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curly hair

My beautiful curls.

They say that the “first cut is the deepest” and that’s exactly how I felt the first time I got my hair cut after deciding to stop chemically straighten my hair. After months of hating my locks and hiding them behind a ponytail, I decided I needed a trim. After all, I know that cutting your mane helps it grow and my straight ends were looking really sad and split. I also know that the more straight hair I cut off, the closer I get to being a curly girl. But since my hair has two personalities right now – curly until a few inches below my ears and straight from there to a few inches below my shoulder, I wasn’t sure where and how to get it cut. Should I go to the salon where I usually take my straight strands? Or hit a curly hair salon for the first curly cut of the rest of my life? I knew the former would blow dry and flat iron my hair straight and I admit having smooth strands (or at least strands that were all doing the same thing) was tempting. But I couldn’t bare the thought of the curls I do have being subjected to all that tugging, trauma and heat. Right now my hair may not look good, but I do love the fact that the top half is the healthiest hair I’ve had in six years. These virgin strands have never been shampooed (I use DevaCurl No-Poo which doesn’t contain harsh detergents). They’ve never been touched by a brush (I finger comb my hair in the shower when it’s slathered in conditioner) or felt the heat of a blow dryer or flat iron (I air dry even on the coldest days). Not one chemical has touched their surface, but rather they’ve been given almost as much tender loving care as my two children when they were newborns. (Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration, but not much of one!) In light of this, I decided that part of committing to going curly was going to a curly salon. So I emailed Lorraine Massey (whose Curly Girl 2 book I’m co-writing) and asked if she could squeeze me in for a cut. At first I thought she’d think I was nuts since I’m not a curly girl yet, but she happily made time for me one night after all her regular appointments.

Walking into Devachan that night, I felt a little silly since at first glance I still look pretty straight. But then I took a look at the other clients and was in awe of all the curls around me. Each head of hair was different and unique and I would have traded my strands for any one of them. They looked healthy and natural. They looked free. And all the women whose heads they sat upon looked beautiful. No matter how thin, fat, tall or short these women were, they looked gorgeous. So if I hadn’t been ready to drink the curly Kool-Aid yet, this was my turning point. Of course, my excitement was tempered when I sat in Lorraine’s chair and saw my reflection in the mirror. The hair that I rationalized looked okay these last few months looked awful. Even though I joke that there are two personalities of hair on my head, I’ve kind of thought that the curly part just added volume and that the difference between the two wasn’t so striking. I guess being surrounded by mirrors that showed every inch of my head –front and back and sides- showed me the truth. Then Lorraine went to work, spritzing my dry hair with a tad of lavender spray and snipping away. She encouraged me that my curls were growing and that I was on my way. Then she told me that I didn’t have to spend the rest of my growing out phase in a ponytail. I wasn’t sure what she meant since I knew blow-drying my hair straight was a suggestion that would never come out of her curlcentric lips. “You can curl the bottom using clips and a bit of gel,” she said. “Really?” I said skeptically. But then she showed me how. She took the straight ends of my hair, spritzed them a bit and applied some gel, wrapped them in little clips and left them in my hair for about ten minutes while I sat under a hooded dryer. Then she took them out and voila, I had wavy, gorgeous hair. I looked the girls I’d envied just half an hour ago. I couldn’t believe it. I was reminded what I looked like curly and I liked it. The difference was so striking. I actually loved my hair. Yes, loved! Of course, this was just short-term passion because once wet they’d go back to straight, but I couldn’t believe how good it made me feel to have my hair done. I didn’t pay enough attention to what Lorraine to be able to replicate it myself, but I know next time I get a hair cut I will. And I also realized that if I do have a special occasion or want to give myself a lift, going to the salon for a little curling will do the trick. It’s something so simple and so small, but this realization lifted me up and filled me with motivation just when I was feeling weary from the marathon of going curly.

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Your voyage really speaks to me, and has inspired me to share mine: I know we've all heard it at some time, "I wish I had your hair, no really, my hair falls limp, what I wouldn't give for some curls and body." I would always snicker, and roll my eyes, "Do I look stupid? You'd trade your straight, no nonsense SMOOTH hair for my curly, unsophisticated, difficult and always defiant mess?" I've carried this chip on my shoulder since I was a child and ALL of my female (and male) cousins had either soft waves or sheets of glass for hair. My mom is french and native American with fine and soft curls. My dad is Persian and has thick and smooth waves. I am a Cajun-Persian and I have (had) pinky wrapped ringlets, spirited from the scalp and so thick I haven't met a rubber band that deserves an encore. 4A-3C and when I spend enough time on my mane it is shiny and straight. When I used to make it curly, it took some time, the roots were tight, but it would literally spring to life. Shiny, curly and quite heavy were my previous curls and I just wasn't happy. The more I think about it now, I really should have been overjoyed! I was given a second chance at embracing my curls, my texture and the time it took to get hair that got public compliments. I have a past of relaxers, thinning cuts, disasters, oil slicks, re-growth, spirals, lotions, gels, Unicure conditioner, and more. I had everything under control, including a great (or so I thought) genius of a hair chemist that helped me tame my mane and feel good about it. I found myself pregnant, and my mind raced..."What the hell am I going to do with my hair?" I pictured myself rockin' a Persian fro and I shuddered to think of the time it would take to tame it. Five months into baby carrying and I was pleasantly surprised. Yes, it was a bit kinky, and curly as ever, but it was a beautiful dark brown, shiny and healthy. It took me some time to get it to calm, when I blew it out and ironed it straight it looked pretty fab. Let me reiterate, it wasn't easy, but it was lovely. Still, engrained in my soul was the ticking clock of post nine months I would visit my hair-tamer for a mild relaxer, just enough to help it lay a bit flatter. Right? It sounds mellow, doable, and boy would it cut down on styling time, right? After all, I had a baby to look after, I can't spend all my time on my hair, after all, I'm not a vain woman. My beautiful baby girl arrives, surprises my blonde fine haired husband and I with a head of thick brown hair and eyelashes for days! I let things settle, let my small amount of cash build up and I made an appointment. I look back now and wish I had a hair mentor that would tell me, "Girl, enjoy your hair, wait a while, it's beautiful, thick, long... leave well enough alone!" In reality, my hair mentor existed as a child that spent her days as the tallest girl, hanging out in the back row of class, eyes fixated on the sea of straight manes, fresh from the shower, no work, no fuss, and that child said to me, "Hey, it's just a relaxer, then your hair will be smooth, do it, do it, do it!" So, I'm sitting in the hairdresser who shall remain nameless' chair. My heart is racing, my stomach is in knots, I panic and I check out. She tells me, I'm out of Mizani Butter, but I have this other stuff, it's pretty good. She holds out the box of Manetame. Son of a gun, I should have known. It comes in a box for crying out loud. I should say no, I should tell her I'll come back another time, when she has the tried and tested product we used for years without a problem. What do I do? "Yeah okay, let's use that, sounds good!" Was my body inhabited by an evil hair spirit? Was I not in control of my own decision making? Who the heck was I? Why did I say yes? At the time, I was desperate to make a change, any change. I wanted to feel in control of my body again and to do that I allowed this fruitcake of a woman who truly didn't care about my hair or her failures as my "expert" to go ahead and put a boxed treatment on my virgin hair. I knew it was a mistake, every step of the way, as she raked it to the ends, as the sulfuric scent made me dizzy, as my heart was in my stomach, I let it continue. While she washed my hair, it felt like nylon. Stripped, fine, plastic sounding. I could hear it snap as she brushed out the tangles and balls of hair fell to the floor. She murdered my mane. She didn't tame, she poached! She killed my hair. I went home, in tears, and so very ashamed that I didn't speak up. I spent the next 12 months pulling out clumps of hair, cutting layer after layer hoping to find some health in my self-inflicted mess. Here I am, 13 months later and my hair still is in ruins. I have made my decision. From this day forward, my hair will be mine. My hair moves will be motivated by careful thought and research. I will not allow anyone to tell me or influence me to think that my spirited, curly hair is anything but beautiful. My road to recovery... The damaged hair won't do anything in it's natural state. It air-dries frizzy and without curl, the roots are kinky and I have so many different lengths that finding a nice style is like solving an unsolvable equation in trigonometry. My only saving grace, which I reserve for special occasions is my innate ability to blow then iron my hair straight. However, due to the increased dryness it is looking less full and quite dull. I am going to grow and grow until my hair is "clean" and I feel natural. After all, my daughter is growing curls, beautiful curls and I want to be honest when I tell her that we aren't going to put a chemical anything on them, and I want my hair to be her shining example. I am taking GNC's Wellbeing be-Beautiful hair-skin-nails vitamins along with my pre-natal vitamins, Omega oils and calcium. I drink at least 7-8 glasses of water a day. Eat healthy and don't smoke. That should cover the internal hair health. I have a really flakey scalp which I treat with Head & Shoulders every 10 days. The rest of the time I condition, oil, and treat my hair with love (and frustration). I trim the ends as my hair grows and I am constantly tempted to chop it all off! We all know that wouldn't be smart, I'd look nuts. I have big eyes, and I'm very tall and I think it would not suit me. I need a support group to stay strong, to keep it long, to keep my eye on the prize.

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