Felicia Poteet and her daughter, Kelli Poteet, pose in the mirror of the Steven Gregory Hair Salon in Chattanooga. Felicia and Kelli both have naturally curly hair and play up that style with products and styling techniques.Staff photo by Jenna Walker
Local hairstylists have some straight talk for women with curly hair: Don't fight it.
Judy Thompson, owner of Stephen Gregory Salon on East Brainerd Road, says it's easier than ever to control curls and keep the spring-action spirals from losing their shape when the humidity rises.
"There's a lot of products now that make curly hair manageable," she said.
Besides specially formulated shampoos and conditioners, there are moisture-infusing sprays and gels marketed exclusively for curly, wavy or kinky hair.
Thompson, 58, said she remembers when she was a teenager that girls with curls rolled their hair on can-sized rollers to straighten it. Some even tried to iron out the kinks.
Today, many stylists encourage clients to embrace the curls.
"I wish I had natural curl," said Thompson, whose hair has soft waves. "It's always the case of people who have curly hair hate it, and people who don't have it want it. But from the standpoint of a hairstylist, curly hair is much easier to work with than straight hair."
Lorraine Massey, author of "Curly Girl: The Handbook," said on a recent episode NBC's "Today" that "beautiful, healthy hair is the result of first accepting your curls for their natural tendencies, then working with them and being really consistent in your daily care routine."
Frizz, a common problem for girls with curls, is a "curl waiting to happen," Massey said. "Use as much moisture as possible. Wherever there's a frizz, it's a curl waiting for moisture."
Local hairstylist Felicia Poteet, 33, said her younger clients often want her to straighten their hair, while her older customers leave it au naturel.
Tips for curly-hair care
* Don't wash your hair daily. The natural oils in the hair will help tame the curl and lessen the frizz.
* It's OK to use multiple products as long as it doesn't build up on the hair.
* Buy organic products that are made for curly hair. Look for something that intensifies curl and adds moisture. Be careful of products that make your hair big because if there is humidity, hair will get even bigger.
* For fuller curls, lean your head upside down and use a blow dryer with a diffuser. Because curly hair tends to stick to the scalp, use your fingers to pull hair away from scalp while drying.
* Get regular haircuts because curly hair tends to frizz on the ends.
* Do not use hot oil treatments because it coats curly hair. Instead, use a light conditioner.
Source: Felicia Poteet, hairstylist, Stephen Gregory Salon
"That's a great thing about curly hair -- you can wear it both ways. But it's a lot less stressful to wear it curly," Poteet said.
The key to managing curly hair begins with a cut that's tailored to the texture of the hair. Also considered are whether it's oily or dry, thick or thin.
The next step is choosing appropriate products.
"If you are new to this curly-girl approach to hair care, the amounts of product you use will change as your hair becomes healthier," Massey said in her book. "For example, early on you may need to use lots of conditioner because your hair is dry and thirsty, then, as your hair gets hydrated, you'll use less. Because your curls' moods are so affected by weather and climate, you may have to adjust the amount of product you use when you travel or as the seasons change."
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Feature writer Karen Nazor Hill covers fashion, design, home and gardening, pets, entertainment, human interest features and more. She also is an occasional news reporter and the Town Talk columnist. She previously worked for the Catholic newspaper Tennessee Register and was a reporter at the Chattanooga Free Press from 1985 to 1999, when the newspaper merged with the Chattanooga Times. She won a Society of Professional Journalists Golden Press third-place award in feature writing for ...