Mirror Curls = Miracle Curls! (for me, anyway)

Two completely trivial hair events happened last week almost simultaneously, and of the two of them I really thought the arrival of my Q-Redew hair steamer would be the more exciting development so I blogged about it first – because never let it be said that I won’t write about trivial matters here over subjects of substance. Sadly, that steamer thing turned out to be a bust – seems my hair doesn’t need more moisture right now, but that might change once winter arrives and the air turns dry. So, that $80 might still end up being well-spent if it helps me out once the humidity outside dies down. For now, though, all it did was make my already-frizzy hair frizz more.

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Exhibit A – volume yes, but also frizz, and not a lot of curl definition

I was in Ulta last weekend stocking up on No-Poo shampoo and spied a little sample bottle of DevaCurl’s Mirror Curls, and decided what the hell, since it was one of the few products by this line I still hadn’t tried. I’d always bypassed it because the reviews it gets on Amazon are sketchy, and it isn’t recommended for the type of curls I have. Plus, as the title implies, it’s primarily meant to add shine, and most shine-enhancing products leave my hair looking oily (since my hair has a tendency to be oily anyway). Certainly the Shine Spray I bought awhile back had that problem, but it was there and I was in the mood, so I gave it a go, along with DevaCurl’s Flexible Hold Hair Spray, which came in a small travel size, so I didn’t mind giving it a try.

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Mirror Curls looks like a serum when you pump it into your hand, but rub your palms together and it feels like syrup or glue – incredibly sticky. The first thing I discovered was that you need the tiniest bit of this stuff to work; I use less than a dime-sized amount for my shoulder-length hair. And although the directions say you can use this stuff on dry hair, I found that to be awful. But when I put it on my hair wet, it performs MIRACLES; excellent hold that retains curl definition without much frizz. I wash my hair at night and let it air-dry, so in the morning I have to re-wet it and use a diffuser to revitalize the curls, and adding Mirror Curls to my nightly routine has changed my hair overnight. People actually noticed how much more spring my hair had once I started using this stuff; it’s been pretty amazing.

Both of these pictures were taken in the same week, the first one on a day I didn’t use any of the Mirror Curls because I decided to play around with the Q-Redew instead and I wanted to see if it would give me a similar effect. They were also both taken at the end of the day, after I’d been out about and all morning and afternoon.

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Without using Mirror Curls

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With Mirror Curls – yep, it’s THAT good.

Finally I have fairly frizz-free curls with a lot of definition! It’s a tiny bottle that feels like a ripoff at $25, but I use so little of it, it works out. Of all the crap I’ve tried this summer for my permed hair, this is the tip-top, number-one ingredient in my opinion, the one I’ve noticed the most marked improvement when using. It’s made me love my perm again (I even took down the post I wrote a few weeks ago about regretting getting it done), so even though I just wrote a product review a few days ago, I had to share this one too, sorry. The hold also lasts all day – I’ve abandoned my long-loved KMS hair wax and started using the DevaCurl Flexible Hold instead, so I’m 100% Curly Girl method now (meaning so sulfates or silicones in any of my hair products).

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I’m also rather amazed at how much longer my hair looks than it did back in July, but perhaps that’s because the perm has relaxed?

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Right after my last haircut mid-July

I don’t know, it sure looks longer to me anyway. However, tomorrow I am going to a haircut appointment at a salon in the city that specializes in curly hair, so it may be shorter again soon. The salon uses the dry-cutting technique that Lorraine Massey recommends for curly hair, and I’ve never had that done, so I’m interested to see how this works out. As a plus, the woman who is cutting my hair also is experienced with perms, so I’m hoping I like her and she can be my next go-to stylist when and if I decide to perm my hair again. We’ll see how it works out!

Sulfate-Free Hair Products: DevaCurl

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve tried out a ton of products targeted for curly hair since getting my perm a few weeks ago, so I thought I’d share here what I’ve tried, and what I liked or disliked about them. It’s not the most thrilling subject in the world, so I’m going to keep my comments about each product brief.

Keep in mind that any of this stuff could be used on whatever type of hair you have; just because it says it’s for curly hair doesn’t mean a person with straight hair couldn’t use it. The line I’m going to discuss in this post, DevaCurl, consists of all sulfate-, silicone- and paraben-free products, and the website also highlights its use of botanical extracts (even though the list of ingredients on the bottles still reads like a lab experiment -but some of the first ingredients listed are things like beeswax, soy, or olive oil). So even though none of this stuff is cheap, it might still be up your alley no matter what type of hair you have.

Also keep in mind that I didn’t try out anything but styling products for this post – I purchased some rather expensive shampoo and conditioner at the salon when I got the perm, so I didn’t try DevaCurl’s “Low-Poo” or “No-Poo” cleansers and conditioners, which claim to be the first sulfate-free (and therefore lather-free) shampoos on the market (although there are others out there now). I did try them years ago, both the No-Poo and Low-Poo offerings, and honestly I could never get into them, but that was when my hair was un-permed and basically straight, and I felt the no-poo method left my hair looking greasy and limp. As a side note, I’ve been following the no-poo method the past week, and am getting terrific results out of it so far now that my hair is permed – but I’ve written about that in a different post. And I just bought the low-poo and no-poo cleansers to try out (along with a few other products I hadn’t yet tested), but haven’t used them enough to write about them yet, so stay tuned for more about those.

Aside from wanting to try these out for the botanical aspects and lack of certain chemicals, you may love the smell of these products as much as I do. However, I’ve noticed when reading reviews of these items that not everyone loves the scents, so that may be a love-it-or-hate-it aspect of them.  Personally I think they smell nice, with one exception, but it was a product I hated overall so it didn’t matter too much. But keep in mind that fragrance-free these products are not. Moving on.

Gotta Love It – Five Stars

Deva-Curl Frizz-Free Volumizing Foam  

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This is DevaCurl’s version of a mousse. I put it in my towel-dried hair and let it air dry at night. While I don’t think it performs all that differently from any other mousse I’ve ever tried (yes, if you put it in wet hair and let it air-dry without touching it, it will dry “crunchy,” but that’s part of what helps reduce frizz, and I can use my diffuser and a few other products to de-crunch it a bit) I love the consistency of the product and the smell is fantastic. It’s more of a liquid-y foam than a true mousse, and it feels silky and downright luxurious when pumped into my hands. And did I mention the scent? It smells like lemon candy, which I just love. Even though it’s not anything earth-shattering, this is the favorite of everything I’ve tried so far.

Pretty Good – Four Stars

DevaCurl Spray Gel

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It’s a spray gel, which has always been a part of my hair styling routine. Mousse at night after the hair is towel-dried, then re-wet in the morning and apply some spray gel before drying. I’ve used many different kinds of spray gels over the years; they’re all basically hair gel thinned out with water so it can be dispensed through a spray nozzle, and they all work about the same way. But I do notice this one is a touch lighter than some of my other standbys I’ll discuss in an upcoming post. It’s easy to apply, and it adds the extra hold my hair needs to get through the day without allowing my curls to droop or fall, so I’ll give it the four star treatment even though it’s not doing anything unusual. And it’s got that whole sulfate-, paraben-, and silicone-free thing going for it, so there’s that. A bit of a medicinal smell to this one, but it’s not strong and doesn’t linger.

 

It’ll Do – Three Stars

DevaCurl  Mist-er Right

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This product is…interesting. Way back in 2004 when Lorraine Massey, who owns the DevaCurl line, first published the book “Curly Girl,” which landed her on the hair styling map, one of the things she recommended for women with curly hair was this homemade solution of water and lavender oil to spritz onto hair and re-vitalize curls throughout the day. I remember making my own batches of it back in the day, and while I never felt like it did anything magical to my hair (again, part of the problem was I was trying to use her methods to make my non-permed hair transform into springy curls, which was never going to happen) it didn’t hurt it to spray some on every now and then, and it sure smelled heavenly. I’d say pretty much the same thing about this version. It doesn’t hurt to spray it on my hair, but it doesn’t help either. It certainly doesn’t help combat frizz or give my curls extra definition if I start to get too fluffy throughout the day.  A little spray bottle filled with plain old water would probably work better, actually, but then my hair wouldn’t smell like lavender. My husband loves the way this smells, and it does feel like a nice little luxury to me, something to refresh the hair if you’re out and about and feeling like you need a little pick-me-up. But that’s about all it does, at least for me. It’s actually the most-used product I’ve tried aside from the mousse and the gel, so even though it’s quite possibly a ridiculous product, it still gets three stars.

Deva-Curl Set It Free Moisture Lock Spray

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I’m on the fence about moving this one too – I still don’t see much frizz reduction with this or added shine, but it’s not horrible and actually has some uses for me. So far, I’ve found it works best to spray a few pumps into my hand and rub it through my hair when it’s looking a little too “crunchy” from the mousse, gel, and/or spray wax I use for final hold; this will add a little moisture and softness. With my baby-fine hair, generally too much of such a product will turn my curls to mush and make me look like a puffball, so I do use this product sparingly. This is another one I dumped into a little spray bottle to carry around in my purse for use throughout the day if I see fit, and as a big plus this one has the awesome lemon candy scent of the Volumizing Foam,  so it gets an extra star for smelling delicious. Some of these products may become more useful as my hair adjusts to the no-poo routine I’ve only been on a few days now; we’ll have to see about that. But right now, it’s not performing any miracles.

I’ll Probably Pass – Two Stars

DevaCurl Shine Spray

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I bought this to try as a finishing spray, but it had zero hold for me and left my hair looking a little limp. The only product I’ve ever liked using for hold as a finisher is a spray wax, and I’ll discuss my favorite in a later post as it isn’t a DevaCurl product. I did notice, however, that this can be useful if my hair is looking a little too dry; I can spray a bit into the hair and it moisturizes it a bit, so there’s that. It also has an interesting, citrus smell that’s slightly medicinal, but still pleasant. I may use this from time to time, but I don’t know if I’ll re-purchase it once it runs out.

Deva-Curl No-Comb Detangling Spray

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I forgot to take a cutesy picture of this one, sorry

My hair is much more prone to tangling now than before, so I was hoping this stuff might help with tangles right out of the shower so I didn’t have to tug on it when it’s wet. For about a week, I sprayed it liberally into my hair right out of the shower, sprayed a little more on my hands, and worked through the tangles with my fingers. I think it might have helped with tangles a little bit, but ultimately I didn’t see too much difference between using this and not (nor did I see too much benefit to trying to work through the after-shower tangles with my fingers as opposed to a comb). I certainly don’t feel like my hair is coated with anything after using it, and have tried using a little more in the mornings when I re-wet my hair to style it, but it never did wow me with its effectiveness. It has a faint scent I’d describe as “lotion-y” for lack of a better word – not unpleasant or long-lasting. Even though it doesn’t feel like it’s coating my hair, it isn’t effective enough to justify applying it every time I shower and adding one more layer of product I’ve got to deal with later. That said, it didn’t have any negative effects on my hair that I could tell.

DevaCurl DevaFuser

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I know, you guys. I know. Look at that thing.  But it looked so insane, I figured it must have the ability to do something fabulous to curly hair to justify how silly it looked, as well as how much it cost (I got it for $44 at an Ulta store, but found it later on Amazon for $25). The truth is, though, I don’t get near the amount of curl from using this as I do from my regular diffuser, which came as a free attachment for my hair dryer. I guess if I want more toned-down curls I can use this, but that’s not likely to happen. One decent use is that it does give me a little bit more lift and volume if I mash the “hand” right up against my head and aim some heat directly at the roots, and that is nice, so it isn’t a total loss. It fits awkwardly onto my hair dryer and occasionally pops off, however, so it’s a bit of a pain. Overall it’s much easier for me to use my normal diffuser – with that one I can use the highest heat setting and a low speed to give my curls the right amount of definition and spring.

Ugh – One Star

DevaCurl Set Up & Above Versatile Styler

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This stuff claims to add volume, texture, hold, and definition to curls, and interestingly, it did all that for me while simultaneously making my hair look horrible. How this is possible I am still unsure, as you would think a product that did all those things would make curly hair look fabulous, but it also created more frizz than all the humidity in Texas could accomplish. The results of using this stuff were just…weird. I had some random tight, deadlock-y curls, and then acres of frizz between that curl and the next one. I was almost in Roseanne-Roseannadanna territory whenever I tried to use this, and I tried applying it both to wet and dry hair. I had curls all right, but zero hold, and it made my hair way too soft for its own good. I looked awful both days I tried this, plus it smells like molding clay and in the jar it looks just like a green Jell-o mold without the marshmallows (mmmm…marshmallows). Fail.

So that’s it for this round of my DevaCurl experiment. And yes, I did purchase all these products over the course of about two weeks, which is pretty impressive as I’m not usually a huge hair-products person; I tend to use the same stuff or products just like it that I get at the grocery store on my weekly trip and I’m happy. But what can I say, with the new hair I got curious. I’ve already talked enough about hair products for one day, so in another post, I’ll share with you the other DevaCurl products I’m currently testing – the No-Poo and Low-Poo Cleansers and Conditioner, a leave-in conditioner, and a dry shampoo (that post is up now – you can read Part II here). I also have some non-DevaCurl products to share – It’s just a few more, in case you’re worried you’ll have to sit through another post as long-winded about hair products as this one. And you can go here if you want to read about the results of my no-shampoo experiment,  which may in fact render some of these less-useful products more useful as time goes by (although I don’t ever see that Set Up & Above working out).

*Everything I review in this post was purchased with my own money, and no one requested I write about these items. I never review products that are given to me for free – mostly because no one ever offers, but even if they did I wouldn’t do it. Just so you know. 

My No-(Sham)Poo Perm Experiment

I first heard of the no-shampoo method of haircare (dubbed the “no-poo” method) when I read the book “Curly Girl” by Lorraine Massey in 2004. My hair has always had a bit of curl, and I bought the book out of curiosity to see if it could help me get more out my hair’s natural wave. The book is sub-titled a curly hair “manifesto,” and it really does read like one. It’s fun and inspiring, but ultimately the methods described in the book just did not work on my baby-fine, fairly limp hair. I tried all the products and strategies, including going “no-poo” for about four months. But eventually I concluded that while the Curly Girl method probably worked great for women with very curly hair, for someone like me with just a touch of wave it was less successful. I abandoned it, but always kept in mind the styling tips for times when I wanted to use get more out of my hair’s natural wave, and I still believed Massey made some great suggestions for curly-haired persons.

Fast forward to getting my perm in July of 2014, and spending many weeks figuring out how to manage it. I liked it right away, and expected to need some time to adjust to having an all-new head of hair. One of the things I decided to try again was the no-poo method. I found that after the perm calmed down I had less spring in my curls than I would have liked, and of course my hair was particularly dry after all the chemical processing. Another reason (besides just being in an all-around hair-experimenting mood) was how awkward it felt to use shampoo on my hair after the perm – lathering up felt downright unpleasant, because my hair would immediately foam into a mass of tangles, and my fingers would snag into all these snarls of hair, and it was a pretty awful experience. So one night while in the shower, I remembered the no-poo method and decided to try using conditioner instead, like I did way back in the day.This time, I’m experiencing terrific results with it.

There’s lots of information out there about how to go ‘no-poo,’ but on a basic level it requires using nothing but conditioner to wash your hair. The theory is that shampoos are drying and damaging as well as unnecessary, because you can use your conditioner to cleanse your hair as effectively as you can a shampoo. Once again, when trying this before I had a perm and my hair was just a bit wavy, I did not care for the results at all and got no extra bounce or curl out of my hair. But with the perm- WOW. The difference has been striking.

The secret, at least for me, is to use a TON of conditioner as a cleansing agent. I put a load of it in my hair and scrub vigorously at the scalp to loosen any dirt or product residue, then only lightly scrub the rest of it. I use so much conditioner that it almost lathers. With the perm, this is much easier to do than use shampoo, because my hair doesn’t tangle, so it feels like it gets cleaner – but I do scrub at it for quite a while. And did I mention I use a ton of conditioner? Then I rinse that out, continuing to scrub my scalp for cleansing purposes. Then, I actually put more conditioner on it to use as, well, a conditioner, and leave that on my hair while I finish showering up. Then I rinse that out and follow up with my DevaCurl No-Comb Detangling Spray.

Now being me, I’ve got before and after photographs to share, because ever since I got the perm I’ve been taking tons of pictures of it. So yay for photographic evidence. Here is a photo taken before going no-poo. I’d just re-wet my hair, added spray gel, and diffused it after washing it with shampoo and adding mousse the night before:

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And here’s a photo taken using the exact same styling process (washed and moussed the night before, then wet down , spray-gelled, and diffused the next morning) but washing only with conditioner and forgoing the shampoo:

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Even though my fill flash was bit more harsh in the ‘before’ photo, that’s the only difference between the two shots. The amazing thing to me is how after washing without shampoo (the second photo), my hair didn’t get all crunchy when adding product. It stayed soft, as if my hair absorbed the styling products better than in the before photo, when they appear to have stayed more on the surface (not very technical descriptions here, since I know nothing about how hair products actually work) and gotten crispy. Again, I promise I did absolutely nothing different styling-wise between the two photos except for wash one night before with shampoo and the other night without it.

Here’s another example that’s even more dramatic.  The photos are iPhone ones and are pretty horrible; in the “before” shot I was at LensCrafters trying on new frames so the picture is particularly bad (no, I did not end up getting those glasses, and I’m frowning because I had on fake glasses instead of real ones and literally could not at all see what I was doing when I took the shot) and once again I’d washed my hair with shampoo the night before, then done my usual styling routine as previously described (I’m sure by now you’re tired of reading how it works so I’ll stop describing it). In the after shot, once again, the only thing I’d done differently was wash my hair with conditioner only:

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I mean, WOW, right? That’s a huge difference! Even though Massey claims in her book that it can take weeks to see positive results from this method, I’m seeing a pretty dramatic change right away. Perhaps this is because it’s a perm? I don’t know what it is, but so far I am loving it. It’s not even been a week yet, so we’ll see if it continues, but for now? No shampoo for me!