This week You! talks to Karachi-based stylist Komal Malik who focuses exclusively on curly hair...
You are simply lucky if you are blessed with beautiful and uncomplicated straight hair. But what about those who are not that lucky? We are talking about curly-haired women who go through the struggle of fixing their hair every day. If you have curly hair then you know that the struggle is real. Some days your hair looks so perfect like you could be in a shampoo ad, while other days it looks so messy that you want to scream a loud for help. Finding an awesome stylist when you have curly hair can be a challenge. Many stylists have a flat iron ready to straighten luscious curls, but when it comes to the very basics of styling tools for curly hair (like a detangling brush and a diffuser) they are lost.
But we want you to know that there are knowledgeable, trained stylists out there who love curls, coils, and waves, and it is possible to walk out of a salon with a big smile on your face.
Komal Malik is one of these passionate stylists who focuses exclusively on curly hair. With a sole focus on cutting, styling, and creating shapes and silhouettes for curly-haired women, Komal is the type of hairstylist we need more of. In a candid interview with You! Komal talks about her passion and her love for curls. Read on...
You! Tell us about your journey. What made you go into the hair business?
Komal Malik: I struggled with my curly hair since childhood, and one day while browsing the internet I came across a method for curly hair, and decided to give it a shot. I had tried everything from high end products, to chemical straightening but my hair was always a struggle, and my least favourite part of me.
After a lot of reading, I started the CG method by Lorraine Massey, and met a few wonderful women online from Pakistan with textured hair. The six of us started our journey together and we saw the change in our hair. Finally, I found something that was working and making me fall in love with my hair, and myself all over again. That inspired me to learn more, and I went to New York to train at the DevaCurl Academy. I’m a Deva advanced stylist, with four certifications from the DevaCurl Academy; and I also had the privilege to learn from Lorraine Massey (the author of the Curly Girl Handbooks, and the woman behind the curly girl method). Lorraine, certified me in the curl by curl cut in London after I trained with her.
You! What made you adopt that focus?
KM: Textured hair is unique, and cutting it is creating your own design which I love doing. I wanted to share how things changed for my hair and my life with all of the curly girls in Pakistan, and open up a space where the main focus is textured hair.
You! What changes have you seen in relation to curly hair in the last 10 years?
KM: I believe more women around the world are moving towards adopting healthy lifestyles. The Curly Girl method is also a lifestyle change. I have seen the natural hair movement around the globe, and thousands of women and men are embracing their natural hair, giving it the love and care it requires. I started my Facebook community in September 2017, and we have over 6000 women who are on the same hair journey now.
You! Most hairstylists still don’t know how to handle textured hair, why do you think this is still a problem?
KM: At beauty school, stylists are not taught the science of hair in general. Curly hair has a spring factor which varies according to the curl type. Unfortunately stylists are not told to keep that in mind when cutting textured hair, which results in an awful unbalanced shape most of the time. Curly hair requires a lot of moisture, that’s another thing that’s not taught in beauty school. In Pakistan hair stylists, and salons have hard time accepting this method also from a business point of view. They sell products which are not CG friendly, and shampoos which we don’t use in this method. If they endorse the CG method, they won’t be able to sell these products, and also lose out on so many customers who opt for chemical straightening. There is a lot of money in chemical straightening, chemical treatments, and a few other non CG practices.
You! Do you think the hair and beauty industry is starting to become more aware of client’s needs depending on their hair texture?
KM: Unfortunately, if a product says it is sulphate free it’s usually not. Since I have learned to understand ingredients and the chemistry, I have also learned never to trust what the label says. You will see a co wash which will say it is silicone, sulphate, mineral oil, paragon free but when you’ll see the ingredients you’ll find them there. The hair and beauty industry is becoming aware, however, they are wrongfully branding their products for selling purposes. It’s a money game again.
You! People mistakenly group curly hair into one big category. What are your thoughts on different curl types?
KM: Curly hair or textured hair is of different types. 65% of the world’s population has textured hair that includes wavies as well. Curly hair is divided into three categories. 2A (slightly wavy) 2b (wavy) 2C (very wavy), 3A (curly) 3b (curlier ) 3c (kinky curly), 4A (super curly) 4B (Super kinky curly ) 4C (super kinky curly coils ). Everyone’s hair behaves differently, and no curl is ever the same again. The key is to understand your own hair, what it likes, and what it doesn’t like. Moisture is the key for all textured hair.
You! How much time does one curly hair cut take as oppose to regular cuts?
KM: It depends on the density of the hair, and also the condition of the hair. A dry curly cut can be done in an hour, and sometimes go up to 2 hours or even more. Hydration is the key after the dry cut, and that process along with complete styling takes about 1.5 -2.5 hours, again depending on the hair density and condition. The whole cut, with the styling takes about 3-5 hours.
You! What is the most difficult part in treating curly hair?
KM: Honestly, I don’t find it difficult and I really enjoy cutting curly hair. Detangling the hair can be a struggle sometimes, but that’s also a learning experience and one must know how to deal with all types of hair. I love incorporating a few cutting techniques I learned when I trained with Mubashir Khan in Karachi.
You! What does a good hairstyle mean to you?
KM: I personally feel hair is a big part of who we are as people. You know the saying “A woman who cuts her hair, is about to change her life.” This really resonates with me. You see how some women cut their hair after a break up, or colour the hair when the New Year starts, or after some event has happened in their life. Good hair impacts our mood as well; if you look good, you feel good. There is something Lorraine said, which has stuck with me: “Don’t let your hair wear you; wear your hair instead.”
You! What is the best way to avoid damaging your hair?
KM: Avoid sulphates, silicones, drying alcohols, mineral oils, petrolatum, harmful chemicals and heat to save your hair from further damage. Give your hair proper moisture, give it the TLC it needs.
You! Which hair products and tools are essential to your kit?
KM: My shears, my alligator clips (when I cut hair), root lifting clips, shower cap, gowns, hooded bonnets, microfibre towels, t shirt turban for plopping the hair, my hair dryer/diffuser and my hair pick. My favourite products are a CG friendly mousse, Kinky curly curling custard or Uncle Funky’s daughter’s curly magic curl stimulator, and the cantu curl activator .
You! Which celebs curly hair would you like to style?
K M: So many! I’d love to style Angeline Malik’s hair, Sania Saeed, Hajra Yamin, Zara Noor, and a few others from our local industry.
You! What was your favourite hair trend of 2018?
KM: The top bun!
You! What’s latest in hair internationally this season?
You! What tips would you give to those who have curly hair?
KM: Give your hair moisture, your frizz is a curl waiting to happen, ditch those heating tools, and stop fighting your hair. Be gentle, patient and embrace what you’ve been blessed with. Curly hair is unique, learn to care for it and understand what it likes and what it does not.
You! What do you love most about your job?
KM: Seeing the happiness on the clients face after the cut and styling. Nothing makes me happier than seeing them satisfied. I can completely relate to the feeling as we curly girls have hardly ever had a good haircut in our lives as we were not aware of so many things we happen to know now.
You! What message do you want to spread with your styling?
KM: Your hair can look fabulous without using any harmful tools, or chemicals. The message of love, and self care....
You! Are you working on any exciting projects in the near future?
KM: I plan on starting my youtube channel as well as the Facebook group only for women.
Photography by Kohi Marri