Text by Sarah Mangum and Jane McMurrey
Photos by Callie Clemons
The idea: Take one curly girl and one straight-haired girl, and switch their hair types for the day.
The goal: To gain some insight into what it’s like to live with another hair type, and maybe to develop a greater appreciation for their own natural hair type.
The girls: Teenagers Jane and Sarah, friends since first grade, who have always envied each other’s hair.
Where: Ann Kelso Salon + CitySpa, and all around Austin.
I have gone through most of my life with very fickle hair – hair that decides for itself daily how exactly it wants to curl and frizz. In middle school, during puberty, my wavy hair turned into a frizzy mess. I tried to use a straightening iron, to no avail. I brushed it, which only made it frizzier. I tried a million different things and nothing worked. I was jealous of my friends with sleek, straight hair that looked good all the time – even after taking a dip in the pool.
When I was younger, I had no idea what products to use on my hair, and my bathroom was stocked full of half-open, unused serums, balms, and mousses. By the time I reached my last two years of high school, I decided to stop fighting my hair and began to appreciate how it was a big part of what makes me who I am. I noticed that I got more compliments on my hair when it was curly, and even long-time friends exclaimed how much they loved to see my hair in its natural state.
Although I do straighten my hair sometimes, wearing it naturally gives me a sense of liberation.
I couldn’t imagine what it would be like for a person who grew up with straight hair to be plummeted into the world of crazy curls for a day.
The process was fairly simply. At Ann Kelso Salon + CitySpa, stylist extraordinaire Brooke Michie took my semi-wet 3A curls and brushed them out completely. Then she sectioned my hair and sprayed Aquage’s Beyond Shine spray on it before combing it and running a Chi Straightening iron slowly through small sections. She finished up with a little hairspray to lock the style in place for the day and keep the humidity out.
As I left the chair, my head weighed less. My hair was sleek and shiny. I loved to swish my head back and forth. It stayed in place so well.
I went around the corner to see Jane, her curly locks fastened in bobby pins to add more volume and lift.
We spent the day walking around Austin, drinking coffee at Jo’s on South Congress, browsing in the boutiques on North Lamar and grabbing a bite at Whole Foods. I kept looking at myself in the rearview mirror and the reflection of windows.
Throughout the day, Jane and I kept looking at each other and laughing. It was hard to get used to our new looks.
As I ran my fingers through my hair – something that’s difficult with my hair curly – I wondered what it would be like to wake up every morning with hair like this. It felt so sleek and smooth. And it would be so predictable, without the unexpected frizz and out-of-control curls that are a routine part of being curly. It seemed like life would be a lot easier.
But I also realized how much my curls shape my personality. They make me feel more creative, outgoing and adventurous.
Has there ever been a girl with straighter, blonder hair? I doubt it.
I never really thought twice about my hair growing up. It was always pretty easy. And I always got a lot of compliments about it. But I never really thought about my hair. I’ve never really cared about what hair products I use. I don’t use conditioner. I just wake up and go.
I remember being 7 years old and sleeping in curlers only to wake up with my flat, straight hair.
When I arrived at Ann Kelso and sat in the chair, a flock of stylists swarmed around my hair in disbelief. They could not believe my hair could be this straight and this blonde. The immediate concern became whether my hair even hold a curl. Brooke first washed and conditioned my hair with DevaCurl Low-Poo Shampoo and One Condition. She sprayed what felt like gallons of mousse all over it and massaged it into my hair. Then she used small rollers to roll 3-inch sections of my hair -- about 40 rollers altogether.
I then endured a very interesting night of sleep on a throbbing head. I was back at the salon the next morning at 10 a.m. to take the curlers out. And I looked like a poodle! She positioned my curls in different bobby pins and sprayed it lightly with light-hold hair spray. I could not stop looking at myself in the mirror. I felt like I was going to the prom or something. I was very unsure of how Sarah, and the rest of the world, would react to my new ‘do.
Before I spent a day with curly hair, I -- like a lot of people with straight hair -- kind of assumed it would be the typical “grass is greener” scenario. I have always longed for curly hair.
But I was freaking out when they took my hair down from rollers. It was very strange and surreal. I was surprised at how changing my hair texture made me look like a completely different person. I loved the body that my new hair had, but I was surprised that having curly hair did require a lot more maintenance.
While walking around town, I kind of expected people to look at me funny and somehow know that this wasn't my normal look. But they didn't; they just accepted me as I wa. Looking back on the experience, I felt like a completely different person with curly hair. It was fun for a day, but I'm glad to be me!
Special Thanks to: Brooke Michie and Tamra McCarley, Ann Kelso Salon + CitySpa
Jane and Sarah sport their new dos while shopping.