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    A Pro Hairstylist Gave Us Curly Hair Makeovers And A Bunch Of Really Good Tips We Can Actually Use

    Four women, four different curl patterns.

    Taylor Miller / Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed

    Andre Walker is many things: an award-winning hairstylist, a hair-care entrepreneur, and an author. But according to Oprah Winfrey — his main client of 30 years — he's simply "the best."

    Ruven Afanador

    OPRAH, YA'LL!!! Just had to say it one more time for the seats in the back.

    In between creating iconic hair looks for the world's most influential woman, Andre also created the first hair typing system as a way for people to better understand and care for different natural hair textures.

    Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed

    Andre first debuted this system in his book Andre Talks Hair! in 1998, because as a hair professional, he noticed others were treating all black hair the same and he wanted a more methodical, comprehensive way of differentiating textures and curl patterns "People have added to the system since then because they feel that there are textures that aren’t included, such as 3C, 3D, 4C, and 4D, which is fine," Andre told us. "I only created a basic system to help people better identify their hair textures."

    So we asked Andre and fellow pro stylist Jèan Selassie Frèdèric to make over four different textured naturalistas, while educating them on their beautiful curls in the process.

    Taylor Miller / BuzzFeed

    Each makeover took place at the gorgeous Damien West Salon in Manhattan. The space was super intimate and upscale, but also really warm and welcoming. Basically, we all tried to move in, but were very kindly turned down.

    Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed
    Taylor Miller / BuzzFeed

    Throughout Andre's career, he would mix a little bit of gel with a little oil and some moisturizer — basically mixing customized "cocktails" — to create a desired look. There were no products on the market that did exactly what he wanted, so he teamed up with Dianne Hudson (executive producer at The Oprah Winfrey Show) to create the Andre Walker Gold System. "Each of the three leave-in stylers in my Gold System collection — Beautiful Curls, Beautiful Kinks, and Get It Straight — are the result of a mix of ingredients designed to deliver hold, moisture and definition to a wide range of hair types," Andre told us. "I did all the work for you, so you no longer need to cocktail products. Just apply one styling product and you'll get the look you desire."

    First up was Sierra. She was mostly concerned with avoiding split ends and double-strand knots, preserving her natural curl pattern in humid climates, and retaining length.

    Taylor Miler / Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed

    Andre decided her main issue was dryness, which is a common concern for all naturals.

    The first step to combating dryness is a thorough cleansing, which will help moisturizing products penetrate your scalp and hair. You'll know you're getting all that buildup gunk off when your shampoo starts to lather into thick, foamy suds.

    Taylor Miller / BuzzFeed

    Sierra's usual routine consisted of co-washing once a week and conditioning every two days. While co-washing is a great way to refresh curls, only shampooing can truly remove product buildup, debris, and sebum. Andre told Sierra to swap her routine co-wash cleanser for a gentle paraben- and sulfate-free shampoo, like Andre Walker Hair's Ultimate Moisture Sulfate Free Shampoo. After washing her hair, Jean applied Andre Walker Hair's TKO Ultimate Moisture Conditioner for added softness, hydration, and strength.

    Get Andre Walker Hair Ultimate Moisture Sulfate Free Shampoo for $9.99.

    Get Andre Walker Hair TKO Ultimate Moisture Conditioner for $15.99.

    To keep Sierra's hair from looking like a football, Andre cut off the damaged ends with shears, then used a razor to add long layers and create a full, round shape.

    Taylor Miller / BuzzFeed

    Sierra's ends were especially dry, due to her Arizona hometown's dry climate and other factors like skipping trims and not protecting her hair at night. This resulted in a bunch of split ends and even a loss of curl pattern. But after Andre cut off the damaged inches (while still wet), Sierra was left with a head full of healthy curls.

    Once the hair is clean and conditioned, Andre suggests finger-combing product into the hair, instead of pulling it through with a wide-tooth comb, for a defined, undisturbed curl pattern.

    Taylor Miller / BuzzFeed

    To get Sierra's curls moisturized and bouncy, Andre evenly finger-combed Beautiful Curls Leave-In Styler from her roots to ends. The lightweight product offers enough control to fight frizz and dryness without leaving the hair flaky, crispy, or dull.

    Get Andre Walker Hair Beautiful Curls Styling Crème for $15.99.

    Air drying's cool, but it takes forever. Using a blow dryer with a diffuser attachment minimizes frizz and helps to maintain volume, giving curls an air-dried look in a fraction of the time.

    Taylor Miller / BuzzFeed

    Setting your blow dryer and diffuser on a low-speed cool temperature will help preserve the curl pattern and lay down the hair cuticle. A hot setting would dry out the hair, making it less smooth. To finish off the look, Andre applied a small amount of Quench-Essential Oil (Q-oil) to give Sierra's mane some serious shine and extra nourishment, and help it stay manageable in the coming days.

    Get Andre Walker Hair Quench-Essential Oil at $15.99.

    Zaaayum!!! Sierra's curls are now living their best lives and we're here for it.

    Taylor Miller / Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed

    "I was a tad concerned because I'd never had my hair this short, but it honestly ended up being the best thing that could have happened for it!" Sierra told us. "It so much easier to maintain now. I don't have to spend as much time detangling because my ends are healthy. My confidence is high because I know my curls are finally poppin!"

    Laticia was next. Her biggest hair-care concerns were color-damaged, dry ends and an overall lack of curl definition.

    Taylor Miller / Jenny Change / BuzzFeed

    "Whenever I style my hair, it looks frizzy unless I use a ton of styling products; but even then it could be more defined," she told us. "When I had longer hair it was easier for me to define my curls, and I'd love to learn how to do that with my short hair."

    Jean combed a generous amount of TKO conditioner through Laticia's shampooed mane and let it marinate under a plastic cap for 30 minutes. Sitting with conditioning treatments helps to combat dryness and gets the hair nice and soft for styling.

    No, TKO doesn't stand for Total Knockout. :) It actually stands for Total Keratin Obsession, but it's just as kick-ass. According to Andre, hair is made up of keratin, so consistent applications of this oil- and keratin-rich conditioner makes hair stronger and hydrated. (FYI, this isn't a complete protein treatment, like, say, Aphogee's Two Step Protein Treatment, which can dry out hair if overused. TKO is a protein-enhanced conditioner, which only imparts a small amount, so you don't have to worry about overdoing it.)

    Get Andre Walker Hair TKO Ultimate Moisture Conditioner for $15.99.

    If you're planning to trim or cut coily, shrinkage-prone hair, make sure it's blown out beforehand to ensure manageability.

    Taylor Miller / BuzzFeed

    When blowing out your hair, you want to have a good grip on the ends so the roots are stretched straight. Then direct the heat near the root section, about one or two inches away. This is a healthier but admittedly more difficult alternative to using a comb attachment. But blowing out your own hair is possible with time and plenty of practice.

    If you're wondering what's the best haircut for you, think about your face shape. In Laticia's case, Andre cut down the sides and left a little length on top, creating a tapered cut to complement her oval face.

    Taylor Miller / BuzzFeed

    After the cut, Andre and Jean lightly spritzed her curls with water and then applied Andre Walker Hair Beautiful Kinks Styling Crème Gelee throughout her hair. This crème-gel hybrid does it all: It holds, moisturizes, stretches, defines, and adds shine.

    As a the final touch, Andre and Jean comb-coiled the top of Laticia's mane to give her that curl definition she'd been missing. This style is a great way to get definition, especially if your hair's not quite long enough for twist-outs, braid-outs, or Bantu knots. Just take a fine-tooth, rat tail comb, apply a liberal amount of holding product, and then use the comb's teeth to create small coils, like a straw (you can also use your fingers, or a curl sponge!).

    Get Andre Walker Hair Beautiful Kinks Styling Crème Gelee for $15.99.

    Say it with me: OBSESSEDDDD! Laticia's cropped 'do is perfection.

    Taylor Miller / Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed

    Laticia was all the way here for her new 'do. "I love a tapered look so the cut definitely boosted my confidence!" she told us. "I’m also excited to see how it grows out."

    That brings us to Alanna, a lover of twist extensions who hadn't had a trim in "forever." She also had some heat damage and loss of curl pattern from getting her hair blown straight every now and then.

    Taylor Miller / Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed

    Like most naturals, Alanna had a couple different hair types. Andre spotted 3B curls around her perimeter and a more coily 4A in her lower crown toward the back of her head.

    After a shampoo, a looong deep condition, a blow out, and a haircut, it was finally time for the main event. Instead of just doing two-strand twists, Jean twisted her hair and then put the twists into Bantu knots for some extra oomph to the curl formation.

    Taylor Miller / BuzzFeed

    Jean spritzed Alanna's dry, clean hair with water and applied Beautiful Curls and Q-oil mixed together as he twisted it. The mixture helped flatten the cuticles, allowing light to better reflect aka shine bright like a diamond. "Alanna has heat damage, which makes some of the ends straighter than others, plus she has varying hair types," Andre told us. "So a twist-out is the best way to unify those textures."

    When undoing twist-outs, it's very important to start at the ends so the curl formation stays in tact. Remember, slow and steady wins the race!

    Taylor Miller / BuzzFeed

    Once Alanna's hair was fully dried, Jean put a bit of Q-oil on his fingertips and very carefully untwisted the Bantu knots and unraveled the two-strand twists.

    Use your fingers (no combs or brushes!) when separating each twist. The less you separate, the more curl definition you'll get. The more you separate, the bigger and fuller your hair gets.

    Taylor Miller / BuzzFeed

    For Alanna, Andre separated all over, but focused mostly on the top to compliment her face shape.

    Alanna's new curls are serving some serious definition and we can't look away. HALP!

    Taylor Miller / Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed

    "I felt so intensely fly walking to work after getting my hair done," Alanna told us. "Like what Tracee Ellis Ross must feel like every day, having a bouncy halo of curls up top...and Diana Ross as her mom!" She also felt like Andre had given her great advice on how to re-create some version of her twist-out at home.

    Last and not least was Natelege, whose biggest concerns were keeping her thick, shoulder-length hair detangled and stretched in a healthy way and removing damaged ends. She and Andre decided on a silk press because she'd been dying to switch up her look.

    Taylor Miller / Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed

    The ideal candidate for hair straightening is someone whose hair is in great condition and doesn't have any heat damage. As for frequency, it's best to only straighten it about once a month or less because doing it on a regular basis will definitely cause heat damage. Your hair would eventually become permanently straightened and you'd lose your curl pattern. If you're cool with that, then you can straighten it as often as you want — just make sure to get regular reconstructing and conditioning treatments.

    When blowing out your hair for a straight style, make sure the hair gets completely dry. If there’s the least amount of dampness, it will frizz up.

    Taylor MIller / BuzzFeed

    After Jean hooked up Natelege with a shampoo and condition, Andre combed the Andre Walker Hair Get It Straight Styling Crème through her wet hair to get a silky, smooth finish later. He then divided her hair into eight sections, blew it out with a Denman brush, and combed through some Q-oil for shine and manageability.

    Get Andre Walker Get It Straight Styling Crème for $15.99.

    Natelege wanted to maintain her length, so Andre slightly trimmed her damaged ends to give her hair some shape. You don't have to trim all your split ends at once, although this is recommended, as long as you regularly snip them away as your hair grows.

    Taylor Miller / BuzzFeed

    Consider setting your hair with Velcro rollers after you've hot-curled it. Roller sets give more volume and body. And in Natelege's case, the remaining damaged ends would go limp without that double setting.

    Taylor Miller / BuzzFeed

    Andre would curl a section of Natelege's hair with the iron, spray a bit of holding spray on that section, and then immediately set the warm hair on a roller. FYI, Velcro rollers are fine (and super easy!) to use. Just don't EVER sleep with them on because that can lead to breakage!

    After all of the hair was curled and set, Andre carefully removed each roller, applied a bit of Q-oil, and vigorously brushed it through Natelege's tresses.

    Taylor Miller / BuzzFeed

    Big hair and we absolutely DO care! Natelege's gorgeous mane is laid and serving ~bawdy~ for days.

    Taylor Miller / Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed

    "I was nervous about the cut, but after the appointment my hair felt soft, full, and had so much body," Natelege told us. "And the roundness of my 'fro has come back, so I’ve been really happy about it."


    Taylor Miller / BuzzFeed