We've always LOVED curls at Belle & Blackley but it's only in recent years that our curl expertise has started to get noticed and now it thrills us every week when clients come from far and wide to get their curls cared for.
But what is it about curly hair that stumps so many stylists and leaves those of us with curls (me included) willing to travel to the ends of the earth - or just Glasgow - in search of a curl guru!
The main difficulty with cutting curly hair is that every strand has a different level of bounce and coil and every time you wash curly hair different strands join together to form a spiral. So a frequent horror story from curly haired clients is that it looked fine when they left the salon but once they got home and washed and restyled it - it dried in different spirals which were now unevenly cut.
This is often the result if your stylist goes straight to the wet-cut technique. Wet hair is heavy, pulls the curls down giving a false idea of how bouncy your hair is - and your stylist then has little or no control over how much it will spring up once it's dry!
With straight hair it's pretty easy to line up the ends to make sure you have a nice even, straight line. And because the way the hair lies is relatively predictable, it's therefore easier to add layers and chop into it to create movement and definition.
Some stylists fear layering curly hair because of its unpredictability but the truth is curls love layers - removing some of the weight helps to free the curls giving your hair more movement and volume.
Also on that note - you may have seen a stylist chopping into and using thinning scissors on freshly cut and dried straight hair to texturise it. And while straight hair can take a lot of that, curly hair hates it. That is if the thinning scissors are being used on the ends. Curly hair actually needs a little weight to help define the curl, chopping away at the ends just disturbs the curl pattern and leaves you with frizz.
If curly hair is too heavy it can look lifeless and drab but if it's not heavy enough it will be frizzy and unmanageable.
Curly hair is a law unto itself.
I have curly hair. I guess I would describe it as a medium curl. It's more than just wavy but less than corkscrew curls - big bouncy curls. However, depending on the products I use and the way I dry it, my curls can be looser making my hair look longer or tighter making it look shorter - as a result, people often ask if I've had my hair cut and my reply is "No, I just washed it!"
So based on all that you might think the best way to work with curly hair is to blow dry it straight first, so that you can check your balance and edges are perfect. And while this is a technique lots of stylists use - it's not the first one we would choose at Belle & Blackley.
When I asked Scott Cooper, our Consultant Stylist, if he would ever straighten curls so he could cut them he said:
"It's not the way I would usually start. Curly hair is frequently very dry and lacks moisture, which in turn effects its condition. Lots of my curly clients get a Brazilian Keratin Mask as an intensive conditioning treatment. During the process we have to dry the hair straight to seal in the keratin. I sometimes take the opportunity to take a look at split ends when my clients hair is straight but I would always do the actual cutting and shaping on dry or nearly dry curly hair. You have to know how the hair sits when it's in its natural state so that you can control how much it will spring up once it's cut."
Scott was quick to point out that you have to take every curly head as unique because there are so many variants when it comes to curly hair. This makes me think of another reason that stylists often shy away from curls - so much of the maintenance is different to straight hair. In fact, the polar opposite!
For example: I hardly ever use shampoo. I wash my hair once, maybe twice a week and I mostly just use conditioner. I would only use shampoo if I had styled my hair with hairspray the night before, or something other than a curl cream or serum.
I never brush my hair when it's dry - all I'd end up with is a frizz ball on the top of my head which is not a good look. Trust me! I only brush it, with a wide toothed comb or my fingers when it is full of conditioner just before I rinse it out.
That leads me to my next one - I don't rinse all the conditioner out! I always rinse my scalp but leave a little conditioner through the middle and ends - it helps to define my curls.
Once I've washed my hair, added some curl cream and started drying it with a diffuser, I try not to touch it again. Those of you who have curly hair will know what it feels like when someone else is drying your hair and constantly touching it - essentially separating the curls and making it look frizzy!
As well as knowing how to cut curly hair - you need a stylist that knows how to style curly hair and to pass on all the tips and hints that curly hair needs to look healthy, shiny with a perfect bounce!
Of course, I'm going to say look no further than the team at Belle & Blackley - that's a given. But on a serious note, good curl experts are hard to find and their style check service is what really makes the team stand out from others.
At Belle & Blackley everyone is offered a style check - a free wash and style within a week of having had your hair done to ensure that you are coping with the new look, new colour, new style, new products etc.
With curly haired clients they extend that style check period to a couple of weeks to give you more of a chance to see how your hair is sitting - given that, as I mentioned above, it can dry differently every time you wash it - and therefore take you a little longer to make sure you are happy with how to work it!
They know how curls work and these little allowances prove it!