Advice

Curly hair tips with Imbue haircare expert, Michelle Sultan

Curly hair tips with Imbue haircare expert, Michelle Sultan
Us curly girls are always on the lookout for ways to make our hair bigger, bouncier and more defined. As a top stylist specialising in afro curly hair, Michelle Sultan holds the keys to hairven. In an inspiring interview, Michelle shares the struggles of her own curly journey, and how she’s learning to love her hair. So that you can learn from the best, Michelle has also revealed her personal hair care regime and favourite products. 
 
Michelle’s hair really is full of secrets, as her hall-of-fame clientele list includes Alesha Dixon, Mel B, Amber Gill, Jennifer Hudson and Jordyn Woods. As Creative Director and Brand Ambassador for Imbue, a new curl collection on LOOKFANTASTIC, Michelle champions curl empowerment. Working to deconstruct the negative narrative that demonises frizzy hair, Imbue’s products work in harmony with your crown. Rather than trying to tame ‘unruly’ hair, the collection strives to strengthen and define your curls.

Michelle’s Hair Regime

1. Curl Liberating Shampoo

“My hair regime is entirely dependent on how much time I have. I would always begin by using the Imbue Curl Liberating Shampoo – I love the feel of it. It is sulphate and paraben free so my hair never feels dry after shampooing, just moisturised. As a curly girl myself, I know that some curl products can cause build-up and lead to a flaky scalp, which is why a great cleanser is so important.”

2. Curl Respecting Conditioner or Curl Restoring Mask

“If I’m in a hurry, I will use the Curl Respecting Conditioner next. With plenty of slip, it’s great for detangling and makes my hair so shiny. Even after rinsing, it leaves a glossy, hydrating coat of moisture that feels silky and soft.”

“If I have more time, I’ll also use the Curl Restoring Mask. I leave it on for a good twenty minutes to half an hour – sometimes overnight – then use the conditioner afterwards. The mask leaves my hair super moist, infused with a hydrating blend of Coconut, Capuacu and Shea Butter.”

3. Microfibre Towel

“Next, I would always use a microfibre towel to blot any surplus water from my hair, leaving it a little bit damp. Regular towels can dry out hair and cause frizz, so it’s best to opt for an old T-shirt or invest in a microfibre towel.”

4. Crème Gel

“I would then go in with two little scoops of the Crème Gel and scrunch the product into my hair upside down. Depending on how I want my curls to look that day, I will use the ‘Praying Hand’ method by smoothing it and pressing down onto my hair – this will ensure big bouncy curls.”

5. Curl Worshipping Oil

“If I want an extra bit of shine or separation, I would use a tiny drop of the Curl Worshipping Oil. I warm the oil through my hands first and then scrunch through the curls – it works beautifully.

Then I would leave my hair to dry naturally. I find with Imbue it dries really quickly as the products are so lightweight, rather than heavy on my hair. This leaves it really, really bouncy – it’s amazing.”

Refreshing Curls

“My regime will usually last for 2 or 3 days, 4 if I’m lucky, before my hair needs to be washed again. Then, I will use the Curl Energising Hydration Serum to re-energise my curls. I love to use the leave-in conditioner to dampen my hair and then apply the serum over that to get my curls popping again.

I really don’t need any magic tricks because Imbue does all the heavy lifting for me. I am so proud of each and every product, as we worked so tirelessly on them for such a long time. Continual testing, tweaking formulations, testing and testing again meant Imbue was tailored to bring curls out in all their glory.”

Interview

Question: What does Imbue stand for?
Answer:

For me, Imbue means positivity, creativity, empowerment, being free – not abusing your hair and allowing it to be whatever it wants to be. Having the confidence to wear it the way you want to.

It’s an exciting time for curls and coils, which are taking up more space (quite literally) in the media than ever before. Curls are being respected and standards of beauty are shifting to celebrate individuality in all its glory. It’s a curl revolution that I am proud to be a part of. Working with Imbue has really given me the confidence to embrace my natural texture and encouraged me to love my curls.

When putting the Imbue concept together, we spent years talking to curly girls from many communities. I loved hearing every story, every empowering anecdote spoken straight from the heart. The overwhelming narrative was that no matter what happens, curls have always been the thing that brings them back to who they are. We know curly girls never know what type of hair day they are waking up to. We know that every curl is unique and every curl care regime can be a journey. We wanted to make that journey a colourful and beautiful process. One where you embrace every element. One where the curls align, making way for a great hair day without a battle.

Imbue was built from the ground up with a fundamental understanding of curls. Curl type, length, density, porosity and texture all play an equally important part in the creation of our products and we only ever use natural vegan ingredients that bring curls out to play in all their glory. We promise to never control curls, as textured hair commands respect and space to be itself, no comparisons needed. Imbue strengthens and empowers for total curl confidence.

Question: How did your curly journey start?
Answer:

My curly hair journey only really started about three years ago. I had started toying with the idea of letting my hair go back to its natural texture after years of relaxing and straightening, however, I was always a little bit scared of how my curls looked.

My hair was unhealthy from over colouring and bleaching, not to mention the constant straightening and blow dries. My curls were never given a chance to form their natural curly shape, so I knuckled down into the curly girl routine at the end of 2019 – with lockdown forcing me to stay on it – so no heat has been applied to my hair in the last five months.

I have been obsessed with exploring techniques and really drilling down to extract and share tips and tricks that really work – it was so important for me to show anyone that was joining the curl movement that I am on that journey too. I really get it and understand the process from my own experience.

Question: How did you get into styling?
Answer:

I got into hairdressing as soon as I left school, I became really interested in how, as a woman, your hair can be unbelievably emotive. It can be the thing that makes your day or breaks it, so starting your day with a curl battle can really leave a dent in your confidence.

Hair can make you look and feel amazing and I really saw this when I was growing up, as I would spend my summers in New York with my Auntie. She is an incredible hairstylist with a salon in the basement of her house. She specialised in helping women with hair loss and alopecia who had lost their sense of self and were looking to bring their confidence back to life. They were often upset and looked lost entering the salon, so it was wonderful to see my Auntie help them feel like themselves again. The hair transformation was always incredible, but for me, it was amazing to watch how these women, who had lost so much of their identity, looked visibly lifted and happy to regain that lost confidence.

And so, I became really interested in helping other women to feel their best. I began my hairdressing training at Kingston College in London and managed to make some connections in the music business working in TV and music videos. One of my clients said she was going to be in a band and I offered to help with her hair. My client was Alesha Dixon and the band was Mis-teeq, who went on to become hugely successful. There weren’t many stylists at the time that worked with textured and afro hair, so my name travelled around the industry.

Question: What inspires you?
Answer:

There are so many things that inspire me, but I would say the biggest thing for me is helping the women I work with. My clients who have low self-confidence or who just don’t feel very good about themselves – by transforming their hair you can literally see their confidence lifting, making them feel like they are ready to take on the world.



Gigi

Gigi

Beauty Writer

As a curly girl, I'm always on the lookout for new hair products and methods that will define my crown. I can never stick with a hairstyle for too long, and I love to pair minimal makeup with a bold lip.


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