Our fine-haired sisters think we’ve got it easy just because we can do a doughnut bun without wearing a sock on our head, but having a mess of hair is sometimes, well, a mess. Here, finally, the solutions to the biggest thick-hair problems — except for clogging up your drain. Alas, we can’t help you there.
By Kate Sullivan, Allure
No Comb Can Tackle Your Tangles
If the smell of Johnson’s No More Tangles triggers PTSD flashbacks to your childhood, you know what’s up. Thick hair means knots that are tied with Boy Scout-level strength. Forcing a comb or paddle brush through it is time-consuming and hair-ruining.
Tangle Teezer The Original Detangling Hairbrush
Try the Tangle Teezer once and you’ll never use a comb again. Short, flexible bristles have give to them so they won’t pull out fragile hairs, says hairstylist Mia Santiago of Sharon Dorram Color at Sally Hershberger. You can even detangle wet hair: “If I used a paddle brush on my wet hair, I could make a voodoo doll of the hair that comes out,” she says.
There Is Not Enough Conditioner in the World
We large-haired ladies run out of conditioner so much faster than shampoo. For every quarter-size dollop of shampoo you use on your scalp, you gotta use a palm-full of conditioner on your many, many ends.
A Conditioner That Works Better
It’s not the size of your conditioner bottle that matters, but its contents. “Choosing a highly concentrated conditioner means you won’t need gallons of product,” says Santiago. She likes Kératase Cristalliste and Kérastase Chronologiste conditioners, which are so rich that you only need a dollop. “Avoid any conditioners that say ‘volume’ on the bottle — they’re not for the big-haired,” she says. Adding a deep-treatment mask to your routine is also key. If your ends are extremely damaged, use a mask once a week or every third shampoo, depending on how often you wash, says Santiago. If your ends aren’t too damaged, once a month will do.
Humidity Makes Your Big Hair Even Bigger
The weather is warming up and the air is thick with the promise of summer — that’s great, right? Yeah, not for your giant-ass hair.
Keratin Products and Some Serious TLC
Keratin-based products fill out the hair cuticle and defrizz, says Santiago. She likes Sally Hershberger Hyper Hydration Super Keratin Spray for year-round use, plus a little extra styling time in summer. “I know that’s when everyone wants the ease of wash-and-go styles, but for women with thick hair, it’s worth taking the time to really work in the product to avoid a bad hair day.”
Brushing Causes Next-Level Pouf
Headed to an ’80s costume party? Nope! You simply used a hairbrush on your already huge hair, thus making it…huge-er.
Add Hair Spray to the Brush Before Pulling It Through
“Just dampen it a little bit, not so much that it’s supersopping wet — you don’t want There’s Something About Mary stiff hair,” says Santiago. “But a small amount of spray helps seal the cuticles, takes away some of the static and keeps all the hair together. Start your brushing underneath your hair, as opposed to the top of your head — that will help you avoid crunchy-looking strands too.”
Round Brushes Are Scary Hair Traps
In seventh grade, we had to go to a babysitting job with a round brush stuck to the crown of our head. The experience scared us off of using them for the next 15 years. But ladies, there is a way.
Take a Smaller Section
“You never want the section of hair you’re brushing to be wider than the brush,” says Santiago. A little serum — Santiago likes Oribe Smooth Style Serum — will also make the brush go through your hair more smoothly. “Apply it to the midsection of the hair, not at the roots.”
Blowouts Take a Hundred Hours
If giving yourself a blowout works your arms more than kettlebell class, you probably have really thick hair. (We’ve considered buying the Blo and Go from that infomercial strictly because of arm fatigue.)
“Rough-dry your hair until it’s about 80 to 90 percent done,” says Santiago. “That’s superimportant for people with really thick hair; otherwise you’re going to be there forever. Once it’s almost dry, then attach the smoothing nozzle to your dryer, making sure it’s always facing the end of your shaft to smooth it out.” Rough-drying does work better for straight- and slightly wavy-haired gals though. “If you’re prone to a lot of frizzing or your hair is supercurly, rough-drying can open up the cuticle too much. Get the nozzle on a little faster if that’s your hair texture.
Your Hair Is Never Fully Dry
In your 9 a.m. meeting, you look like you raced to the office fresh out of the shower. Ditto at your 2 p.m. meeting, because fun fact: Your hair is always still a little wet
Shower at Night — and Fake a Morning Blowout
After washing at night no less than 30 minutes before bedtime, let your hair air-dry overnight. “In the morning, you can achieve a blowout-like effect using a half-barrel curling iron,” says Santiago. “Split your hair into 12 to 14 sections. When you quickly swoop the iron through them to the ends, it’ll look like a salon blowout done with a big round brush but takes way less time.” You’re not going to have the same volume as you would with a real blowout, but you will look polished. And not like you just got caught in a rainstorm.
Your Bed Head Is Scary Big
When your baby niece wakes up from a nap with a cowlick, it’s so adorable. Your bed head looks like a tornado hit your sheets.
“There’s something magical about it,” says Santiago. Flip your head upside down and gather your hair into a ponytail, then twist into a coil. (Need more guidance? Check out these tutorials.) Santiago seals down flyways with Carol’s Daughter Black Vanilla Edge Control Smoother. “It’s so amazing and works on every hair type,” she says.
No Elastic Is Mighty Enough for Your Ponytail
Your scrunchie-busting hair can be a hazard: One of our editors had an elastic fail dramatically while on a date. Her cascading waves would have had that sexy librarian-letting-her-hair-down vibe if the errant hair tie hadn’t ended up in the dude’s wine glass.
Up Your Hair-Tie Game
“Obviously, if you have thick hair, regular elastics aren’t going to cut it,” says Santiago. But you also need to stay away from anything with a grip or plastic that will get caught in your massive hair and pull it out. Thin and flat fabric hair ties, like Emi-Jay’s, are going to have more staying power and won’t break or dent your giant hair. “Those fat Heathers-style scrunchies would work too, and I wish they were cool — but they’re not,” says Santiago.
Heavy Hair Has No Bounce
Santiago puts it best: “If you have really thick hair and no layers, your hair can look like a blanket.” Not cute.
Lose the Weight
Talk to your hairstylist about a layered midlength cut that will lighten up the weight on the roots and add some movement. “Just don’t overlayer, then your hair will become a triangle,” she says.
Midlength Hair Looks Like a Helmet
Thick hair looks luxe long and is great for a pixie, where a stylist has a lot to work with. But that of-the-moment choppy bob? Not so much. “Thick hair that’s shoulder-length can very easily get big,” says Santiago.
Again, a Lob With Layers
Layers on a chin-length cut will give dimension to unwanted fluffiness and a silky wax or balm, like Shu Uemura Art of Hair Touch of Gloss, weighs down the hair a little bit to anchor the pouf while still letting the hair move, says Santiago.
Thinning Razors and Shears Damage Your Hair
Didn’t we tell you to be careful of layers? They can hurt as much as they help. Case in point: In an attempt to take out some of your massive hair’s weight and girth, a stylist chomped at your locks with one of these tools, leaving them frizzier and damaged.
Talk to Your (New) Stylist
“Your hairstylist has to have really good thinning shears to not cause damage,” says Santiago. Tell your stylist how your hair has reacted to thinning shears or razors in the past. Shears aren’t the devil, but if you’re prone to frizz, they’ll work best for you if used only on the ends of your hair. Your stylist can use a different method to thin out your hair that doesn’t scrape your hair shaft as much.
(Photos: Roger Cabello)
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