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!