As a hair and makeup artist, Andrea Claire‘s hair journey began in Ontario 30 years ago. Having started in salons before moving to freelance, she was a hair spokesperson for L’Oréal Paris, ran teams for fashion week and Canadian Idol, and did the hairstyling for multiple regional and international magazines. Having a well-rounded understanding of all hair types and textures, we spoke with her to learn all about caring for curly hair in Singapore’s humidity.
How is curly hair different from straight hair or wavy hair?
Andrea Claire: The structure of curly hair is very different than straight hair. The follicle is oval to flat versus round which dictates the curl pattern. Curly hair grows out of the scalp naturally dry, generally, the cuticle is open which is why it’s dry and tangles easily.
When it comes to the difference between curly hair and wavy hair, the curl pattern on curly hair is tighter. Waves usually have a repeated S pattern and curls twist around. Tighter curls tend to be more porous than wavy hair.
What kind of products should those with curly hair use to take care of their tresses?
AC: You want to avoid products that build up which weigh the curl pattern down and flatten it out. You need hydrating and curl or wave enhancing products. Curly hair bloggers will tell you to avoid sulphates, alcohols, silicones, but as a hairstylist, we recommend avoiding this in general.
In Singapore’s humidity, the curls might come across frizzy or flat. What are your tips for avoiding this?
AC: A good haircut by someone who understands curly hair can go a long way. Frizzy hair is caused by lack of hydration. The thing with humidity is that you need to have a certain level of moisture in your hair to block out more entering and swelling the hair shaft.
The best way to explain this is by comparing hair to a sponge. Take a dry sponge. Flat, right? When you add water, what happens? It swells and expands — but, if you take an already wet sponge and add water to it, there’s only so much more that it can absorb and expand. Think of this when it comes to your hair, proper products such as leave-in conditioners and serums, create a barrier that blocks out humidity, mainly because there’s no space left in the hair shaft for humidity to settle into.
If you’re looking to bring your curls out and let your natural hair shine, Andrea Claire has shared her tips and tricks with us. Here are five things you should never do to your curly hair.
Curly hair naturally leans on the dry and brittle side, so brushing your hair when it’s dry will only separate the curls and cause it to look ‘frizzy’. At its worst, it can lead to split ends and breakage. If you want to comb through your curls, it’s best to do this after you condition it in the shower and stick to using a wide-tooth comb to maintain the natural shape and waves of your hair.
Keep in mind that curly hair is naturally dry, so shampooing too frequently will actually do more harm than good. It can dry out the hair and scalp, and make your hair more brittle in the process. Your curls need their natural oil to thrive. Claire suggests avoiding products that build up which weigh the curl pattern down and flatten it out. As always, avoid sulphates, alcohols, silicones. Her favourite products to use for curly hair are Iles Formula, HairPlay Sets 1, 2, 3 and of course her Dyson SuperSonic with the diffuser.
While you shouldn’t be shampooing frequently, moisturising products like your conditioner should be a priority. As Claire shares, one of the biggest mistakes you can make is to avoid putting any conditioner in or not using a leave-in conditioner. These moisturising products give your hair the bounce and definition they need. And as a tip from Claire, be sure to comb through your conditioner before you rinse it out.
Once you find the right stylist who knows how to handle your curls, you’ll be in safe hands. Claire says that some common mistakes made in salons are that customers can get suckered into keratin services — which destroys your curl restructuring it to be straight. Having it cut with thinning shears or razors also destroys the curl pattern and adds more ‘frizziness’, and be sure to ask if your hairstylist owns dry cut blades before they do a dry cut on your hair.
Aside from taking care of your curls in the shower, a large part of it also comes with the after-care. Namely, how it dries. According to Claire, rough-drying the hair with a terry cloth should be avoided and you should stick to wrapping the hair with a microfibre turban. If you use a blow-dryer, be sure to also use a diffuser attachment. A diffuser softens the airflow to be more widespread versus directional therefore cushioning the hair to gently dry the hair while encouraging the curl pattern.