Girl vs. Curls

Since puberty, I have followed this cycle:

1. Observe that hair is stringy, frizzy, and always in the way. Wear ponytails or headbands constantly
Say to self, “Hell (or ‘heck’, pre-2008),  since I’m not doing anything with this hair, might as well hack it off.”
Hack off hair. Undercut, pixie cut, buzz cut— the shorter, the better
4. Desperately miss long hair. Begin to believe that I’ve changed and could SURELY mend the frizz and stringiness this time around

Repeat steps 1-4 until the sun becomes a small, dark lump of coal

Between hack jobs, I’ve tried to learn more about my poor hair. At 13, I discovered conditioner. Instant improvement! How did I never notice that bottle in the shower before?

May 8th, 2002 was another turning point for me. That day, my previously fluffy hair was as rippled as… what, fancy toilet paper? Certain potato chips? ANYWAY, my hair had ripples. My friend Hannah asked “Becky, do you have naturally curly hair?”

Hannah saw something I’d never suspected. I’d always brush, brush, brushed my hair, hoping to smooth out that fluffy flyaway ‘do. Were those flyaways meant to be… curls?

Years later, I discovered Curly Girl and started rethinking haircare paradigms. Did I need shampoo? Was it time to chuck my brushes? I agreed with half of Massey’s advice, ignored the rest, and gave the book away… though the 2011 version may be better.

Last month, I bought the Live Curly, Live Free ebook and began its recommended routine. After four days, my hair looked like this:

Shiny! Curly! But that day (10-10-10, incidentally) was a fluke. Most days on the LCLF routine, my hair’s looked limp, dull and still frizzy— must be goofing up somewhere. Curses.

I’ve spent many, many hours staring at forums, researching silicone-free hair products, blow dryers (Ionic? Ceramic? Wait, why tourmaline?), diffusers, plopping, pixiecurl diffusing, Deva cuts… Good grief. It’s almost enough to throw me back into steps 2 and 3 of the hack ‘n’ grow cycle.

Do you have curly hair? How do you handle it? Tried any strange routines?

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  1. My wife went through 28 years of struggles with unruly curls and frizzy hair. (I always loved reading the names of the products — Frizz Ease and stuff like that.) It was always a Major Big Stress Deal to her. Then, on our honeymoon, we walked by a kiosk in a Las Vegas mall selling flat irons, and a woman asked my wife if she’d like her hair straightened. “Yes” was the answer, my wife loved it, and we left that mall with the H2Pro. She has literally used it every single day since then. She had tried flat irons before but they never worked on her hair. This one was more expensive (more than $100 — it was my wedding present to her) but it has held up after nearly 1,400 days of consecutive use.


  2. Check the blog tomorrow – I have a whole post ready to go on being a “no-poo” convert and what I do. And I’m too sleepy to re-write it all here.


  3. P.S. Your hair’s looking lovely, by the way!


  4. Man – hair – it’s never “finished”, is it?

    As a kid, my hair was textureless and poker-straight. In the last few years, it’s become wavy and slightly more voluminous which I owe to not washing it every damn day, not blow-drying, not brushing, not using conditioner, occasional backcombing and finally finding my “product” (Aquage sea salt spray). In other words, not doing the things my mother told me to do, ha. Seriously, though, I don’t own a brush.

    I like the softness of waves, having spent my adolescence with poofy blunt “layered” bobs. But, at 24, I still feel persecuted that I have to spend *any* time on my hair. I have friends who wash, blow out, and flat iron their hair every morning. Boggles the mind.


  5. I don’t have any constructive advice, but I hope you figure it out!

    might be a bit dorky, but it might be worth keeping a diary of what you do to your hair, the humidity/dewpoint, and taking a picture every day. Maybe you’d notice some patterns?


  6. I have always attributed my complete lack of hair skills to my mama. She had naturally curly hair, which she dealt with by keeping it short. She washed and combed it, period. I don’t ever remember seeing her use a brush on it. She was of the opinion that is was poor judgement to “brush the curl out”.
    She did brush my hair (ouch! ouch! ouch!) which was a different texture than hers and very inclined to tangle. She also occasionally put it in a ponytail for me until I got big enough to do it myself.

    If you hit upon any noteworthy hair management miracles post them please–
    I have just recent’y noticed that if I don’t comb my hiar after I shampoo it then it seems to have a different texture entirely, which seems weird to me. Perhaps the “wash and comb” routine I”ve been doing all these years is not the best thing at all?


  7. well, most of the time I do _not_ have curly hair (I say most of the time since there was one point where it decided it actually was for about a year….???) anyways, here’s a few things i’ve found over the years that help my admittedly easier to deal with straight hair be more shiny and managable…

    Don’t shampoo it every day. every 2nd or 3rd day is plenty. on the other days, just rinse it out and put a lightweight conditioner in it. By rinsing it doesn’t get nasty like if u just plain didn’t bathe. (actually that works for my face too)

    don’t blow-dry and don’t rub it with a towel. squeeze the water out as best u can and then if possible, brush it while it’s soaking wet, then let it air dry and don’t mess with it again until it’s totally dry.

    this probably isn’t hair-healthy in the long run, but on bad days or when all else fails, hair-gel is my friend. tons of it. goop it up enough it aint goin’ nowhere…

    Dove intensive-repair/damage repair conditioner isn’t super expensive and definately does a nicer job on my hair than Suave.

    ummm, can’t think of anything else right now, pity that day was a fluke your hair looked awesome!!! :) good luck!!


  8. I am a naturally curly person and after decades of hoping my hair would submit to my need for smoothe hair, I learned to love my curly hair by:
    1) Never brush – it will turn into something akin to a tumbleweed; only comb out at washing and scrunch with your fingers
    2) Never completely blow dry it – it will turn into something akin to Sylvester the cat sticking his tail in an electrical socket; only use the dryer to get initial soakage out and then let dry naturally
    3) Use a frizz serum – I use Frizz Ease, but there are others. This stuff is tricky and you have to play a while to get the right amount – too little is too little but too much is a buncha gunk.
    4) Find a stylist that REALLY understands curly hair – these are rare and once you find them you must blackmail them to stay put for the duration of your life. Curly hair needs layering, texturing, preferably with scissors, not a razor.
    5) Don’t use shampoos and conditioners like Pantene because they have heavy gunk in them. Curly hair needs lightness to do its thing and heavy conditioners will weigh it down to limp. Simple products like Suave works best and don’t use any more conditioner than you need to just get the comb through.

    Hair changes – as we ‘mature’, for lack of a better term, hair changes. Mine is not nearly as prone to curly now as it was, but I also got a really bad cut a couple of months ago that I’m trying to be patient with until a growing out process occurs and there is curl there that I can see attempting to reveal itself.


  9. Jacob – What a supportive husband! Very few wedding presents merit (or survive) 1,400 days of consecutive use. Go Jacob!

    Katie – Thanks Katie! You are, as usual, both informative and comforting.

    Evie – NEVER finished, %@#&!!! I really want to see those “poofy, blunt layered bobs.” Like yourself, I don’t have a brush and resent having to ‘work’ on my hair. Hence all the %@#&!!!

    Kelly – Sound advice. I’ve been trying to observe my hair pattens, see what goes wrong and when. So far, I’ve figured out that I touch my hair waaay too much, and I almost never let it dry undisturbed.

    mum – I liked the wavy-haired picture you sent. I remember HATING having my hair combed when I was little— maybe it was so tangled because it wanted to curl? Or maybe I was just a slob. Undeniable possibility.

    Sierra – Interesting points! I gave up on shampoo months ago; I just wash with conditioner every other day, and do a little spritzing and moussing on no-wash days. I’ve also started blotting my hair dry with a smooth (flour sack) towel instead of the ol’ rubdown with terry cloth….

    jean – I love your curls! Are you still feeling like a calico? I don’t brush, but I do use a “pick” too often— my hair’s scraggly, and picking through it helps somewhat… though it screws up the curls. Unscrews, rather. Have you ever heard of Deva haircuts or the Devachan salon? It’s a certain way of cutting curly hair that’s supposed to be fabulous… there’s a Deva certified salon near me, but I’m afraid to sacrifice any hard-earned inches of hair. I’m sorry about your bad haircut! So frustrating.


  10. No Deva salons out here in pioneer land. This was an Aveda salon – thought they were fool proof. Sadly no.

    I had one of the best cuts I ever had there in a place right off of 22 on 191, I believe. Bridget knows it; she’d had a cut there and people stopped her on the street asking her where she had her hair cut so I went to the same lady and that cut lasted over a year. Then basically the Aveda girl cut it into a mullet. As with a lot of things, it only takes one numbnuts to ruin you for a good long while.


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