Dentist in training and founder of CURLrinting, Karishma Menon shows us how to embrace our waves and curls!
“I started this with the intention of it never being about me. For years as a girl with curly hair in Malaysia, I grew up watching advertisements on TV, listening to conversations between family and friends with the understanding that curly hair was not ‘ideal’ in this society,” said Karishma on launching the online curl community, CURLrinting back in July 2019, “Nevertheless, I had this intuition that I needed to always appreciate my curls (fend off hairdressers who were itching to straighten my hair) and someday, I will be able to control and enhance what I have.”
What began as an online platform on Instagram, CURLrinting now features both local and international hair care labels, which Karishma personally researched and reviewed as she independently oversees the digital store. Karishma shares with us on the types of textured hair and her must-have hair care items to update our Beauty Dictionary!
How did Malaysians resonate with CURLrinting?
“The responses were so humbling and at times, brought a tear to my eye. It was clear that most were in the same clueless boat and just wanted to be appreciated for being themselves. So, many didn’t even realise what their actual curl pattern was!”
Can you explain to us the differences and types of textured hair and what makes them unique?
“Textured hair differs from straight hair anatomically. The structure of the hair is different therefore they respond to weather, humidity and products differently than those with straight hair. Simply, one would fall in either of these categories:
(1) Straight (2) Wavy (3) Curly (4) Coily
“The number is then followed by either an A, B or C. These represent the width or diameter of your wave/curl/coil pattern from most wide to least. For example, I am a mixture of 3A and 3B (maybe even 2C too!). It is very common to have a mixture of patterns.”
“This classification was originally formulated by Andre Walker, an American hairstylist but has gone through a few revisions over time.”
“In general, curly hair dries out faster thus needs more moisturising products and needs to avoid regular usage of products with drying ingredients like alcohols and sulphates. Furthermore, if you desire to achieve long-lasting and defined waves, curls or coils, then understanding the styling products that you leave in your hair are very important. For example, leave-in conditioner, curl cream, gel, and etc.”
How do you resource the hair products featured on CURLrinting?
“For the longest time, Malaysia did not have readily available hair products for people with curly hair in stores or pharmacies. Nowadays there are a few homegrown brands coming up with hair products suitable for curly hair and low in harmful chemicals. I support such brands as they haveshown effectiveness and needed to be encouraged! #sapotlokal”
“I research on the ingredients, reviews and results from these products. I have a direct relationship with the hair care brands because this ensures I get the best for our customers and longevity in a trusting business relationship.”
“Furthermore, I ensure all these brands are registered under the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) of Malaysia before selling them to my customers on my website. I’m committed to bring in products that are safe for everyone and in compliance with our regulatory agencies.”
Can you share with us your must-have haircare items?
“I ALWAYS have a bottle of Apple Cider Vinegar (with “The Mother” – a substance of proteins, enzymes and friendly bacteria)! It helps my scalp and resets my hair after testing so many products. The honest truth is I have been testing and trying out different local and international curly hair products since last year. I just always make sure I have a cleansing shampoo, a co-wash/moisturising shampoo, conditioner, hair mask/deep conditioner, hair oil/serum and a gel.”
“Currently, I’m trying out the Earth Rhythm MurumuruButter Shampoo Bar for Curly & Wavy hair, Camellia Jamaican Black Castor Oil Hair Serum and MurumuruButter Capuacu Butter & Soy Protein Hair Butter. These are natural-based products that smell herbal but so far I’m really impressed!”
What is your hair care routine like?
“Due to the nature of my day job and the current pandemic, I wash my hair every weekday. For those following our blog, the Curly Girl Method and those who have textured hair – they’ll know that this is a definite no-no as it can dry out our hair so fast!”
“The trick is to use the proper products and ensure enough moisture. I alternate between a cleansing shampoo and a co-wash/conditioning shampoo. Whenever I use a cleansing shampoo, I use a deep conditioner.”
“I have an oily scalp, so when it starts to feel really icky or has dandruff building up, I soak my scalp with Apple Cider Vinegar for about 30 minutes then wash it down with a cleansing shampoo and deep condition the ends. I always massage my scalp to improve blood circulation!”
“I then apply a leave-in conditioner onto only wet hair during weekdays but on weekends I apply leave-in conditioner + gel for added curl definition and hold. I then use either my towel bonnet or microfiber turban towel for drying, let that sit for 10-15 minutes while I apply my face products. Finally, I let my hair out to air-dry. In the next morning, I apply hair oil to the ends and if there is gel, I ‘scrunch out the crunch’ (SOTC) of the dried gel! My favourite is air-drying but if I’m in a rush and need to be ready for an event, I use my diffuser.”
“Depending on my schedule, I try to deep condition once a week with conditioner + hair oil and keep my hair in a heat cap for 30 minutes.”
What do you hope to see more of in the curl community in Malaysia?
“Reading labels! The key to nourishing textured hair is knowing what ingredients to avoid or use sparingly. Just because a product says “For Curly Hair” doesn’t mean it is free of harmful or heavy chemicals that will damage your hair in the long run. Just like how they market “cereals for weight loss” that contain loads of sugar – cosmetics are the same! Mesti rajin baca, there is no easy way out.”
“This is the reason I started my curl store. The aim was to be a one-stop-shop where you know what you are getting is safe and effective. Alternatively, for those who are just starting out, you can try a website called Curlsbot.com where you can key in all the ingredients of your hair product and they will tell you which to be careful of!”
“Adding to that, I’d love to see more Malaysian men getting into the groove of caring for their waves and curls plus more local brands with curly hair-friendly products!”
What’s next for CURLrinting?
“I’d love to create more videos and be more interactive with our community. I’d also love to provide more options for the Malaysians and expatriates here in terms of hair products. We are in the midst of identifying good hairstylists/hair salons that understand and know how to cut textured hair. If you’ve followed our Instagram page, you would have read our features on Malaysians who mostly have had nightmarish experiences at local hair salons. It is high time for this to stop. Why? It is my personal belief that most Malaysians have textured hair; they just haven’t realised it yet.”