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Jheri Curl 101: what you need to know before turning to Jheri curls

Jheri Curl 101: what you need to know before turning to Jheri curls

The Jheri curl is now back and trending, and people are loving it! Bouncy, juicy, and glossy, the Jheri curl was the signature style of a generation in the 1980s and has been recognized as a cultural staple for the African American community. This hairstyle was popularized by the renowned artist Michael Jackson on the cover of his Thriller album in 1982, but only a few people are aware of its actual roots.

jerry curl

What is the Jheri curl and why is it so popular? 

The advent of the Jheri curl dates back to the 1970s. An Irish American man named Jheri Redding noticed that while other businesses were withering during the Great Depression, hairdressers were booming. He later founded a hair company Nexxus in 1979. Being one of the first men with a license in cosmetology, he experimented with a range of chemicals and their applications on human hair. The Jheri curl was one of them. It was a new and fabulous look that quickly gained a lot of popularity amongst celebrities such as Lionel Richie, Keenen Ivory Wayans, and Edmund Sylvers. However, the hairstyling process was labour intensive and very costly, hence out of the reach to normal people. This would have remained the case if it were not for Comer Cottrell. Although Redding was the original inventor of the Jheri curl, it was the entrepreneur Comer Cottrell who adapted it into a trendy look for the African American Community. Cottrell’s legacy began with founding Pro-Line Corporation with his brother in 1970. After discovering Redding’s version of the Jheri’s curl, the company developed their own Curly Kits as a home version of the Jheri Curl that was crafted to suit Afro hair. The Jheri curl was now accessible to the common consumer at only $8 per box. The hairstyle spread like wildfire in the regular African American community. Some statistics say that as many as 1 in 4 African Americans were able to wear the same style.

Cottrell’s Curly Kits have transformed the Jheri curl into an icon that possesses meaning beyond being a fashionable hairstyle. His success has defied stereotypes during that time that assumed African Americans were unable to be prominent trendsetters or entrepreneurs. The Jheri curl embodies not only Afro beauty, but also freedom and cultural pride. 

Now that the Jheri curl has returned as a trendy throwback look from the 1970s, you might be interested in how to create and maintain a great Jheri curl hairstyle. Do not worry, we will explain all you need to know about the Jheri curl.

How do you create the Jheri curl at home?

The Jheri curl is a two-step permanent process for ethnic hair and gives off a glossy, loosely curled look. It was known as a “wash and wear” style that was easier to care for than other popular chemical treatments. Traditionally, it is created by using a softening chemical to loosen up the hair and then a neutralizer that sets the curls. The first step is performing light detangling after you clean and dry your hair. After that, wrap a towel around your neck to protect your skin from chemicals. Then you start lathering your hair with softening chemicals, which is often called a “rearranging cream”, so that your naturally tight curls loosen. You should smooth it out in your hair as much as possible and leave it in for the designated amount of time. Then, you should put the looser curls into perm rods. Usually, perm rods come in different sizes.  You are able to choose the size you want your curls to be by utilizing different perm rods. After that, leave the perm rods in for a specific amount of time and then rinse away the solution for at least 10 minutes. Lastly, apply a neutralizer to create defined curls. Now your Jheri curl hairstyle is complete!

Does the Jheri curl damage your hair? Is it good for natural hair?

It is important for everyone who is interested in the Jheri curl to know that the traditional process of creating the Jheri curl on your natural hair involves multiple chemical products and can be very damaging to your hair if it is not done right or maintained properly. For example, if you apply too much of the chemicals or leave them in for too long, your natural hair can become dry and brittle. It is difficult to execute the process perfectly, and many people find that they do experience some type of hair damage despite being as careful as possible. 

Despite being less demanding than other popular chemical treatments back in the day, maintaining the Jheri curl still requires a lot of time, effort, and money. Your daily night routine would have to include additional steps for hair care. Specifically, you would need to apply a curl activator spray and a moisturizer, and sleep with a plastic cap to prevent your hair from drying out. These Jheri curl products are quite expensive too. Activator sprays are typically greasy and difficult to use, often staining clothing and furniture. Every time you wash your hair you will rinse out styling products, which exposes the hair to secondary damage. As your hair grows longer, new growth requires additional styling, further adding to the overall expense.

These two factors are the main reasons the traditional way of making Jheri curls fell out of favour. Do not be discouraged though. There are plenty of other modern options that can help you create a big, bold, and beautiful Jheri curl look without worrying about hair damage.

How to get the Jheri curl without damaging your hair?

As mentioned above, using the traditional method to achieve the Jheri curl is labour-intensive and expensive to maintain. Well, here is some good news for you. Here are two modernized methods to create a stunning Jheri curl without using any chemicals.

The first method is the use of crochet braiding. Although crochet braiding may sound as if it is referring to the hair itself, it is actually referring to how hair is added on. The crochet method is a way of adding hair extensions to existing natural hair. The first step involves cornrowing your hair and then attaching extensions to the cornrows. Then, the crochet hair extensions are lopped under the cornrows with a crochet needle, which is essentially a hook, and finally secured with knots. This way, you can achieve the Jheri curl without styling natural hair, preventing your hair from being exposed to damaging chemicals. There are different variations of crochet hair extensions that feature tighter curls or looser curls. These Jheri curl hair extensions are often under $10 per pack and require less than 3 hours to install. After correct installation, crochet braids can last anywhere from 2 weeks to 8 weeks, averaging around 4 weeks. 

However, one major drawback of crochet braids is that you must take extra care when washing them. If you wash them like washing your own hair, there is a risk of loosening the knots and hair extensions may fall off. Sometimes people choose not to wash their crochets at all. You can probably get away with this if you do not leave them in for too long, but for those who prefer washing, the simplest way is to use a spray bottle. After spraying your scalp with shampoo solution, lightly massage your scalp and co-wash your natural hair and synthetic hair extensions together very gently. Then, spray a leave-in conditioner onto your scalp. Finish by adding a moisturizer to your hair and sealing it with hair oil.

The second method is purchasing a Jheri curl weave. There are different variations of this type of wig; here, we will use a lace frontal wig as an example. Unlike crochet hair extensions, weaves are almost always made up of human hair, which guarantees that your hair will look beautiful and natural. A lace frontal wig is composed of a frontal hairpiece and additional hair bundles that are later attached to the hairpiece. The frontal has a strip of hand-knotted lace sized 13x4 inches that covers your full hairline from ear to ear. This undetectable lace front reproduces a soft, seamless hairline such that its hair looks as if it grew off from your own scalp. Once installed, it acts as a “half-wig”. After attaching additional Jheri curl hair bundles, you now have a full, kinky bob wig!

Compared to crochet braids, lace frontal wigs offer more versatility because you can style your hair however you want as you would do with normal hair. You can even dye your wig whatever colour you like. The washing procedure is similar to washing your own hair too. The best thing is no matter what you choose to do to your weave, it will leave your natural hair intact. Absolutely zero worries about damaging your own hair! Lace frontal wigs also require less maintenance. They tend to last longer than crochet braids, usually 8 weeks or more, sometimes even over 1 year. One thing to mention is that weaves tend to be more costly. That being said, compared to other hairstyles, Jheri curl weaves are curly and bouncy, so they require fewer hair bundles to complete. This makes them less expensive than other types of weaves. 

Overall, a Jheri curl weave the best option for someone who prefers a hassle-free experience and is seeking a long-lasting investment piece. After all, changing your hairstyle should be a fun and refreshing experience, not tedious and draining!

How to make your Jheri curl weave look natural?

Whether you like to wear your weave in a beanie or with your favourite bandana, maintaining a natural look with your Jheri curl weave is important to make sure your hair always looks gorgeous and glowing.

Correct maintenance is key. In general, Jheri curl weaves are prone to becoming dry and brittle, so although washing is important, try not to overdo it. Excessive shampooing strips the hair fibres of their natural oils, causing the curls to dry out even more. You should look out for two labels on your shampoo: sulphate-free and alcohol-free. Applying these chemicals to your weave can damage it further. Just like with your own hair, you should be mindful of what your weave is exposed to and avoid harsh chemicals. Deep conditioning is essential when combating dryness, frizz, or dandruff. Try to deep condition with a hair mask at least once a week and distribute the oil through your hair evenly with a bristle hairbrush. Again, avoid products that contain sulphate and alcohol. Another tip to keep in mind is to refrain from overusing blow dryers. Exposing your weave to heat can increase frizz and promote dryness. Try to air-dry your Jheri curl wig as much as possible. 

Another essential factor that affects how natural your weave looks is the quality of the weave itself. Different manufacturers can produce wigs of varying qualities. A high-quality wig would be made up of 100% human hair instead of being a mix with synthetic hair. The lace material should be hand-crafted and hypoallergenic. Manufacturers should also include an instruction booklet specific to their Jheri curl product so that you can maintain your weave according to their instructions. 

It’s time to get your own Jheri curls!

jerry curl wig

Now that you have learned all about Jheri curls, you must be excited about getting your own Jheri curl hairstyle. As discussed above, the traditional way of creating Jheri curls is not healthy for your hair, so you may be considering a weave instead. Mildwild is a business that specializes in producing different types of wigs. It offers top-quality Jheri curl wigs that are natural-looking and soft to the touch. Their wigs are made from 100% human hair with high quality lace material underneath, allowing your scalp to breathe comfortably. They come in sizes anywhere between 12 to 18 inches, suiting every head size out there. What really adds value to their Jheri curl products is their attention to detail. Their wigs have a pre-plucked hairline that naturally blends with your scalp so that you will not have to spend hours adjusting the hairline by hand. The packaging is also irresistible – who does not enjoy bonus gifts with a necklace, a soap flower, 4 wig combs, and a wig cap all packed into a luxurious diamond-shaped box? This is the perfect gift to treat yourself on a self-care weekend. Or maybe your best girl friend’s birthday is around the corner? Consider buying it as a birthday present and throw a glam party to celebrate!

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