8 Game-Changing Curly-Girl Tips and Tricks from Lupita Nyong'o's Hairstylist

This is not hyperbole.

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Design by Betsy Farrell

Within minutes of sitting down in hairstylist Vernon François' chair, it was clear—my curls had found The One. Like a significant other, Lupito Nyong'o's go-to man understood them, brought out the best in them, and most importantly, didn't want to change them. He just wanted them to live their best life.

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As a woman who already loved my curly texture, François had me Tom-Cruise-jumping-on-Oprah's-couch crazy for it. So in addition to spotlighting his amazing new eponymous haircare line, which is designed specifically for women with curls (whether they're tight coils or looser waves), I want to impart everything I learned from his genius.

Here, find the game-changing tips and tricks I picked up as I watched François turn my dry, dirty fluff (not the good kind) into a reinvigorated cloud of shiny ringlets.

1. Apply shampoo to your dry hair before you get into the shower. Yes, really. It was completely foreign to me, but as I watched Vernon apply shampoo to my dry strands, I had a lightbulb moment. Instead of one uniform lather (I mean, who really knows whats going on 'neath all the suds), he was able to spot treat the areas that needed the most cleansing t i.e. my dry scalp and greasier sections around the hairline and nape. And as someone who's extremely tangle prone, it made for less snags. "You're able to control the detangle easier and work it through," explains Francois.

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2. Co-wash your hair. As a curly girl, I was embarrassingly late to the co-wash party. Thankfully, Vernon showed me the light by massaging my head with his Vernon François Co-Wash Shampoo, which is infused with ubuntu, marula, jojoba, and sweet almond oils that bring conditioner-levels of moisture to the hair for more shine and elasticity. "It's the best way to cleanse the hair while still retaining natural moisture," he says. The best part? It's two steps in one.

P.S. The extra moisture is *especially* welcome if you're a hair mask delinquent like me.

3. Use your fingers to detangle the hair. As far as Vernon is concerned, fingers are your best detangling tool. The more gentle and patient you are, the better experience it's going to be. Another game-changing tidbit? "Start detangling from the ends upwards," advises François. "It's faster and not as stressful on the hair, so you're losing less of it."

4. Diffuse your curls the *right* way. In other words, don't just pin the diffuser to your head and blast it with heat. Again, patience is key—and so are different blowdryer settings. To avoid overheating the curls, you should keep both the heat and power on medium.

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Vernon employs a "3D" approach when drying the hair, which means every part of the hair (brace yourself for a lot of Beyoncé-style hair flips) is being diffused and scrunched in different sections. The most important rules to follow are:

  1. Keep your diffuser at a 45 degree angle, which means one half of the diffuser rim is resting against the roots while the other is facing outward, which allows the diffused section to breathe.
  2. Don't overdry the curls! The best way to avoid this is by alternating between sections, holding the diffuser upon each for no more than 40-50 seconds. You should keep doing this until your entire heard is 95 percent dry.

    5. Keep your curls in tact over night. If you're going to spend time diffusing the curls, you'll want the gorgeous results to last for days on days on days. The best way to keep 'em in tact is by "pineappling" your hair on top of your head and twisting it into an old, soft cotton T-shirt. This will keep your curls neat and reduce friction while you sleep.

    6. Apply products to your hands like hand cream. When you think about it, applying product to only 50 percent of your hand surface area doesn't make sense. By rubbing products all over your hands, you're making like Drake and hitting all the spots that you ain't even know was there when you run your fingers through your curls. In other words, it ensures an even distribution of product when coating your strands.

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    7. Part your hair back only halfway back. Vernon explained this concept to me like this: "With curly hair, it's like you're at a party and you never want to be standing around while people dance. You want to join in and turn up."

    What he meant by this is that when you part your hair all the way back to the crown, it flattens the volume. Instead, you should be embracing the va-va-voom of your texture by parting it only halfway down your head, which instantly adds volume to the back sections of your roots and is flattering to the face.

    8. Scribble your roots for volume. While I was well versed in the classic technique of brushing the roots of the hair up and down for a fuzz-induced lift, Francois' has converted me to a different kind of teasing. Like a DJ with a needle and a vinyl record, you should use a pick to "scribble," which is teasing across the roots in a zig-zag formation for volume that goes up and out.

    As far as hair picks go, you can't beat the Vernon François 3-in-1 Style Comb. In fact, from now on I'm never leaving the house with out as it includes a wide tooth section for detangling; medium-sized tooth for parting/smooth; and a pick handle for teasing/scribbling.

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