Curly hair care: Stylists encourage women to ‘embrace it,’ not straighten it


Kris Hanke

Ryan Crowell, right, styles the hair of Coleen Nelson at Salon Lucca, 3727 W. Sixth St. Nelson says she used to chemically relax and straighten her her, but she now wears it curly to avoid damaging it. “It makes me feel a lot more of who I am because it was what I was born with and what I have every day,” Nelson says.

Women often view their stylists as pseudo-therapists, and stylist Ryan Crowell said curly haired clients are among his most guilt-ridden.

“I’ve always loved curly hair and I’ve always had a lot of curly hair clients,” said Crowell, owner and stylist at Salon Lucca, 3727 W. Sixth St.

For several years, straight and sleek served as the coveted hair style for women throughout the country, leaving women with curly hair frustrated and apologetic over their natural texture, Crowell said.

But that isn’t the case now.

“I see more jealousy of the curly hair girls from straight-hair girls,” Crowell said.

Crowell and his fellow stylists at Salon Lucca specialize in curly haircuts. Three stylists at the salon, including Crowell, are certified in the DevaCurl technique.

Crowell said he approaches curly hair differently than straight hair. When a curly-haired client comes in for a cut, he has the client come to the salon with her curls in their naturally styled state. He said he next evaluates the curl patterns and cuts the hair dry before he washes, conditions and styles the strands.

“Our cutting technique allows us to see the curl in its natural resting place,” Crowell said. “It’s more of a sculpting of the hair.”

Crowell said this technique enhances the natural beauty of his clients’ curls.

Coleen Nelson became Crowell’s client about two and half years ago.

Before coming to Crowell, Nelson had worn her hair straight, but years of fighting her curls had caused damage to her hair.

“The hairdresser I used to go to chemically relaxed and straightened my hair every time,” Nelson said.

Before Crowell could help Nelson embrace her curls, he had to cut off the damage that had been done by the chemical straightening treatments.

“I was really nervous,” Nelson said. “He cut off not that much the first time because he didn’t want to scare me.”

Nelson came back a few months later and Crowell cut off about six inches, which left her with a head full of healthy, curly locks, she said.

Crowell also taught Nelson how to care for her curls.

“We spend as much time on educating and conditioning as we do cutting,” Crowell said. “Mentally, with a client, we want them to embrace their curls.”

Crowell recommends that clients focus on conditioning. He said most women do not need to shampoo every day but should rinse and condition their hair on days they don’t shampoo.

Several companies offer sulfate-free shampoos and conditioning cleansers geared toward women with curly hair.

Crowell said he recommends the DevaCurl line, which he sells at Salon Lucca.

Crowell also recommends that women with curly hair dry their hair with a microfiber towel or T-shirt rather than a regular towel to retain moisture.

Crowell said he also shows clients how to style their curls with gel, mousse or whichever products work best in their hair.

“Different hair has different needs,” Crowell said.

Stylist Traci Westhoff, who works at Headrush, 1401 Massachusetts St., agrees.

“For people who have really thin, fine hair, I prefer a cream or mousse,” Westhoff said. “If people have thick hair, I prefer a gel.”

Not only does Westoff style curly hair, she has curly hair herself.

Westoff said she has seen an increase in the popularity of the naturally curly look.

“People are seeing the damage that the flat iron has done,” she said.

Even women who don’t have curly hair are able to work with the waves they have to create a beachy wave look.

“The beachy waves are really popular,” Westoff said.

Crowell said he finds clients are often pleasantly surprised when they realize how much wave, or even curl, their hair has when properly moisturized.

“It’s really cool to see a client who doesn’t really realize that she has wavy hair,” Crowell said.

The rise in popularity has been liberating for some curly-haired girls, Westoff said.

Nelson counts herself among those liberated from the bonds of straightening.

“It makes me feel a lot more of who I am because it was what I was born with and what I have every day,” Nelson said.

Websites such as provide a forum for women with naturally curly hair to connect and embrace the curls they were born with.

Nelson offers advice to those who want to connect with their inner curl.

“Find someone to cut your hair who wants to keep it curly and wants you to wear it curly,” she said. “Be proud of it. Embrace it.”


Ali Edwards 5 years, 5 months ago

I straightened by hair for years before finally embracing the curl. I got the Deva cut at Salon Lucca and have been really pleased with it. No more triangle head!

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