By P.J. Gach
Do you have curly hair like me? It’s constant struggle to make it behave. I married my blow dryer. My hands hurt, I kept bonking myself in the eye with the round brush, and I was a sweaty and exhausted mess when it was done. Joy of joys! It never lasted more than a day or two. After watching SATC, I finally had the courage (thank you Sarah Jessica Parker) to say, “I have curly hair and I’m going to let it be.” Even if you let it be, it’s still hard to maintain. Our hair is drier than straight hair. We need special conditioners and shampoos. Curly hair is harder to cut, so we need someone who knows and loves curly hair as much as we do. In this city of a thousand and one salons, where do you go? What do you use to make your hair look its curly best and be healthy too?
Ouidad. That’s where you go. Ouidad is like us, she has a mane of gorgeous black curly hair. And just like us, she spent years and years trying to make it into something that it wasn’t. One day she had an epiphany, embraced her curls and decided to create a salon. A salon that gave curly heads the right cut for their unique hair. That was back in 1983 and Ouidad hasn’t stopped since. Not only is there a gorgeous, sexy and modern salon on West 57th Street; there are affiliated salons across the country, and a product line that’s especially formulated for curly hair.
Let me tell you about my experience at Ouidad.
It’s Saturday, kinda warm, kinda crazy with all those shoppers and tourists on the street. I zigzag my way down 57th Street, nearly collide with people who should be walking in Topeka, not New York City, find 37 West 57th street, and zip into the elevator to the fourth floor. The elevator opens up and I’m in the salon. It’s huge, 5000 square feet of wood floors, walls done in soft sage and natural tones, mirrors and lots of lovely light. There are faux lizard couches and it’s busy. I’m surrounded by men and women with curly hair! It’s like a curly hair convention, and I love every minute of it. There are waves; there are ringlets, tight curls, and loose curls -curls everywhere! Women and men of every age group looking fab and happy with curls.
I’m introduced to Ayanna. She’s a Top Stylist and Educator. Ayanna and Ouidad fly all over the country teaching her patented “carving and slicing” technique for cutting curly hair at affiliated Ouidad salons.
Ayanna sits me down in a chair and we have a consultation. She’s looking at my hair while I’m asking her a thousand questions. Every time I mention that my hair is weird, I am corrected. “No, curly hair is a blessing” she tells me. When I mention that I’m the only one with curly hair in my family, she says, “Well, you’re the lucky one then.” Thank you Ayanna, you’re right. Curly hair is a blessing and when you get right down to it; all your features are a blessing. Whatever you have is wonderful and when you downgrade what you have, you downgrade yourself. So, mental note to me, and some advice for you – love what you have, be kind to yourself – we’re all we’ve got and we’re fabulous.
Getting back to the salon, I tell Ayanna that my hair is curly and wavy, with straight bits underneath. Is this normal? Ayanna explains that most people have anywhere from two to four types of curl and straightness to their hair and it’s very common to have more than one curl pattern on your head.
After discussing length, I ask her about the “carving and slicing” method that Ouidad created, is it done with scissors and a razor? Just a razor? I’m told that it’s scissors only, because razors can promote frizz, and the hair is cut in such a way (almost at a diagonal) that instead of getting pyramid head (we know what that’s like) it’s hair that flows evenly from the scalp down.
As Ayanna is shampooing my hair she tells me about the products. Ouidad’s products (all of them, including the styling aids) are silicone, wax, animal fat, and alcohol free. They’re all water based. Nothing that will weigh down, dry out or coat your hair. The products contain botanicals like aloe vera, vitamins and fruit acids. Once rinsed, Ayanna applied Botanical Boost Spray – In Conditioner. She mentioned that you can use it wet or dry to boost, revive and keep your hair looking good throughout the day.
Ayanna and I walked back to her station and the cutting began followed by a deep moisturizing treatment. Ouidad’s Deep Treatment Intensive Conditioner is a monthly “must” for curly hair. It revitalizes and nourishes your hair. Ayanna mixed the Deep Treatment Intensive Conditioner with a little bit of the Balancing Rinse Conditioner. It’s a detangler that closes the cuticle. Then we walked back up front. I went under a dryer for a few minutes and ogled boots in magazines, while my hair ate up the nutrients. Once rinsed, Ayanna applied some more Botanical Boost Spray-In Conditioner and a small amount of the Tress FX Styling Gel. She then proceeded to show me the correct way to scrunch your hair. First, divide the hair horizontally in three sections. Bottom, middle, and temporal to temporal. Then apply the gel to each section. When scrunching, ONLY do it to the side. Don’t flip your hair from side to side; don’t flip your head down. After you’ve scrunched the hair, slowly release it and shake it loose. When you’re doing the temporal part, you separate the pieces in front of you face and do that last. If you want a bit of height, simply slide in clips to the sections on your crown where you want it. You can either air dry your hair, use a diffuser, or get a bonnet attachment for your blow dryer and let the cool air from the blow dryer softly dry it for you.
Ayanna, then blew my hair out with a diffuser attached to a blow dryer. Never dry it completely, let your hair be at least 10 % damp, this prevents frizzy hair. Then Ayanna applied a pea-sized amount of pomade to my hair. This locked in the style, kept my hair soft and in place.
How does my hair look? Like curly ribbons. It just flows evenly from scalp to ends. The frizz is gone. This Sunday, I walked Sophie the Wonder Dog in the snow, came back into the apartment and still no frizz. It’s shiny and healthy looking. I have soft curly wavy hair that makes me feel like a movie star or a Pre-Raphaelite beauty. I can say good-bye to frizz, to “pyramid head” and hello to sexy, healthy hair!
For curl maintenance, health and a really fantastic cut, run don’t walk to OUIDAD, 37 West 57th Street, fourth floor. Call 212-888-3288 for an appointment. To learn more about the dos and dont’s of curly hair care, pick up Ouidad’s book Curl Talk (Three Rivers Press). To purchase products and to find an Ouidad affiliated salon near you, go to http://www.ouidad.com
The Curl Experts
37 West 57th Street, Fourth Floor
New York, NY 10019
Haircuts by Ouidad
Men – 100.00
Women – 150.00
Hair cuts by Ayanna, Ana & Vincent
Men – 90.00
Women – 120.00
By Salon Stylists
Men – 90.00
Women – 115.00
Curly styling – 55.00*
Updo Curly – 100.00*
Wedding style – 200.00
Blow Dry Straight
Short hair (chin) – 60.00*
Shoulder – 75.00*
Long – 90.00*
Damage Control – 160.00*
Deep Treatment – 90.00*
Glaze – 85.00*
Summer Shield – 125.00*
One Process – 100.00*
Double Process – 150.00*
Hairline – 125.00*
Hairline & Crown – 185.00*
Half of Head – 225.00*
Full Head – 285.00*
Softening (must be sealed by a deep treatment 90.00*)
Spot Softening – 75.00*
Hairline – 100.00*
Half of Head – 150.00*
Full Head – 200.00*
Spot Perm – 130.00*
Half of Head – 185.00*
Full Head – 260.00*
* – Prices may vary depending on hair length, thickness or other factors to be determined by your Ouidad Stylist
– Never bunch up your hair on top of you head when shampooing. It only creates tangles.
– When applying the deep treatment or for that matter, any conditioner, always start with the ends and work your way up. You really don’t need to condition your scalp.