When I was young, I had pin-straight hair.
I know. I was pretty cute too. See those cheeks? I still have them. Meh.
Anyway, my hair was so straight that my mom let me get a perm every so often. I won't post those photos, cuz they are pretty tragic. But that meant my hair flipped from straight to 'fro throughout my pre-teen years. Post-puberty, my hair got really thick and puffy, and I developed a really annoying jeri-curl in my bangs that I could not blow-dry out to save my life. This should have been my first clue.
So my solution to a lot of these issues was to chop my hair off. I spent quite a lot of my high-school self with a pixie cut. Hey, it was the 90s. I loved it. It was so cool! I don't have any pix of it, but I would share if I could.
When I got to college, I grew my hair out and straightened it religiously every day. I can't even imagine how much damage I did with that flat iron. But I had a mane of straight and lovely hair and I loved it.
Please disregard the horrible glow off of my shawl-thing, but focus on how straight my hair is. Le sigh.
But then I moved to New York. And I found Paul, the most fabulous hair dresser in the world. He cut my hair and discovered that the frizz I battled for so long was actually natural curl! And lots of it! So I ran around New York for many years with bouncy waves.
I thought I had a better picture of my lovely curls, but this will have to do. Also enjoy my 27th birthday crown, courtesy of my lovely friend Rietje.
Soon after this picture was taken, though, I moved to the UK. And there started the downward spiral of my hair – pun SO NOT INTENDED. I lost my hairdresser, my styling routine, and access to cheap hair products. Even though I went to see Paul every time I went home, I soon ran out of products that I was used to using and couldn't quite find the right replacements. Over the years, I've used so many – Redken Ringlet 07, Deva-Curl AnGel, Schwarzkopf Osis+ Twin Curl 2, MOP C-Curl cream – but none seem to do the trick of shaping and defining my waves while cutting down on the frizz. Then, last summer, I got an unfortunate shag cut that, while cute, was actually heavily thinned.
As it grew out, it looked increasingly limp and straggly and was losing a lot of its curl. In search of a solution, I bounced from hairdresser to hairdresser, seeking a good cut as well as someone with whom I could build a hair styling relationship, as I balanced waited for my hair to grow out. Meanwhile I was using up all of the remaining product I had in my cupboard, trying to economically get to a place where I could start over, as it were, with fresh product and a fresh outlook on my hair. Not only was I dealing with the poor haircut, though, I was also battling some dry scalp, the general feeling of thinness to my hair, and a lot of hair breakage.
Cut to now. I've just had a haircut where the guy did something weird, something I've never seen before: he twisted my hair into sections and cut perpendicularly into it. Curious, I started doing some research into the best way to care for and style curly hair and discovered a whole lifestyle devoted to caring for natural curls. Reading sites like Naturally Curly and British Curly Girls is just exhausting me with the amount of time and energy to required to "do" my hair. When I think back to deciding to wear my hair curly, the number one reason was definitely so that I wouldn't have to dry and straighten my hair for hours anymore!
So. Where to next? I've switched to low sulfate shampoo and conditioner in the hopes of really cleaning my scalp and preventing breakages, and I'm trying Trevor Sorbie Curl Cream (a cheap Boots product) because I've had a travel size bottle of it for a couple years now and my hair ALWAYS looks good on holiday. So far, mixed results as washing my hair has made it feel even limper (yet softer)! and the Curl Cream is disappointingly a different formula. I've also discovered that hard water is to blame for my dry scalp and thin-feeling hair (great) but I can't quite solve that in a rented flat. I think that over the summer I will treat myself to a cut at a salon that specializes in curly hair, and in the meantime commit myself to the scrunch.
Any curly-girls out there have any hard-earned advice? Melizza over at Sifting Through just wrote a post about liberating her curls, and she's reinspired me to keep up the quest to keep my curls happy – c'mon girls! We can do it!