Anyone who was born with naturally curly hair knows that it can be both a blessing and a curse. Because it essentially grows in a zigzag formation, it takes longer to attain a certain length than it would if it were straight. It is also prone to dryness, and on humid days it seems like there's nothing you can do to keep it under control! But on the plus side, it's a look that is highly sought-after and can be absolutely stunning if you know how to style it properly.
First of all, keep in mind that curly hair almost always looks best when it is long, as the length allows for the curls to be properly weighed down. All long hair is beautiful, but long curly hair is nothing short of captivating! The best styles are those cut with layers, because the layers allow your hair to sit correctly and avoid the dreaded 'pyramid head'. Remember that a hairstylist who has curly hair herself is going to be your best bet for getting the ideal cut, and if you see a woman with perfect curly hair, don't be afraid to ask her who cuts it! You'll make her day and possibly find the ideal hairstylist, and there are few things more valuable than that.
Secondly, don't shampoo it every day or you'll risk drying it out further. Curly hair is usually more brittle than straight or wavy hair, so keeping the natural oils in place is a must. When you do shampoo, use products designed for your hair type, plus a good quality conditioner (salon quality is best). Blot your hair gently with a towel, apply a serum and allow it to dry naturally. Serums that contain 'cones' - i.e. silicones like dimethicone - are usually the way to go, but your hairstylist will be able to help you find the right one for your hair's needs.
Perhaps the biggest curly hair styling no-no is the hairbrush - if you own one, then toss it out now! Brushing curly hair will cause nothing but frizz, which is the last thing a curly girl wants. Using a wide-toothed comb or 'afro' comb is by far the best option, as you want to separate your curls, not obliterate them. Another major no-no is using the hottest setting on your hairdryer. As mentioned earlier, natural air-drying is the best choice (this goes for all hair types, not just the curly ones) but if you absolutely must blow-dry, then use it on the coolest setting, apply a heat-protective product and attach the diffuser.
Every now and then you'll get the urge to straighten your hair. That's okay, provided that you're not doing it every day; if you are then it's time that you embraced the beauty of your curls. Curly hair should be straightened no more than once a week. Investing in the best ionic straightener you can afford is essential - I always recommend the GHD, as a cheap and nasty version will kill your hair in the long run.
When it comes to putting your hair up, naturally curly haired women really are blessed because the body and texture needed to make updos look their best is built in to your hair. Romantic updos with a few tendrils hanging down look gorgeous and take a matter of minutes to create. Whether you use hairpins, a clip or a hair elastic is up to you; play with your hair in your leisure time and see what looks you can come up with. A half-up, half-down style is also a beautiful do for those with curls, and even a simple ponytail will look great if your hair is cut with layers. Whatever you do, don't use a rubber band, and if you put something in your hair that brings more than three hairs with it when it's removed, then throw it out immediately.
While there will still be days when your hair feels uncontrollable, just remember that what looks like a chaotic mess to you will be a sensual, romantic cloud to someone else. Embracing the wild beauty of your hair is a far superior course of action than trying to turn it into something that it's not. And why would you want lank, boring hair anyway? Curly hair is nothing short of enviable, so if it comes naturally to you, then you're very lucky indeed.
If you need more inspiration, check out my curly haired celebrity gallery, and get invaluable tips from other curly girls on internet hair forums - there's an excellent one at naturallycurly.com Here's to loving your curly goddess hair!