We asked 3 curly-haired Indian women for their ultimate hair care tips

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Curls are not just a hair type but a lifestyle. There’s no easy cruising for curly girls because your hair constantly keeps the mystery alive—one day you’re rolling with glorious springy ringlets, the next you have a tangled mass impersonating a bird’s nest. Women who choose to wear their hair this way sign up for a lifetime of unpredictability and commitment. We do it because the rewards are many. There truly is no other look as full of life and freedom as a head of well-cared-for curls. We put together advice from a panel of women who have earned their curls. There’s model and TV show host Kamal Sidhu who’s conducted a life-long masterclass in superior curlology. Actor and theatre star Meher Mistry’s got a stunning mane of spirals that serves as her calling card on stage and screen. As for me, I own my curls because they make me stand out; as a journalist, my hair—and people’s reaction to it—has made me ask important questions about identity, femininity and prevailing beauty standards. As a beauty editor I’m constantly encouraging my curly brethren to embrace their twists and turns.


Kamal:I grew up in Canada and was surprised that people were strangely in awe of my hair when I came to India in 1991. It was the talk of the town, I became identified by it and was asked about it in every interview. I found it amusing, but I understand why: curly hair is common in India but there’s been such a fascination in the past decades to have straight hair that girls would be subjugated to straightening it.

Meher: My hair was curly and short, so I had quite the little afro at 10. I only discovered you shouldn’t brush curly hair when I was 16. That was an epiphany. Before that, I could never leave my hair down. It was so exciting when I discovered that my hair looked great when I encouraged the curls, and I could wear it loose. Back then, curl products were hard to come by, so I used to leave conditioner in my hair and it wasn’t always leave-in!

Parizaad: I grew up frizzy-haired because I brushed it, and I resented the fact that I was expected to straighten my hair to fit in. In my late teens I found a great hairstylist who showed me that I had these amazing curls. I totally embraced them because it made me stand out and not conform to the prevailing beauty standard.


Meher Mistry

Kamal: Finding a hairstylist in India has been difficult, a process of trial and error. I hardly cut my hair; I just trim a bit when the edges get hard to manage. Adhuna [Bhabani of BBLUNT] had cut my hair a little while ago and I’ve stuck to that shape.

Meher: I used to go to a neighbourhood salon to get my hair thinned out till I started reading about how that’s not good. Off late, I’ve been getting cuts at Happy in the Head in Bandra. I don’t cut it as often as I should—twice a year instead of every three months.

Kamal: They do strange things that people who have curly hair don’t do, like scrunching! Even hairdressers rub and scrunch and frizz it in their hands! I don’t like scrunching; I put product on my fingers and pull it through my hair. I don’t like even diffusing it unless it’s wet or cold outside. I don’t diffuse the ‘mane’ because it frizzes it out with unnatural curls.

Parizaad: Diffusing doesn’t work for me either; it creates frizz whereas air-drying doesn’t. Whenever I get a haircut, I can’t wait to get home and wash it, so I can style it the way I like. In my experience, many professionals treat all curls the same way—same cut, same styling methods. Scrunching is great for people who want a bit more bend. I like more open curls, so combing while wet, air-drying and minimal handling work best.


Parizaad Khan Sethi. Photograph: Kedar Nene

Parizaad: I’m very particular about shampoo—I went sulfate-free years ago and my hair is much softer, less dry and frizzy. I use a mask as conditioner—my ride-or-die conditioner was Kérastase Nutritive Masque Oléo-Curl Intense, but it’s been discontinued, so I now use Living Proof Restore Mask Treatment. I comb my hair right out of the shower. I apply some mousse to the roots for lift (Bumble and Bumble Bb.Curl Conditioning Mousse) and then run a cream like Bumble’s Bb. Curl Defining Creme or Living Proof Curl Defining Styling Cream through damp (but not wet) hair. After that, I try not to touch my hair at all. I’m not big on oil-style treatments.

Meher: I’m not very particular about shampoo; I use L’Oréal or Dove. I use L’Oréal Paris Total Repair 5 Repairing Conditioner, comb my hair when wet, and towel-dry it. I put in product when my hair is quite damp. I like the heavier texture of L’Oréal Paris 6 Oil Nourish Oil in Cream and to that I add some L’Oréal Paris Studio Line Invisi Fix Gel. I like DevaCurl Super cream as well. If I have an event in the evening, I’ll do my wash and product routine and put my hair up with a butterfly clip till the evening.

Kamal: I’m a pretty no-fuss person. I’ll probably come off the tennis court, take a shower and my hair may be still drying as I step into the car to go to an event. I try and change my shampoo around. I comb my hair in the shower with a heavy Kérastase conditioner in. Then, I put in some Moroccanoil Intense Curl Cream, which looks good that day but somehow even better after I sleep on it.

Also read:

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