- Edition 7, Chapter 12.2 -

Hair talk

by Roxie Darling (as told to Alexander Brebner)


Work Freehand.

When I first colored curly hair, I found myself wanting to paint every curl and cover all the bases. But with experience, I find that being more freehanded with my application looks cooler and less contrived. With afro textures, I’ve begun to use my hands to apply bleach in a way I never have before. If the curl is really tight, it’s much easier to see the lines of demarcation, and the colors, and the patterns, whereas bigger, more voluptuous curls can hide things a little more. The less I try to be consistent the better it ends up looking.

See in 3-D.

We’re taught about patterns, but those patterns don’t necessarily work for curly textures, because curls are so 3-dimensional, and patterns are more 2-dimensional. Straight hair grows downward and lays flat, whereas curly hair grows outward and you really see the sections underneath. You have to compensate. If I were to paint curls using a pattern I’d use for straight hair, it would look ridiculous.

Handle with Care.

Curly hair is also more delicate than straight; if you damage it, the shape changes, and the curl stretches out. So pay special attention to your chemical process along with your aesthetic approach. Having a well-balanced education is important; it’s hard enough to be able to look at anyone and know what to do, and curly hair does takes some practice.


Curly hair is fun because it’s so wild, but if the color is too sterile, you’ve taken away the wild aspect that was so appealing to begin with. I’ve seen colorists excited to color it, because it is exciting; it’s incredible. But if you overdo it, and try to control it too much, you lose the depth. Some people’s curl is different at the roots than at the ends or around the hairline or the nape; you have to take notice. You develop a feeling for it, and even though you’ll never know everything about every type of anything, especially hair – I’ve never met two people the same, not even twins – as long as you respect its nature in your approach, you should have great results.

Start Subtly.

Even though hair is a platform for us to express themselves, it comes down to what’s best for the individual. Subtle color might be best for tight, afro textures because it’s going to grow out the best; the hair will be grateful because it hasn’t been over-processed, or less of it has been processed. They’re not going to have to maintain it, which they already have to do every day. I met this girl yesterday who has the most amazing afro, and she said, ‘Yeah, but it’s a job.’ You don’t want to give them yet another thing to worry about. Where’s the fun in that?