What Maya Smith, mum of five and savvy business woman, doesn’t know about looking after natural hair and how to style it, is probably not worth knowing about. With more than two decades of styling experience, Maya has cracked the code on curl care, maintenance and expert styling.
Having attained her hair cutting license, while still in high school, Maya began following her passion and worked as a hair stylist for celebrities and entertainers. She opened her first salon, The HoneyComb, in Germany, where clients would travel all over Europe, the UK, and as far as Africa.
Today, Maya is the founder of The DOUX® brand of haircare products, and currently leads a carefully selected team of stylists at The DOUX® Salon in Macon, Georgia.
The beauty and versatility of Afro-textured hair sees people with wavy or curly hair always looking for new products, tips and tricks to lock in their desired look. Whether they want to blow it straight, create looser curls or maximize their tighter coils. Maya shares with us her best tips for women with curls who want to revel in their natural hair and create a style they love.
Understand the battle between oil and moisture.
The first thing people must understand is that there are opposite things going on at the same time. “Due to the shape of curly haired strands, the hair tends to be under moisturized. On the other hand, the curly haired scalp can get very oily. Managing these opposite demands is the struggle of girls who wish to keep their curls. The key here is knowing how best to address both,” explains Maya.
Be gentle when washing curly hair.
According to Maya, kinky, thick, coiled textures tend to appear “tough” and strong enough to withstand heavy manipulation. “In my experience, these hair types are actually the most delicate, and should be handled with care.”
Step One: Pick your products wisely.
Maya applied over 2 decades of research and development based on working knowledge of hair texture and listening to what people wanted. “I created The Doux™ SUCKA FREE Moisturizing Shampoo and FRESH RINSE Moisturizing Conditioner as the one-two step that delivers both deep cleaning plus exceptional nourishment necessary for styling.” The full product line is available online at www.thedoux.com.
Step Two: Prep for shampoo.
Maya’s professional instructions for curl mastery begins with rinsing hair thoroughly with water for a minimum of 30 seconds. “This helps to eliminate any water-soluble product buildup, such as hair gel or heat protectant. It also helps you save shampoo! Assuming you’re shampooing in the shower, letting the water run over the hair in a downward motion helps prevent further tangling, and allows the hair shaft to swell and the curl pattern to fully rebound.” For those with extremely thick hair, Maya suggests separating hair into 4 sections prior to wetting the hair for increased manageability.
Once the shampoo is applied, Maya recommends light manipulation at the scalp, going from the crown of the head to the nape of the neck. “Squishing” the hair up toward the scalp is a no-no. “Shampooing this way can cause unforgivable tangling and matting. I recommend repeating the shampooing process at least once.”
Step Three: Condition and comb through like a pro.
If your scalp was properly shampooed, conditioning is easy. “This time, you’re focusing on your thirsty ends first, working upward toward the scalp. Gently detangle with a wide-toothed comb or detangling brush (our favorite is Felicia Leatherwood’s “Brush with the Best” detangling brush) before rinsing, starting at the ends, working up toward to the roots. Remember to rinse with cool water which snaps cuticles shut, locks in moisture, makes your hair shinier and reduces frizz.”
When it comes to “co-washing” or “conditioner washing” Maya equates the popular trend to washing your clothes with fabric softener. “In my experience, co-washing causes build-up on the hair, coating the cuticle and impairing the hair’s natural ability to absorb water. Oils, waxes, and product residue harden on the hair shaft, making it more brittle and less porous over time. When the hair can no longer effectively absorb water, the elasticity of the hair is compromised, leaving the hair “crunchy” and stiff, where it is more likely to break. The result is hair that feels dry and brittle, no matter what product you use to moisturize it,” explains Maya.
Avoid alcohol and kick the crunch to the curb.
Styling products high in alcohol give curls a crunchy feel. They suck up every last bit of moisture. Hair spray tends to contain the most alcohol, while gels, mousses and anything that provides hold or lift come in second. “I recommend water-soluble gels that don’t feel sticky on your skin, and aerated mousses or foams that resemble beaten egg whites, to give hair fullness, control, and non-brittle curls,” Maya says.
Blow-Dry with a diffuser or hooded dryer.
Maya’s first choice for curly styles is to air dry. “If you don’t have the time to air dry then dry with a diffuser or hooded dryer on a low heat setting. A regular blow dryer nozzle disrupts the curl pattern and focuses hot air on one small section at a time while a diffuser, dries curls evenly for a full, uniform look,” she explains.
Maya recommends always applying a heat-protecting product, then flipping your head upside down using a diffuser at the roots and mid-length making sure to dry the area completely to lock in volume. “It’s important to leave the ends for last and leave them only semi-dry. Air drying the ends is your best option.”
Care for the curls you were born with!