I suspected that Erin of Botticelli Botanicals was a kindred spirits after reading her first reply message to me (if you missed that, see this post here). When I asked her to explain how she uses her products and I received the very detailed response, I knew it for sure!! LOL!!
Erin of Botticelli Botanicals
I have an inkling that whomever it was that first said “the devil is in the details” must have had curly hair, and was most likely referring to their routine! I kid, I kid…I love my curly hair! But seriously, as many of you already know, details, nuances in the things each of us do, and even what’s available locally have a lot to do with how our hair looks every day. If you do one little thing differently – either skipping one step, or adding another – it can really make a dramatic difference in the outcome, sometimes for the better…sometimes not so much. It all depends on the individual!
That said, Shelli asked me to write for you guys how I use my own products, and what techniques I use to get my hair looking (and feeling!) the way it does. Because to me, using a natural product means nothing if your hair still feels unnatural, so not only does it have to look great, but it’s gotta move, and it’s gotta be as touchable as it looks! Get ready curls, we’re going in…
Washing and Conditioning:
My first step is in the shower, I shampoo with my Meringue – about a three finger scoop for my mid back, thick hair is all I need. I massage my scalp well, but never pile my curls on top of my head, which we all (hopefully) know is a big no-no. I use the pads of my fingers to firmly massage my scalp in small circles and zigzags, making sure to cover every square inch of follicles, even up to the hairline. Then I firmly push the suds back, down the length of my hair, squeezing it into the ends before rinsing well.
Here’s something that’s probably gonna mess with some heads and make you read back to see if I put this is in the right order, and I promise you, I did. After I shampoo, BEFORE conditioning, I wet brush out any tangles. Now, I see you looking at the screen with your one eye bugged and the other one scrunched up like Popeye, but I swear, after using Meringue as my only shampoo for about eight months, and the rest of my products for just over three years, I have ZERO cuticle lift (hooray for sulfate and silicone free!), and being able to detangle just after shampooing and before applying any conditioner is a whole heap of proof for me.
So after I wet brush out my tangles, I apply about a ping pong ball sized squirt of Smoothie and smooth it all over my head, then scrunch it into the ends until I feel like it’s all the way down to my scalp. At this point, I go about my other showering duties and let it sit while I shave, etc. After about two or three minutes, my hair has soaked up a lot of it, and what’s left rinses clean and easy. After using Smoothie every time I wash my hair for about two years now, I don’t have the need to do deep treatments anymore, unless I feel like killing time with a gooped up head just for the fun of it … which I don’t often feel like doing with a five year old wanting me to play with her!
Now, don’t freak. I use a terrycloth towel to dry my hair. I know, I know … I tried microfiber, and I hated the way it felt, and I didn’t see a difference in the overall result, so I decided I was just gonna keep going the same route as I always have there. The thing I changed was, I never EVER rub my hair. All I do is, I squeeze the excess water out of my hair before I step out of the shower, and then I gently flip my head down, scrunch the ends to absorb drips, and turban it. No scrubbing, no rubbing, and no over-manipulation – I don’t flip it down repeatedly or swing it back and forth, and I don’t finger comb it downward, because that just ends up making tangles later for me. So for me, the only thing my towel does is catch drips, so I might as well use something absorbent.
I only leave my hair in the turban long enough to finish drying off and get dressed – pretty much long enough to absorb any drips that might want to form later if I didn’t wait those few minutes. Then, I let my hair down and grab my trusty Denman D5, brushing all of my hair back into a smooth sheet and finding where my hair wants to part, separating and brushing the direction I want my hair to dry overall, though it won’t stay exactly where I put it … you knew that already though, didn’t you? *wink* Of course, Denman makes a wide variety of brushes with the same overall style – different number of rows, spacing, etc, so I’d be surprised if there wasn’t a Denman brush that worked for every hair type in existence.
Now, at this point, I use about three palmfuls of Styling Mudd, one for each side and one in the back, maybe more if my hair feels thirsty in any one spot. I rub it in my hands, then I smooth and finger rake it through, making sure to coat my hair all the way to the ends.
“Missed” Step and Styling Tips:
Let me take a second to clear something up, in case you all are thinking I missed a step. I don’t use leave-in conditioners. Some people HAVE to use one, or at least they think they do. For me, I find that using a leave-in with either my Mudd or Gelee actually keeps my styler from doing its best work, by not allowing a cast to form properly over each curl as it dries. Leaving conditioner in tends to make my hair either gummy or dirty feeling, or it keeps the curl too moist to allow it to dry properly, giving me poor curl formation once my hair is dry.
That said, I have been told numerous times that my Smoothie is an awesome leave-in conditioner, if you hair tends to like one. But if you do use a leave-in with my products and it just doesn’t do what you expected, try it again, but leave out the leave-in. You might be surprised at how few products you can get by on when your products don’t dry or damage your hair to begin with.
Let me pause here to say that I believe these next parts to be some of the most important and un-skippable steps in my entire routine, because of the consistent results it has produced for me in the past.
Once my hair feels fairly saturated with Mudd, I brush it through with my Denman until my hair looks and feels like a big wavy sheet of seaweed, and then I lean over to one side, opening my hand to form a big comb with my fingers. I gently slide my fingers into my hair and lift up at a slight angle as I separate the big sheets of waves into smaller curls. This promotes more uniform frizz free clumps for me, as well as giving my thick, heavy hair some much needed root lift without the need to clip. Then, I lean to the other side and do the same again, separating and lifting. At this point, I smooth the ends of my curls between my palms so that each of them is clumped somewhere and not randomly flying around loose. Then I begin to scrunch my hair gently up towards my scalp, cradling a large handful and squeezing about a dozen times per handful, working it until I hear that telltale “skoosh”… yeah, you curlies know that sound, dontcha? Anyway, I do that all over, paying special attention to the curls with the weakest pattern, which for me is the ones framing my face.
Once I’ve scrunched with my bare hands to return those fat little clumps to curls, I use a clean floursack towel and scrunch gently all over to remove excess water and Mudd and, more importantly, to begin to set the curls so that they dry that way. Again, I pay special attention to my weak pattern areas here. Remember – if it looks wonky when it’s wet, it’s gonna look wonky when it’s dry, too. Now is the time to arrange your curls, and then you don’t get to touch them for awhile.
At this point, there are options. Most days I shower in the evenings and let my hair air dry while I play on the computer once my daughter has gone to bed. Other times, I feel like plopping to get a really fat, shrunken curl pattern with buckets of volume, but it does make my hair about 3-4 inches shorter. If I am going to plop though, I do it overnight because anything less than that just doesn’t take with my super thick hair. As it is, if I air dry, it takes about 6-8 hours, and even then my crown is usually still pretty damp.
The last option is one I only use in a dire emergency simply because for me, it just doesn’t turn out as good, and I hate what the heat does to my hair. But, I do have an ionic dryer with a bowl diffuser that I use only on warm, low speed with lots and lots and LOTS of coolshots. If I use the dryer, I always pixiecurl. For those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s a method of diffusing that keeps frizz to a minimum with very little effort. You basically position a section of your hair in the diffuser bowl before you turn the dryer on and only move the dryer to another area of your head once you’ve turned it off and the air isn’t moving. By not actually “blowing” your curls around, your clumps stay together better and thus, they dry with much less frizz. But like I said, I rarely use this option, and almost all of the pics you’ll see of my hair these days is the morning (or afternoon) after I washed my hair and air dried.
So since I’m an evening showerer, my hair is usually still a little damp when I go to bed. All I do is put it in a pineapple and flip it up over my pillow (nope, no satin case!) and crash out. Take note – this is nothing special for me – I pineapple every night, pretty much without fail. I use metal free elastics for super thick hair, and I only wrap it around once, so it holds, but it’s not tight at all. You’re going for volume and root lift, not a dent!
When I wake up in the morning, I don’t always take the pineapple down right away – sometimes I make breakfast and coffee or whatever first, and it might be an hour or more before I take it down. Once I do though, I have one of two things at the ready – either a hair butter like my Lime in the Coconut, or if my hair is feeling particularly dry, I might beef up my moisture with some Brulee instead. I will say that I normally use a butter, but the Brulee is a great option for the days that it feels like my hair just needs to be really fat. Yes, I said it … fat hair. So I use about a macadamia nut-size amount of whatever Butter I happen to be using that day or, if I’m using Brulee maybe an almond-size bit, rub it well in my hands and then smooth it down my canopy and scrunch into the ends. I smooth it into the hair around my face and sandwich my ends between my hands pulling downward to coat them well.
Last, I do the ponytail scrunch – pull all of your hair back gently like you’re going to put it in a ponytail, gently scrunching the whole thing all the way down the length of your hair from root to tip. Then let go, give it a little shake, and step back and admire the results in the mirror!
Wow, I know that looks like a lot of stuff when you look at it, but I promise, it’s actually not that intensive – maybe 30 minutes every other day is about all I put into it. I took special care to point out details here, so that anyone trying to figure out their hair could try my routine and hopefully come to their own conclusions about what works for them. Of course this isn’t the only way to use my products. This is just how I use them personally in my routine.
After covering all of that in what was probably more detail than you thought you needed, I do have one more point to cover. A lot of people come to me looking for hard or stiff hold, convinced that it’s the only way they’ll ever see the results they want from their hair. But I am living proof that treating your hair well with the right products can tighten your curl pattern. When I started my journey a little over three years ago, my hair was a forced, suffocated, sulfated and siliconed 2c. It was stringy and limp and I struggled to get that 2c!
Now, after using more natural products on a regular basis, my hair is a solid 3b without much effort at all and without tons of cement-hard hold. It’s a TOUCHABLE 3b, which means more to me than just having it look good. But that’s the kicker – it looks good, too! So don’t be fooled – hard hold and gluing your hair into place should not be confused with the illusion of a stronger curl pattern, because if it washes out, it was never yours to begin with. Treat your hair well and it’ll do the same to you – it’s worth it in the long run!
Botticelli Botanicals giveaway to be announced tomorrow!!