the everything guide to curly hair

Illustrated by Liz Riccardi

a crash course.

I spent all my tween and teen years battling my hair, only to slowly give in to the fact that it was utterly unmanageable. Over time, I learned how to get better haircuts, but the managing part remained mysterious—and strangely dependent on many factors, like humidity, heat, moon cycles, and whether the wheat crops were facing northeast that harvest season. That, until I met with Spoke & Weal founder Jon Reyman this summer. As I sat in a black boyfriend tee (it's the salon's version of a smock) and chatted with Reyman at Spoke & Weal’s SoHo location, all the secrets of curly hair came undone. Here is Curly Hair 101.

Washing It

If you are an adult with thick curls, by now, you’ve probably learned to not wash your hair on the day of your graduation, a job interview, someone’s wedding, or other important public appointments of sorts, unless you’re going for a Granny Addams look. Turns out for once, you’re on the right side of the curve (literally), but there are also other options. “There’s fine curly hair and coarse curly hair, and fine curly hair has different needs than coarse curly hair,” says Reyman. “If you have coarse curly hair, when you shampoo your hair it makes your hair coarser, fuller, and bigger—but, fuller and bigger is your enemy. If you want your hair smaller, you should be shampooing less, and conditioning more. You should use a light shampoo—you could even use those new co-washes.” I took Reyman’s advice, and used DevaCurl’s No-Poo along with Davines’s Love Conditioner for about a month—and can vouch that it works like magic. My hair stayed smaller, even on the most humid New York days. (Since this type of wash doesn’t lather, at first, you may feel that your hair isn’t as clean as it should be, but that feeling goes away with time.) 

"People with coarse curly hair should only shampoo their hair when its dirty,” he elaborates. “Now, to me, dirty means greasy on the scalp or itchy. Otherwise, you can just rinse the products out with water. There are even some people, where I say shampoo it once a week or once every two weeks. I have some clients who shampoo it once a month, and they condition it every chance they get.”

If you have fine curls, however, you should follow a different regimen: “For somebody with fine curly hair, the more they shampoo it the fuller it gets,” Reyman asserts. "So, wed like them to shampoo more and condition less—and they should use a strong shampoo.” One of Reyman’s personal favorites is Aveda’s Pure Abundance. “It gets rid of all of the oils and makes that hair shaft swell up, thats what were hoping for.”   

In fact, he says that people with fine hair can shampoo every day. "Usually, they want their hair big but not frizzy. Frizziness is a different story, you have to manage that with products, but the shampoo helps to prepare your hair to have products,” Reyman says. As for the conditioner? Use just a little on the regular and feel free to skip every once in a while. 


If you have curls that would make Medusa jealous on any given day, you probably also said goodbye to hairbrushes a long time ago. But what about combs? “If you comb a curl even when its wet, you break the curl up,” says Reyman, pointing at a couple of strands are going in different directions on my head. “The curl wants to come together, so if you want your curl to ringlet and be controlled together, leave it alone. The more you leave it alone the better. I understand it gets dreaded, but with coarser curly hair, if you dont shampoo it so much and condition it more, you should be able to get your fingers through it. So make sure to get enough of the right products there, use your fingers to comb your hair, dont use combs.” In this case, same rule goes for fine curly hair: Try to avoid combing if you can, and comb as seldom as possible if you have to.


Throughout our conversation, Reyman repeatedly told me that when someone has curly hair, the products they use are all that matter. When asked to expand on that, he said, "Coarser curly hair needs a combination of hold products and oil products. A lot of brands come up with curly-solutions series and I think they are not for everyone. What makes things successful is when we start to customize and start to understand what our needs are,” he responds. “So for coarser curly hair, a light oil is going to shrink the hair down a little bit, and a light hold (like a light gel) is going to help set it. The nice thing is every product you put in changes your curl pull, so if you put in a light oil, another oil, and a hold, youll get one curly result, if you add in a different product, then youll get a different curl result. Which is why I say your curl pattern is based on the products you put in.”

To get the best out of your fine curls, feel free to skip heavier oils like argan or coconut. “For fine curls, it should be very minimal oil if any. They live in a light-hold world, because oils just make their hair oily and creams make their hair flatter,” Reyman says. “We just want to set it and hold it, not making it stiff. So, when youre trying to manage frizz, it is always controlled by either hold and oil, or just hold—and people with fine hair should always stick with hold.”

Cutting It

We’ve all left various hairstylists' chairs knowing things will never be the same again. If it’s any consolation, it’s easier to disguise a hideous haircut when you have curly hair (because, let’s be honest, it’s like every, single jungle creature from Jumanji has walked over your head as soon as you start to dry up.) But in the long run it can get really ugly, so it’s important to know what to expect from a good haircut. “All hair is three things: length, density and texture,” says Reyman. “A lot of hairdressers dont know how to manage density. I think finding a hairdresser that understands length and density as two separate subjects is the first step. And also texture—I can give you a great haircut, but if you dont manage your texture, youll have a big, fuzzy mess. Texture is always managed by tools and techniques. Have the right tool, the right technique, and you can get the right result.” 

So you think you’ve got the right haircut? That is, until your hair grows into an even bigger blob in less than two weeks—which mine has, so. many. times. “A good haircut grows from the inside out. If I just cut the outside, then the outside grows, and that grow out takes five to six weeks,” informs Reyman. “If we just cut the outside, then you have a big clump thats hard to manage, thats why you need a haircut on the inside and the outside. The outside is length, the inside is density.” 


Photo courtesy of Balenciaga / Photo via @McDonaldsSverige Instagram

I'm cackling

Last year, Balenciaga released bright red square-toed mules which bore a striking resemblance to McDonald's french fry cartons. Now, the chain has fired back at the designer, threatening to release its own version of the shoes.

McDonald's Sweden posted a photo to its Instagram of a person wearing actual McDonald's fry cartons as shoes, and honestly, if there weren't yellow M's printed onto them, I'd have a hard time distinguishing them from the Balenciagas from a distance. Though the post doesn't directly reference the Balenciaga shoes, one can only assume that's who they are trolling.

McDonald's version actually makes for some pretty fly slip-ons, if you ask me. Good thing the Swedish branch of Mickey D's seems to be considering releasing the shoes if the post receives enough attention. The caption of the Instagram post translates to, "If we get 103042 likes we release these for real," though it only has about 17,000 as of publish time. These would likely cost much less than the Balenciaga shoes, which cost $545.

Internet, do your thing. I want a pair.



Photo by Gareth Cattermole / Getty Images.

It marks her third duet with Nas

Here are some words that I never expected to read or hear again: There is a new song with Amy Winehouse. But here we are in 2019, and Salaam Remi has granted me a wish. On Valentine's Day, the Grammy-nominated producer and frequent Winehouse collaborator (also responsible for hits like Miguel's "Come Through & Chill") released "Find My Love" which features rapper Nas and that powerful and haunting voice that I have come to love and cherish so dearly.

Representatives for Remi said that the Winehouse vocals were from an old jam session the two had. Remi was a producer on both of Winehouse's albums, Frank and Back to Black. "Find My Love" marks the third time Winehouse and Nas have done duets under the direction of Remi. They were previously heard together on "Like Smoke," a single from her 2011 posthumous album Amy Winehouse Lioness: Hidden Treasures, and "Cherry Wine" from Nas' 2012 album Life Is Good. Winehouse died of alcohol poisoning on July 23, 2011, before they could complete production on her third album. My heart is still broken about it as she is by far my favorite artist.

"Find My Love" is set to appear on Remi's Do It for the Culture 2, a collection of songs curated by him. Check it out, below.