Let’s talk hair. Just for today. Then we’ll make donuts tomorrow.
It’s been over two months since I last flat-ironed my hair. Who am I?
Though I’ve definitely had my share of bad hair days over the last few weeks, I don’t miss it a bit.
Because I’ve gotten so many emails and questions, I want to share a little behind why I hung up the flat iron and how I’ve learned to embrace my curls. Maybe you’ll be empowered to embrace yourself a bit more too. Because life is too short and too sweet to spend trying to fight nature.
Why go natural?
Hair has always been a big deal to me. Literally, a BIG deal. I think I must have about twice as much hair as the average person. Growing up, I’d watch my mom put hot rollers in her hair to smooth it out every day. I felt so grown up when I’d gotten old enough to set my own hair every morning before school. This was in the days before flat irons and if I blew my hair dry and then set it in rollers, I could get a smooth finish for about, oh, a half an hour.
After reverse perms, chemical straighteners, crimping irons and sponge rollers, I thought my miracle had come when the flat iron was invented. Really though, I just became a slave to it.
I avoided swimming.
I avoided rainstorms.
I avoided Florida.
And even when I told Gigi everyday how beautiful her curls were, I still would spend a good chunk of my morning trying to eliminate any trace of mine. Hypocrite.
One evening I was trying to get a comb through Gigi’s tangled, wet hair when frustrated she said, “I hate my hair. I wish it were straight like Lulu’s.”
So that was it. The next day I put my flat iron away, and I haven’t touched it since. Well, except to iron my shirt.
The Curly Girl Method:
After I put Gigi to bed that night, I started researching about curly hair. I found the site naturallycurly.com and quickly learned of a method that many curly-haired women use to rejuvenate their curls, return their hair to its natural state and bring out the best of their God-given texture.
The method is outlined in the book Curly Girl, by Lorraine Massey.
Though you can learn more about the method in the book and also here, the basics are this:
- Stop blowdrying and flat ironing your hair.
- Stop using hair styling products with silicone in them. These weigh down your curls.
- Stop using hair cleaning products with sulfate in them. These dry out your curls. You need the sulfates to remove silicone, so after a final wash with sulfate shampoo, stop using silicones and sulfates.
- If your hair is wavy or curly, you probably do not need to be shampooing it, or at least not shampooing it very often.
- A light, natural, sulfate/silicone free conditioner is enough to wash your hair with. Yes, wash your hair with hair with conditioner. (I feel guilty for teasing Pea Daddy for unknowingly doing this for several months when we were first married. But then again, he doesn’t have curly hair.)
- Do not dry your hair with terry cloth towels. Use a microfiber towel or a t-shirt.
- Put a good amount of styling product (silicone free, of course) and allow it to air dry or diffuse it, if you must. But keep your hands off.
- Do not comb or brush your hair.
- Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. Use conditioner, leave-in conditioner, essential oils and whatever means necessary to keep your curls hydrated.
What We Use:
We’ve been washing our hair every second or third day with a light conditioner. I’ve been using the very cheap Suave Naturals in Tropical Coconut. It costs 99 cents.
I’ll rinse it out after rubbing it into our scalps and then I’ll “condition” our hair with a heavier conditioner. We’ve been using Tresemme Naturals, which is also really cheap and can be found at most drugstores.
Every other week, we’ve been using a “low-poo,” basically a sulfate-free shampoo that will get rid of any styling product build up that the conditioner might not eliminate, but that won’t dry out our hair. Our favorite is the Nourish brand from Trader Joe’s.
For a full list of sulfate and silicone free products that can be found at drugstores, see here.
For control, we use both a silicone-free gel and a finishing spray.
The Herbal Essences gels are also very reasonably priced and can be found at most drug stores, but I found them to have less hold than I like.
I splurged and bought some Deva Care Arc AnGEL at Ulta. Deva Care is the line of products started by Lorraine Massey in conjunction with the Curly Girl book, and I really prefer the hold of this gel. For me, it’s worth the extra expense (especially with all the money I’m saving on shampoos, haircuts and coloring), but if you are wanting to save money, the drug store products will suffice.
The lavender flax seed gel I make is also great for hold.
I finish with the Aussie Sprunch spray for extra control.
Styling is pretty simple.
After co-washing our hair, I scrunch it up with a microfiber towel or t-shirt. Then I put in our gel and pile our hair on top of our heads with the towel or t-shirt (also known as “plopping”).
I’ll usually leave my hair up in the towel while I finish the rest of my grooming. Then I’ll take it down and wrap the curls around my fingers to give them a bit more definition. I’ll spray it with the sprunch spray for extra hold.
Then I just go about my day and let it dry naturally while I carpool, bake and write.
If I have to be somewhere, I’ll diffuse my hair so that I don’t go out with a wet head. I use the alligator clips to lift my roots and then I use a method called the Pixie Curl method to dry my hair. Essentially I leave the dryer off, scrunch my hair up with the fingers of the diffuser and then turn my dryer on. I leave the dryer in the same spot for a couple of minutes (using the cool setting if it gets too hot) and then turn the dryer off before removing the diffuser fingers and moving to the next section. I then finish the look with sprunch spray.
Gigi and I have both been using these methods for the last several months and have noticed a big difference in the condition of our curls.
I can’t tell you the hours I’ve saved on fighting with my blow dryer and flat iron.
What I can tell you is how much I’ve enjoyed swimming and walking in the rain.
And how much I’ve enjoyed just feeling like me.
And helping Gigi continue to love herself.
Self-acceptance is a hard lesson, especially as women, especially in our society. But I feel proud of the progress we are making, learning to accept ourselves more, just as we are, every day.
It’s having an impact even beyond the two of us, though. My mom showed up at our house this weekend with her own head of curly hair. I can’t help but think we had a little something to do with it.
And she looked beautiful.