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.