My hair has been looking 100% better the last few months, and I'm using fewer, less expensive products. Double bonus! Here's what's been working for me and how my morning routine works:
Notes: If you're going to try this, make sure to do one last wash with normal shampoo to get rid of all the built up silicones in your hair. Also, I don't see why someone with straight hair couldn't incorporate a lot of these steps. They're cheaper and cut down on the heavy products in your hair.
Here's what I do:
1. Get in the shower, get my hair wet and squirt A LOT of Suave Naturals Coconut Conditioner in my hand. Plop it on the top of my head and rub it into my scalp with the pads of my fingers. Rinse it out. (This takes the place of shampoo. Trust me, it really does clean your hair - even after a sweaty workout or swimming!)
2. Put a pretty good amount of L'Oreal Vive Pro Hydra Gloss Conditioner in my hand and work it into my hair from the ends up to the crown of my head (but not into my scalp.) (Seriously, this is the best conditioner I've ever used!) I leave it on my hair while I do the rest of my shower routine. Then, with the conditioner still in my hair, I comb my hair with my fingers. Last, I wash out the conditioner.
3. Get out of the shower and dry off my body as usual, but DO NOT use a terry cloth towel on your hair. Keep your hair away from that soft but deadly terry cloth.
4. I put a generous squirt of gel in my hand - either Pantene's Curly gel or Herbal Essence Totally Twisted - and rub it into both hands. (The reason these gels work is that they don't have silicones.) I flip my hair over and shake it out. Then scrunch my hair with both hands. From here you can go straight to drying it, or "plop."
5. When I don't get ready at the gym, I plop in the mornings - which basically means putting my hair up in a special plopping towel or t-shirt. You can see how to do it here. I usually just leave it in the plop for 15-20 minutes while I make coffee, etc. At home, I just use a long-sleeve t-shirt to plop.
You can buy special towels for curly hair. I recently bought the Curl Ease towel to use at the gym (since I don't want to walk around the locker room with a t-shirt on my head, like a crazy person.) I put the towel on my shoulders to absorb some of the moisture from my hair right when I get out of the shower, and then flip my head over and scrunch with the towel, then apply gel as usual.
6. Then, I dry my hair with a diffuser following these instructions:
Leaving the blow dryer OFF, accordion curls into the bowl of the diffuser up to the root.
Turn dryer on.
When dryer gets hot, do a “cool shot.”
When dryer gets cold, turn off “cool shot.”
Turn off dryer, release curls, move to next section.
7. Then, DON'T TOUCH YOUR HAIR. I used to fix my part right after drying, but that just frizzed out the front of my hair. I've found it's better to just let it dry wherever it naturally parted during styling, and once it's 100% dry I fix the part.
8. You can add a little hairspray right after you dry it, while it's still partially damp, or once it's totally dry. I LOVE the Aveda hairspray - it's really light and smells good.
I know this is all very specific and detailed, but this really is a science. Once you do it a couple times, it's no big deal and it doesn't take me any longer to get ready in the morning. There is A TON of information and tips on this method - so I encourage anyone interested to do a little research and figure out the routine that will work for their type of curly hair! One good place to start is NaturallyCurly.com, where you can find lots of forums and articles.
A lot of people who use this method have also been raving about oils like Flax Seed Oil and Coconut Oil - applying them to their hair right before gel. I may give that a try at some point. Good luck and have a great weekend!