Wavy/Curly 2C Hair Confusion

Hello there and thanks for stopping by. This is a post about my hair and how I’m attempting to get my waves/curls to, well, curl. If you have wavy or curly hair, you’ll likely understand the struggle. Lots of people have referred to finding their curls as a “hair journey.” As over-dramatic as I am, I don’t really feel comfortable with that phrase, no matter how apt. Curl quest? Even worse, kinda cringe-worthy, but you get the idea.

I have spent a lot of my life preferring straight hair. When I got my first straightening iron, we were inseparable. That’s because I grew up not knowing how to manage my curly hair. I remember trying to brush it straight in middle school and attempting to blow dry it straight in high school. Both options resulted in lots of frizz. In college, I learned that if I didn’t touch my hair when it was wet, it would frizz a lot less and fall into loose curls that looked nice for a couple of hours. This was a monumental discovery at the time. Fortunately, I had discovered leave-in condition before college and have never been without it since.

Here’s a recent photo of my go-to lazy straight hair. It takes about 10 minutes to straighten with the brush attachment on the Dyson Airwrap. Then I put it in a bun and get these very loose waves.

I learned about the curly girl method (referred to as CGM on Reddit, FYI) just a few of years ago. While I’m not 100% sure I ever followed it exactly, it did give me somewhat defined curls and I was devoted for a while. I’m pretty sure most of you taking the time to read this already know about it, but if not, it’s spelled out in Curly Girl Handbook by Lorraine Massey. It includes co-washing (something I now view as controversial—more about that in a minute) or washing your hair with conditioner, hair gel on soaking wet hair, and avoiding putting heat on your hair (but diffusers might be okay?). It also involves fully committing to curls and never looking at a straightening iron again.

I air-dried my hair a couple of weeks ago, expecting a frizzy mess. I was pleasantly surprised that my curls weren’t fried.

When I tried this (for stretches lasting several months at a time) I was amazed by the results, at first. While my hair was still sort of frizzy, I had defined curls for the first time since childhood. But the results didn’t last.

Here’s where I mention that I was using all DevaCurl products. As you might have heard, DevaCurl has had some trouble as of late with class action suits (outside of my area of legal expertise). Customers have noticed hair loss and breakage after using their products, as well as a number of other problems. There are more YouTube videos than one can comfortably watch on the subject, if you are interested. While my hair didn’t fall out when I was using DevaCurl, it did break more frequently. I think this might have been because the products I was using were not moisturising enough for my hair’s needs.

Here’s one from last year. I was wearing my hair wavy most of the time but the waves/curls weren’t stellar. I was also blonde but only getting my hair coloured about once a year! Still, it’s in better shape now, even after a ton of heat.

Co-washing long term also didn’t agree with my scalp. Prior to DevaCurl I had tried Wen (I sure know how to pick them) which I actually didn’t seem to have a problem with. But I also didn’t stick with it as long as I did DevaCurl’s No Poo method. I was washing my hair with their No Poo “cleansing conditioner” as well as their One Condition, actual conditioner, for the better part of a year. My scalp became itchy and flaky (to the point where it required a dermatologist visit) and my hair dried out, but for some reason (like many) I did not stop using these products. I actually dumped more conditioning treatments on my hair in hopes these would help. They didn’t.

What did help my hair was deciding not to keep it naturally curly all the time and going back to regular shampoo and conditioner. I bought a Dyson Airwrap and was obsessed (I still kind of am) for the past year. Low and behold my hair is healthier with regular shampoo + heat than it was using the supposedly gentle and curl-friendly co-wash method. It’s not dry now and I have minimal breakage.

Another one from the almost exclusively curly era. My hair looked fried here but I considered this a decent hair day at the time.

I think I was probably experiencing product build-up and conditioner overload. I’ve come to the conclusion that I cannot properly cleanse my hair without using actual shampoo most of the time. I’ve also strayed from DevaCurl. Something I never thought I’d do when I found the brand. I did break out some of their styling products I’ve had lying around recently (I still have loads of their gel and some Wavemaker and Super Cream) giving the natural curls a try again. The results weren’t bad, but I’ve decided to explore different product lines, at least until someone figures out why so many have had adverse reactions to their products (personally, I think it’s the co-wash system). I’ll never go back to using co-wash 100% of the time (even with clarifier—I was using DevaCurl’s clarifier when I had the issues).

This picture and the cover pic for this post were taken today right after my second wash using Curlsmith styling products. My hair is looking more defined than it has in a long time.

Very recently I’ve started using Curlsmith, and so far the results have been good. Today was my second washday using Curlsmith styling products. I used regular shampoo and conditioner (Christophe Robin and Moroccan Oil), and Curlsmith’s Weightless Air Dry Cream and Curl Defining Style Soufflé. I let my hair air dry a little and then used a diffuser on a low heat setting. I think I used too much of the Air Dry Cream, hence the lack of volume, but otherwise, I’m happy with the result! My curls have not been this defined in quite some time. We shall see how long they last. I usually wash my hair twice a week and sleep with it up. By the third day, my curls usually look rough.

I’m also exploring different ways to tackle my waves, which I think fall into the 2C curl-type category. While I don’t anticipate ever going curly 100% of the time (I love the Dyson too much for that), it’s nice to appreciate my natural waves sometimes.

However, it can be very confusing navigating all of the info out there. As anyone who has searched knows, there are a barrage of products out there and loads of methods people with curly and wavy hair swear by. I’m trying the Denman brush soon and think I’ll stick with Curlsmith for a while. Maybe I’ll update this post if it garners any interest. Maybe I will even if it doesn’t. I guess it will depend on the [hair] day.

Another from earlier today. The curl pattern isn’t perfect (and my hair might not be 100% dry in this photo) but not bad!
Day 2 hair. I definitely used too much of the Air Dry cream. It’s weighing my hair down significantly today. This is how it looked after using Curlsmith’s Moisture Memory Reactivator with a diffuser this morning (something I never normally do). We’ll see what happens for day 3, but my hopes aren’t high. Not writing Curlsmith off. Now I know to go easy on the Air Dry cream in future.
So, there was nothing good happening with my hair after day 2. I washed it again and started over, using much lighter products. Still lots of room for improvement, but it’s getting there!

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Busy professional and parent (to 1 human, 3 cats, 2 guinea pigs, and a Shih Tzu. I enjoy blogging about this and that, generally in the wee hours of morning. I’m also a ballet dancer, competitive roller figure skater, and portrait artist. Current obsessions include: horror films, shopping for things vintage and handmade, experimenting with essential oils, and slowly restoring our big old house by the beach.

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