i'm not a professional. just crazy.

The Shopping List My Mother Gives People When They Ask About Her Hair

The author’s mother in 1987.

My introduction to the world of beauty looked like lots of girls’ introductions to the world of beauty: sitting on the edge of the bathtub watching my mother get ready in the morning. Her constant fixation was her hair, which she allowed herself extra time to focus on (and obsess over) every single day without fail. I’d watch her tend to it, mesmerized by the care she put into systematically crunching, pulling, and massaging her ringlets. My hair couldn’t be more different from my mother’s: It’s straight, with a tendency to get oily, while hers is extremely curly, with a tendency to get big and frizzy — a transformation she fights with a, well, regimen that is (I only recently realized) as obsessive and specific as my face-care routine.

This realization was major and really threw me off. How did it take me so long to realize that my Google Doc skincare was just a sign that I was one step closer to completely turning into my mother? As a means of coping — and as a service to my curly-haired readers — I asked my mother about her crazy curly-hair-care routine, the one that ensures perfect, bouncy, and shiny curls. Full disclosure: I wouldn’t say any of these products are “dupes” or “bargains”; she’s admittedly a lady of luxury. But the holidays are coming up — so if you’re a curly-haired girl, slip this list to your loved ones as a not-so-subtle hint. In my mom’s own words:

“First, shampoo and conditioner. If I have an event, I try to wash my hair the day before; I personally think my hair looks best a day in. When my big, curly hair is too squeaky clean, it gets frizzy, and that’s a bad look for me. I like to change my shampoo and conditioner up so that my hair doesn’t get used to it. I like to think that surprising my follicles makes the products most effective. I also dye my hair every month, which dries it out. The Sachajuan Colour Save does the best job bringing it back from the dead, and is incredibly nourishing.

“My other go-to shampoo is Naturaltech, which doesn’t protect my hair from the dye in any way, but is incredible for that deep hydration, and always leaves my curls nice and bouncy.”

“On days where I have to wash my hair, I towel it dry then immediately comb it through with a wide-tooth comb, like this Mason Pearson one.”

“After I comb, I mix together this Oribe Curl Gloss and L’Oreal Mythic Oil in the palm of my hand, then run the mixture through my damp hair. The curl gloss hydrates and the mythic oil nourishes and gives shine, so together they make my hair look super-shiny and bouncy. This concoction gives body to the curls and kills the frizz. It’s all about avoiding frizz.”

“Typically I air-dry my hair, but if I have to go out in a hurry or if it’s cold outside and I don’t want my curls to freeze, I like to use my Elchim hair dryer on hot, low pressure, with the Elchim bi-diffuser attachment. It dries the hair while allowing it to maintain the curls and hold onto the still-absorbing L’Oreal oil and Oribe gloss.”

“To use the bi-diffuser — which ‘reduces the air velocity from your hair dryer’ — you have to twist a strand of hair around your finger, then lay it inside the diffuser. Then you move the diffuser toward the scalp so it dries the hair roots, leave it in place, and move on to the next section of hair. It makes really perfect curls.”

“This is, as Rio says, a ‘holy grail’ of mine. The day after I’ve washed my hair, I spray it all over first thing in the morning with this Evian spritz. The spray is very fine — it’s a mist that allows my hair to become damp and pliable, without drenching it. Dampening my hair gets rid of frizz and allows me to clearly see the silhouette of my curls so that I know what to do with them.”

“After dampening my hair with the Evian spray, I spray this oil all over and then crunch my hair in the palms of my hand. This softens, detangles, and defrizzes the curls so that they hang nice and delicately.”

“My hair is its most difficult when it’s humid outside. So when I’m traveling home to Brazil or visiting my daughters in New York during the summer, I use the Oribe Anti-Humidity Spray at the end of my routine when my hair is dry and the products have set in.”

“Curly hair does need extra protection from the sun — otherwise it can be dried out. I use this almost like a sunscreen for my curls. Not only does this save my hair from drying out and getting frizzy from the sun and ocean, but it’s superthick, holding my curls in place all day so that my hair can still look nice while I’m on vacation!”

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The Shopping List My Mother Uses for Her Curly Hair