To restore moisture in her color treated curly hair, this writer sought help from the curl experts and found the answers to reviving texture and shine.
BY JOHANNA FERREIRA
The battle to maintain healthy, dyed lengths is grueling to say the least. Multiple that by two if you have naturally curly hair. After recovering from years of heat-damage and finally getting my curls back to a good, healthy, and bouncy state, I never expected that getting honey-colored pintura highlights on my naturally dark ringlets would leave them dry, frizzy, and even slightly looser, even without the use of bleach. Unfortunately, this is too common an experience for many of us curly-haired girls.
I recently took a trip to curly expert and educator Nubia Suarez’s Rëzo Salon in midtown Manhattan, where after taking one look at my hair, she highly recommended I get a B3 Brazilian Bond Build3r treatment done to help strengthen and bring bounce back to my slightly damaged curls. Not only does Suarez have her stylists add the treatment to their hair color techniques to prevent damage, but she also suggests it for curly girls dealing with chemically treated or heat-damaged tresses.
What Causes Curls to Loosen up?
Rëzo Salon curly stylist, Nelia Rodriguez (known as @cutsbynelly on Instagram) literally brought my curls back to life after the B3 treatment. “You can lose elasticity and lose definition after color treating your hair especially if bleach is involved,” she tells me. “You can lose shine and hydration. Your hair can look really really dry and brittle and easily break.”
Rodriguez explains that while most curly girls experience some degree of texture change after coloring, it’s very much dependent on the products used to color your hair, how it’s colored, how the process is done, and if the colorist is adding things like Olaplex or B3 to prevent as much damage as possible. And while all hair textures experience some degree of damage after coloring, it’s more noticeable on curly textures that tend to be drier and more fragile, often resulting in a looser curl pattern.
Rodriguez also recommends asking what color brands they use at your salon in advance, as well as, asking if they incorporate things like Olaplex or B3 before making your appointment.
Why a strengthening treatment is key
If you color your hair, you’re most likely familiar with Olaplex. There’s the Olaplex system created to be used in the salon alongside the application of color and there’s the Olaplex No.3 Perfecter, an at-home treatment that works to strengthen hair while helping to maintain shiny and vibrant color. And while Olaplex is used at Rëzo Salon, Rodriguez is a huge fan of the B3 Brazilian Bond Build3r they offer because like Olaplex, it adds bonds to protect and rebuild the disulfide bonds that keeps hair strong and healthy while also rebuilding the hydrogen and salt bonds in your hair. The treatment works to repair hair by resurfacing and sealing the cuticle to prevent moisture loss, protect against future damage, instantly improving the quality of your hair.
“The B3 treatment is a temporary bond builder. It fills in the bonds that were broken by any chemical service or with any heat-damage done to your hair and it lasts up to 12 washes,” Rodriguez says. “I always recommend it to clients who have overly processed hair or who have a lot of coloring or bleach or have applied a lot of heat to their hair. The B3 treatment is a great thing to use but it’s important to note that it’s temporary — not permanent. It takes time to work because it works from the inside out. It’s going to start working from the inside and the more times you do the treatment, the more you’ll see results.”
Rodriguez applied my treatment in sections in the sink, constantly applying water so the treatment properly penetrated into my hair. She also had me sit underneath a mist machine for 30 minutes. “I applied onto the roots and mid-shaft down and I detangled using the Tangle Teezer from ends to roots,” she says. “Adding on the mist machine really helps the process. It helps the treatment really penetrate into the hair. Then I rinsed with cooler water to help seal in the moisture.”
How often should you do it?
“It depends on your hair’s integrity and where it’s at,” Rodriguez says. “The healthier your hair, the less likely you have to come get it done. But if your hair is overly processed or has a lot of heat-damage then come in once a month and in-between do your own deep conditioners.” Rodriguez recommends.
Hydration is key
Rodriguez suggests deep-conditioning hair at least once a week, leaving the treatment on for 30 minutes or more before rinsing out and styling. Look for a deeply nourishing formula like Bomba Curls Forbidden Hair Mask or a concentrated oil blend that’s going to revitalize dull and dehydrated curls, like Charlotte Mensah Manketti Hair Oil.
Consider protein treatments
While Rodriguez recommends incorporating a protein treatment to your hair routine, she recommends being mindful of what your curls actually need.
“You have to understand your hair and what it’s experiencing before you start doing protein treatments because you can wind up doing the reverse of what you’re trying to accomplish,” she says. “An overload of protein can cause breakage. I would suggest protein treatments to people who have heat-damage and who have the color damage because you want to strengthen your hair. But if you don’t need it, your hair is probably just going to feel super stiff afterwards.”
While co-washing (washing hair with conditioner only) has become exceedingly popular among curly girls, Rodriguez doesn’t believe it does the best job at thoroughly cleansing your scalp and healthy hair requires a healthy scalp. She first washed my hair using a clarifying shampoo to remove any buildup followed by a hydrating shampoo that lathers but is designed to not dry out curls. Try using a hydrating shampoo that lathers if not once a week, at least every other week, and co-wash when necessary in between.
Get regular trims
In order to maintain healthy, colored treated curls, Rodriguez says regular trims are a must. But if you’re looking to maintain your length, you don’t necessarily have to get one every 6-8 weeks. Rodriguez recommends getting a good trim at least twice a year to maintain healthy dyed lengths. Curly girls with noticeably damaged ends from coloring may want to consider getting a few inches of the damage cut off to speed up healthy growth. Hanging on to damage ends can reduce volume, bounce, and definition, as they weigh hair down.
After Rodriguez finished rinsing out my treatment, her and salon owner Suarez, worked together to style my hair, applying very little product. A little bit of leave-in conditioner was applied to my hair in sections before gently scrunching in a light-weight gel. My hair was dried in sections using a diffuser on medium heat-settings. Not only did my hair look bouncier and more defined than ever -- but even my actual color looked more vibrant. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced such an extreme curl transformation that didn’t involve a cut.
Moral of this curly girl story? You can have healthy colored curls. You just have to be willing to do the work. In other words, moisturize, do your homework before booking an appointment, get your strengthening treatments in, and moisturize. Did I mention moisturize?