Articles By Aimee Gerow

Majoring in Curls

Majoring in Curls  
 
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Being home from college for the summer can be slightly tedious, especially when you have a job that doesn’t require you to be an early riser. Unfortunately. I’m one of those crazy people who gets up at the crack of dawn and doesn’t have to be at work until the afternoon. So what do I do with all my time? I cook. Most of the time I bake, but when I decide to cook a vegetable casserole or stew, I need my herbs. And don’t even get me started on the dried ones that come from the store. Yes, they’ll do in a pinch but things taste (and smell) so much better with fresh herbs.

That got me thinking about how much herbs benefit us. We use them in cooking, of course, but they also have huge medicinal potential as well as aromatherapy benefits. They can be taken internally as teas, or externally as rubs or rinses.

I started looking at the ingredient lists on my hair products. More often that not, I found one -- and sometimes a handful of different herbs were listed. I decided to do a little research to figure out the hair benefits of some of these herbs. There are way too many to go into detail (probably a book’s worth), so I chose three of my all-around favorites: basil, rosemary, and lavender.

I was surprised to find out that they’re all part of the mint family, despite their very unique scents. Because of this, they all tend to be refreshing and invigorating for the skin and hair. Historically, all three were considered aphrodisiacs. Married women would wear sprigs of basil in their hair to entice and arouse their husbands. Upper-class women once combined lavender and basil in a pomade and combed it through their hair. Forget the Chanel No. 5.

Basil is one of my favorite herbs of all time. The scent alone does wonders for me. I can’t resist sticking my nose in bunches of it whenever I go to the grocery store. Basil adds shine to the hair when it's used as a rinse. When combined with rosemary, it can be used as a color treatment for brunettes, or with chamomile for blondes.

When I was younger, I visited the library at least once a week. I was that slightly geeky little girl with the glasses who checked out 10 or 15 books at a time. It really didn’t matter what I was reading, how old it was, or whether or not I even liked it. I just blazed through books with a freakish speed.

Now that I’m in college, there’s not as much time for speed reading. Most of my reading is for class. But the assigned books aren’t usually so bad. I love reading Victorian literature and romantic poetry, especially Charles Dickens, Emily Dickinson, Charlotte Bronte.

I don’t know about you curlies, but if I had a nickel for every time somebody quoted the poem “There was a little girl who had a little curl, right in the middle of her forehead,” I’d be rich. This is probably the most well-known literary reference to curls just because it’s easy to remember. But I got to thinking about where else curls pop up in books and rhymes, and came up with several.
One of my favorites is the chapter in Louisa May Alcott’s "Little Women" where Meg and Jo get ready for a ball and Meg recruits Jo to curl her hair, with disastrous results.

"Simple as the toilets were, there was a great deal of running up and down, laughing and talking, and at one time a strong smell of burned hair pervaded the house. Meg wanted a few curls about her face, and Jo undertook to pinch the papered locks with a pair of hot tongs.

" 'Ought they to smoke like that?' asked Beth from her perch on the bed.
"It's the dampness drying," replied Jo.

" 'What a queer smell! It's like burned feathers,' observed Amy, smoothing her own pretty curls with a superior air.

" 'There, now I'll take off the papers and you'll see a cloud of little ringlets,' said Jo, putting down the tongs.

"She did take off the papers, but no cloud of ringlets appeared, for the hair came with the papers, and the horrified hairdresser laid a row of little scorched bundles on the bureau before her victim.

'Oh, oh, oh! What have you done? I'm spoiled! I can't go! My hair, oh, my hair!' wailed Meg, looking with despair at the uneven frizzle on her forehead."

I think any of us modern-day curlies can relate to hairdos gone completely wrong, but things always turn out better in the end. I won’t spoil the whole book, but thankfully Meg’s look was successfully achieved.

One of my all-time favorite books is "Jane Eyre" by Charlotte Bronte. Jane is a plain girl who doesn’t think much of her appearance and ends up marrying a man not particularly handsome himself. This excerpt comes from the beginning of the book when Jane is a young school girl. The man talking is the proprietor of Lowood, the school, and you can guess how these people felt about vanity.

" 'Miss Temple, Miss Temple, what is that girl with curled hair? Red hair, ma'am, curled -- curled all over?' And extending his cane, he pointed to the awful object, his hand shaking as he did so.

" ' It is Julia Severn,' replied Miss Temple, very quietly.

" 'Julia Severn, ma'am! And why has she, or any other, curled hair? Why, in defiance of every precept and principle of this house, does she conform to the world so openly -- here in an evangelical, charitable establishment -- as to wear her hair one mass of curls?'

" 'Julia's hair curls naturally'" returned Miss Temple, still more quietly.

" 'Naturally! Yes, but we are not to conform to nature; I wish these girls to be the children of Grace: and why that abundance? I have again and again intimated that I desire the hair to be arranged closely, modestly, plainly. Miss Temple, that girl's hair must be cut off entirely; I will send a barber tomorrow, and I see others who have far too much of the excrescence -- that tall girl, tell her to turn round.' "

Later in the book, Jane revisits the subject of curls when she paints a portrait of Rosamund Oliver, a beautiful friend of the family.

" 'Would I sketch a portrait of her, to show to papa?' 'With pleasure,' I replied; and I felt a thrill of artist delight at the idea of copying from so perfect and radiant a model. She had then on a dark-blue silk dress; her arms and her neck were bare; her only ornament was her chestnut tresses, which waved over her shoulders with all the wild grace of natural curls. I took a sheet of fine cardboard, and drew a careful outline. I promised myself the pleasure of colouring it; and, as it was getting late then, I told her she must come and sit another day."

Even Will Shakespeare had something to say on the subject of curls. Curls have always been seen as romantic, and are often associated with love and beauty. This reference is from Sonnet 12.

"When I do count the clock that tells the time,
And see the brave day sunk in hideous night;
When I behold the violet past prime,
And sable curls, all silvered o'er with white;
When lofty trees I see barren of leaves,
Which erst from heat did canopy the herd,
And summer's green all girded up in sheaves."

Even though they made seem a little boring and old-fashioned, give the classics a chance. You'll get a chance to see how much curls were valued throughout history.


Majoring in Curls  
 
 

We all know I love curls. They can be the world’s biggest annoyance, but also life’s biggest joy. It never gets old when someone randomly stops you to ask, “Is that natural?” And you modestly nod and smile a silly little grin as you walk away.

So why are there so many of you ladies still straightening your hair?

I understand that straight hair does have the reputation of being in control and put together. And when you toss your hair, it automatically falls back into place. But is it really worth what it takes to get it? Do you want to spend precious hours of your life patiently clamping and straightening section by section of hair? I’ll wager that if you tallied up how many hours a week you spend straightening your hair, and figure out how much it is yearly, you’d be shocked.

For those of you out there who only straighten the hair once or twice a week, I apologize. You’ve created a good balance between you and your hair. But I’ve got to tell you, those one or two days will throw off the curl pattern for the curly days. If you quit the iron cold turkey, you’d find smoother, less crazy curls.

Contrary to popular belief, it’s relatively easy to pick out a curly girl masquerading as a straightie. The way they carry themselves is completely different than how they hold a head of curls. The sensation of free, bouncing curls is so different from straight hair that lies against your head.

I’ve only straightened my hair once in my life. (In my defense, I was coerced into it by well-meaning friends.) The day I did it, I noticed how I wouldn’t shake my head or even turn my head if I could help it. I was self-consciously holding my head still for fear that the curl would return! Needless to say, I had a little bit of a sore neck the next day, and my head was grateful for the curl to come back.

No matter how much I promote the idea of embracing curls, I know there will always be a good portion of you out there who will still straighten your hair. You are the rebels who want smooth, flat hair every day. (You know who you are ; - ) ) Relaxers and straighteners are so damaging to your very fragile locks! Hair is pretty tough and strong all by itself, but the follicles become brittle every time you fry it.

So this is my advice to you closet curlies -- tips that I hope will restore a little of that shine and strength back into your hair.

As I said before, try not to straighten it every day. Give those tresses a rest in between fry days. That rest gives your hair a little time to oil up and get a little stronger before the next heat session.

Use a deep conditioner at least once a week. A thick, rich cream-based conditioner should be left on for about a half hour, wrapped in a hot towel or a heat cap.

When straightening your hair, try to use a flat iron with ceramic plates. Even though ceramic irons are more expensive, they are less damaging then metal plates.

Don’t ever use those wet-to-dry straighteners! It makes me shudder to even think about.

You all know that feeling you get when taking a brush to wet hair -- hair pulling and snapping! It’s like hearing Styrofoam being cut or nails running down a chalkboard. Just imagine the damage caused by that excess pulling!

Don't go retro on me and straighten your hair with an actual iron. I have seen my sister take an iron her long, beautiful curls, never heeding my pleas to stop.

If you really want straight hair -- everyday -- ditch the high-chemical relaxers and do a little research on Japanese, or thermal reconditioning. This process uses chemicals to keep the hair straight, but it also conditions and strengthens the hair with proteins to offset some of the damage. But be sure that you like your hair straight, because once you do TR, the curl is gone forever -- at least until the new growth comes in. And that's another story.

So if you’re insistent upon the straight hair, play it safe. Keep those curls healthy!


Majoring in Curls

Email your questions to Aimee.

Spring is just around the corner, which makes me think of bare feet, linen skirts and sunshine.

Every year, it feels like an eternity before the weather starts to turn. For some reason, the coming of spring makes people want to do something different, especially when it comes to their appearance. At my college, girls are changing their manicured nail colors and lightening their hair. I think blond is a popular color for spring simply because it matches the sun. Some opt for highlights, and some go for a more drastic look by bleaching their hair blond!

1. Get a Spring Cut

One change that is easy and gives a whole different look is to cut your hair. A shoulder-length, or even chin-length style can be a cute, different and easy look for curly girls. If you do decide to go through with the big cut, know what you’re getting into. Curls have a tendency to tighten up if the excess weight is gone, so go slowly.

2. Moisturize

Spring also means humidity-inducing frizz (Little Orphan Annie isn't an attractive look for a college girl!) Make sure you’re moisturizing the curls, because curls that are getting enough hydration are less likely to frizz.

3. Find the Right Stylist...

Once you’ve got the whole frizz issue under control, make sure that your stylist knows what he/she is doing. Don’t let them try to cut your hair in a straight line around your chin because this only works for girls with pin-straight hair! I don’t care how fabulous Jennifer Aniston looks, it usually won’t work with the curls. So find the right stylist and speak up before he or she picks up the scissors.

4. And the Right Style

Now that you've got a fresh 'do, there are so many ways to style it. For those of you who are a little wary of looking like a little girl, a side part is an easy way to chic up the shorter curls. Headbands work better than ever with shorter hair, and there are so many styles to choose from. Personally, I adore the uber-wide plastic headbands covered in satin or silk. Depending on your taste, you can get headbands in pretty much any color or type you can think of. Decorated bobby pins and small barrettes also work great, whether it's pulling some wayward curls or simply as an accent.

One of my favorite styles is to create a hair-band out of twists of curls. Starting at the part, on one side, I twist (or braid) that small inch-wide section of hair that ends behind my ear. By twisting in a small piece of hair at a time, the twist stays close to my scalp and I can just pin it back underneath all the other curls. I do the same on the other side and I've created a curled headband that keeps the curls out of my eyes!

For you ladies out there who are up on the trends and are worried about the stylishness of such a hairstyle, look no further than the Oscars. The Academy Awards are a gold mine of the latest trends. This year, I couldn’t help but notice the number of stars wearing their hair shorter and curly or wavy. From Jennifer Lopez’s tousled curls to Naomi Watts’ soft, chin-length barrel waves, short textured looks abounded on the red carpet. So take the style and run with it.


Majoring in Curls  
 
 

As the popular saying goes, “How will you know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been?” Think of your hair this way, too.

Yes, curls go in and out of style. We’ve witnessed it for decades and generations. But they’ve never been a fad or a trend. Curls have evolved, just like us. They’ve had their bad moments, just like us. (Can you say the '80s?) We know how to take better care of them now, how to cut them, and how to display them best. You can’t deny that curls have always been beautiful, regardless of the era. So listen up, girlies. It’s time for Curl History 101. And what better way to track the evolution of the curl than through the magic of the movies!

One time period that I wish I lived in was the Regency Era, which is shown in any movie based on a Jane Austen novel. Yes, Darcy is dashing and dreamy, and "Pride and Prejudice" is a wonderful film. But I love the curls in "Sense and Sensibility," with hair design by Jan Archibald. The three Dashwood sisters have lovely curly hair, all in different styles. Elinor, the oldest, has softer curly hair that she pins up in the back and lets down in loose curls around her face. The free-spirited Marianne wears her curls in a style similar to her sister, but has much tighter ringlets. And the youngest, Margaret, just wears her thick, wild curls down. Most Austen females wear their in a bun or twist, with loose, framing curls. This style always looks elegant, even with jeans.

One movie that’s also one of my favorite books is "Little Women." The movie takes place during and after the Civil War in Concord, Massachusetts. The four main characters are sisters, who wear their hair in many different hairstyles throughout the film. In the first half, you can tell how popular curls were at that time. James D. Brown was the hairstylist for Little Women, and both Jo and Meg have beautiful long curly hair that they curl with a hot rod (to a disastrous end.) Little Amy puts her hair up in rags every night, which produces smooth ringlets that she pins back on either side. (Tying hair up in rags really does work! I used to do it quite a bit when I was younger.) Once the girls of this period came of age, they turned up their hair, which meant lots of braids and pinning. Heaven forbid a grown lady would wear her hair down!

Now I know that the movie Titanic gets a lot of negative comments. People think it’s too sappy or girly -- a chick flick. But those people don’t know something beautiful when they see it. The Edwardian costumes alone are a site to behold. But Rose’s hair is stunning, and a good example of the power of curl at the turn of the century! Designer Kay Georgiou created hair for Rose -- hair that was the envy of all others. When pinned up, she looks very prim and respectable. But her curls are let down and loose for dramatic effect.

Can you imagine what Rose would’ve looked like if she or any of the other women had straightened their hair? Not as pretty, right? Curls have always been associated with that ethereal, romantic look. And the females of the time knew how to use hair accessories to accentuate their waves and curls. Today's curly girls can take a lesson from these film heroines by adding a little sparkle to the curls.

I could honestly go on and on with examples of movies and eras when curls were beautiful. It really wasn’t until the '20s that it became popular to get rid of the curls and embrace the bob. Although straight hair became popular around this time, it didn’t mean that curls died completely. Far from it!

The next time you see a Victorian or Elizabethan movie, don’t forget to observe the curls on the characters.


Majoring in Curls  
 
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I’ve always maintained the idea that nature is good. If it comes from a plant that’s grown from the earth, it’s probably good for me and my hair. After all, humans are natural, so nature must complement how our bodies work.

I’ve had tight curly hair for about eight years, and in that time I’ve tried a lot of products. And the ones that seem to work the best with my hair are those that are either pure or contain a good amount of natural ingredients. Hair conditioners and creams with lots of moisturizing elements make my hair feel incredibly soft, and make me feel good because I’m not putting tons of chemicals on my body. It always makes me less nervous when I can recognize and pronounce ingredients. And on a college student's tight budget, they don't break the bank.

Olive oil is one of my favorite natural things in the entire world. I use it in my hair, on my skin, and -- way too liberally -- in my cooking. It has been used for thousands of years as a skin soother and moisturizer by the Greeks, Italians, and pretty much everyone in the Mediterranean area. These days, thankfully, you don’t have to live in a warm climate like that to reap the benefits. You can use it straight from the kitchen, without any additions. Massage a few tablespoons into your scalp and throw on a shower cap for around 30 minutes. Make sure you shampoo well afterwards or your hair will retain that slightly greasy look. (Believe me, I’ve tried it.)

Shea butter is also wonderful for the hair and skin. It comes from the nut of a tree in Africa known as the Mangifolia tree and is very prized because of its properties. It’s a natural protectant from the sun’s rays, which is oh-so important these days. And it has strong cell regenerative properties, so it restructures skin and hair cells. Ladies with brittle, dry curls would do well to invest in some shea butter!

We can add to this wonderful list the miraculous aloe vera plant. As well as being a good source of hydration for hair, it’s a general heal-all for skin problems. A huge bottle of 100 percent aloe vera is one of the cheapest beauty aids I’ve ever found. You can use it on wet hair as a styling aid, on dry hair as a frizz-control gel, as a facial moisturizer, and as a soothing remedy for burns. And in some cultures, it’s been used as a remedy for hair loss.

Avocado Oil and honey are two other moisturizers to add to the list. I love them primarily because they taste great. (Not together, I hope) But you can also apply them to the scalp and massage them in just like the olive oil for the same benefits. Play around with these different types of pure substances before you reject them. Some may work better with one type of hair than another.

Although some herbs and plants don’t actually do much for your hair or skin, they’re great when added to shampoos or treatments for an extra boost of scent. One of my favorites is lavender, which may be too strong if added too liberally. With all of these, it’s better to start with a drop or two and work your way up, depending on how strong you like the scent. Lavender has a naturally calming and relaxing effect, which is handy for stress-laden college lives. Sandalwood also has a similar effect, and it's a little more earthy if you don't like floral scents.

These two scents can also can be used as a remedy for depression, which can affect people in the winter when the sun disappears for days on end. Another good remedy for the winter blues is a citrus scent. If you add a few drops of lemon, bitter orange, or grapefruit extract, I guarantee it’ll perk you up. This is especially beneficial early in the morning when it’s hard to pick get yourself out of bed to that first class of the day.

Keep an eye out for those natural ingredients and figure out which ones work for you. In the long run, you might be creating your own natural potions that are geared just for you!


Majoring in Curls  
 
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I recently returned from a semester abroad in the lovely city of London. Four months in a different country provided countless opportunities for culture, museums, and theater.

The amazing thing about museums in London is that they’re completely free! Unlike most U.S. museums. England encourages people to absorb as much culture as possible without having to pay for it, which I love. The National Gallery in Trafalgar Square is the largest museum of paintings in the city, and I visited it three or four times. The time periods of the paintings span from the Medieval to around the 1800s.

When I visit museums, I’m drawn to paintings of people and how they lived—family portraits, saints and religious figures, and mythological scenes. It’s fascinating to see the differences in how people dressed and presented themselves.

Typically the first thing I notice in these paintings is the hairstyles. And it amazes me how many women (and men) are painted with curly hair. Compared to more modern art, curly subjects are more prevalent than those with straight hair. Where do you think the name for Botticelli curls came from?

From a purely artistic perspective, curls are a fabulous way to create depth and texture on a canvas. Having a subject with curls is aesthetically pleasing for the viewer and challenging for the painter. It’s actually very difficult to paint curls because of the differences in light and dark, and the fact that they’re very close to each other. For the viewer, the curls make the eye travel the entire painting much faster.

My favorite curls were on paintings and statues of Venus, the goddess of love. Curls are typically associated with sensuality. But they also are seen on many religious figures.

In Sandro Botticelli’s Venus and Mars, the two subjects are reclining opposite, with Venus watching Mars as he sleeps. Her hair falls in curls around her head in tighter coils and a small bun, while longer tresses drape over her shoulders. Mars himself also has gorgeous shiny locks that fall over his face. Botticelli was a master of curls, and I think without them his paintings wouldn't be the same. He also did numerous paintings of the Virgin and the baby Jesus. In the majority of them, both subjects have lovely curls.

The next time you visit a museum (which I highly recommend doing as often as possible), take a good look at the subjects and how they do their hair. Our ancestors knew that curls were gorgeous, and they took full advantage of it.

Whenever I’m at a loss for a new way to arrange my curls, I always take a page from historical paintings or movies. The people of ages past knew how to mix and match chignons, defined curls, braids, and natural curls. Historical looks won’t make you look too old or frumpy, I promise. Everyone will be asking how you did it.

Take a page out of Botticelli’s book and try something new!


Majoring in Curls  
 
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The holiday season is finally upon us! Who can resist time with the family? For college students with a semester of the year under our belts, it's a time to relax.

But unfortunately, December also can be a month of utter chaos and craziness, especially with finals, Christmas shopping, the trip home for winter break, partying with old friends and overeating. Add to all this the colder weather, and it’s a recipe for disaster. Overdoing things causes your immune system to crash, and you can feel the difference if you don’t take care of yourself. It can be horrible for both your health and your hair!

I’m not suggesting popping vitamins and Echinacea all day long. But a few changes in your eating habits will drastically improve the look and condition of your hair. The last thing we want at a holiday party are dull, frizzy curls. This isn't Halloween, after all.

To prevent hair loss, everyone needs about 50 grams of protein during the day. So don’t skimp on the chicken and fish. All people lose about 25 to 250 hairs a day. This seems like a huge range, but most people consistently lose the same amount daily. Whenever I shampoo, which is usually about twice a week, I always end up with a hand full of hair -- as I’m sure the rest of you do. Don’t worry about this unless it seems to be a lot more than usual. This could be due to excessive amounts of stress, poor nutrition or a hormonal problem. If you’re really worried, definitely give your doctor a ring and let them know.

The cold weather of the season also can cause dry, brittle hair. That means you need to give it more moisture! Never skip out on the conditioner. But a lack of fatty acids in your diet can also make the hair dull, no matter how much you condition. Primrose, flaxseed and fish oils will help this. You can buy capsules at any vitamin store or pharmacy.

You can also get another boost of shine from foods rich in iron and Vitamin B. Green leafy veggies are always a healthy choice. They are full of iron and other lovely nutrients. In addition, foods high in Vitamin C are crucial because they enable your body to better absorb iron. Vitamin C also increases circulation in the scalp and promotes growth. So load up. Whole grains, legumes, eggs, carrots, cauliflower, and raisins are great examples of foods high in Vitamin B. If you don’t like eating healthy, get over it! Cut back on the saturated fats, caffeine and corn syrup. Skin, hair, and teeth all benefit from good food.


Majoring in Curls  
 
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Because I came from a small city in Maine, I didn’t to have the chance to go out on the town all that often. And that meant I didn't have many excuses for dressing up and making my hair fancy!

But for college students, life can be one big party. There is always an excuse to go out on the town. If you’re one of those people who only goes to parties to drink, disregard the next 500 words. But, if you are like me and revel in primping your overall look, please continue.

Being a curly girl gives you infinitely more options and choices for hairstyles than your straighter friends have. And curly hair lends itself to a dressy look. I’ve had people compliment my hairstyles on occasions where I didn’t even mean for it to look special. You know what I’m talking about. Curls just lend themselves to night life.

The length and thickness of your hair plays a small role, but there’s almost nothing that you can't do with curly hair. The only thing I must forbid is to brush those curls and pull them back into a tight ponytail. This is only acceptable if you are a ballerina and need to wear a bun. Not only is it bad for your hair, but the severe look doesn't flatter anyone.

When considering night looks, think about the location of the event and about your outfit. For a Saturday night date or for heading out with the girls, I would leave my hair down because I’m most comfortable and confident that way. I know some girls who love to pull it half up and half down with some tendrils around the face. A looser style like this probably needs only a little anti-frizz serum and a diffuser to work well. You can dress it up with clips, barrettes, headbands and whatever else you feel like. I love hair sticks too. If you want to add a little more polish to this look, take a curling iron and wrap random curls around the barrel.

For those curlies who are a little less adventurous and prefer tried-and-true methods, why not try a side part? Any hairstyle will look brand new if you try a part on the side. If too many curls fall out, throw in a couple of bobby pins to catch them. I like the ones with itty-bitty flowers on the end are my faves.

Whenever I go to a concert or to the theater, I like to look a bit more elegant than on a regular Saturday night. Ever since I learned how to French braid, I’ve been trying new things with my hair. And I love it when I get a chance to show it off.

One of my favorites is the "Cinderella twist." You can part it on the side or in the middle -- whichever works for you. Instead of French braiding the traditional way, you French twist. Start with two pieces of hair and every time they pass during the twist, add a little more hair. You can do both sides like pigtails, or only halfway down, pinned in the back. If it looks too severe, pull a couple of ringlets out to frame your face. It works with any outfit and is easy, as long as you know how to French braid. If you don’t know how, I highly recommend learning! Ask your hairdresser to show you how to do it the next time you go for a cut.

If you want more options, play with your hair some night when you have nothing to do. Try some updos, braids or twists. Try a side part and throw in some hot rollers for a vintage 30’s look. (This one looks great with red lipstick!) Try little twists all over your head. Pile all those luscious curls up on top for a Botticelli look.

Honestly, I could go on forever. Dressing up and primping is fun and makes you feel great, so enjoy those curls!


Majoring in Curls  
 
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When they see a boy with curls, I’ve heard older ladies say, “Such pretty curls wasted on a boy.”

Now I don’t know about you, but I happen to find men with curls incredibly sexy.

It is not in my nature as a writer to be sexist. But in all fairness, I don't believe most guys scour the Internet for sites on how to make their hair shine and their curls bounce. They don’t set out looking for sites like NaturallyCurly.com.

As women, on the one hand, we obsess about our hair daily -- even hourly. And a fair percentage of us are convinced that our hair never looks good enough. Guys, on the other hand, have this amazing knack of appearing like they don't care about their hair at all, and it looks amazing. Take the hint, ladies!

Walking around campus from day to day, I see many, many men. And in the past two years, I’ve noticed that curls have become popular and commonplace with younger men. Even when I was in high school, more guys than ever were growing their hair out and letting it curl.

I’ve seen men in classes and on campus with slightly curly hair, afros, shoulder-length curls, waves, ringlets, locks -- you name it. All these guys can pull off any look with effortless ease because their hair isn't their source of confidence -- or insecurity. Yes, having a good hair day works wonders for anyone’s self-esteem. But guys don't tend to let bad hair ruin their entire day. If a woman is having a bad hair day, the day often can seem like a failure.

Now, most guys I know don’t fuss over their hair too much, and if they do use any product, it’s usually a gel or a pomade. My brother has very curly hair that he wears slightly shaggy, and he only uses a little bit of gel. My sister's various boyfriends also have beautiful curly hair of all lengths. And some haven't used any product! This seems to be another clue at the mystery of why boys have fabulous curls. They don’t fuss with it, and they don’t use too much gunk.

One of my observations is that you hardly ever see a curly-haired man wearing his hair straight. I have never met a man who straightened his hair. It's very hard to picture. Yes, they will cut it very short. But never straighten it. Guys know it’s ridiculous to spend so much time and effort trying to change the texture of their hair. It’s a pointless task. Why bother if you don’t even have straight hair?

So listen up, ladies. Spending loads of cash on loads of products in search of that Holy Grail isn't much fun. Frying your hair with dryers and straighteners isn’t a day in the park either Don’t stress over that one curl that won’t go the right way or about how the humidity is creating a halo of frizz.

Just go with it, like the men do. The curls will follow suit.


Majoring in Curls  
 
 

Out of all the phobias in the world, the one that I couldn’t imagine having is a fear of flying. Yes, it’s much more expensive than taking a bus or driving (road trip!). But it's worth it if you’ve got the finances.

Now that the school year is getting back into full swing, students are all returning to universities, colleges, and studying abroad. I am one of the fortunate few studying abroad in England, so I have had the good luck to fly across the Atlantic recently. As much as I love the classy flight attendants, free drinks, and in-flight TV, I can’t stand the lack of hair control I have.

Air travel is hard on hair, no matter how you spin it. The air within planes is conditioned and circulated and also very dry. And as we all know, dry air equals frizz, pouf and ‘triangle hair.’ In the summer,when your hair inflates to three times it’s normal size, you are allowed to blame it on the humidity. The same situation applies to planes.

"Seat hair" -- much like "hat head" or "bed head" -- is also a huge issue for girls who love to leave their curls down. The fabric covering of the seats is not particularly complimentary to curly hair. Simply leaning back creates fiction and causes the hair cuticles to become ruffled. We won’t even begin to address the problems caused by sleeping on a plane.

But there are things you can do to protect your curls while flying. Drinking a lot of water isn't only beneficial to your hair. It also helps hydrate your skin.

The night before your flight, do a deep conditioning or hot oil treatment. It’ll reduce the frizz by locking in some extra moisture. For an added boost, heat the treatment with a hot, damp towel or heat cap for the recommended time. And for the most part, try to avoid treatments that list alcohol as one of the top five or so ingredients. Alcohol will cause your hair to frizz up because it dries curls.

Some curlies feel more comfortable traveling with their hair up so they don’t have to deal with the full head of hair getting in the way. It’s convenient and time-saving not to have to worry about it. A French twist or simple chignon is the classiest way to go.

Take a little shine serum or anti-frizz solution and rub it on your fingertips. Gather the hair loosely in a low ponytail and start twisting clockwise. As you’re twisting, bring the twist closer to your head so that the end of the twist is now at the top. You can secure it with whatever you want -- bobby pins, claw clips, hair sticks, glitter clips, etc. They all look fabulous. A scarf or headband also is a good traveling look, keeping your curls off your face in style.

Packing is a little difficult for some overly concerned curly girls. They’re under the impression that they need to pack all their special shampoos, conditioners, and 50-odd styling products. If you’re going abroad for while, pack the products you can't live without. Leave the rest at home. You can have some fun trying out foreign products. Your "Holy Grail" product might be awaiting you in some foreign destination.



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