Aimee Gerow reflects on a lifetime of searching for the perfect curly products.

Majoring in Curls

 
 
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I keep a box full of old things that I’ve written since high school. There are academic papers, journals, scribbles on napkins – all sorts of stuff. After recently attending a two-week writers’ retreat, I got the chance to throw a whole bunch of short stories and poems into the box for posterity. As a result I ended up spending three hours reading old work, most of which I don’t even remember writing. Some of the journal entries from 8th grade had me laughing out loud. I stumbled across a compilation of poems I wrote my senior year of high school. and this was one of them.

Confessions of a Junkie

I admit to the crime, I’m a self-confessed junkie.
I spend all of my cash on the stuff.
What I need is rehab or a patch of some sort,
but I don’t think that they’d be enough.

No I don’t mean smoking, sniffing, or booze.
I wouldn’t touch that trash if you paid me.
I spend all my cash on face and hair stuff
all made to enhance one’s beauty.

I’ll linger at Brooks searching for redemption>

using up hours on end.
I’ve bought endless face washes, lotions, and sprays
the cashier has become a good friend.

Half empty bottles of mousse and of gel
litter my bureau and sink.
Results of my search for the perfect defrizzer,
a quest that is fruitless, I think.

All sorts of make-up I’ve only used once
that I bought on a whim and a want.
Of lip gloss I thought would look pretty on me
and give me a face I could flaunt.

There’s no use in trying to help me.
It’s a curse I must hide without fail.
I will always be buying and searching and seeking
the ultimate beauty Holy Grail.

The idea of the Holy Grail comes from religious stories and iconography. Historically it is known as the cup that Christ drank out of at the Last Supper, and which held his blood as he was dying on the cross. Thanks to a little book called "The Da Vinci Code," the timeless popularity of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and other pop culture icons, the Holy Grail has become a household phrase, even for people who aren’t religious. But the idea has changed over time. The phrase has come to mean anything that’s so mysterious and powerful that it could be potentially change a life. Who would’ve thought it might apply to a hair product?

I’m sure that many of my curly friends have a similar addiction, for which there is no cure. It’s something you have to live with, ladies. Even if you’ve found a mousse or gel that you love, after two or three months (maybe less) you start to get itchy. You get that feeling every time you walk by the beauty aisle of the nearest pharmacy or grocery store. Even if I'm not in the market for something new, I automatically slow down and glance down the aisle. Perhaps I think that some light from the heavens will illuminate my perfect styling product.

I personally do love spending a little time in those aisles, despite the guilt, because I like looking at new products and brands. I like to read ingredient lists, smell a few concoctions and feel the textures. Over the years of being a curly girl, you figure out aspects of products you like and don’t like pretty fast.

One of the reasons many of us are regularly in search of the Holy Grail is because products we've grown to love stop working. Your hair seems to get used to a product. If you give it something new and fresh, it seems perks up instantly.

A not-so-pleasant side affect of this addiction is that with all this buying and testing, there’s bound to be some that you don’t care for at all. One day, you open the bathroom cupboard to find bottles and jars falling at your feet. What to do with all these barely used products? Find curly family members and friends in your area! Trade products. Luckily for me, I have two sisters and a mother all with incredibly curly hair – two with very thick hair and two with finer hair. Between the four of us, (and a curly-haired brother), products don’t usually go to waste very often.

I wouldn’t feel too guilty about the never-ending search for your Holy Grail. Maybe it puts a bit of a dent in your purse, but it's okay. There are worse addictions.