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Curly Hair Tips From Real Kulots

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PHOTO: Instagram/edithsuan
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There’s a growing movement of naturally curly-haired girls who refuse to succumb to hair straightening. While TV commercials still paint pin-straight hair as the ideal look, these curly-haired Pinays are defying the standards of beauty. If you’re a struggling kulot looking for hair inspo, check out their curly hair tips and beauty mantras.  


1. Ina Guerrero, model and 2nd runner-up on Philippines’ Next Top Model: High Street

What’s the best thing about being curly?

You don’t need a lot of effort to style your hair.

What are the best haircuts and colors for your type of curls?

It’s best to seek help from hairstylists to see what cuts match your face shape. For hair colors, I like to keep it classic, so I prefer brown. You can always change it! Don’t be scared to experiment. Once upon a time, mine was purple.

What are your top tips for managing curly hair?

Always remember to condition your hair and keep it moisturized. Curly hair is naturally frizzy; if we don’t moisturize it enough, it’s not going to be as soft and bouncy as we’d like it to be.

How do you set your curls?

I actually just wash and wear, but I make sure it’s properly conditioned. If I want my hair to be a little bit fixed, I use a curling iron to clean up some curls, especially the ends. You can use hair products like leave-on, creams, mousse, and oil, whichever you think is best. Bottom line is: You have to study your own curls. There are many YouTube tutorials that can help you.

What’s your advice for curly-haired Pinays struggling with their curls?

Love your hair; it’s your crowning glory! Trust me, once you get the hang of it, you will feel so much better. Own it. Slay it.


2. Ianna Katrina Celdran Garcia, commercial model and student

What’s the best thing about being curly?

I love that my hair makes me look different from most. I think it adds character to my look and suits my bubbly personality. Once you find the right products, your curly hair becomes one less thing less to prep for a night out. My hair is always ready to go. It’s always fun to say “I woke up like this” when people compliment me and ask how I did my hair.

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What are the best haircuts for your type of curls?

I’m pretty daring with my haircuts. I get bored easily and love trying new looks. I’ve done an Emma Watson-inspired pixie cut, an edgy bob cut, shoulder length, and boob-length full-on curly mane. My latest hair venture is a Jim Morrison-inspired shag with bangs, which I saw on Argentinian model Mica Argañaraz.

Who’s your go-to hairstylist?

I go to Jasmine, the owner of Hairworks Salon. She also has curly hair and understands our struggles. Like me, she advocates embracing natural curls. She sometimes cuts my hair dry so that she can cut according to how and where my hair curls. In her own words, “You gotta respect the curl!” For coloring, I go to Alex Carbonel of FIX Salon, Greenbelt 5.

How do you style your curls?

I wash my hair with L’Oréal Anti-Frizz Shampoo and Conditioner For Colored Hair, and then rinse with lukewarm water. While applying conditioner, I finger-comb my hair. Then I towel-dry my hair gently, taking care not to get it frizzy. After this I allow my hair to air-dry, and when it’s no longer soaking wet but just a little damp, I apply Argan Thairapy Bouncy Curl Cream. I scrunch up my curls starting from the ends first, and then working my way to the roots. I never comb my hair when it’s dry because the results are disastrous. Before heading out, I sometimes touch up with more serum if I feel like I need it. Otherwise I’m good to go.

What’s your advice for curly-haired Pinays struggling with their curls?

Straight hair is not at all superior. You’d be surprised at the lengths straight-haired girls go for the volume and curls that you have naturally. Curls are sexy, fun, and playful. Love your curls and they’ll love you back!


3. Noreen Claire Bacuno Efondo, pole dance instructor and athelete

What’s the best thing about being curly?

I don’t need to comb my hair! I’m always party-ready and performance-ready. It only takes me few seconds to style my hair.

Who’s your go-to hairstylist?

I go to Leslie Ferrer Espinosa of Kapwa Studio, Makati, for my curly hair needs. She cuts curls based on your hair texture and type of curl. My sculpted cut has soft angles in the front with long layers. 

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What are your favorite curl-friendly hair products?

1. Dove Curls Defining Mousse

2. Dove Nourishing Curls Whipped Cream Mousse

3. Davines Shampoo and Conditioner

4. Davines Curl Serum

5. Organic Alley Argan Oil

How do you style your curls?

For a busy lady like me, my usual everyday styling is wash-and-wear. I just let it dry or put it in a bun during classes and I will still get gorgeous curls when I let it down. I do wet-to-set and plopping for more defined curls if I have a performance, photo shoot, or date night.

How did you overcome your struggle to accept your curls?

When I was in high school, I hated my messy curls because most TV commercials promoted straight hair. It’s like I was a curly-haired girl living in a straight-haired world, and I wasn’t confident with my natural curls. I would spend practically an entire day sitting in the salon just to straighten my hair, and I did that for years! I hated the long waiting time in the salon, so I just stopped. That’s how I started to embrace my curls. I didn’t regret my decision to stop straightening. Every day I fall more and more in love with my curls.


4. Rissey Reyes, theater actress, teacher, and owner of KulotMNL 

What’s the best thing about being curly?

Being an actress and model, my curly hair sets me apart from everyone else. It gives me such a unique branding and also makes me much more memorable, which, I believe, is important in the entertainment industry. 

Describe the best haircuts and colors that work for your hair.

I think my type of hair is best worn mermaid hair-level long, with natural color. I’ve tried coloring my hair, but the chemicals dried it out, so I decided to go natural. I’ve tried different lengths and so far, this long length is my favorite.

What are your favorite curl-friendly hair products?

1. Shea Butter Moisture Retention Shampoo

2. As I Am Coconut Co-Wash Cleansing Conditioner

3. Shea Moisture 12-in-1 Superfruit Conditioner

4. Shea Butter Curl Enhancing Creme Smoothie

5. Cantu Coconut Curling Cream 

How do you style your curls?

After cleansing and rinsing, I leave a little bit of conditioner before wrapping my hair in an old cotton shirt or microfiber towel. I remove the wrap, making sure it doesn’t stay on for too long because it can dry out the curls, and then proceed with scrunching my curls with styling cream. I usually just air-dry, but I also sometimes use a hand-shaped diffuser with my hairdryer for quicker drying. If I need more volume, I tie my hair up a la unicorn in a ponytail and let it dry that way. When my hair “cast” (the dry styling product) is hard enough, I shake it off by doing a gentle head bang once or by individually, but very gently, scrunching my curls. And voila—I’m ready to go! 

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What’s your advice for curly-haired Pinays struggling with their curls?

Stick to a good hair routine. The beauty of your curls depend on a really good routine with products that agree with your hair type. Use a good cleanser, conditioner, and then a good styling product. If your current routine doesn’t work for you, find out which part of it hinders the success, and change that part until you’ve perfected your routine and products. Don’t get too frustrated with products that don’t work for you. Every head of hair has its own list of products that work and don’t work. In Filipino, we call it “hiyang.” Just persevere in looking for what works for you, and in the end, I promise, it will all be worth it! 


5. Laurice Trasmaño Lopez, singer, model, and host

What’s the best thing about being curly?

It adds character. You’ll definitely stand out. It’s unique for a Filipina.

Describe the best haircuts and colors that work for your hair.

For haircuts, I go for round layering to shape the existing curls and heavy texturizing to tame the volume and put emphasis on the length. For color, I go for ash brown, mocha, and grey brown. I always prefer my hair to be long so that I can easily tie it on a really hot day.

What are your favorite curl-friendly hair products?

1. Dove Conditioner

2. Miss Jessie’s Multi-Cultural Curls

3. Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil

4. Stylex Hair Polish

How do you style your curls?

After two minutes of towel-drying, I apply hair product by combing through with my fingers, and avoid directly applying it on the scalp. Air-dry after.

What’s your advice for curly-haired Pinays struggling with their curls?

You are beautiful and unique with your curls. Embrace it! Just make sure you take care of your curls. Condition it well.


6. Edith Suan, model and entrepreneur

What’s the best thing about being curly?

It’s easy to style. I need only a ponytail or clamp and it’ll hold in place just fine. I can also just let it all hang and still manage to look great. As a model, my hair is part of my branding.

Describe the best haircuts and colors that work for your hair.

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A layered haircut gives curls more body, especially if you have fine kinky hair. For colors, highlights are a good way to make your curls stand out. You may experiment with bold colors like red, blue, or even green! Just make sure you consult your hairstylist if it will suit your skin tone. Mine is William of Lalou Salon in Las Piñas. He knows how to style kinky curls.

What are your favorite curl-friendly hair products?

1. Nanny Rose Gugo and Lawat Anti-Hairfall Shampoo

2. Tresemme Protect Restructuring Deep Conditioning Treatment Masque

3. Splash Hair Polish

4. Suave Professionals Captivating Curls Whipped Cream Mousse

5. L’Oréal Smooth Intense Leave-In Serum

How do you style your curls?

If I go to a casting, I use curl-defining mousse to highlight it. If it’s just an ordinary day, I usually twist my hair like a pineapple and secure it with a clamp. I only comb my hair when it’s slick with conditioner, using a wide-toothed comb. Conditioner makes combing curls easier, and it also prevents breakage. 

What’s your advice for curly-haired Pinays struggling with their curls?

Growing up, you may have encountered people who tried to tell you that you should straighten or rebond your hair. Many Filipinos still consider straight hair as the standard of Filipina beauty. I say: Love what you were blessed with, girl! Your hair is gorgeous. Work it. 


7. Vanessa Ammann, mermaid instructor, painter, and Miss World Philippines 2012 second princess

What’s the best thing about being curly?

Despite its own complications, it’s low maintenance. You have less worry about styling and getting ready in the morning.

Who’s your go-to hairstylist?

I sadly have not come across a salon that specializes in curls in Cebu, where I’m from. I have been cutting my own hair since I was 12 years old. No real hairstyles; it just depends how my hair grows in. Sometimes I like it short with chin height, fluffy fro, or long curls to give the mermaid effect.

What’s your favorite curl-friendly hair product?

I swear by coconut oil! I’ve been using the stuff for almost a decade now. It keeps my curls neat, bouncy, and healthy. Besides that, I like to use different types of conditioners and keratin to help comb through the tangles.

How do you style your curls?

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Wash and dry, plus coconut oil!

What’s your advice for curly-haired Pinays struggling with their curls?
It’s a struggle at first, to really come to terms with not looking like everyone else and being able to try the newest hairstyle trends like your girlfriends can. But the beauty in your curls are internationally recognized. Once you find the right products to manage curls, you will get the compliments and the courage to love your curls. Stay with it my fellow kulot sisters: You are unique and beautiful! If you didn’t think so before, I am here to remind you that you are.


8. Kate Alvarez, writer and commercial model

What’s the best thing about being curly?

Being memorable. Nobody forgets the curly one in the crowd.

What haircuts and colors work best for your curls?

The best haircut for my round face shape and coily-curly mane is a long diamond shape—tapered at the bottom, and heaviest in the mid-section. It makes me look slimmer. As for hair color, I’ve gone from blonde to redhead, but the easiest to maintain is brown.

How do you set your curls?

I have really thick hair. Unlike my fellow kulots, wash-and-wear doesn’t always work well with me. I’ve tried all sorts of ways to style curls—pineappling, doming, diffusing…you name it, I’ve tried it! The best one that works for me is the twist out, where I twist clumps of curls and let the tendrils air-dry before finger-combing.

What are your top curly hair tools?

The best moisturizing trio I’ve ever tried is Kérastase Oleo Curl Shampoo, Conditioner, and Leave-On. To style, I prefer exotic oils like L’Oréal Mythic Oil. As for tools, I’ve broken a lot of brushes and elastics in this lifetime—the perils of being kulot! I brush my hair only twice a day—right before showering (to get rid of dirt and tangles) and when applying conditioner or leave-on. For that, I use a paddle brush, wide-toothed comb, or tangle teaser. A true kulot knows that brushing dry hair will cause frizz, so after I’ve set my curls, I don’t brush it for the rest of the day. Low maintenance, right?

How did you overcome your struggle to accept your curls?

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As a kid, I was ridiculed for being kulot, so I thought that the solution was to hide it. I wasted so much money on hair-straightening and rebonding from high school to college. When I worked for a magazine after college, the editors of Cosmopolitan and Preview introduced me to top hairstylists Jude Hipolito and Rose Velasco of JURO Salon. Jude told me, “Work with what you have. Don’t fight or stifle what you were born with.” They gave me a curl-flaunting haircut and color, and I never looked back! I now have a #CurlPower section in my blog, where I hope to inspire other kulots to flaunt their curls.

Visit Kate on KateWasHere.com and follow her on Instagram  and Twitter.