First stop: Epic the Salon in Encino, California, where owner Jeff Swaner greeted me with, “Wow, your hair is really curly! I was afraid that you’d only have loose waves, but you definitely have a real head of curls.” After carefully assessing my—ahem—situation, Swaner deemed that my hair was damaged from the constant use of heat tools. Remedy? A good deep-conditioning along with a shot of protein-rich clear glaze from PM Shines by Paul Mitchell.
As I sat with the glaze in my hair, I couldn’t help but eye an African American woman sitting next to me—curly tendrils and all. When Swaner inquired as to whether she would be having her hair blown straight or let it dry naturally, she sighed, lamenting, “I’d let it go curly if I could, but I have no idea what to do with it… It’s just too difficult.” Yes, folks—yet another member of the RCHF (Reluctant Curly-Haired Fold) walking the straight-hair path.
Swaner then styled my strands, cutting split ends while adding subtle layers. Using his two favorite products for curlies (Paul Mitchell Slick Works and Wax Works), he proceeded to douse my hair. “What a lot of stylists don’t understand is how much product is needed to style and de-frizz kinky texture. They need to understand how to adapt their typical amount of product to suit their curly clients, and load up their hair with defrizzers.”
Swaner let my curls air dry—it’s his preferred method, the second being a diffuser that he uses only if he’s in a time crunch. I began beaming—my tendrils were in perfect form and certainly more manageable! After discussing various styling possibilities with another Epic stylist (who knew I could rock a curly updo without looking like a poodle?), I parted ways with Swaner, who left me with this little golden nugget: “You know, I like how your hair looks curly, and I’m really happy to see that you’re embracing it. But, if you want to loosen up the curl just a bit and ensure that there’s no frizz, you can definitely get a non-chemical, protein-based straightening treatment.” Hmmm, a protein-rich smoothing treatment? Bring it on.