There was a little girl \
Who had a little curl \
Right in the middle of her forehead.
When she was good \
She was very, very good \
But when she was bad\
She was still awesome\
Destroy the Hairdresser decided to update that 19th century Longfellow classic. Curls are amazing. Texture is the wave of the future. Pun totally intended. Seriously though, as we accelerate our evolution to being a world culture, highly textured hair and how to care for it is what we as hairdressers should be devoting our time to.
Why is caring for curls so different?
It is not a flat canvas; hairdressers have to be able to structure a cut and color in 3-d. Curls are not one size fits all; there are dozens of variations and each calls for customization in technique and product recommendations. Curls fundamentally lack moisture, which is added back in with treatments and products. Patterns are defined in texture type and tightness of the coil, such as the Botticelli curls or the corkscrew curl. Coarse Botticelli curls will need different care than the fine version. Fine kinky curls will have a different care recipe than coarse, dense tight coils. Depending on the type and how the wearer feels, curls are prescribed products that tighten or elongate. Curls constrict as they dry, hence why every curly girl has had at least one haircut where we ask for an inch off and it looks like four inches. The shape of the cut expands as it dries, which is why many curl professionals choose to cut curls dry.
Coloring curls typically requires more strength in placement, tones, and developers. Because the colors are reflected off a structure that is both exposed to and hidden from the sun (inside and outside of the curl) compensations have to be made. Back to back slices on curly hair will look like a fine effect weave does on straight hair. On the plus side, curly guests get a longer time period before new growth is seen.
There are many people out there that focus on curls, and there are different philosophies for each one. Ouidad has specialized since 1984 and has a trademarked carving and slicing technique for cutting curls. Devacurl has academies on both coasts and whether we love it or hate it, is one of the founders of the no-poo movement. Amy Bush has the only curl specialty salon, Ambushed, with her own signature technique in the eastern Midwest. Aveda in the last two years has named Tippi Shorter Global Director of Texture, keeping them on the forefront of a global vision in hairdressing.
Me? I'm like a kid in a candy store. I grew up as a curly haired brunette chubby bespectacled girl in the 80s (yeah...it was totally awesome #sarcasm) and all we did was perm everything. EVERYTHIIIIIIING...and then add enough mousse to make it crunchy and then scrunch. Trevor Sorbie coined the term “scrunch”; crumple or squeeze the curls up with your hand. Of course I am loving this attention to my native hair type, and of course the humidity's effect on my curls is the only thing I love about summer. (the bigger the better, baby)
Curl 'em if you got 'em. Learn about them if you don't. Take classes. Experiment on friends. Don't ever. EVER. Use a razor. If you can do a great cut on a head of curls you will have a client for life...and they will send you EVERYONE.
I leave you with my curl goal from when I was a little girl who permed her curls and didn't know how to care for them.