28 February 2011

Review and giveaway: Curly Girl: The Handbook

Amazon: Curly Girl: The HandbookA serendipitous coincidence happened a couple weeks ago: just as I was asking for your hair care tips, I received Curly Girl: The Handbook in the mail for review. The publisher had contacted me a few weeks previous with a pitch, and I had said yes, knowing that dealing with kids' curly hair is a major challenge. I know, because I have a curly girl of my own.

What's great about the timing (besides the obvious topic fit) is that so many of your hacks are confirmed and expanded upon in this book. The author, Lorraine Massey, is the founder of a group of salons specializing in curly hair and has a head of remarkable curls herself. In Curly Girl, she shares her down-to-earth tips for washing, conditioning, styling, cutting, but most of all, loving and accepting curly hair.

What I like most about this book is that, despite her creation of DevaCurl, a line of curly haircare products, this is not a thinly-veiled marketing brochure. This is education, inspiration, and practical how-to written in an energetic but intelligent style. She talks about the different types of curly hair, how to care for each type, and even offers recipes for homebrewed hair tonics and conditioners.

Diffuser In the book, you'll find all sorts of surprising suggestions, including:

  • ditch your shampoo in favor of sulfate-free cleansers or botanical conditioners
  • ditch your blow dryer (unless you have a good diffuser)
  • ditch the vigorous towel-drying
  • ditch your brushes and combs

There's even a section on curly kids.

In general, I have little interest in beauty books, and I'm not a hair product fiend. But I really enjoyed this book, and I've already put much of what I've learned into practice with my daughter. I'd recommend it to anyone caring for curly hair -- either their own or their kids'.

Win it! I've got three copies of Curly Girl: The Handbook to give away! Just leave a comment on this post answering the following question:

What's your #1 tip for caring for curly hair?

On Friday, March 4, 2011, at about 2pm PST, I'll randomly choose and announce three winners. Good luck!

The comments are now closed and the winners have been announced. Thanks to all who entered!

Note: Giveaway open to residents of the US only. One entry per person.

Your comments

Feed Follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

I always leave mine really wet from the shower and take a wide mouth comb to get the knots out. After applying product, I then dry and scrunch it with a towel!

My number one tip for curly hair, since I have super thick, curly hair and my daughters are both curly girls as well is to only shampoo on rare occasions but to condition daily.

I and my two girls have curly hair - this would be GREAT to have!

OOoh, pick me! My friend would love this for her daughter. She's always referring to her 3 year old's hair as an afro it's so curly lol

Sorry - here is my tip - USE AVEDA PRODUCTS...they are AMAZING in curly hair!!!

When I'm in the shower, I apply conditioner and then comb it into my curly hair with a wide-tooth comb.

I have stick straight Chinese hair and my daughter has gorgeous soft curls from my husband's side of the family. I need all the curly girl help I can get!

I don't brush my hair after it's dry - also when I brush my daughter's dry hair in the morning I always wet it a little bit afterward. It always get a nice little curl. One product I use that's AMAZING is no frizz http://www.livingproof.com/no-frizz/ developed by an MIT professor (finally someone creating something at MIT I can relate to, hehe) It's the only product I've ever used that I like and I'm a no makeup, no hairspray, no mouse, no hairdryer type of a person.

Condition every other day and use a leave-in conditioner everyday.

Cury Mom of a Curly Boy, and I would love this book! Other than crazy amounts of conditioner I have no tips (and could use some).

I just scrunch with a bit of curl enhancer, never blowdry, even with a diffuser (unless you're particularly fond of the "finger in an electric socket" look...).

My photography is available for purchase - visit Around the Island Photography and bring home something beautiful today!

Comment, comment, and more comment! My oldest daughter (11) has curly hair and I have curly hair. We both need all the hwe can get. It's been a learning process and I am glad that we have come so far (from a triangle, frizz-do when I was 15 to more managable pretty curls now!).

Tip: Condition and condition more! I use an Aveda deep conditioner on my toddler's curls, and it leaves them soft and tangle free. Never brush!

I SO need this book, as a wavy mom to a tight curl girl, I am learning as I go:)

My tip is to leave your hair fairly wet, put in a good product, and then don't touch it...but to be honest I usually fight it with a flat iron or hide it in a ponytail. I need this book!

I'm a curly girl, and it would be great having some additional tips for managing these locks! :)

Heavily condition often. But I'd love to get the shiny curls! I really haven't found a product that I've had luck with yet. Hopefully, this book will help.

Don't fight the curls! That's my big tip. That and to use a great curl cream - put it in, put in a few of those clips to add height at the crown and let it go. I only blow dry it if it is freezing outside. Otherwise, let Mother Nature do it for you.

Leave-in conditioner and squeeze or scrunch dry with an old t-shirt. NEVER RUB WITH A TOWEL!

I leave a tiny bit of conditioner in my hair daily

My fine, wavy hair doesn't seem to do well without some heat styling, so I always use a diffuser when going for the curly look. It seems to look best when I dry it while it's still very wet. The curls hold together better.

This may sound crazy, but knowing that you have curly hair is very helpful. I did not realize that my hair was naturally curly (not just wavy) till after college. My daughter has curls and I think her hair will be much healthier than mine as we know how to deal with it!

My three kids are mixed-race, black/white, and a couple years ago I went on a serious search for information on how to care for their beautiful corkscrew-curly hair (mine is stick straight, so it was a learning process). I found a fabulous website, www.tightlycurly.com - that was the real turnaround for me. I'd also read Massey's book, and it was great info, but I found this website more tailored to mixed-race hair, so it was a perfect fit. Overall the leading advice is to ditch the shampoo, use only conditioner, and leave big heaping gobs of it in their hair between washings to protect it. Also, never comb it if it's not completely wet.

thanks for all the great tips everyone. I have just a slight wave in my hair but my two girls have more curl - I think from their father - and I'm just inept at all things girly. the book seems like it has some serious help/tips. love the hacks.

Comb the knots out before rinsing the conditioner out!

I have fine, curly hair and the only way it looks okay is to put some mousse or other goop in it and then twist it in sections. Then air dry or diffuse. You wind up with more defined ringlets instead of chaos and frizz. Except in the humid northeast summer, in which case a hat is my curly hair hack.

Don't brush dry curly hair - ever!

My personal tips:
1) Don't shampoo every day
2) Do use a leave-in conditioner
3) Use a sturdy wide-tooth comb to gently comb the knots out after conditioning
4) Apply a curl cream, twisting sections of hair all around the head, for nice, non-frizzy, shiny curls

I have a teen with curly hair! I really need some good tips!

Well, to a parent of a curly girl who doesn't know curls, I'd have to say: Stop brushing it! (Also grow it out a little and NO bangs!)

To fellow curly girls - like many are saying: finger comb your hair only in the shower with a (good) conditioner on it and rinse with your head upside down. also, diffusers are cool. i was just reminded of that.

I've got super-curly hair and I comb my hair in the shower when it's lathered in conditioner... The the other tip is to not mess with it once it's dry!

Wonderful idea for a giveaway--don't enter me into the running, though, as I already have a copy!

I just wanted to add that I have now found two salons (in my two most recent hometowns) where I receive my haircuts from a trained DevaCurl stylist. And boy has THAT made a real difference. Deva stylists cut hair when dry, not wet, so they can see your curls' natural patterns--and don't "accidentally" cut off far more hair than you wanted! Since that switch 5 years ago, I have been happier than ever with my curly girl hair.

Nice n easy weekly conditioner treatments make my frizzy curls sooo soft!
It's really cheap too! I'm always tempted to use it more often it's so great, but supposedly it is not good for your hair to use it too often. I also only let hairdressers with curly hair cut mine.

I just started washing with conditioner this week and it's been a great success for my little girl. I had a hard time believing that it would leave her very fine hair looking clean, but it's working and it's so much easier to comb.

I like to brush my hair before the shower and then just finger part it after. I also say that I really love this product called Curl Keeper that is light enough that it doesn't weigh down my hair or make it darker...but keeps the frizz away.

Straight-haired mom of Curly Boy looking for all the help she can get!

Our two primary techniques are no brushing and scrunching when wet to maximize the curls. Not very sophisticated . . .

my NUMBER ONE curly hair tip (that I TRY my best to follow) is this:

DON'T TOUCH IT ONCE IT IS DRY. That causes frizz, and collapse of curl.

I may shampoo 2x a week, but I condition my hair at every shower and comb out tangles with a wide tooth comb before I rinse the conditioner out.

For styling, I just combine whatever curl product I have on hand with Frizz Ease Hair Serum and apply to wet hair. I scrunch it here and there as it dries and then I DON'T TOUCH IT!

Find a stylist who really understands curly hair and how it should be shaped. So many stylists cut curly hair as if it were straight and it just isn't flattering. I know Naturallycurly.com has a section for salon & stylist recommendations that is very useful.

I brush my daughters hair with conditioner still in it with a wide tooth comb. Also my number one rule is "when the hair is just unmanageable (usually in the morning and don't have time to comb every knot out) just opt for the good old fashion pony tail!"

We are a curly family! We could use some tips too. As for what we do do. I only brush my hair in the shower with conditioner. I think that's a no-no but I cannot brush it dry or I look like a crazy lion. Lots of conditioner but we only wash every two or three days...unless it's much needed. No vigorous towel drying just wrapped up in a towel for a bit. I find that it ends up softer and more tame that way, versus drip drying it. After the towel then I run my fingers through it to get out the dead hair and last few tangles. We also live in a year-round humid beach town, so as the above post stated...lots of hats and hairties!

I've been using a pomade based on coconut oil for more than a decade now. I swear by it. And no combing. When my hair was long I'd detangle with a wide toothed comb before towel drying. Now it's short and I make my hair wet every day, towel dry and go off to work.

My daughter who is 2 has curly hair and I'D LOVE some tips.

Gave the wrong email...sorry.

My 2 year old has curly hair - and poor thing has 2 parents with straight hair that had no idea what to do with it! We've learned NOT to brush it when dry, and instead use a light spray-on detangler to get the knots out and help define those awesome curls.

I'd love to win a copy of this book; we still have lots to learn! :)

Leave in conditioner saves my curly girl.

I use Aveda's curl enhancing product and dry with a diffuser. And deep conditioning is a must!

I'm a straight-haired mama with a curly girl and I'm really struggling to help her hair look the best it can! I can only style it well when she takes her shower/bath early in the day, and we apply curl-enhancing product, do the Ariel-hair-flippy-thing forward, then scrunch and flip back. Otherwise, it's a mess! I need help!

Best tip - scrunch in your conditioner and then scrunch the water out for the rinse and then once you finish styling it, leave it alone!

Moisturize with conditioner daily, and weekly deep conditioning, and only use a wide tooth comb when needed. And when you need to fight frizz in a pinch but don't have product on hand, rub a small amount of lotion between your palms and apply to frizzy areas.

I would LOVE this book! I have curly hair and so does my 2-year-old. We live in Utah where it is super dry, so the best thing for our hair is to wash infrequently.

My 20 month old has beautiful curls that I am learning to take care of, being that my hair is a straight, wavy combo! So far I have been combing when wet with a wide tooth comb and using a kids mango mousse to scrunch in.

Love Kinky Curly products. All natural and works great.

I can't narrow it down to 1 tip. As a curly girl for 33 years now, my top tips are air dry, leave-in conditioner, and no brushing!

My best tip is stop touching it! Put some product in it, get it where you want it to be and then leave it alone.

I LOVE DevaCare, and I even really like how she doesn't push her products on you, too...

My #1 tip - barely rinse out your conditioner. If you're using a good sulfate-free conditioner, it won't gunk up your hair - it will help seal moisture in, which is vital to curls!!!

Most important tip is not to brush dry curly hair! And also, for me it's best not to fight it - I have no patience for straightening like other folks do. I seriously need help with my daughter's curly hair - having curly hair myself, I have more of a clue how to deal with it than my own mom did, but we still have daily fights about combing her hair (and spraying water on it is "too cold!". Would love this book!

my tip - after conditioning, i use the ONLY a large toothed comb while still in the shower...and never comb it again! i never ever use a brush

i am a curly girl, and have 1 little curly girl - who at age 4.5 has already "wished she had straight hair" it breaks my heart....i keep telling her how special she is because she is a curly girl, hopefully she'll get it someday! now i'm going back to read all the tips left in the comments above!

My best tip is to have a hairdresser who understands to wait until your hair has air-dried enough before she cuts so that she can cut with the natural curls, even if it means putting you under the helmet dryer. My hair waves in different directions, and when I recently cut off a lot of hair, she had me do it in two haircuts, a week apart, because the weight of all that hair, the ponytail I'd been wearing it in, and the pulling and tugging of the first hair cut straighted out my hair too much. She wanted to see where my waves would eventually end up so that she could cut a shape that would work for me.

My 5 year old looks like she has a spiral perm - if I don't win I'm definitely buying the book! Don't let that stop you from picking me, though! :)

My tip - never comb it dry.

I would LOVE a copy of this book!!!!!!!! My tip would be try and keep from touching your hair as much as possible during the day to help control frizz. We have curly hair in our house... and lots of it!

My favorite tip personally has been that I need to use more than just shampoo and conditioner. I need at least three conditioners, two of them leave-in. After reading this book I might change my habits up, but this has helped me go from frizz city to curly lane.

As many have already said: don't wash every day.

I've got straight hair, but my 2-year-old daughter has very curly hair, so I've had to learn how to take care of it. Washing it every day leaves it frizzy and dry, so we wash twice a week max, with a gentle shampoo, detangle it wet, never ever EVER brush it dry, and add a teeny bit of product to still-damp hair to encourage the curl. The result is gorgeous shiny ringlets that have all the old ladies at the grocery store exclaiming every time we go shopping!

I use a little bit of high quality conditioner in place of gel. It really helps fight the frizz!

My best tip is- never wrap your wet curly hair in a towel on top of your head. I could use more help though, I'm still trying to figure out my curly hair.

NEVER brush, and always use your fingers when dealing with curly hair, always!!!!! so sayeth the curly-haired sages of the world!

Don't wash hair everyday but, conditioner is a must! I really love leave in conditioners because they don't build up as fast as other types.

I was called Mediusa when I was little due to my wild curls. Oh how I wish I had this book then!

The best thing I've done for my hair is to stop shampooing and only use conditioner. I will shampoo every couple of weeks if it gets too bad but I am finding I need to do that less and less.

Pick me!!!!

As my super curly 1-yr-old will attest to... never *ever* approach curly hair with a comb while it is dry!

My number one tip is "Don't comb your hair!" I comb my fingers through my hair when conditioning, but once I'm out of the shower, I scrunch and go. For years, I combed the curl out of my hair and ended up with a frizzy mess.

I've already read some great tips but would love the book for me and my daughter.

My best looks are usually when I wash it and let it air dry.

I didn't read all the tips but I sleep in a ponytail at night after my shower. When I wake up it's still slightly damp and east to use my fingers to comb it out and start the styling process.

I have bone-straight hair but I have two daughters w/curls and I need much help w/caring for their hair! So far, using a gentle shampoo and then a (diluted) leave-in conditioner and combing w/fingers seems to work best. I am very interested in this book!

I personally have curly hair and have used every tactic I've ever been told with only limited success. I have one curly haired princess and last year her daddy brushed out her curls just before her birthday photos (he has very fine hair that she inherited).

Less is definitely more, always do any styling that will require lots of brushing well before you need the curls to be back (when doing an updo with curled ends, updo then worry about the curls an hour or more later if you can).

Never plan on it doing what you want it to.

My daughter has tight corkscrew curls. I already rarely shampoo it, and condition frequently, but I'm loving the advice to comb through it while the conditioner is still in! My tip is to use the Aussie brand mousse plus leave in conditioner all in one--works great for us!

I"m with Jennifer above--I would love to embrace my curls, but most of the time, it finds itself in a ponytail. I am one to never blow dry though, and allow the hair to curl as it dries itself. For better or worse. :\ Obviously, I could use this book! :)

Don't brush it! Comb with fingers only. I know it sounds hippie to say I haven't brushed my hair in years, but you'd never know to look at it.

I have a boy with long curly hair too.

My 18 month old daughter has curly hair and I don't so all the comments are great to prepare me for her future years.

I already have the Curly Girl handbook, so no need to pick me, but I wanted to say how much the book changed the life of this curly girl!!!!

Following her tips made a huge difference in me accepting and now loving my curls.

My #1 tip is to find someone who can cut curly hair! This is easier said than done - it took me a long time to find someone who could give me a decent cut. I recommend www.naturallycurly.com for reviews of salons that specialize in curly hair in your area.

If I had a curly hair tip, I wouldn't need this book! My hair went wavy after I had my son. He's five years old and I'm still trying to figure out what to do with it!

Sleep with a satin pillowcase. It helps to prevent the crazy bedhead. Then you don't have to brush your hair as much.

For goodness sakes don't touch it. Touching it equals frizz.

My little ones hair is curly and thick-I really have not much of a clue on how to manage it-just kinda guessing since I have straight thick hair. I use leave in conditioning spray and just started using a conditioner on her hair in the shower which seems to help.

Someone else said it...it helps to know you have curly hair, not just wavy hair! My SIL told me she didn't realize that for years, and the tip I learned from her is that if you have curls, don't try to brush them out!

I use LOTS of leave in conditioner and let my daughter's hair air dry. I also put it in 2 braids each night - makes getting ready in the morning much easier:)

Wow, Christy just gave me a revelation. Maybe my wavy and unstylable hair is actually curly? Hmmmm. My 5 yr old has very curly hair and we live on hair detangler/leave in conditioner. Get her hair really wet w/ a spray bottle, apply product, carefully comb out the snarls and then don't touch it again! Brushing later not only causes the curls to soften, but the resulting friz leads to even bigger snarls. However this was all figured out over the years and a comprehensive book by a curly haired expert! Priceless!

Find a stylist who also loves your curls. Without a good cut, all the tricks above won't help as much.

My number one tip is don't brush it! It took me years of frizzy headedness as a child to figure that out - I still tell my mom I'm traumatized by the awfulness of my hair as a child since she didn't know how to care for curly hair and neither did I!

This book changed my life - no joke. I'm a librarian with curly hair, and found it in the stacks one day when I was looking for another book for a library customer. At 33, I sort of assumed I knew how to care for my hair, but after I read it and followed the curly girl routine for a few weeks I was blown away. I was able to toss the scary smelling hair products I had used to make my hair behave, and now just use Burt's Bees conditioner and some clear gel, and my hair looks so much better than it did before I read the book. I recommend this book to everyone I meet who has curly hair; I know I sound like an infomercial but it was really, truly lifechanging for me. And it gives me hope that my curly-haired daughter won't have to go through all of the trauma of bad hairstyles (and of straightening her hair for hours every day) since her mom actually knows what to do with her hair now! (p.s. I never actually bought a copy of the book, only checked it out from the library, so I'd be thrilled to win it!)

touch your hair as little as possible...it creates frizz and just accept your curls and LOVE them!

Before combing my girls' hair in the morning, I wet it and use a dab a conditioner. I leave it in all day to limit the frizz and ease combing.

Use a diffuser on your blow dryer. So I was surprised that one of the tips from the book was to ditch the blow dryer... I would think that would lead to more friz? Guess I'll have to get a copy of the book to learn more!

After wetting with a spray bottle, I add conditioner, comb, and let air dry.

My baby girl has curly hair, and I'm still not sure what to do with it! But the best trick I've learned recently is that banana makes a great hair gel, stays in place and it's safe to eat of course :P

i would love to win this book! my greatest tip is that i never blow dry my hair and i rarely brush is :) scrunching and air drying usually works for me!

Especially on rainy days, I just love the curls through the weather. They have a mind of their own and they get to take over. In our house, we call them "moms crazy curls."

my daughter and i both have curly hair, sadly my mother didnt know how to deal with that but thankfully my mother showed me to spray detangler in my DD's hair and get a fine tooth comb ( with the pick on the end) and section the hair as i go around her head in layers.then i roll the hair onto the pick part. when i reach her scalp i gently pull the pick out and a perfect little ringlet falls into place with the rest. sometimes i spray a touch of hair spray ( live in south Louisiana) but most of the time a nice air drying keeps the curls in perfect little ringlets

I let them take over, especially in the rainy season. They have a mind of their own and I try to just run with it. In our house, they are called "moms crazy curls."

My first visit to parenthacks and what a GREAT TOPIC FOR ME! I am the proud mommy of mixed race boy-girl twins. I have stick-straight hair so caring for their hair is a constant science experiment for me. We keep my son's hair trimmed short. His twin sister has gorgeous light-brown corkscrew curls, but her hair is dry. Here are the lessons I've learned in the first 3 years:

1. Ask curly-haired people what products they use and what tips they have.

2. Don't wash every day.

3. Only comb when it's wet, when you have conditioner in.

4. Use curl-specific products (I use Ouidad).

5. Buy a water spray bottle and spritz away the frizz.

Can't wait to read all the other comments!

oops* typo, my mother IN LAW showed me how to do this

My almost two year old daughter has adorable curls in her hair that are at their peak after her night time bath.

To get the curls back in the morning I fill a small spray bottle with water and a few drops of lavender oil. The mist picks her curls right up and it smells wonderful.

We close comments after a month to guard against spam. Want to talk about this hack? Join us on Twitter and Facebook!


Free updates

  • Subscribers are my VIPs. My weekly newsletter includes a personal update, the latest from Parent Hacks, interesting links and news.

    Subscribers also get priority event invitations and occasional surprises via snail mail.

Asha's Book

  • At Amazon: Minimalist Parenting: Enjoy Modern Family Life More by Doing Less

    Find out why doing less is the key to resourceful, thriving kids, and a calmer, happier YOU.

    Minimalist Parenting is an encouraging roadmap for decluttering your schedule, your home, and your vision for family life. Reviewers call it "a much welcome alternative to the usual parenting advice."

    Learn More at Amazon

    Also available at Barnes & Noble or your favorite local bookstore.

New Book Coming Soon!

  • Coming soon: Parent Hacks Book

Start Amazon shopping here