Caring for Curls
Where are my curly-haired Foxes at?! It’s safe to say that curly hair needs a little extra TLC to look its best, and sometimes what works best for straight hair won’t apply to curls. Bleaching and coloring your hair is absolutely something you can still do with curly hair, but takes a little extra mindfulness to make sure your hair stays safe and healthy. If you’ve ever wondered about the best practices for coloring curly hair, read on to find out more!
What's Different About Curly Hair?
First, you may be wondering why curly hair needs such a different care regimen compared to straight hair types. A lot if it comes down to the curl itself! Hair curls due to the shape of both the follicle and the shaft of the hair, but curly hair has more disulfide bonds between cuticles of the hair, causing the hair to take on its more curly shape. However, more of these bonds means more bonds that can be broken during bleaching or processing, and broken disulfide bonds means weaker, less defined curls, or even full breakage of the hair strand in extreme cases. So while bleach has some risk of damage for all hair types, curly hair is most susceptible to experiencing noticeable or lasting damage due to over-processing. But that doesn’t mean bleaching is off the table, just that a few extra precautions should be taken to preserve your curl pattern and the health of your hair!
Bleaching Curly Hair
So how do you bleach your hair safely when you have curly hair? All the standard precautions of any kind of chemical processing apply - make sure you’re not leaving the bleach on for too long, and don’t use a volume of developer too high for your personal hair type and its needs. If you need a refresher, check out our how-to on the basics of bleaching! In addition to all the standard stuff, it’s highly recommended to use a bond sustainer/repairer in your bleach mix when you have curly hair, to help give an extra layer of protection to all those extra disulfide bonds and help repair any broken bonds that might occur. If you’re using a bleach product that has a bond protector already built-in (like our very own Bleach, Please kit containing PolyCare Split Therapy) you should be good to go! But if you're not, you can add these in to your bleach mix if it doesn’t have any included - Olaplex is the gold standard and is becoming more and more of a household name, but I love the Ion Color Absolute Perfection Booster which you can find at Sally Beauty!
Coloring Curly Hair
Once the hair is bleached, dying is a much simpler process! The safest option will be to use semi-permanent direct dyes, like Arctic Fox Hair Color, since these dyes have no lightening component and no harsh chemicals, but instead are very moisturizing which is exactly what curly hair needs. Using AF shades and other direct dyes poses no risk to your curl pattern or the health of your hair. No bonds are broken, the cuticle isn’t lifted - only the pigment is being added to the hair, so no need to be concerned in this case! In contrast though, oxidative colors that use developer can still pose a risk to curly hair similar to bleaching. Since these kinds of colors use chemical processing to lock the pigment into the hair strand, there is a possibility of the dye affecting your curl pattern and drying out your hair. So while it’s often less harsh than bleaching, there is still a risk of damage which can accumulate over multiple applications. If you are going to be using a permanent oxidative dye on your curly hair, it’s best to stick with a lower volume developer, and if possible dye your hair without previous bleaching, since this will minimize the risk of over-processing.
Maintaining Curly Hair
Ultimately, caring for curly hair comes down to one major factor - moisture! Curly hair is more prone to becoming dry, and dry hair is more easily damaged. Why does that happen? Well, if you compare a strand of curly hair to a strand of straight hair, imagine the journey your natural oils must have to take to get from root to tip. With straight hair, that journey is pretty straightforward, so keeping the hair strand moisturized is pretty easy for your scalp to do! With curly hair, it’s a much more roundabout journey (literally!) so it takes longer for oils to travel along the hair strand, leaving more of the strand drier for longer.
If you’re at all familiar with the Curly Girl Method, you already know the basics of keeping curly hair moisturized! Minimize washing your hair with shampoo, stick with co-washes when you do need to wash, and avoid drying sulfates and heavy silicones - these are some the best practices for keeping your curls lively and healthy. The good news is that these are all great steps to take to preserve your hair color, as well! Keeping up with moisturizing treatments like hair masks, heat protection, and deep conditioning (especially after bleaching or any other kind of chemical process) will help ensure your hair stays well-moisturized for healthy curls. Arctic Fox hair colors are full of moisturizing and conditioning ingredients, so if you apply the color right after you bleach, you’re good to go!
How do you rock your curly hair, Fox Fam? Let us know your best tips and tricks in the comments! And as always, if you ever have any questions, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Stay colorful!