Unleash your curls – What the doc says | The Financial Express

Unleash your curls – What the doc says

While a large number of people in India have curly hair, there is lack of awareness on how to take care of it

healthcare revolution, health news, pharma news,
Biotin is essentially a water-soluble vitamin B that carries out the multiple tasks of strengthening, protecting, and enhancing the shine of your hair.

When in 2001 coming-of-age comedy The Princess Diaries, Anne Hathway undergoes a stunning transformation, it was really her hair that made most of the difference. From a curly and frizzy mane, which is difficult to manage without breaking a comb, she gets silky, smooth and straight hair. The film was released two decades ago, but beauty standards take longer to die down.

“We took inspiration then, but now we know how wrong that was. It made us believe that professional and neat mean straight hair,” says Vibha, who runs the popular curly hair care Instagram page Fuzzy Curls, along with her friend Megha. On the page, they share a wide range of content pertaining to curly hair, from hair care routines and product recommendations to how brushing and combing too much might not be the right way to go. And given that the page, which the duo started during the Covid pandemic, has over 183,000 followers, it seems thousands of curly-haired women can relate.

And not just movies, advertising, too, plays a role in perpetuating this unhealthy beauty standard. “In hair care products ads, curly/ frizzy hair is shown as damaged hair and after using their ‘one of a kind’ product transform it into healthy straight and shiny hair,” says Asha Barrak, founder of Ashba, a homegrown curly hair care brand. Not just that, “your friends and family too ask you to do something about your hair as it is all over the place. Because of all these beauty standards set for us, we always start having the hate relationship with our own hair, especially among women, which can even have a negative impact on their self-confidence,” she adds.

It is despite the fact that if you just look around, you’ll see that a large number of people actually have what is called curly hair.

White woman getting a hair wash procedure in a beauty salon

What determines the curl

Firstly, hair is not of two but four types— type 1: straight, type 2: wavy, type 3: curly, and type 4: coily. “A person’s hair curl pattern, thickness, and texture are all related to her genes. The hair structure also varies with ethnicity,” explains Dr Arpana Sharma Rijal, consultant, dermatology, Max Multi Speciality Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi.

Research suggests that hair follicles, too, have a role to play here. While straight hair follicles result in straight hair, curled ones lead to curly mane.

But what explains the frizz?

“Curly hair is generally frizzy because the individual hair strands do not align with one another. They stand up independently thus giving an unevenness,” the expert explains. However, there are other factors too, such as “humidity, lack of moisture and hair damage,” which can all lead to frizzy hair, she adds.

Straightening the curls

It isn’t uncommon for women in India to opt for temporarily or permanently straightening their hair. “There was a time when I used to straighten my hair quite often,” says Megha of Fuzzy Curls. Temporary straightening is done using a heating rod and lasts for a few days and goes off after washing. However, “the heat used can make the hair dry and increase split due to the trauma to the hair,” she explains.

Permanent hair straightening, which involves chemicals to alter curly hair, is more damaging. “The hair becomes fragile as the natural bonds of the hair are broken. Not just that, changes also occur in the hair shaft. The strength of hair is also compromised and it leads to hair thinning,”Sharma explains. On top of that, most straightening solutions contain formaldehyde, a known carcinogen. Applying it to hair and inhaling its fumes can trigger health issues such as irritation to the eyes and nose, skin redness, respiratory issues, and even an increased risk of blood cancer, studies show. Not just that, the use of chemical hair straightening products has also been linked to a higher risk of uterine cancer, a study by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) shows.

Permanent straightening lasts for about six months.

According to Sharma, “nowadays people are quite comfortable with the type of hair they have.” But, reports indicate otherwise. A 2019 study by Dove and Hansa Research, which involved 2,000 men and women aged between 18 and 55 years, showed a bias toward straight hair. It found that two in three Indians believed that women with long and straight hair have an advantage regarding wedding prospects. Additionally, a whopping 71% of them found women with short, curly and coloured hair less attractive than those with straight and long locks.

Care differently

Back in 2001, writer Lorraine Massey came out with her book Curly Girl: The Handbook, which introduced the Curly Girl (CG) method, which is popular even today. In it, she introduced a set of techniques to take care of curly hair. It includes using hair care products devoid of sulphates, silicones, or alcohol, washing with a conditioner or co-washing, in which you do not use shampoo but wash your hair just with the conditioner. She also recommends not using brushes or combs.

Sharma, too, recommends something similar. “People with curly hair should avoid products with alcohol and sulphates, which increase the frizz. Products having glycerine are good for curly hair. Pre-treatment with coconut oil before shampoo is good. Leave-in conditioners help to reduce dryness,” she says.

Launched in 2019, Anshita Mehrotra started the curly hair care brand Fix My Curls as a 19-year-old. Taking a break from her college in Canada and back in India, she ran out of products for her coily hair. A simple Internet search led to no results and thus was born Fix My Curls. The company sells products specifically for those with curly hair. “The products do not include ingredients not suitable for such hair like silicones,” she explains.

Ashba, too, sells similar products that are “free from harsh cleansers, silicones, etc. Our bestsellers are the leave-in conditioner and hydrating shampoo. But our recently launched stylers flaxseed curling custard, curl moisture milk, and volumising foam are also doing well,” says the founder.

Price is an issue with these products. “While there is a dearth of such products in India, most of them are quite expensive. So, limited options are available at a high price,” says Megha.

However, Barrack thinks otherwise. “Curly hair can be maintained well within a budget. For example, our products are well concentrated and they last a long time, for months. So, what people need to calculate is how long a particular product lasts and the calculation should be based on that. Other than that, when it comes to curly hair care we are told to use so many tools which we really don’t need and we can always do with a simple routine and keep things simple. For example, just use an old cotton T-shirt to absorb excess water rather than buying a separate microfibre towel or something new for it. There are so many styling brushes and most of them work the same. And there are so many other things that are unnecessary, and we can save by keeping things simple. Curly hair people always want to explore a new product even if their current routine and products work great for them. It is just the influence of social media which turned out to be an expensive affair eventually. You don’t need to hoard each and every product which you come across. All I can suggest is, be a smart consumer,” she says.

Not just price, a dearth of enough products is an issue, which all agree on. “Although there are more such products now than before, these are not enough,” says Mehrotra. Seconding that, Barrack says, “If we compare the curly hair care market of the west with India, we have very few brands here. But it is better than having no brands at all.”

Megha and Vibha have different take on this. “In India, most of us have curly hair, it is just that most of us don’t know it and keep treating it as straight. As soon as more and more people will realise it, the demand for products will rise,” they say.

What the doc says

Apart from products, there are some general ways to nourish curly hair. Here are some of them

  • Wash your hair with a mild shampoo
  • Use conditioner liberally. Leave-in conditioner can be used
  • Avoid excessive use of heat
  • Detangle hair when wet
  • Use serum on wet hair
  • Tie your hair while sleeping to prevent friction and trauma
  • Protect your hair from ultraviolet radiation as it harms the hair

Get live Share Market updates and latest India News and business news on Financial Express. Download Financial Express App for latest business news.

First published on: 12-03-2023 at 02:30 IST
Exit mobile version