight. This is a mistake. You don’t have to go overboard with the heat; being too reckless with that flat iron dial great way to get an accidental perm.
  • When in doubt, LET A PROFESSIONAL DO IT. Seriously. If you’re not sure of what you’re doing or if you’re doing the right things, stop. Go to a salon. At least if they screw your head up, you’ve got someone to sue.

If after a 3-4 weeks your curls still haven’t come back from their vacation, it may be time to break the news to yourself that they may never be coming home L All you can really do is take the best care of your hair that you can (who knows? They might pop back in time for Thanksgiving dinner!) and learn to work with your new texture. And remember: it’s just hair. It will grow back in its regular, normal happy little curly pattern. Take the lessons learned and be careful to walk a better path next time! This whole hair thing is trial and error—if you learn from the errors, it makes it worth it.

At least that’s what I tell myself when I make some bad choices and have to walk around looking like this all day.

Good luck! Hope this helped!

4 thoughts on “asked & answered: where did my curls go?!?!!

  1. I straightened my hair twice this year by the Dominicans…and ayyy! The results were awesome!! BUTTTTT….. it took a while for the curliness to come back…. and actually I still have weird pieces of hair. Their process has wayyyyyy lotttttaaaaaa heat! Like I was praying to Jesus the whole time. I learned my lesson now…if I get my hair straightened let it be many months
    apart or just once a year (if I get t done by them).

    • oh man, those dominican salons can LAY some hair, can’t they?? i went to them for my big chop, and that whole thing is a hilarious story that i’ll have to share one day. but i looked in the mirror and was overjoyed! then i was terrified. i thought to myself, ‘there’s no WAY my curls are coming back after this!” lol.

      but they did! surprise surprise!

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