Photo credit: Roberto Ligresti
Lorraine Massey means a lot to me and many curly girls and boys around the world. Many years ago, she pioneered a worldwide curl revolution when she wrote Curly Girl: The Handbook. She also founded the popular Devachan Salons and cofounded the DevaCurl product line for curly hair, which so many of us love! I strongly believe that it will be no different now with her brand-new Silver Hair: A Handbook. When you hear Lorraine speak or read her honest words on paper, you can attest to the fact that kindness, self-acceptance, and authenticity are at the very core of who she is. I've had the pleasure of talking with her about what she's been up to, all things curly hair, future plans and of course: Silver Curls!
Lorraine, it has been a while since you wrote Curly Girl: The Handbook. What changes have you witnessed in the world of curls since then?
A lot has happened. With the growth of social media, globalization, and the beautiful cross-pollination of cultures, curly girls and boys around the world are now embracing their authentic selves and their natural curls like never before. It's so exciting to see the many beautiful textures emerging! We are finally realizing and respecting that what we have naturally is far more magnificent than the conformed straightened hair that had become the norm for decades. Naturally curly hair had been both overlooked and forgotten for far too long. Sometimes when we don't understand certain things that nature gives us, we take it personally, ignore it or in our extreme efforts in trying to control the uncontrollable, make it unhealthy, exhaustive, unsustainable and expensive. I truly believe we are only at the tip of the curly iceberg.
What has changed for you personally and what are your plans for the future?
- I left Deva in 2013 because it was time for me to try something new and branch out.
- There's a project for an updated version of Curly Girl: The Handbook for 2020.
- In April 2018, after a few years of researching and developing, I'll be proudly introducing my curated curl potions under my new company, CurlyWorld™. This is a Curly Girl line that offers more natural ingredients with a lower PH. I'm going back to simplicity, back to the basic 3 steps. However, I do have quite a few new disruptive curl products and curl centric implements in the works, all dedicated to making the lifestyle of curlies logically easier.
- I'm opening a brand new Salon Atelier in Tribeca called "Spiral (x,y)", offering Immersive CurlbyCurl™️ workshops for Stylists who are eager for more. The salon will offer Hair Be & Be™ residencies for qualified curl stylists who live all over the world and would like to spend a weekend or a week or two at "Spiral (x,y)" in New York City.
- I'll be offering a sacred space for curly girls under the hijab, because I find Muslim women multifaceted, exciting, beautiful and sensual. In today's overexposed world, they maintain a slight mystery, confidence and an intelligence to reserve their beauty where it is relevant in their culture and so many are fabulously curly.
- I plan to host Sunday schools for curly girls aged 6 to 15 and for moms & dads with curly babies, including neighborhood collaborations that the whole family will enjoy.
- Lastly, but not least: I'm so happy to announce Silver Hair: A Handbook! My co-author Michele Bender and I had a lot of fun with this book. It took time and patience for all the beautiful women in the book to use the various techniques to embrace their natural hair color and stick with it, but amazingly, only one of our dozens and dozens of beauties decided it was not her time.
What has inspired you to write a new book about Silver Hair?
Any form of natural hair texture and color inspires me. It can be far more beautiful than anything manufactured, especially if it's allowed to be nurtured and cultivated to its full potential. When something so natural is worn with confidence, cut and tailored to its organic form, it's like walking art! When you are not chasing the hair texture you don't have and embrace what you have, your life becomes easier and so does the maintenance. The Silver Hair Handbook is almost the same as The Curly Girl Handbook in its essence, which is to uncover and discover the beauty of loving and accepting the hair you do have. Right at the beginning of the curly movement, stylists were afraid that they were going to lose money by not blowdrying every curly girl's hair and yet the absolute opposite has happened. I feel the same will happen with offering a new service for Silver Hair transitions. In more than three decades as a hairstylist, I've talked to countless women who wanted to grow out their dyed hair and get out of the coloring cycle, but many didn't because they saw a stigma surrounding silver hair. We now see that many young women and men are actually dyeing their hair silver, so it has become even more acceptable to embrace this natural hue. This is great news for all the women who actually have it naturally and are looking for a way to escape their colored roots! Like curly hair, once I realized that many women were secretly desiring this kind of freedom, I knew it was time for a show and tell book.
Here we are in 2018. We are making great technological strides beyond our planet, so why are frizz, curls and silver hair still misunderstood?
It always goes back to our education! In cosmetology school, hairstylists and colorists are not trained in curls & silver hair. Our training is to eliminate anything we don't understand by either straightening curls or painting over any sign of gray hair. In hair school, if a toner turned gray, it was considered a big mistake and now we ironically chase this very elusive tone. Most colorists know that silver/gray toners can often disappear as soon as it reaches the outside atmosphere. So, basically, we had little to education to offer and encourage our loyal clients who had natural curly or silver hair. Since hair is a part of nature, we are still figuring it out as we go and grow.
What is one misconception about transitioning to silver and how do you address it?
A lot of women think you must go cold turkey and live with a big skunk line of demarcation, but as the book says, there are various ways to embrace your natural hue with style. One of the aims of this book is to encourage younger women to embrace their silver from the very first strand and to embrace their silver, metallic, platinum or white strands as another gorgeous natural hair color without feeling pressured to cover the first time they see a light peeking through.
Do silver curls behave differently? And what basic routine changes need to happen to better nourish them?
Silver hair and especially silver curly hair can be dryer or coarser in general, so the way you care for your hair has an impact. Today it's well known that most shampoos are detergent-based and full of Sodium Laurel Sulfate, which is universally known as a skin irritant. It makes the hair deoxidize, frizz, dry out and turn yellow. For the healthiest silver and curly hair, you should:
- Use 100% sulfate-free cleansers.
- Co-wash if you can't find a satisfactory sulfate-free cleanser.
- Avoid brushes and high heat tools, such as flat irons and blowdryers.
- Avoid silicone-based conditioners, gels, and oils. These dehydrate and deplete the hair of any natural luster. Use silicone-free conditioners and stylers only.
- Silver hair is very susceptible to yellowing, so you should add a blue conditioning toner, such as With or Without Hue™ by CurlyWorld. This is a Conditioner for silver, blonde, or b'lorange toned hair.
Whatever hair type you may have, if you are consistent in this approach, your hair will appear to be exponentially healthier, allowing the color, shape, and texture to really shine.
What are the benefits of going silver?
- You get precious time back.
- You gain peace of mind knowing that you are not on the color conveyer belt.
- You will save a lot of money! We call this "silvernomics" in the book.
- You reap the health benefits of both yourself and your hair. You'll be healthier without all those color chemicals.
- Our environment will be much healthier because you're not sending all those chemicals down the drain and into our waterways.
- Surprisingly, all tones of silver hair look great on almost everyone.
As I mentioned above, all the women with whom we collaborated in the book discovered benefits that were more than hair deep. They were motivated to take better care of themselves, they did some soul searching and felt more released from false expectations. Some of the women in the book said they receive more compliments now on their natural hue than they ever did with dyed hair.
Do you have any tips or words of encouragement to curlies who are feeling insecure about going silver or just getting started?
- Have the patience to know that this is going to be a process. Curly hair seems to grow slower because it grows out in a circular motion rather than straight down. It doesn't really grow slower because our roots are a visual proof of that, but it may seem like it's taking longer to grow out your silver. Curly hair helps blend the line of demarcation better than unnaturally straightened hair because a flattened hair surface exposes everything you are trying to hide.
- Give it time! I know firsthand that it's not always easy. Because the dyed hair is still attached (almost like a chemical straightener growing out of curly hair), I struggled together with countless silver sirens during the first few months of growth. Once you get a better view of your new, undyed hair, it starts to reveal the potential that lies ahead.
- Do not put any pressure on yourself. The obstacles might be in your head, not on it!
- Don't let your mind go to a place where you already hear everyone and their reactions to you doing this (even though you haven't done it yet). Be positive and confident about your decision to go silver.
- If you are covering your roots every 2-3 weeks, it means your color grow-out may be just as quick too! Try allowing one strand of silver hair to shine and grow out first, so that you can acquaint yourself with what lies beneath, then color the rest. At least you are not denying that you are silver, but gently integrating yourself with the possible idea of allowing your light to shine through.
- If you're not having fun with your color anymore and you see it as 'that time of the month' or you are doing this by default, try to find a colorist to help with your transition. Look for support on social media. Search for Silver Hair groups that are helping each other: #silverhair #silvercurls #silverhairahandbook. Countless Silver Foxes will attest that "there is life after dyeing!"
If you are interested in finding support as you transition to silver curls, there is a beautiful worldwide Facebook support group available: Curly Silvers. If you haven't purchased your copy of Silverhair: A Handbook yet, I definitely recommend it! It's a stunning, empowering and inspiring book. I stopped coloring my hair 2 years ago and as my silver lights begin to peek through, I am more inspired than ever to embrace them after reading this beautiful piece.
Are you going grey? Share your experience with us in the comments below.
Follow Lorraine on Instagram for more of her curly adventures!