Sunday, March 01, 2009

To Thine Own Curls Be True

I've always had curly hair. Not kinky tight curly hair, some might call it wavy, but there are tight ringlets underneath. They flattened somewhat when I was a kid, going to bed with wet hair, and so were relatively unimpressive and shapeless. When I was old enough to lift a hair dryer, I feathered it, straightened it, curled it under, etc.

Problem is, as I got older (and with each subsequent pregnancy) my hair has gotten thicker and thicker. Blow drying actually hurts my wrist and I was growing more and more frustrated. Then my friend Polly posted about a book called Curly Girl, which talks about how curly hair needs to be treated completely differently than straight.

Here is a great description of the method

And yes, it is rather shocking at first. Don't use shampoo? Yep. Curly hair is more porous than straight hair, and harsh detergents in shampoo make it frizz. You scrub your scalp with conditioner to get the oils off the skin (treating the scalp like skin, but not treating the hair like skin...because its not). Rinse with cool water, put in a gel, and allow to air dry or diffuser dry. Lots of people worry about it getting oily, but what I've found is the drying properties of shampoo cause the hair to produce more oils. After a week or two with conditioner oily, the scalp only produces the oils that it needs.

I'm wearing my hair longer than I ever have (a few inches above my bra strap, for lack of a better geographical marker), and I like it, because it is easy and most of the time, it doesn't look bad. I don't have to wash it as often, because again, my scalp isn't producing as many oils.

What I didn't expect is the psychological difference. I have had lots of experience with how liberating it can feel to embrace aspects of my life that I was fighting (breastfeeding, being a stay at home mom, homeschooling), but I didn't even realize that I was fighting a part of who I am, feeling bad about my hair (especially living in a humid environment), but WOW. This has been so wonderful. In a way it is simply embracing a part of me that I didn't really even think was important. Maybe because it was a fight with something that wasn't important is why it feels good.

Now, I'm not going to make any Pantene commercials anytime soon, but I personally have been happy with it. It's been fun. It's been easy.

Now my only problem is that I have been loath to et it cut because even that is really different. Before I discovered this method, I have often been tempted to let it go curly and have asked for stylists who knew how to work with curly hair. They always say they do, but it never really was right and never had any shape. So I gave the chapter to my stylist, Laura, whom I really do like, and she already said the care portion made sense, but she has never tried the cutting method before (cutting dry, cutting individual curls to find their shape, and then rinsing and styling under a hot lamp). So we are giving it a try, and I am kind of scared. I did get a couple of names last night off of a naturally curly hair site . So if it doesn't work, I have a couple of numbers to call, but growing out mistakes isn't the easiest thing in the world. Cross your fingers for me!


Elephantschild said...

Do let us know how it goes. I haven't been in to a Real Salon for close to 18 months. I did one self-layering (!!) and when that grew out I trimmed it all to one length.

I love curly-girl. The one thing I'd tell newbies to the method is - you'll get to know your own hair, and you'll get a good feel for what it needs when. I found I needed a different (heavier) conditioner for the winter.

I can't wait for humidity! My hair will be AWESOME. :)

The Rebellious Pastor's Wife said...

Okay that was wierd...I posted and it had an error.

Okay. My hairdresser didn't receive the chapters that I'd copied off for her, at least yet. So I basically explained it, and she thought she could do it better wet. I didn't think it was fair to just drop all of that on her at the beginning, or for her to not have time to think about it, so since I know she is good anyway, I just let her do her thing.

I will say it is better than it was. It has some shape to it and has the split ends gone. Next time, I will probably try to hunt down one of the stylists that, from the reviews on naturally, are more aware of the whole method, but my hair definitely is much better than it was.

It will be interesting to see how it styles when I haven't used shampoo and mousse, though.

The Rebellious Pastor's Wife said...

And curly hair or not, I can't even begin to fathom the statement "I can't wait for humidity."

Elephantschild said...

Ok, yeah. That was a poorly chosen phrase re: humidity.

But even indoors with the a/c on is better for my hair than the middle of winter with the furnace running.

That's what I was getting at. :)

Red Bridges Home said...

I started following your blog a while back and realized I never introduced myself - sorry about that. I'm a soon to be pastor's wife (at 43). Wow.

I love this post! Even though my profile picture is me with "hot" hair - I used a ceramic straightener that day - My hair is very curly. My hair dresser told me to stop using shampoo every day, but I'd never heard of Curly Girl, I'm going to have to get that book. We've lived in Oklahoma for 15 years and it is not a dry heat. It's very humid down here, year round. I need all the help I can get.