2011 was a year of discovery for me. When I was relaxed, my hair was a slave to the flat iron. When I went natural, I did very little to change my habits of styling initially. I had been natural for about 6+ years (give or take a few months) yet I still knew little about how to care for my natural curls so I was at an impasse until I discovered The Tightly Curly Method (more on that later).
Heat Styling History
Using direct heat on my fine natural hair has never been a good thing for me. I didn’t do it often. Instead I’d occasionally opt for indirect heat via the blow dryer. I knew so little about how to “tame” my natural hair so I thought my only recourse was to keep it straight and I did that mostly by pulling my hair into a ponytail while it was still wet.
When I rarely use direct heat to style, I would use a ceramic tourmaline ionic (a lot of words to do a lot of nothing) flat iron, including the InStyler. Oh, and then there was the MaxiGlyde once upon a time ago but that lasted less than a year before it malfunctioned after only a few uses.
A few times when I wasn’t up to styling my own hair, I let the Dominicans have a go at it. They blew my hair with the hottest hair dryers on the planet. It’s a wonder I still have skin left on my scalp or any hair at all. It’s shocking that there was little to no damage but in my estimation, it’s because they weren’t using direct heat contact with my fine strands.
The crazy thing is before any form of heat styling, my hair was prone to being straight in some parts of my head. That’s mainly due to the natural inconsistency of my curl pattern (different curl types all over my head….3C, 4A and a little 3B). Constantly pulling my hair straight in ponytails (mostly when wet) made it all worst. The constantly pulling of my hair into these tight ponytails did more damage to the texture of my hair than the “blue moon” heat styling.
Thank God for The Internet
While my texture seemed to be the biggest culprit to the way my hair looked when styled, in April of 2011 I noticed that the hair at the crown of my head had broken almost down to the root! This was a shocking and alarming wake up call. I had to find a new way to style my hair that didn’t involve pulling it straight or using heat (even occasionally) and I needed to find it fast.
My research began online (you know you can find virtually anything on the internet). I was led to websites like Youtube, CurlyNikki.com, and NaturallyCurly.com. While each of these sites have been helpful at getting me to understand my curly wavy hair, I still felt like I was missing something. I became a product junkie and repeatedly tried methods that resulted in fabulous results for others but just OK for me.
Still Hunting for The Magic Bullet
After repeatedly trying twist outs, braid outs, flexi rod sets and other methods to style my fine natural hair, I was still left with inconsistent curls. The closest method to reviving my curls naturally was using Zizyphus. I continued to use it because it made my hair appear quite dense. Yet, styling my curly hair with little effort is what I was in search of.
Fast forward to October of the same year and I discovered a book, Curly Like Me: How to Grow Your Hair Healthy, Long, and Strong by Teri LaFlesh.
I’d read many hair books and articles but something in me just had to read this book by Teri. I think it was because of the picture on the cover of the book depicting how long Teri’s hair was. After reading the summary of Teri’s hair story, I figured the book would share the “magic bullet” to help me better care for my own hair.
Defining Your Curls With Plain ‘Ole Conditioner
Teri’s method of defining your curls is simple. So simple I figured there’s no way it would work for me. She’s half white so admittedly I wasn’t confident that this method would work for my hair. Still, I decided to try. What’s the worst that could happen?
To define your natural curl pattern using what Teri’s coined the Tightly Curly Method, the following stpes are recommended:
- After cleansing your scalp with a gentle shampoo, rinse your hair with an every day conditioner.
- Apply a heavy duty conditioner for dry damaged hair that contains a weight ingredient, slip ingredient and emollient ingredient – in that order (NOTE: the conditioner is probably not going to be Curly Girl Method friendly based on the conditioner’s requirements)
- LEAVE THE CONDITIONER IN YOUR HAIR and comb with a Denman brush section by section followed by smoothing the individual hairs. In the case of the looser curls, you can run your fingers through each section to define the curls. It’s a good thing too because it takes for-ev-er to define each individual curl. Plus, I prefer using my fingers over the Denman brush.
This was such an epiphany for me. Leave the conditioner in my hair? Mish mosh! Oh but…
My first attempt was an epic fail. It took my hair over 12 hours to dry and my crown was still undefined. Yet, I refused to give up so I changed the conditioner as well as my technique and here are my dry hair results:
Surprise surprise. My hair began to respond. I still had some damage from all the pulling but by golly it was starting to look a world better. The best part is I didn’t need to do a twist out or braid out to achieve it.
These are my initial results so I just needed to perfect the technique and then let my hair do what it do. Here’s Day 2 hair still in tact using The Tightly Curly Method (it began to get a little more curly…even looking fuller):
NOTE: This post has been updated from the original published back in 2011. I’ve since stopped using the Tightly Curly Method and now I’m following a slightly modified version of the Curly Girl Method (aka The Method Where I Occasionally Use Silicones!). I also now do twist outs and braid outs to achieve elongated curls. My wash and go’s are less frequent since I’m seeking to reduce tangling and knots. Keeping my hair stretched in a gentle manner is my numero uno priority (as of the writing of this post).
Have you tried the Tightly Curly Method to define your curls?
For more information on the tightly curly method visit: How to Take Care of Our Hair: The Rules