Cut Thick Frizzy Hair

Woman with hair problems
Photo: Nakaridore/Shutterstock
Q: Hi, I'm having lots of problems with my hair; can you help? I have super thick, frizzy, curly hair. I'm going to be getting it cut soon, and I wanted to know how I can get it cut and what products I should use to keep it looking nice. Here are my problems:
1. My hair has one or two layers in it that are growing out, so I have the pyramid effect going on. Should I get it cut in layers to fix this? Will this make my curls show more? I would like that.

A: Having layers in hair that is thick and curly will help to avoid the pyramid effect by evenly distributing the amount of volume throughout the style. However, you want to bear in mind when you start talking to your stylist that when you cut the length of curly hair, you remove weight which may be helping to "stretch out" the curl to some degree. The result is that cutting off a few inches may mean the hair in a given area becomes curlier and appears shorter.
Your stylist should be able to manage the balance of this as long as you make sure to explain to him/her the end results you are trying to achieve. If you just want to remove some bulk from the lower portions without losing much length, you might discuss having your hair thinned.
2. My hair is super, super thick and poofy. Should I get it thinned using "thinning shears" or "channel cutting", with layers?
A: This is really a decision better answered by your personal stylist after you decide on the finished look you are trying to achieve. I will say, however, that in my experience good results in minimizing the bulk and maximizing the appearance of curl in curly hair can be achieved with a pair of wide-tooth thinning shears which remove small chunks of the curls without diffusing them.
In most cases with my own clients who want to keep their length overall, I use a few passes of the thinning shears through the hair and remove the bulk that gives the hair a chance to form more orderly curls. That can be maintained more easily with fewer problems and less poof.
3. After showers, I simply towel-dry my hair till it's damp, then kind of shake it till I see curls form. But when it dries, it not only curls but frizzes. How do I fix this? Or what should I put in my hair before or after it dries? Should I use "leave in conditioner"?
A: In my experience, most people don't realize how badly they treat their hair. They shampoo by scrubbing the scalp and hair with their fingers vigorously; they apply conditioner with only a minimum of effort to work it through the hair; and they towel-dry their hair as though they are buffing the car to a shine.
Most of the damage seen in hair is because of rough treatment. The hair frizzes and poofs because the cuticle layer gets roughed up. We combat this by using conditioners, smoothing serums and by learning to treat the hair like the delicate fiber it is.
The best thing for you to do is remember to be gentle when you shampoo and condition the hair, and then after rinsing, use the towel to squeeze out the majority of the excess moisture and wrap the hair in the towel turban-fashion. Allow the hair to stay wrapped for 15-20 minutes while you continue to get dressed or perform other grooming tasks. This allows the towel to absorb the moisture from the hair without roughing it up.
Once the hair is towel-dry, you should apply a spray-on leave-in conditioner to the length and comb it through using your fingers or a wide tooth comb to distribute it. Follow this up with a smoothing serum or anti-frizz balm which is also worked through the hair evenly. Give these applications a few moments to penetrate and absorb, and if needed, rewrap the hair in the towel to absorb any excess moisture from the products.
Finally, use the styling product of your choice. Gels are good for strong hold and firm finishes, while mousses give a softer hold and volume, you can also use sprayable lotions and liquid gels to evenly distribute the product and better control the amount applied. After application, comb through with fingers or wide-tooth comb and use your fingers to loosen the curls and arrange them as desired. Allow the curls to air dry and don't touch them any more than necessary.
After the hair dries, if you have problems with poof or frizz, simply keep a small bottle of the spray-on leave-in conditioner on hand. Mist the hair in the areas that are frizzing and scrunch it gently with your fingers.
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