At the end of last year I visited Rio de Janeiro and the trip, among other things, was one of the best lessons in haircare I'd ever experienced. While my thick, curly, and processed blonde hair frizzed out adjacent to Ipanema Beach, the locals had gorgeous, just-got-back-from-the-beach texture that seemed miraculously immune to the humidity.
It was there that I learned that Brazilian women do not mess around when it comes to their hair. And their secret weapons are often the powerful elixirs they slather onto their strands post-shower. In fact, a study conducted by the Household and Personal Products Industry found that Brazilian women use three times as many post-treatment products as women in the U.S.. One of the country's (and all of Latin America's) most popular categories is the creme para pentear, AKA combing cream, which is essentially a nourishing hybrid between a detangler and styling cream. And if it sounds like a curly girl godsend, that's because it is.
"It makes the annoying experience of detangling your hair enjoyable," explains Ammon Carver, creative director of L'ANZA. "Yanking or combing your hair too aggressively can actually cause breakage and damage. Combing cream keeps that from happening by protecting your hair from damage caused by comb or brush friction."
And while it's at it, it moisturizes, smooths out strands, and preps texture, especially curls, for styling. "It's not heavy, so will not weigh your curls down," says celebrity hairstylist Lacy Redway.
"Apply a liberal amount to your palm and run your fingers through your hair while it's wet, spreading the product over as much of the hair as possible," says Carver, adding that because there's no major hold or weight factor, you hair will feel clean and fresh when it dries—even if you have baby fine hair.
And one application will take a long way. "For second day hair, water can reactivate your hair product," says Redway.
1. Carol's Daughter Hair Milk 4-in-1 "Combing Creme", $10; carolsdaughter.com.
2. Amla Legend Rejuvenating Ritual Combing Cream, $6.29; softsheen-carson.com.
3. L'ANZA Keratin Healing Oil Combing Cream, $20; amazon.com.
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