Back in middle school, my friends (lovingly?) called me Justin Timberlake on account of my being both blonde and curly. My hair was basically what defined me then, and I sort of loved that. Having curls made me feel special. A boy at school once asked me what I did to make my hair look like that. "Wash it," I told him. I’m still proud of that moment.

However, the level of curl I grew into at thirteen had been entirely unexpected to everyone, including myself. I hit puberty, and suddenly my hair got all springy and fluffy. I watched every YouTube video I could, but I still couldn’t figure out what to do with it. Naturally, it was only a matter of time before I got it chemically straightened and irrevocably changed my curl pattern.

When it was at peak curliness, I would have (tentatively) called it a 3b pattern. After years of swearing off chemical treatments, I’ve got it back to something resembling my old hair, though I’m sure it’ll never quite be the same. Today, it sits somewhere in the realm of 2c/3a, not quite what it was, but almost.

My thin, damaged, and dry hair needs a whole lot of assistance. Some parts curl less than others, and overall it's still a bit of a mess. Regardless, I've grown to love the curls. I feel most myself when I don't straighten it. So, here’s what I’m currently using to bring back some life to my hair.

To clean it: Living Proof Restore Shampoo & Living Proof Restore Conditioner

Every good curl routine starts with a good wash. In shampoos and conditioners, I look for something gentle, hydrating, and that helps repair my past damage. This new and improved duo from Living Proof — which just relaunched on April 1st — has got all the goods.

To hydrate it: Pattern Leave-In Conditioner

Because my curls aren’t as tight as they once were, I now require a super lightweight leave-in. This one’s incredible. I rake it through wet hair (along with the next two products) before scrunching or, as of recently, attempting the bowl method.

To define it: Moroccanoil Curl Defining Cream

This is one of the first curl creams I ever bought, so there’s certainly an element of nostalgia playing into my love for it, but I genuinely love this cream. It’s thick without weighing down my hair, gives me the loveliest definition, and smells like nothing else.

To keep it all together: Pattern Curl Gel

Gel only recently joined my routine, but, I’ve found, it’s the key to crisp-looking curls. Back in middle school, I never would have dared to put a gel in my hair on account of it being too intense, but middle-school-me was frizzy and an overall mess, so we don’t listen to her anymore.

To boost the weak bits: Ceremonia Curl Activator

The bottom section of my hair in the back (the part nearest to the nape of my neck), is very sad and flat. Relative to the rest of my curls, it's always been the straightest. It ruins the vibe of the rest of the look, so I’ve started using this product to boost the curl back there.

To dry it: Ceremonia Diffuser de Rizos

Again, this is a somewhat new addition. At thirteen, I’d just show up to school with wet hair and let it air dry throughout the day. Since high school, though, I’ve been using a diffuser instead because I have slightly more patience and slightly less tolerance for having wet hair in public. This one fits onto most blowdryers and collapses, so you don’t have to figure out how to gracefully store an enormous chunk of plastic beneath your sink.

To finish it off:  Gisou Honey Infused Hair Oil

Once my gel sets and the curls look all crispy, I take a few drops of hair oil in my palms and gently run it through my hair (using prayer hands, of course) to break up the gel. This one in particular, feels extra luxurious.


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