How to curl African American hair naturally


Everyone loves natural curls, but sometimes that look can be hard to achieve after years of chemically relaxing your African-American hair. Professional hair stylist Amita Moticka demonstrates a natural hair moisturizing routine that helps lock in the curls and minimize frizz without harsh chemical products.

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  • Amita Moticka

    Amita Moticka Hair Stylist Amita Moticka has pursued many creative outlets, styling hair for films, videos, photo shoots and runway shows for designers such as Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, Tula and Betsey Johnson. She once toured with the legendary band Journey as their personal hair stylist, and she has had the pleasure of creating rock-n-roll looks for members of Cake, Wilco, Dieselhead, Metallica and more. Amita is a talented educator who divides her time between teaching and working on her devoted clients. more about this expert »

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Transcript OK, so Amita, you know I've been growing out my relaxer for about two years, and I really want to start wearing my curls. So can you help me with that? Oh, yeah. I think that's going to be a great idea. But let's see what you got under there. So first of all, when you have had your hair relaxed for so long, you've been trying to keep the moisture out. You've been using products that have more antihumectants in them. We are going to reverse your thought process now. You want moisture, you want humectants, you want all the emollients that are going to keep your hair soft and supple and moisturized. I always believe that healthy hair comes from healthy scalp and healthy body. So making sure you're taking your vitamins. Making sure that you're taking all your oils. Because it's nice to have your own natural oil support your hair, but in addition to that, you are now going to not shampoo as much. It's nice to shampoo, but your ratio's going to be much more like one shampoo to every three conditioners, four conditioners. Just using the shampoo to remove debris and old wax build-ups and stuff like that. But conditioner is mainly going to be your friend. So we're going to shampoo today. And I'm really excited about this shampoo by Beautiful Curls. It's nice because it's sulfate-free. So it's not harsh detergents, but yet it's going to clean all the debris and excess oil from your scalp. So we're going to start with this. I'm then going to have you use a large amount of a deep conditioning treatment. Run it through with your fingers, or comb-- whatever it takes to get the tangles out. Turn the water down to about cool, and then rinse it out about 50% of the way. Throw your hair in a towel, and meet me back here. Cool. There you go. Hi. Hey. So how'd that go? It went good. Good, OK, so let's take a look here. I'm going to turn you around. I'm going to put this around your shoulder to catch any excess product. So the next step that we're going to do is I'm going to add more conditioner to your hair. I'm a big fan of layering products, not mixing them in big handfuls. I feel like the biggest thing is moisture, and the most important thing to touch your hair right after the shower is another moisturizer. So I'm going to start with a leave-in conditioner. And then I'm going to move to something that has a little bit more hold. Something like a gel, or a cream-based custard-- something that's going to lock in the curl for you. All right? OK. So we're going to apply lots of product. I'm going to gently go over the hair first, and then I'm going to do it section by section. And depending on your hair texture and type, you can add more or less. A very important thing to remember is that curly hair likes moisture. Also meaning curly hair needs more water. If your hair starts to dry out, you're going to want to re-add water to it so that the product moves evenly through hair shaft. I'm layering in my product. Don't be afraid of using too much with your texture of hair. I feel like that tends to be the thing that people have the most problem with is they don't add enough product to their hair. It's almost impossible to use too much product. We are basically coating it from roots to ends. I'm working from your scalp and dragging the conditioner through to your ends. And I'm almost like a scissoring, flattening type motion just to kind of smooth the cuticle down as well. All right, now that we've completely saturated your hair with the leave-in conditioner, we're going to move on to a gel and really lock in that curl. I'm going to go in with a quarter size amount of the gel, running it through roots to ends. All right, now that we've got all that product through your hair, I'm going to show you a simple technique to lock in your curl and make it easier to manage. Oh, cool. I'm going to start with a small section over your ear. Clip the remainder out of the way. I'm going to go in with a fine-toothed comb, and I'm going to comb it from roots to ends just to smooth out any knots or kinks. And then I'm going to go in and do small, tight twists, working from roots to ends. Again, making sure that you have enough product and enough water in your hair so that everything is evenly distributed. The smaller the sections, the tighter your curl will be. The larger the sections, the larger your curl will be. So this seems like a little bit of work. Once you get into a routine by doing this, you should only be doing it once, maybe twice a week. By doing this, it locks in the curl which helps maintain it longer. So you're not waking up with as much frizz and fly away. Another benefit to doing this is that you're not working with any harsh chemicals, these are all natural products. And you're just enhancing what your hair naturally wants to do, you're not fighting it. OK, so I just used a diffuser to help dry your hair a little bit. So what I did once I put the ribboning and twisting in, I then gently took the diffuser, tilted your head over as to not disturb the curl as much as possible. And then just kind of rotated you around until it was dry all the way through. The less you touch your hair, the better. You want the gel to sort of set the curl up and lock the curl in. If you want to expand it and have wilder, fuller hair, you can come in from underneath and gently just sort of massage your roots and pull your hands back out so as not to disturb the curl. And to release some of the crispness you can go in, scrunch it, and then gently remove the scrunching. The more you touch your hair and shake out the roots, the larger and more expanded the shape will become, and less crispy. Your hair looks great. Let's take a look. Just move it off your face a little bit. I like a little bit more fullness for you. I'm super excited by your hair. It looks really beautiful and we used all natural products, so it's really keeping the integrity and health of your hair. And it's really, really pretty. How does it feel? It feels great, I really like it. Great.

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