You may have noticed some posts from our friends at the Strategist on the Cut. They’ll be dropping in every now and again, sharing their expertise on the basics you don’t have time to research and the weird and wonderful things you don’t yet know you need.
In high school, I would buy John Frieda Frizz-Ease a couple of bottles at a time. Squeezing dollops of the gluey goop into my hand, I’d work it from root to tips, forcing my very curly, very fine, frizz-prone hair into something similar to an uncooked brick of ramen: compact curls that did not budge. In the late ’90s, frizz was something to be dealt with. A handicap. The enemy.
Now, some 20 years later, society’s stance on frizz has softened — it’s no longer something to feel bad about. Maybe you even want to play it up! I’d point to women like Solange, Jenny Slate, and Petra Collins for moving us forward. Like many things we shamed until not too recently, embracing your frizz is now seen as a type of empowerment, which is fine with me. After a decade-plus of fighting frizz and straightening my hair flat, something a little fluffy and puffy feels like a comfortable identity. But I also like my frizz a certain way: big and brushed-through, with this ’70s vibe that reminds me of the culty women from the Source Family, Roseanne Roseannadanna, and my mom back in the day.
Like my frizz-fighting days before me, my frizz-forward approach involves a styling routine and a tool kit, with the hero product being a Tangle Teaser. (Frizzy hair equals tangly hair.) Palm-size and kidney-shaped, it’s like a cross between a dog brush and those circular old-man scalp-massage brushes (I like to keep one in the shower for that reason). Post–shampoo and conditioner, the forgiving plastic bristles detangle my insanely knot-prone curls with ease — no yanks, no tears; 30 minutes later, another pass through air-dried ends gives me that triangular halo-fuzz that I’m forever reaching for. Midday, I’ll pull one out of my drawer or grab the one I keep stashed in my bag and fluff things up a bit. And you don’t have to have puffy-fine curls to appreciate this thing. I gifted one to my stick-straight-haired 5-year-old niece who is in one of the more tangly phases of her life, and she loves it, too.
Other Strat-Approved Frizzy-Hair Products
“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.” —Christina Viera-Newton
“My hair type is naturally very curly and frizzy and doesn’t take well to humidity. In the summertime, especially in New York, if I don’t use Love my hair is a complete mess. I put Love in when my hair is damp, right out of the shower, and then I scrunch my hair with my hands — it enhances my curls and keeps them in place! It also does a really good job of separating my curls without making them crunchy, which I find a lot of products do.” —Laura Chautin
“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.” —Christina Viera-Newton
“People with curly hair should not use shampoo. It dries out the curls when the thing they need most is moisture (hence all the oils I used to rub into my hair). But for everyone who feels weird about never washing their hair, Devachan has created No-Poo, a shampoo that doesn’t lather or contain any of the sulfates regularly found in shampoo that dry out curls. In fact, amazingly, it’s a shampoo that still moisturizes.” —Lauren Levy
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