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Feb 22, 2006
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Color for Curly Hair
by Elizabeth Weiss McGolerick

The mention of the word "fall" often brings to mind visions of auburn tresses and gleaming chocolate brown locks but, for girls with curly hair, the seasons of the year transcend trends. By heeding the wisdom of the "Color Doctor" Shari Harbinger — color director for New York City's DevaConcepts and Devachan Salons and Departure Lounges (which specialize in curls) — all curly girls can get the looks that flatter them best as autumn approaches.

Prepping the Tresses
Curly girls should begin their highlighting and hair-coloring adventures by first having the right cut, Harbinger advises. This should involve very little cutting and more "nipping the ends like you would nip beautiful flowers," she says. By sculpting top layers when the hair is dry, length isn't compromised and the triangle effect — which can be the bane of a curly girl's existence — is removed.

While many curly girls might prefer to show up at the salon with their hair in a less-than-stellar state and wait for the colorist to work his or her magic, that's actually one of the worst things a curly girl can do. "Wear your hair as you would on a daily basis," Harbinger says. Gals, this means no ball caps, ponytails or extra styling products so the hair designer can get a clear idea of where the curls fall. "You're presenting the canvas that we're going to paint," she explains.

A technique patented as Pintura was developed at the Devachan Salon and "captures the movement of the curls without the use of foil." Harbinger describes foils as the worst option for highlighting curly hair as the color gets loose and looks like one big blotch on the head. The Pintura method allows the colorist to choose selective curls and paint them in their natural form to create rippling highlights.

Illuminating Curls
It can be tempting for curly girls to let seasonal trends sway their hair color choices but, Harbinger attests, "Hair is not a trend. It's a lifestyle." Many women may lean toward all shades of red for the autumn months. But this color doctor warns, "Someone may say they want to be a redhead, and they're not meant to be." While editorial colorists may promote the idea that makeup can be made to match hair color, Harbinger's first concern is if each individual will be able to maintain their overall look after they leave the salon.

In general, Harbinger believes in providing curly girls with gradations of color in different variations. She shares that very light summer blondes often need to be warmed up in the fall and brunettes would look smashing with caramel suggestions. Though Harbinger admits she'll go for a trend if she thinks the curly head can pull it off, but that skin tone and seasons really need to be considered when selecting a hair color. "Women always want a deeper, richer hair color in the fall. They're feeling washed away. Someone may say they want to be a redhead, and they're not meant to be. I'm all for [their color choice] as long as it suits them. Less is always more for a girl with curly hair, that's for sure," she explains.

Prolonging Color
Girls with curly hair should know that shampooing daily isn't good for their spirals. The harsh lathering and dehydrating detergents found in most shampoos are trumped by botanically infused moisturizers and cleansers that "slow down the hair color's fading and provide extra moisture." And colored, curly hair, especially, needs extra hydration, something that can be stripped away — along with layers of color — by using regular shampoo. "Dehydrated hair makes the color look flat and washed away," Harbinger explains. "By virtue of moisturizing and hydrating, the color reads more reflective." She recommends the DevaCare line, which is made with Vitamin C extract and orange peel wax for color-treated and chemically processed curls.

To find trained curly hair stylists and colorists, visit DevaConcepts. If you're not sure what color and cut suits you, try on new hairstyles at our virtual Makeover-O-Matic.



Mar 10, 2006
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I am a curly/kinky head (Type 3c), and I use henna and other herbs (indigo + cassia) to achieve a customized color for my hair and I like it very much! It is very curly-friendly.


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