Hey guys, long time looker but first time poster!
I have (what I think is) a good mix between 3A and 3B hair. Maybe a little more on the 3B side. I have very dark hair.
I was always so very, very jealous of my cousin and sister (we were all born within 1 year of each other). My sister has hair the color of gold and was 2C/3A. So her curls were looser, softer, and that COLOR - everyone loved it. My cousin was blonde and had pin straight hair with zero frizz, but sometimes it would wave. Had gorgeous natural highlights. I felt like the black sheep of the family!
We are all in the 25 year-old range. So back in the day, straight hair was the thing. My cousin had straight blonde hair and my sister could blow dry and run a quick iron through her hair and it would look sleek and gorgeous. I, on the other hand, would just have a poof of hair. Not to mention that my sister grew her hair out while my grandmother insisted that I have short (above shoulder!) hair. On already very curly hair! Eep.
My hair was dark (which I hated at the time due to the light-haired people in my family), course and unruly - while my sister and cousin had gorgeous longer hair, light colored.
Then I decided to highlight. I definitely inherited the more "Irish" qualities (very curly hair, oily skin, etc.). After i went to Ireland a few years ago, i understood why the people of my past found this attractive - Ireland is cold and windy. You need the oily skin to prevent from it becoming over-dried. And the WIND! Wow. Especially in Galway (where my family is from). Those who had curly hair looked mesmerizing... their locks dancing with the wind. Those with straight hair ended up with tangles and knots the rest of the day.
But I digress.
So I highlighted. My hair, though dark, has a red base. So my highlights required a lot of bleach which = a lot of damage. 6 years of highlighting. By the end of highschool, my hair was breaking off. The first couple years were okay, I even had grown it down passed my shoulders. But toward the ends, yikes. It had broken off so much that it was halfway between my shoulders and my ears. One time, I brushed my hair at my locker in between classes. At my next class, a girl said to me, "Did you just get a hair cut?"
"...no," I said, "why?" She said, "Oh, because you have bits of your hair on the shoulder of your shirt.
Also, my (at the time) very cruel brother made a nickname for my (since all my hair was breaking off due to bleach and straightening damage): Cancer patient.
Yep, people called me cancer patient. Talk about mortifying. Some people thought I had cancer and was receiving chemotherapy and that's why my hair looked fried, flat and disgusting.
After my first year of college, enough was enough. I dyed my hair dark. Still looked in horrible, flat, broken condition, but I was on the road to recovery. It didn't take me so long to blow dry, flat iron and destroy my hair.
After that, I just let it grow. My second or third year of college, my hair was in pretty good condition. It was naturally curly and dye free. It was still frizzy/coarse, but I was going through a breakup and stopped caring and just let it be its frizzy/coarse/curly self. I started dating someone new.
I think when people have made negative comments about me, I tend to try to change my look via my hair. It didn't help that I thought my boyfriend's ex-girlfriend was very cute... blue-eyed, naturally blonde (but she did highlight) hair that was pin straight. She had a very architectural cut to her hair and I was so envious.
I eventually had jaw surgery (something that was recommended years before). It was "medically necessary" and fixed my bite. I had zero chin. Actually, I had "negative" chin, buck-teeth and an open bite. I had that done, and I gained a lot of confidence because I finally felt like I looked "normal". My teeth fit together. Yet still, I was very envious of my boyfriend's ex. With her looks, mostly. Err mostly her hair. She was/is a nasty person. But anyway.
So I decided to Japanese-straighten. Nevermind that it cost $700, I was in love!
I could have those razor cuts, I would step out of the shower, blow-dry or air dry and my hair was perfect. I was in heaven!
Or so I thought.
My hair was limp and flat. Sure it was straight, but there was no body to be had. But it was down past my shoulders and straight! Eeegahd it was everything I wanted! Then I would see my sister with her natural bodied hair and next to her, mine looked... lifeless. I have a "small-jawed" face; I would never look good with limp hair.
Plus the grow out. Yuck. Mine grew out for 4 months (so about 2 inches) and I was right back in that chair, giving up another $700 (which I can't afford). The 3 people working on my hair laughed at me, wondering why I was back so soon. I live in an area that is humid in the spring/summer. I would straighten my roots, but inevitably, they would curl up and I would look weird.
My last straightening was in April 2012.
During my pin-straight hair days, I didn't use a lot of heat and my hair grew! Mostly because I wasn't breaking it off with heat. i did still have breakage with the Japanese method, but I had virgin hair when i had the treatment done. I also used "good" products (ie expensive) and use 100% organic argon oil on my ends.
But I knew I couldn't keep affording this forever. And I didn't want limp hair for the rest of my life. I also looked at these threads and realized that I just have to work with what my momma gave me. And the whole wavy/body thing is coming back (yay!). Thin and pin is out. See picture below from an Anthropologie magazine. Beside the fact that I wish I could dress from Antrhopologie every day, HELLO! Do you see her hair? Gorgeous.
So I decided I would grow my hair out. Mind you I live in the midwest, but near a great lake, so it does get hot and humid the in the summer but dry and cold in the winter. I had my last straightening almost a year ago now (April 2012) so I survived the summer months my straightening the roots. I found an AMAZING stylist, too. There have been a couple of times where I have almost caved and gotten the straightening done again, but I didn't.
For me, I use V05. I think what helped the most during the transition was to use the right product. My hair is almost 3/4's curly. And wow. Wow wow wow. It is not really frizzy and definitely not coarse at all! I have soft curls. But I stopped using sulfates and silicons altogether. I only co wash and my shower is lined with every flavor of V05 there is. I switch it up almost daily. I use one for "shampooing", another as "conditioner" (length only since i am an oily person) and sometimes the same one or a different one as a leave in. just a pea size and just the last couple of inches for that. I get out of the shower and use an Aveda leave-in/heat protectant. No silicons. I then still use my 100% organic argon oil in the length.
When I was still using silicons (especially on my dry, Japanese straightened hair), I was using the Keratese conditioner... the kind in that tiny orange container... that cost $55. Yeah, I couldn't afford that either. Gave it all up.
I wanted to transition little by little, but at some point during the summer, it got too much. My roots wanted to be lush and voluminous, while my length wanted to fall pin flat. I got a "long bob". Still hitting just past my shoulders... but the length had been halfway down my back. My fiance liked long hair. Oh well... I needed my sanity. Also, she would blowdry my hair with a huge boar bristle round brush. Like... massively huge brush. It worked and I bought one.
I think the thing is, when you are transitioning, is to start whatever method you are going to use. I'm fully 100% curly girl method, I guess, in terms of no silicons/sulfates.
Trust me. My curly growth is more easily manipulated because it is happy. it is not rough and frizzy. Some frizz... but pretty frizz... like in the attached picture. But also, I do round brush/blow dry most days. My hair is more curly than not, but I still have a ways to go. In the next year, I should be 100% curly (virgin hair, too!). My hair hasn't experienced the humidity yet since I've been mostly curly. It will probably be awful
but so it goes. Actually, I don't really think it will be all that bad.
Things I've learned: I was so envious to have the body back. in the end, having body, volume (and money) wins over pin. I can put my blow-dried hair in a bun, or sock bun, and it looks pretty great. I do use a flat iron still. BUT!!! I only use it on my bangs so style them for the side-swept look. Now, I "rough dry". It makes my hair pretty straight, but not smooth. So I use the round brush (on almost dry hair) and I get that sort of Duchess of Cambridge (because she's not Kate Middleton any more) look.
It takes patience, but I'm excited to have curly hair again. I need to grow it out more. My hair texture definitely needs length to keep it under control. it's just passed my shoulders, and my hair grows slow, but at least I know I can dry it, throw it up in a bun, tame the bangs/face-framing hairs and it will work. I think what I will miss most is the ends of my Japanese straightened hair. Since my ends are still straight, then make a nice feathery look when I brush my hair back. My ends seem to really "come together" in that Jennifer Aniston way. My ends always seemed like such a poof before, but maybe that was due to improper (ie not curly girl) care, heat damage, etc.
No matter what, I'll never be the girl with the perfect hair. But I'm progressing to long, curly hair that I know I can manipulate to be wavy or straight (with TONS of volume!) if I choose. The limp life wasn't for me.
I also use V05 hot oil treatment. My hair feels lovey afterward. Keep it simple!