Many women with textured hair think that getting ready for a special occasion begins with straightening their natural curls and coils, or reaching for the weaves and wigs. Of course, there's nothing wrong with going this route, but the wedding day is all about bringing together the personalities and lives of two people—hair included.
Iyore Olaye, product development engineer at textured hair brand Form Beauty, is an advocate for showcasing natural curls on special occasions like your wedding day. "I think the benefit would be that there is versatility with your natural hair—the same versatility you might find with weaves and straightened hair," she tells Brides. "There’s a lot of flexibility and versatility that people can explore within having a textured hairstyle, especially for somebody who wears their hair natural more often."
Once you've decided to embrace your natural curls on the big day, there are all sorts of ways you can ensure your curls will look just right when you walk down the aisle.
"First, I would say when you think about the wedding, it's really based on the location," explains Olaye. "If you're considering a destination or summer wedding, the first thing that any curly girl would think about is humidity and frizz. For a high humidity environment, you want to make sure your hair is extremely moisturized. In the FORM regimen, you might have a conditioner, a leave-in conditioner, a curl cream, and pomade." Phew!
When you're in a high-humidity environment, the goal of any product you use is to keep the water in your hair from mixing with the water in the air. Products like these are called anti-humectants and are generally oil-based—think shea butter, cocoa butter, coconut oil, and any other slick products that leave your hair feeling soft and luscious. They all help your hair repel the moisture in the air and, therefore, avoid frizz.
In cold, dry locations (hello winter brides!), you'll want a humectant to do the exact opposite: repel the dryness in the air and lend moisture to your hair. These will be water based—like the creamy leave-in conditioners that make you hair feel bouncy and maybe even a bit heavier than oily products. Got it?
"If you’re going to a completely different climate, you want to make sure that you prepare your hair to get the style you really want to achieve," Olaye advises. "Maybe you’re someone who usually uses a cream, but in that new environment, you need a gel to seal in the style. If you have a rehearsal dinner or activities leading up to [the wedding], that’s the time to try these different techniques and products."
Testing out a range of styles in the climate of your wedding is key to anticipating how your hair will react. You should know what will make it frizz, what will cause more severe shrinkage, and even how to save a style that looks like it could go south.
Olaye has a couple of pieces of advice for how to get your natural hair ready ahead of your walk down the aisle. "A day or two before, that’s when you give yourself the deep conditioner. That can be really great to prepare your hair for the all the manipulation it’s going to endure."
Think of this as a wedding gift to your hair! Deep conditioning always feels like a treat—even if you do it quite frequently. The best deep conditioners are super creamy and ultra luxurious, pumping your curls with the moisture and minerals it needs to go into any special occasion feeling restored and refreshed.
Our expert's next bit of advice might be unexpected for some. "Having a fresh cut is extremely important. If you wash your hair on the day of, you don’t want to have to deal with frizzy split ends."
For curly girls, this might take some doing—a lot of naturalistas do their own hair and rarely get it done professionally, even for a trim. But ahead of your wedding, you should consider going to a professional stylist to get regular trims. This could also help you grow your hair if that's one of your #hairgoals.
While the ideal makeup routine on your wedding day should begin with a clean slate, the same doesn't necessarily apply to your hair. As it turns out, working on hair that isn't freshly washed could save a lot of time (we all know super-thick curls can take a full day to dry). This is great news if you're someone who loves the look of a day-old twist out, or doing bantu knots on hair that hasn't been washed in a couple of days.
But some people have the most success with freshly washed tresses. That can work on your wedding day, but you'll want to take steps to accelerate the process. "If you’re someone who likes day-one hair better," Olaye says, "or your style requires hair to be freshly washed, you want to make sure you’re starting with a really clean slate, so you can go right into the style. If you normally let your hair air dry, try to defuse it at least a little bit." Drying it out a little will set the style faster and help you gauge what the final product will look like.
While everyone's preferences and styles are different, Olaye has a couple of suggestions for how to optimize your 'do for a long day of posing and celebrating. "Consider the french twist, where your natural curls are still on display, but you have the hair twisted toward the front," she suggests. "Your hair is not fully exposed to the environment—it’s protected, but can still be shown off."
"A twist out is a great style because it’s a protective style where you can wear your twists, then take it out for a beautiful look," she continues. "[With] a twist out, you set the pattern so you can predict it."
Even as you're choosing the style, still keep the environment in mind. If you're used to doing a twist out with the LOC (liquid, oil, cream) method, but are getting married in a humid location, consider switching to an LCO (liquid, cream, oil) regimen. Adding an oil-based product at the very end will seal in your hair's moisture and protect it from all the water in the air around you.
We've all had that failed twist-out or flexi rod set that fell flat. If you prepare accordingly, that shouldn't happen—but natural curls often have a mind of their own. In case of a hair-mergency, come up with a couple of styles that you'd be comfortable in on the day of. That way, if one doesn't work, you can swap for another.
"If you’re worried about your hair getting frizzy, think about what kind of style you can get your hair into quickly," Olaye says. "If you anticipate your hair getting frizzy, maybe plan to transition to an updo if you're wearing it down. If you have a veil or headpiece that you’re going to be wearing, you can take that off and slip your hair into a top knot and smooth your edges with [Form Beauty's] pomade."
That's right, you can change your hair just like you might slip into a different pair of shoes or a wedding dress for the reception! Some hairstylists will stick around through the ceremony to touch up you and your 'maids before the bridal party takes photos. Once your photographer is finished with the staged photos (or maybe even before!), you can have your hairdresser slip your hair into a second style.
Wedding and reception-worthy curls? Sign us up!