Interviewing the internet’s curly hair expert Rogelio Samson
If you are a dude with curly hair and have, at any given time, searched for curly hair advice online, then you already know him. Heck, even if you don’t have curly hair and you’ve scouted the internet for some good hairstyle advice, then chances are that you’ve heard of him too and been to his sites. Ladies and gentleman, I’m taking of the internet’s foremost curly hair expert Rogelio Samson, a man who has provided the tools and knowledge for curly men worldwide to, as he calls it, rock an epic “awesome mane”.
After publishing my man bun guide for curly hair and seeing how so many of this site’s readers were talking of Rogelio Samson in the comments, I thought that it’d be a good idea to interview the man who has revamped the outlook on men’s curly hair and who has led the field with his ManlyCurls.com website and his two books: “The Curly Hair Book” and “The Men’s Hair Book”.
Through his blogs and books, Rogelio Samson is known for his BS-free advice and for not sugarcoating his advice either. At ManlyCurls, Rogelio has published dozens and dozens of very useful men’s hair guides, including a guide on short hairstyles for men which details the haircuts available for short hair as well as a guide on hair products for men which explains the tidbits of hair gel, hair wax, pomade and other men’s hairstyling products. These are just two of the many other guides found at Manly Curls, and you can have a field day over at that site learning stuff about your hair that you just won’t find anywhere else.
Despite being a busy man himself and getting interview requests day in and day out, Rogelio Samson was happy to sit down with me and answer a few questions on man buns, top knots, long hair and curly hair. Considering that Rogelio is also a long-haired dude with curly hair, it made sense to pick his brain and get some answers that you all would like to hear from him. So, here’s the interview below.
Good to have you here, Rogelio, and welcome to my site. You do know that my readers love you, right? (in a kind of cool bromance manner)
It’s my pleasure to be here and I appreciate all the good words from both you and your readers. I think that you’re doing a great job with your site and I can tell you that this site is by far the best site that I have seen covering long hairstyles for men like the man bun.
Yeah, but apparently I’m not as famous as you even though I’m covering the most epically-awesome men’s hairstyle trend to ever grace our planet. How’s being a blogging celebrity going on so far for you?
(Laughs) Nah, I’ve never considered myself a blogging celebrity despite the good things that people have said about my blogs and books over the years. I just like to write and help others with my words. That has been my ethos from the very beginning and the way that I’ve approached both ManlyCurls.com and MensHairBlog.com as well as my two books.
Well you’ve been recognized in places in the past and I have not, so that’s bordering a Paris-Hilton-like celebrity status!
(Laughs) This whole thing about being a blogging celebrity and whatnot isn’t something that I pay attention to, even though I know that many guys and girls blog to try and become a celebrity. The way I see it is that, if you’re doing things the right way and you’re offering value to your readers, you will sooner or later become popular to whatever extent it is that you become. I never thought that I’d be recognized in the street because of my blog, and other than being very happy to hear of how my words have helped whoever has recognized me, the whole concept of “being spotted” as if I were a celebrity isn’t something that I don’t even think about.
Come on, dude, you’re too humble. I’ve heard crazy stories of bloggers who became slightly popular and started throwing parties and acting like divas. You seem to be the opposite, but I do know for a fact that you’re a party beast and a ladies’ man, so you’re telling me you’ve never gotten carried away with the whole blogging celebrity thing?
Yes, I’ve done my fair amount of partying in the past and of painting the town red like most guys in their teens and twenties do, but it has never been because of my blog or because of my status as a so-called blogging celebrity or whatever you want to call it. I don’t even like to talk about my blogs or my books unless someone recognizes me and asks about them. Of course, I’m always very happy to hear from people how my words may have helped them as that’s my goal with my blogs and books.
Anyway, didn’t you say that you wanted to ask me some questions about curly hair, long hair and hairstyles? This interview is starting to look a bit TMZ-like. So let’s change the subject, shall we?
(Laughs) Right, right. I’ve just been curious about the whole blogging thing as I’m a barber and, since I started this site, I’ve seen the fun side of blogging. Anyway, let’s change the subject then, what’s your opinion on the man bun hairstyle?
I think that the man bun is a great hairstyle for men. In your man bun blueprint, you mention something that’s absolutely correct: men have been wearing buns for centuries as putting your hair in a bun is the most-convenient way in which to secure your hair tightly. Many people fail to realize that the bun as a hairstyle isn’t just some trendy thing that guys are jumping on just to look cool and hip in 2015 and all that. The bun, or the man bun, is one of the many convenient hairstyles available to those of us with long hair when we don’t want our manes to be dangling and the locks to be getting on our face.
Right, but as a hairstyle trend by its own right, what do you think of the man bun?
While I have never been a fan of hairstyle trends, I think that they serve a purpose and that they are neither right nor wrong; they just “are”. One thing that I’ve seen many times is how many guys jump on hairstyle trend after hairstyle trend just because they want to be part of a group or because they’re afraid to think outside the box.
While there isn’t anything inherently wrong with wanting to be affiliated with a group or trend, it is also true that not taking the steps to stand back for a second and critically assess everything around you so that you can get to know yourself better and build the “right you” will have some devastating consequences down the line if you happen to strive for big things later in life. It’s your ability to critically think, analyze and evaluate situations and decisions that will mark and pave your path in life. Jumping from trend to trend in life with no real purpose other than to feel affiliated to a hairstyle or an idea is a sign of a lack of critical thinking skills, and critical thinking is something that no man can afford to not have.
Aside from what I’ve said, I think that hairstyle trends and fashion trends are absolutely fine for those who enjoy them and follow them. Just make sure that you know why you are doing it and don’t just jump on whatever shiny thing you see next without asking yourself what you will be getting out of it.
Those are some wise words, Rogelio. Your sentiment towards hairstyle trends is pretty much in line with what I’ve been telling my readers since I created this site. Get a man bun, but do it because you truly want to get it and not because you think that you want to get it.
Ok so now that we have your words on the man bun, what’s your opinion on the top knot?
The top knot hairstyle serves the same functional purpose as the man bun hairstyle does, so that’s always a good thing. The thing with the top knot is that it’s a risky hairstyle for your hairline because the top knot uses the shortest amount of hair length possible (usually 6 inches) to tie all the hair as a single bun (i.e. a single knot). This places some absurdly-awful stress and tension on the hair follicles located across your forehead’s hairline.
As a matter of fact, the top knot hairstyle is nowadays the number-one cause for traction alopecia in men; the topknot has even surpassed the cornrows hairstyle as the most hairline-destroying hairstyle of all times! Considering that cornrows have been destroying hairlines and follicles for decades, it’s no joke that the top knot is currently regarded as the worst offender in this hairline-destroying department.
I’ve seen that you’ve blogged about the the hairline-destroying properties of the top knot and that you’ve discussed this issue with fellow barbers from your state; more and more guys are coming to barbershops with destroyed hairlines from wearing top knots. The best solution to fight the potential traction alopecia from the top knot hairstyle is to release the pulling tension on the locks that grow on your hairline: you do this by softly pulling the locks against the knot so that there’s some leeway in terms of tension. That, or grow your hair longer and get a man bun hairstyle and ditch the top knot.
As for curly hair, the top knot can be a bad hairstyle decision for many curly guys. This is because the most common haircut recommended for a top knot is the undercut, and we all know that curly hair and the undercut don’t mix very well. Sure, a top knot undercut hairstyle looks great with curly hair when the knot is tied, but, when you untie your curls from the knot, it will be then that you will understand what I mean with the “mushroom-effect” term that I coined years ago! If you want to have a bun for curly hair, go with a full bun (i.e. a man bun) and don’t over-complicate things.
About curly hair for men, does long curly hair deserve its reputation of being a pain in the behind to look after and style?
I do not agree that long curly hair is as difficult to style and care as so many guys make it to be. The main problem here is that the vast majority of curly-haired men do not know how to grow curly hair long correctly, nor do they know how to groom and care their curls. If you have no idea how to use a conditioner or if you don’t know that you should be using a wide-tooth comb to style your curls, then (of course) your long curly hair will be an absolute monster to deal with on a daily basis.
You see, curly hair, whether short or long, isn’t particularly difficult to groom and look after. Yes, compared to guys with straight hair, you do need to be a bit more careful with the daily grooming of your curls and you need to know your hair better. But I’ve dedicated a whole website (i.e. ManlyCurls.com) and a whole book (i.e. The Curly Hair Book) to giving you all the necessary knowledge to make the managing of your curls a walk in the park. Know that you should use a conditioner frequently, know that you should not be shampooing your curly hair daily, know that you should be using moisturizing hair products to style your curls and know a few more things here and there, and you will be on your way to an awesome mane of curly locks.
What are the most-essential products for curly men?
I’m a big believer in having a foundation of products and then adding more from there on if desired. Likewise, I like to keep my hair care as minimalist as possible since I tend to use my own sebum to keep my curls in shape. As a general rule and as general advice, I’d recommend every curly guy to have the following products:
- A conditioner: to be used every time that you shampoo your hair (right after rinsing out the shampoo). You can also use the conditioner on those days that you do not shampoo, but you must always follow your shampoo with the conditioner!
- A shampoo: curly hair doesn’t do well with daily shampooing, so I recommend that you find out the shampooing frequency that best suits your hair and lifestyle. This process is part of my No Shampoo method that I’ve explained in great detail in both of my books and which I’ve also covered in both of my sites. You essentially take some weeks to find out which is the best specific shampooing frequency for you. Curly-haired men tend to benefit from shampooing frequencies ranging from “every other” day to once a week.
- Headbands: a headband is a piece of textile that is wrapped around your head so as to pull your hair back. Headbands are extremely useful for curly men who are growing their curls and are thus going through the awkward hair growth stage. By using a headband during your awkward hair stage, you will drastically improve your curly hair’s aesthetics and you will be able to continue to grow your curls longer without being so conscious about the growing ball of curly hair atop your head!
- Your own sebum: while your own sebum isn’t the type of product that you can buy off the shelf at any supermarket, your sebum is still an extraordinarily-useful substance to keep your curls looking lustrous. I developed an easy-to-follow method called the Sebum Coating method by which you use your sebum to coat your curls and improve their aesthetics, fullness and thickness. In fact, you can completely skip any hairstyling products for curly hair and just go with your sebuminized curls “au naturel”!
See the video below of how my long curly hair looks without any use of hair products and by only using my own hair-follicles’ sebum. The video documents how my long curly hair dries from fully wet to fully dry (air-dried). You can see for yourself how the sebum alone can keep your curls in shape!
What about hairstyling products? Aside from just using your own sebum, what sort of products do you recommend to style men’s curly hair?
To put it bluntly, the best products for curly hair are styling creams and leave-in conditioners. That doesn’t mean that you cannot use any other hairstyling products on your curls; it just means that, if you want to make the most of your curls’ aesthetics, then using either a styling cream or a leave-in conditioner is the way forward.
A styling cream is a type of hairstyling product that offers a natural hair shine along with hair-moisturizing properties. Back in the 1950s, styling creams were called hairdressing creams or lotions, but those were loaded with oily ingredients that pretty much gave the same result as the older petrolatum-based pomades. Nowadays, however, styling creams are predominantly made to trap the moisture in the hair shaft so as to enhance the shape and definition of the curl. Furthermore, styling creams provide an extra natural shine to curly hair that magnifies the aesthetics of curly hair. You just can’t go wrong with a good styling cream if you have curly hair.
A leave-in conditioner is both a hair-conditioning product (like a regular conditioner) and a hairstyling product. Unlike a regular conditioner that is to be rinsed out after coating your hair with it for 2 minutes, a leave-in conditioner is left on your hair so that it provides you with a long-lasting glossy effect.
The only downside to styling your curly hair with either a styling cream or a leave-in conditioner is that both of these products have a low holding strength. Ergo, you won’t be able to style you hair in vertical hairstyles or in tightly-secured hairstyles. Rather, styling creams and leave-in conditioners are used for carefree and loosely-styled curly hairstyles like the Shake & Go, the casual slicked back style or for long dangling curls. On top of that (no pun intended), both products can be used on short curly hair as their low holding strength is still enough for most short hairstyles for curly hair.
In any case, I’ve seen that you have an excellent men’s hair products tutorial for long hair and for man bun hairstyles, so I think that your guide is also quite useful and a must-read for those who are planning to grow their curls long.
Dude, you’re a walking Wikipedia! I just cannot get in my head how someone whose profession isn’t that of a barber or a hairdresser can know so much about men’s hair and everything to do with the hair-care industry. How have you gotten to this point in which you can talk about anything in the labyrinthic field of men’s hair and barbering?
I’ve always been very curious intellectually, so I’ve always had a love for learning new things. Many years ago, I too was one of those guys with curly hair who hated his curls and would buzz his hair every couple of weeks. Then, one day, I decided to get to know my hair better and to be able to rock an epic mane the way that I wanted to rock it. That then led to over a decade of hair experiments, tests, reading, practicing, growing and then chopping, asking (barbers, hairdressers, hair loss doctors and dermatologists), studying and a lot more; and all done in the little spare time that I’ve had during those years.
Here’s another video of one of my curly-hair experiments. I went without shampoo (or any other hair products) for 30 days and recorded my hair every 3 days so as to measure the impact of not using any hair products for curly hair. All I did with regards to hair care was to follow my Sebum Coating method and use my own sebum. Most people agreed that my hair looked better after the 30 days and I do too agree as you can see how my curly mane looks thicker and fuller; all by simply spreading my own sebum across my curls (i.e. with my Sebum Coating method).
Despite banging my head against the wall many times in the quest for an awesome mane of curls, I did enjoy my journey and I continue to enjoy it. Way before I started Manly Curls, I knew that I wanted to have a long-distance reach with my words so as to help other guys who, like me, have hated their curls for years and years. Starting a website like Manly Curls was simply the best step that I could take so as to provide a platform to reach these same guys no matter where in the world they might be.
I’ve heard that you get dozens of thank-you emails on a weekly basis. What does it mean for you to help others with something as unimportant as hair (as it is usually regarded by most folks)?
Getting an email from someone telling me how his life has literally changed because he has gone from a buzz cut to sporting the type of hairstyle with his curls that he has always wanted is a reward for me. As said, I’ve done all this to leave a legacy so that curly guys can continue to learn, be inspired and take action on the stuff atop their heads for the many years to come. That’s why I told you before that I don’t worry about being a celebrity blogger or someone famous in the hair-care industry; all I care about is helping others make a positive change in their lives, just as I was able to do many years ago. I know what such a positive change can mean to oneself, so I relate to each and every email that I get and it makes my day to read just a single one of these emails in the morning.
As far as guys not caring about their hair or seeing it as something unimportant, I can guarantee you that this is not true. Think about it for a second, what is it that people immediately see of you as part of their first impression of you? Your facial shape, your posture, your height and your, you guessed that right, your hair.
What is sitting atop the head of the person with whom you are having a conversation and is only a couple of inches away from his or her eyes? That’s right, his or her hair. If you were to physically describe someone briefly, what would be one of the main traits of his or her that you’d use? That’s right, his or her hair.
Whether you like it or not, your hair is a part of who you are in the communication process, hence your hair is as important as your body language when engaging in the communication process. It could be at a business meeting or on a date as you flirt with the girl, your hair is going to be scanned hundreds of times during that meeting or that date and your hair is going to be assessed as part of the overall package that makes you.
Is your hair neatly groomed so that you exude trust and confidence to your potential investors? Are you curls frizz-free and styled in a suitable manner so that it enhances your attractive appeal? You know, we aren’t talking about the hair on your chest or about how visible your abs are (neither which are visible in most communicative scenarios); your hair (atop your head) is something that is there being highly visible at all times, so take my word when I say that hair, in both men and women, is very important as a physical trait.
Now, as for what some random guy may say because he thinks that wanting to have a cool hairstyle is a thing “for girls”, well, that’s another story.
Wow, I must confess that I was blown away with your many lifestyle theories in The Curly Hair Book, but it sounds way cooler when you explain them by voice. This is the sort of stuff that makes you the boss in a social situation or during bar talk (laughs). Anyhow, another slight change of topic, how long has your hair been?
Waist length. I may or may not continue to grow my hair as long as it can genetically get. No one in my family (including the ladies) has grown his/her hair as long as mine, so I’m actually curious to know my genetic limit.
Aside from having a very-popular blog like Manly Curls, you’re also a strong dude and have posted many videos of your weightlifting feats. So, it’s my duty now to ask you the following, how much do you bench?
(Laughs) I can’t even remember when was the last time I did the bench-press exercise. My background is in Olympic weightlifting, so I’ve always trained like that as well as with an old-school focus on strength training in the likes of how the Olympic weightlifters trained in the earlier part of the 20th century. I’m talking of one-arm snatches, one arm presses and the Olympic press.
The bench press is simply an exercise that isn’t trained in the sport of Olympic weightlifting.
I don’t know what any of those exercises that you’ve mentioned are, but I’ve seen your videos handling some huge weights. Come on, you must have bench pressed at least a few times in your weightlifting career, right? What was the most you’ve bench pressed?
Well, prior to doing Olympic weighlfiting I did do some strength training, but it didn’t take me too long to move to Olympic weightlifting as I fell in love with the sport. I do remember that our coach would have us do some light weight-training stuff during some recovery weeks after a big championship. The exercises that we did were exercises that we never did for our Olympic training, so we’d do exercises like the bench press, bicep curls and lunges with light weights.
I remember I bench pressed 140 kilograms, which is 308 pounds, but I only tried that weight because I was used to putting that weight fast over my head like it was nothing, so I wondered what it’d be when bench pressed. Bench pressing 140 kilograms felt very light, even more than putting it over my head. Bear in mind that we never did bench presses so to me it was a weird movement and motion; I just lowered it all the way down to my chest, waited two seconds like I always do with the Olympic press and then pressed it up easily. As for my own body weight at the time, it was about 180 pounds with about 8% bodyfat (I had an 8-pack instead of a 6-pack and veins popping from my abdominal wall and serratus!).
Do also bear in mind that, at the time that I bench pressed 140 kilos during that light recovery week, I was doing 100 kilos easily in the Clean and Press, which is an exercise where you first power clean the barbell off the floor onto your shoulders, hold the barbell on your collarbone for 2 seconds, and then you press the barbell up (i.e. a military press) strictly and with a minimal back bend (just enough to deviate the barbell off your chin so as to not smack the barbell against your jaw).
The question of how much I bench press is a recurring theme and people can’t believe that I don’t bench press. I personally see it as a useless exercise for my strength and power goals. It’s a good exercise for other strength-training goals, though.
Ok, dude, stop showing off (laughs). Well, it’s more like I’m feeling like a woman after knowing that you can put more than my own body weight over your head in a split second (laughs). I’m enjoying this interview a lot and you’re one cool dude, but I know that you have things to do after this interview, so let’s put an end to it. But before you leave, what would be your advice to those curly guys out there reading this interview and wanting to grow a man bun?
I’d say to go ahead and do it. The awkward hair stage will be done sooner than later, and you can easily tame the frizz and funky shape of your curly mane during the awkward stage by using a conditioner, finding out your optimal shampooing frequency, using a headband any time that your mane is getting wild and making sure that you’re using your own sebum to coat your curly locks.
Once your curly hair gets to a length of 12 inches, you will have reached a curly-hair length that will have you turning heads wherever you go if you pay some smart attention to your hair care. Likewise, with such a hair length, you can tie an epic man bun already, so stay strong and determined, and I guarantee you that you will get there!
It has been an honor to interview you, Rogelio, and I know that my readers will appreciate your advice a lot. Thanks a lot and please keep putting out great content as you’ve always done. Many of us barbers refer our barbershop customers to your sites and books when we know that they need a serious dose of hair knowledge!
It’s my pleasure to have had this conversation and to be able to reach your readers with my words. Hopefully, your curly readers will gain some more inspiration from this interview to grow their curly manes long and we’ll soon be seeing more curly man buns in the near future. Thank you all and I wish you all the best!
Feel free to visit Rogelio Samson’s Manly Curls website for more advice on curly hair, long hair, men’s hairstyles and men’s lifestyle. Both of his books can be purchased at major bookstores and on Amazon.