F is for Four: Curl Power Tips from Jessicurl Creator Jessica McGuinty

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Photo by Alexis Jardin

Curly hair is easily traumatized, according to Jessicurl's Jessica McGuinty, herself a curly girl. Even a haircut can wig it out, disrupt its pattern and trigger resentful curl misbehaviour. As for colour processes -- whoa. Tantrum.

But with the right approach, you can have soft, glossy, defined curls that fall in line without argument. McGuinty, whose Jessicurl line was born of her own years of frustration with available curl care, offers four tips:

1) Ditch the sulfate shampoos. "Most people with curly hair find they have to wait three days after washing for hair to settle down and get less frizzy," says McGuinty. "It's the sulfates in regular cleansers. They're too harsh for curly hair." She recommends sulfate-free shampoos, cleansers that contain instead something called decyl polyglucose, which she says won't dry out the hair. "You'll actually be able to wash your hair and have it look good on the same day."

2) Give silicone the slip. It may seem like a friend to curly hair, but McGuinty insists silicone causes more trouble than not, mostly in the form of buildup. "It can only be removed with harsh detergents -- sulfates -- which strip the hair of all its natural oils and leave it straw-like," she says. "The user then thinks she needs more silicone to combat the dryness, thus the cycle begins again." And if the cleanser is too gentle to remove the silicone build-up, "it creates a barrier on the hair shaft and prevents moisturizing conditioners from penetrating," she explains. "Avoid sulfates and silicones and you avoid creating a cycle of dependency. Your hair is allowed to breathe, and thus become much healthier."

3) Toss the turban. McGuinty is another who counsels against wrapping hair up in a towel post-washing because it causes frizz and messes with curl definition. "Instead, rake your styling products through soaking wet hair and scrunch upward with a towel -- preferably microfibre -- to absorb excess water while also creating curls."

4) Banish the brush. "Brushing wet hair can cause breakage, and brushing dry curls will turn them into a huge mass of frizz," McGuinty says. "All you really need to adequately detangle your curls is a wide tooth comb and a quality conditioner."

A mass of long, shining ringlets is McGuinty's testament to the value of her advice. Her website is impressive with the wealth of information it offers, including a fantastic section that discusses ingredients, what each is traditionally used for and why she includes what she does in her own recipes. Plus, Jessicurl Cleansing Cream and Awe Inspiraling Spray ($17.60 each) were both voted onto NaturallyCurly.com's 2009 to 2010 best-of-the-best list, as have other items in her line in previous years.

Although she and Jessicurl are based in the US, McGuinty has a made-in-Canada connection: she was born in North Bay, Ontario.

Jessicurl hair care is available in Canada at Delineation.ca; jessicurl.com and Jessicurl on Facebook. Photography, hair, makeup and styling, Alexis Jardin; model Rano.