Years ago, when hair expert Keneesha Hudson allowed her curly locks to go natural, it proved to be a positive experience. "I feel a great sense of freedom wearing my own hair," she told me. "It definitely has a much more organic feel to it. It doesn't hold me back from any activity — from anything," she added. As owner of Urbanbella salon in Atlanta, Keneesha educates women about embracing their own curl. She's already offered us tips on taking care of curly locks, as well as taming unruly strands, and now it's time for tips on cuts and styling. To find out her sage advice, just read more.
Should you be avoiding certain techniques with curly hair?
You want to pay very close attention to curly hair after highlights, flat irons, and blow dryers. They can completely kill a curl and make it permanently straight. Be careful with the heat and the highlights. You can do them, but you have to do them very carefully.
Is there an optimal time to apply product?
Definitely. The best time to apply styling products is right after you rinse out the conditioner. Most people are looking to get away from that wet look with curly hair, and are looking to minimize the frizz; and no matter your texture, you're going to capture your hair at its best point right after you rinse out the conditioner. To avoid the crunchy wet hair look, you need to have the proper water and gel balance and that's the way you get that. Squeeze some of the water out with your hand and then pull the product through.
Do you have any fun "cocktails" or product mixtures to share?
We love to blend creamy styling aids with clear gels. For example, Anthony Dickey makes a product called Curly Whip ($20 to $32) and he has another product called Kinky Curling Cream ($20 to $32). We'll blend the two of those together, because it gives you the best of both worlds. It gives you the fast-drying gel results, but the [de]frizzing benefits of a cream.
A lot of curly-haired women have trouble finding a stylist that can cut their hair properly. What are your tips for finding a stylist?
Take a look at the brands that are curly-hair focused. A lot of companies do a very good job with creating a haircut. They create styling techniques, and they take that to teach other salons around the country. It might take a little research, but start with those [curly focused] vendor brands and see what they offer in the town near you.
What haircuts can you recommend to ladies with curly hair?
The best thing we find is a haircut that starts out looking at the hair in its natural state. We favor haircuts that cut the hair curly, while it's wet — or dry while it's still curly. It encourages women to wear the hair curly, and it also leaves them without having to compromise.
Are there certain lengths or layering techniques that work better for curly hair?
It's very dependent on the curl. Every curl pattern is so different. Each of those have to have a different approach. There are only so many types of haircuts. Personality does come into play, and you don't want to compromise that.