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The expert’s guide to managing curly hair

The key to great, natural texture whether you have waves, curls or coils

Great curls and coils are far easier to achieve than you might think. File photograph: iStock

Like the rest of the nation’s beauty professionals, Dylan Bradshaw is itching to get back to doing what he does best. I don’t have curly or coily hair, though I do have “Irish” hair – mutinous, prematurely greying, constantly looking as though it just dragged in a bale of turf. So, for this back-to-basics column, I asked Bradshaw to talk me through the key to great, natural texture whether you have waves, curls or coils. The products are out there, and Bradshaw assures me that great curls and coils are far easier to achieve than you might think.

“Being mindful of the porosity of the hair is so important”, Bradshaw advises. “Curly and coily hair types need lots of moisture. It’s such an important foundation for styling, especially to ensure that once you dry the hair, it doesn’t expand too much. We want lots of moisture and the right drying technique to ensure the cuticle of the hair lies flat, and the curl holds it shape.” The products you use should be targeted to your hair type. Finer, wavy hair will need lighter formulations. Thicker hair types can withstand and benefit from heavier and more moisturising textures.

I’ve been a Dyson Supersonic hairdryer convert since its launch in 2016 – I think it has unrivalled power at lower heat, and credit it with hugely improving the condition of my hair. However, regardless of the dryer, I’ve always been slightly suspicious when hair stylists told me that a diffuser attachment is a must, even for wavy hair. Bradshaw confirmed that this is the case, and showed me first hand on Becks, who had kindly volunteered her head for a demo via video call.

Masks in place, the two gave me a thorough lesson in styling curls. “The basic technique is the same regardless of what your curl type is”, says Bradshaw. You want your diffuser in place with the lowest power and the lowest heat setting. You’re not rushing through the hair, but going slowly, keeping the diffuser constantly moving through the hair.”

He shows me how to cup the ends of a section of hair into the bowl of the diffuser, gently push toward the root (but not touching the scalp), hold for a few seconds, then pull the diffuser away so the hair drops into place without any friction. Move on to the next and keep going until the hair is 90 per cent dry. Bradshaw says the last 10 per cent should air dry, so that the hair can find its natural shape and settle.

“This”, he says, “is how you get that defined, glossy texture. It will be even better on day two”. He suggests sleeping on a silk pillowcase to minimise friction and preserve your work if you can, then refresh in the morning with either the ambient moisture in the shower, or a day two refresh spray.

Dyson Supersonic hairdryer (€399.99 at dyson.ie)

Living Proof Curl Shampoo (€35 at lookfantastic.com)

Living Proof Curl Elongator (€42 at lookfantastic.com)

Kerastase Curl Manifesto Refresh Absolu (€33 at selected salons nationwide)


Product of the Week

L’Occitane Solid Shampoo Bars (€12 at L’Occitane from May 13th)

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