For quite some time, hair care has not really been on the forefront of our priority list in self-care. It was high time we’ve shown our crowning glories some extra TLC and let our tresses live their best lives too. Besides, we’ve also come to the stark realization that while we can get filters for skin on a bad day, we can’t really get that when it comes to hair!
THE BASICS THAT WE BOTH DO
LEARN YOUR HAIR TYPE. There are loads of references online, like this one here, so do make sure to check your type first before hoarding your conditioners.
Julia personally has very porous hair, which means it loses moisture and frizzes out in humidity much faster. It also tends to look dull because the cuticles are lifted, and can get damaged pretty easily. Her curls are also a looser, springier type of twist which look great when maintained well, BUT are incredibly prone to dryness and frizz. This means all of her products need to be geared toward moisture, moisture, moisture!
Jazz, on the other hand, has hair with normal porosity which means it requires the least maintenance and that the cuticle layer is looser, which allows just the right amount of moisture to enter while preventing too much from escaping. Her hair type is “swavy” and plays between S-type waves and straightness, tending to hold styles very well. Her products are geared towards volume and curl definition.
LEARN YOUR INGREDIENTS. While we don’t plan on going all in on the details, here’s the abridged version of what you need to know. Avoid sulfates, as these can strip your hair of natural oils and cause your scalp to overcompensate, leading to greasiness. Avoid silicones, as these coat your strands in film and repel moisture, which is often found in conditioners that give you added shine and slip, which is incredibly misleading as it can give you the illusion of healthy hair without actually giving you nutrients. Avoid water-insoluble ingredients like mineral oil because again, it creates an impenetrable film that doesn’t let the good stuff soak through. Avoid parabens, which are essentially shelf-life prolonging ingredients, as these are irritants that are found to cause allergies, dermatitis, and even rosacea. Lastly, avoid alcohol (not the fatty kinds!) as these can dry out your hair and cause frizz. You can check out your hair care ingredients with this bot if they contain any of the aforementioned ingredients!
USE LESS SHAMPOO. Most commercial shampoos contain sulfates and surfactants that strip your hair of its essential oils. Traces of these ingredients are also harder to rinse off for curly haired girls, like Julia but an easier rinse for girls with looser curl patterns like Jazz. So depending on your hair type and your daily routines, try to experiment with wash schedules that would leave you reaching for that shampoo less and less. We’ve already cut down from the daily wash to a couple times a week to a couple times a month. It might feel weird and greasy for a bit there but that’s only because your scalp is adjusting from the dependency on shampoo.
USE A HAIR MASK 1-2x A WEEK. Hair, especially curlies and wavies, are big fans of moisture—much like most of our bodies. Hair masks lock in nourishment and ensure your hair gets all that yummy moisture and hydration, so slapping on a hair mask is the ultimate addition to your routine. Make sure you shop by hair type if you’re going for the commercially made ones—you wouldn’t want to be using one that’s highly moisturizing if it isn’t actually for you. If you’ll be making your own, read up on the different effects of the ingredients of your homemade ingredients to achieve the effect that you want.
THE JU-JU-JOURNEY FROM REBONDED HAIR TO BONDING WITH CURLS
I, like many other Filipinas, used to believe that the meaning of beautiful hair was sleek, silky, and most of all, straight. I looked at other girls with their gorgeous flowing hair with envy and wondered why I had to be born with the perpetually buhaghag, undefined curls that I had—it wasn’t fair, I thought! I saw my waves as messy and a nuisance, so I began rebonding it; plus, because my ate started doing it first, I, being the copycat little sister that I am, thought that she was the coolest so I had to do it too—not that I’m blaming this all on her or anything! But maybe a little. LOL!
It was only around two years ago when I stopped chemically treating my hair completely. I let my then-digipermed hair (ironic that I turned to faking what I could’ve already had) grow out and chopped it all off, letting me start my hair journey and curly girl mindset anew. Ever since then, I’ve had no regrets. Besides being incredibly expensive to maintain, I just thought rebonding my hair was too much of a hassle as it took literally an entire day to accomplish, so I figured it was best to embrace what my momma (technically, dad’s side, though) gave me and go au naturel.
I’ve come to the realization that my curls were a beautiful, unique aspect of who I was and the only reason I despised it so much was because of this strange culture we grew up in where straight meant great, where commercials, television shows, and even relatives always seemed to imply that straighter hair was better, and that little kinks were somehow less than. When I began to tell myself I wouldn’t rebond my hair anymore (let’s face it, ya gurl doesn’t have that kind of cash anyway), I started to see the light: like a great beacon descending upon the heavens telling me I was being an idiot for trying to be something I wasn’t. Rejecting what I was born with was a complete waste of time and money, and as I fully let go of my fixation with straighter hair, I realized that the mere act of learning what my hair wanted rather than forcing things upon it made my natural hair come to life in ways I never thought possible.
And so, thanks to one of my lovely interns back at Calyxta (hey, Nat!), I was introduced to The Curly Girl Method a few months ago and have been reaping its rewards ever since. I won’t go into it so deeply because it would take ages to explain, but fellow curlies can head on over to the Philippine Curly Girls Facebook page for a full (and extremely detailed) guide and everything you need to know, down to local CGM-approved products, which supermarkets/websites to get them from, and specific no-no’s you need to learn. My personal routine is based mostly on this method, with some exclusions, such as the “final wash” (where you wash your hair with dishwashing soap to strip out all the silicones so you can start with a clean slate) just because it sounded weird and I didn’t want to do it. Hahaha! Following the original method to the T would definitely make your results come faster and better, I’m sure, but this way has helped my hair improve so much within the 3 months that I’ve been doing this routine anyway, so I’m not too mad at skipping a step.
Without further ado, here’s my routine for maintaining my curls! But please do bear in mind that my hair is thick and is up to my ribs in length, so my usage of conditioner may vary greatly with yours.
CO-WASH, THEN USING A SULFATE- AND SILICONE-FREE LOW-POO AS NEEDED (AKA 2-3 TIMES A MONTH ONLY). For newbies out there, here’s the 411 on these terms: (a) co-washing is relying on a light conditioner to wash through your scalp and mane, (b) a low-poo is a strictly CGM approved shampoo, meaning it is made without all the bad stuff a.k.a parabens, sulfates, silicones, and bad alcohol; both are used in replacement of your regular commercial shampoo whether you’re washing daily or weekly.
Some ladies opt not to wash their hair daily, which is completely fine if it works better for you. I’ve seen ladies wash their hair every three or so days, so try it out for yourself and modify as needed. However, since I personally try to get some exercise at least 5-6 times a week, it doesn’t sit well with me NOT to wash my hair daily. BUT, to compensate for this, I only co-wash (NOT shampoo!) daily so I can still get off all the workout sweat while still retaining moisture in my hair. Massage the product thoroughly with the pads of your fingers onto the scalp to lift away dirt and grime, rinse well, then go in AGAIN with a conditioner for the body of the hair (see below step). It feels a little weird at first because you might oil up from losing the dependency on shampoo, but after the first week of doing so, you’ll stop noticing the difference completely. For frequency, I only ever shampoo once every other week if I didn’t sweat too crazily within that period of time.
PILE ON THE CONDITIONER. When I apply my conditioner, I usually do it many, many, many times. The application can vary per person, as some people like to apply it in different methods depending on their type of curl. The following steps are the ones that have been effective for me personally, for my loose, springy twists! First, apply some to your hands and rake through your hair, just to make sure you get the tangles out and coat all your strands. Next, I apply even more to my hands and rope sections of it upwards, meaning my conditioner-coated hands clasp around segments of my hair and gently climb upwards—basically, imagine you’re pulling yourself up a rope. Lastly, I put the tiniest bit more of conditioner (I know: ang gastos ko sa conditioner, but bear with me) and “squish to condish”. This means that you scrunch the segments upwards towards the center in small, pulsing motions to really force that product into your locks. This also helps guide your hair on how the curls will form later as it dries! This part is crucial in shape formation and takes the longest for me, because I typically squish for about 2 songs (apparently an accurate measure of time in Julia-world LMAO) before I rinse. If you can squish to condish for longer, then better. The CGM also says not to rinse it out completely (only around 90%), but I honestly forget this step sometimes because I’m an idiot—don’t be me! Try to leave just a bit in. It’ll be uncomfortable at first, but you’ll get used to it, sis.
For product recos, I’ve used Human Nature Moisturizing Vanilla (both shampoo and conditioner) and LOVED it, but since I go ham on the conditioner, I’ve run out and have had to switch to the Zenutrients Tea Tree Conditioner presently instead. The Human Nature conditioner was much richer in texture, as the Zenutrients formulation is a lot lighter and more watery in consistency; I find myself using more product with Zenutrients because of this reason, but it does its job well regardless. Comparing the two, I’d much rather buy Human Nature because it’s a bit more moisturizing for my hair and doesn’t need to piled on as much as Zenutrients does to have the same effect.
DRY SLIGHTLY WITH A MICROFIBER TOWEL OR AN OLD SHIRT AND SQUISH. I personally use an old shirt because I couldn’t be bothered to get a microfiber towel, as is my lazy nature, but do get your own towel if you can! This material helps to keep it from breaking or frizzing, as opposed to the rough texture of terry cloth towels, and to help maintain the shape of your curls. Using a scrunching motion, squish your hair upwards slightly to remove excess water and reshape your curls—but just enough so you’re not dripping all over your bathroom floor! You’ll need your hair to stay wet for the next steps. Pro-tip: don’t you DARE rub! Rubbing your hair between a towel can cause breakage, so be gentle with your locks, please.
LEAVE-IN CONDITIONER. I know what you’re thinking: “Is she serious? Conditioner AGAIN?” To that, I say, “The more, the manyer!” As I said earlier, my hair is extremely prone to losing moisture, so I try to help it along with another layer of conditioner. Make sure your hair is still soaking wet, then apply. Here, I go in with my 3-step conditioning method again: rake, rope, and scrunch. For this step, I use the Andalou 1000 Roses Complex Leave-In Conditioner. Luckily, you don’t have to use as much product with this one, since a little glides a much longer way.
DEEP CONDITION 2 TIMES A WEEK. Because I’m in dire need of moisture, I try to use my Andalou Argan Oil and Shea Butter Deep Conditioner at the start and end of every week (Monday and Friday, usually, but can be altered due to my lapses in memory, LOL). I personally enjoy this product a lot, as my curls hold much better and are visibly more lustrous on days I deep condition—plus it smells amazing, too! I owe much of the newfound vitality of my locks to this product alone, so I highly recommend this for those looking to rehydrate their rough manes.
Keep this on for at least 20 minutes (preferably inside a plastic shower cap so the moisture doesn’t escape, but I broke mine and settled for my cloth hat with ears which was just too cute not to use) while you go do your thing. You can do whatever you want in this time, though if you’re like me, you’ll probably just end up sitting on your toilet in a robe the whole time while watching Sims gameplay videos on YouTube until the timer runs out. Any CallMeKevin or James Turner fans out there?
STYLING GEL. I honestly never blow dry or diffuse my hair, mostly because I’m lazy and I don’t want to—in true Julia fashion—so I just let it air dry all the time. This might not work for everybody, so if you do want to use a diffuser, do it after your leave-in conditioner and gel! Also, since I haven’t been going out lately, I haven’t had the need to put gel in. But on days that I need the curls to hang on for a little longer, as humidity, wind, and constant touching makes it lose structure, I like to use the Andalou Sunflower & Citrus Styling Gel (I’m not sponsored, I swear. I just went a little nuts in Healthy Options with this brand, okay?). Again, I use this on damp hair (after the leave-in conditioner) in my usual 3 steps. Say it with me, now: rake, rope, scrunch!
This gel doesn’t get crunchy unless you use A LOT of it, which I don’t usually have to since it holds decently with minimal product use, but if you do experience crunch or are using gel that stiffens more than this product does, that’s completely fine. Don’t panic! Just scrunch out the crunch when it’s COMPLETELY dry and be on your merry way!
DO NOT TOUCH YOUR HAIR AFTERWARDS AT ALL. This is the part that I have the most trouble with, as I have a tendency to flip my hair often or shift it from shoulder to shoulder. DON’T DO THAT. Constantly moving it is how it loses its shape and how it separates the distinct curled segments.
ARGAN OIL. This isn’t really required, but sometimes, if my hair is dry and I’m already outdoors but I need a quick fix because my frizz has gone out of my control, I whip out some oil to tame it down. I like this one from Healthy Options (again, not sponsored, but hoping? CHAROT) called Aura Cacia Organic Argan Oil. It’s a bit on the expensive side, but for a 100% pure oil that’s travel-friendly and actually does something—unlike cheaper, diluted versions that literally give me shine for a grand total of 2 seconds—it’s worth the investment. Besides, one or two pumps is really all I need for my entire length of hair, so I know I’m going to get a lot of use out of it.
Aaaand that’s all that I do, really! From the past 3-ish months, I’ve seen a tremendous improvement in both shape and texture with my hair, and while I still have a long way to go to keep it from frizzing out or losing its form quickly, I’m beyond proud of how much livelier it looks.
The overall form is much more distinct now rather than being a homogeneous blob of unrefined frizz, so I’m definitely more confident wearing my curls outside; so confident, even, that I know my rebonded high school self would probably look at me with proud, tear-stained eyes—at least that’s what I like to tell myself. Haha!
The Jazzling Road from Unidentifiable Tresses to Embracing My Ideal Swaves
For many years, my mother has long tried to wrangle my hair into some form of tameness in compliance with beauty standards—straight and sleek—even going as far as tricking me into a salon chair and getting my hair rebonded. Cue the horrible war flashbacks of walking into grade school after what should have been a normal weekend, and coming back with stick-straight hair that felt like my scalp was being bared for the world to see. True to my Aquarian nature, I wasn’t one for going with the flow, so when everyone sought out hair irons and relaxed tresses, I opted for everything else no one wanted: waves and curls.
Let me tell you something about this little journey I undertook, it is not as easy as it sounds! It took so much trial and error, which I’m still going through to be honest! I’ve known about the The Curly Girl Method for quite some time—thank you to my all-nighter foray into the deep archives of Byrdie—but the wavy hair isn’t the same as curly hair, so it was a bit harder to figure out how the CGM would work for me—which I honestly believed, wasn’t a fit at first because my waves didn’t look like their curls. If it’s one thing I’ve taken away, it’s that it’s a constant reminder game of no one size fits all! The key for CGM working for wavy hair is you must definitely modify, modify, modify until your hair feels and looks right to you.
With the quarantine season keeping me at home and letting my skin live its best life—no makeup, no pollution—I decided to give some extra TLC to my crowning glory since I had the extra time on my hands. Also, I got into it to lovingly push my tresses into the more defined curl pattern I knew existed: swaves.
So this is what I’ve been up to for the past couple of months trying to get into the swave of things:
First of all, I apply most of my products with my hair upside down. This gives my waves a chance to form as well as leave off on getting weighed down. If, for example, some products do not get to the canopy of my hair for some unknown reason, only then will I do a very very light once over with my head right side up.
How do I know when to clarify? (1) If you’re suffering from scalp issues, clarify! (2) If your scalp is itchy and feels disgusting, clarify! (3) If your hair is frizzy in a bad way from all that buildup, clarify!
A product that I definitely recommend which leaves my hair feeling soft but utterly clean without feeling like it was horribly stripped would be Klorane Ultra Gentle Shampoo (Oat Milk). It’s SLS, silicone, and paraben-free, very CGM approved! It is also formulated with oat milk which provides the softness for your hair and is so mild, you can use it everyday—which TBH, I wish I could! It doesn’t help that a little goes a long way and it smells divine!
ALTERNATE CO-WASHING & LOW POO. In the heat of this country and due to my daily routines, not washing my hair or even rinsing it for a day sometimes leaves me on edge, often tempting me to reach for that clarifying shampoo. To remedy this in between wash cycles, I usually alternate between using a low poo and co-washing. My schedule is akin to this right after a clarifying session: no wash/no poo, co-wash, no wash/no poo, low poo, wash/no poo, co-wash, no wash/no poo, low poo, no wash/no poo, etc. This is because wavy hair gets flatter faster since sebum and oil don’t have as many “hoops” to jump unlike our curlier sisters.
LEAVE-IN TREATMENT. If I didn’t squish to condish, I do a leave-in treatment instead. Here, I would still have wet hair upside down, and then scrunch in from the ends to the middle with a very light but moisturising or volumizing leave-in conditioner. I am still currently on the hunt for one that does both and is pocket friendly as well, but to no such luck as of yet! (If you have any recos, please please please hit me up!) But, I have been using a DIY one that I’ve stumbled across recently. To make your DIY leave in conditioner, mix together two (2) caps of extra virgin coconut or olive oil, four (4) tablespoon of your favorite conditioner, and around 6-8 ounces of distilled water in a spray bottle.
Like a petulant teenager, there are days when my waves might need an extra push to form properly. I would then opt to pull my hair into one or two buns secured with either grandma hair pins or my ever reliable silk scrunchie—a few hours later and they should be well formed!
REFRESH. Sometimes, when I think my hair is falling a bit lifeless or in need of a little pick me up, I spray down a very fine layer of water and then scrunch it back up! Et voila! It’s good as new! To hold down the fort, I go in with just a tiny bit of either of my usual stylers or a very light mousse. I cannot emphasize enough that a little goes a long way for wavies, we want to have beautiful mermaid-esque hair not weighed down seaweed babes!
One hard and fast rule that I have found so hard to adhere to though is TO NOT TOUCH YOUR HAIR. Anytime I catch myself in the reflection of anything or even just finding my hands empty, I tend to reach for my hair to give it a little bit of fluff or switch my part.
It’s only been a bit for me since I began obsessively caring about my hair, but I’ve already seen much improvement from its texture, shine, and even wave patterns. Definitely much more to see and explore down my Jazz-ling (hehe) road of hair care towards my favorite form: mermaid hair, but it’s feeling like we’re on the right track! I’m hoping that pretty soon I can start sitting on ocean rocks and belching out Part of Your World. Fingers crossed!
If you have any product recommendations or would love to tell us your own hair care journey, feel free to reach out to us in the comments below or on our Instagram page!
Stay safe; stay cute, loves!
A 24-year-old writer, producer, and stylist who’s got the starry-eyes of a shopaholic with an irrefutable love-hate relationship with carbs and wine.
A 25-year-old writer with an obsession for beauty and an ineffable love for all things sharp—from cacti to hedgehogs to intense winged liner.