Thursday, November 21, 2013

Pictures of My (Sorta) Big Chop

Pictures of hair below * 

“Are you sure?” the stylist asked … and then, “Are you sure you're sure?” 

Chop it down,” I said, "Have at it."

I'd spent what felt like a century with hair winding down my back. Plus, I'd already lopped off a few inches just months before so it was just above BSL. I'd been having several variations on the same dream, where I looked into a mirror to see my short hair reflected back. I awakened from these dreams smiling. I knew it was time.

I shampooed my hair the night before the appointment. So after she did some initial dry cutting, the stylist wet it down and finger-combed it, using DevaCurl Heaven in Hair, which doubled as a conditioner and styler. She set me under the hood dryer for a while then shaped my cut a little more. It wasn't her fault that I ended up with shorter hair than what I'd anticipated. She kept asking if I wanted more taken off, and I kept telling her yeah, drunk on the idea that the more hair she took off, the easier my overall hair care routine would be. (That turned out to be mostly true.) But some of the time I think she kept cutting because she was aiming for precision. Even though I showed her pics of my desired cut, cutting an (angled) inverted bob can be tricky on very curly hair. She did a good job.

I'm pretty happy with going short. Here are a few pics of my cut. They were taken a couple days afterward. I hadn't washed or re-styled it, which explains some of the disheveled pieces and some of the frizz (but really my hair tends to frizz anyway).

This pic taught me just how dirty the bottom of my mirror was, plus I inadvertently included the garbage can. Classy, huh? Haha

Hard to tell it's an inverted bob from this front view. Arm got "cut off" cause I was in a hurry to take this & the next pic :0  

Hopefully those straggly, rogue pieces on the right side add spice to the mix. 

  ... What's most surprising is how many styles I'm able to create with this short cut. I may post some of those styles in one of my next blogs. Thanks for stopping by!

Turn a Nightmare Product into a Dream

Oh the fortune I've spent on hair products that failed! Like the ones that left my hair dry, or distorted my curl pattern; the concoctions that weighed down my curls, leaving them with a waxy or greasy film, or limp! 

It still happens, of course. Sometimes the ingredients just aren't compatible with my particular head of curls. But sometimes a failed hair product is actually a good or Heavenly product in disguise. It depends on when or how that product is used.  


In dry weather, a conditioner or styling product may be very drying or may distort a curl pattern because of certain ingredients (like glycerin), but work perfectly in a more humid season, or climate. I find that a lot of glycerin-heavy products make a tumbleweed out of me in dry weather but work quite well when the humidity is moderately high. Google something like “curly hair products and dew points” for helpful info on climate and appropriate ingredients.

The Dilution Solution

Hybrid Cleansers

Sulfate-based shampoo can be diluted with water (I used distilled, as explained below), or with cheap conditioner, for a more gentle cleansing session. When a non-sulfate shampoo isn't available, a shampoo/conditioner combo might be the perfect solution for hair that gets too oily without shampoo, but too weighed down by co-washing only. 

Conditioners & Stylers

I have a copious medium-textured mane of 3b/c/a curls; normal elasticity, porosity ranges right now from normal to low … so it didn't surprise me when my hair was stiff, greasy and weighed down after using a conditioner and a styler from the SheaMoisture line - Coconut & Hibiscus Curl Enhancing Smoothie and Coconut & Hibiscus Curling Gel Souffle. The ingredients are quite rich with oil. Because I liked the natural ingredients listed and it was an expensive purchase, I decided to experiment with it. (The type of experiment below might also work with Kinky Curly Curling Custard, another rich, heavy styler.)


Mixed some of the smoothie w/distilled H20 – 1:1 ratio (half and half). Apply.


Mixed some of the gel w/distilled H20 - 4:1 ratio (¾ gel to ¼ H20). Apply.

I mostly choose distilled water because it's more gentle on my hair than my shower water, which contains a lot of minerals. When experimenting, I only use a few ounces of product at a time. I lucked out with my first formula (above).

Result: perfectly accentuated ringlets, shine, body and perfect hold. It was a little crunchy as it dried but once dry, it was soft, not stiff, limp or greasy. In fact, last week after using this mixture, I got caught outside in the rain with my hair exposed. Still, my hair held up beautifully.

Some benefits of diluting a heavy conditioner or styler:

1. Less is more, and can help delay or prevent product buildup.
2. You keep what you paid for.
3. Your purchase lasts longer, which means you save money.
4. Diluting products is great if you're heavy-handed when applying stuff (which leads back to benefit #1).
5. Diluting can reduce drying time. 

Have you experimented with your products to improve them? What were your results?   

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Curly Hair Secrets Revealed

Congrats! You've wiggled out of your “fake straight hair” straight jacket and fled the asylum. You were never the crazy one. Society is crazy for setting up curl restraints to begin with. Now you embrace your naturally curly hair. OK, mostly you embrace it.  ... Or do you envy others' curls maybe a bit too much? Either way, below are some facts that could boost your appreciation for your own curls:

1 day, 2 day, 3 day hair

Waves and loose curls are often softer and shinier than tighter curls because it's easier for the sebum (natural oil from the scalp) to migrate down the shaft of less curly hair. The downshot of that is looser curls and waves that get oily, flat and over-conditioned more easily. Also, when curl patterns are weaker and softer, curls tend to get pulled out of place easily, especially in wind or when slept on. That makes wavy and loosely curly hair more challenging in terms of holding shape, or a style. All these issues lead to more wash days and styling efforts. Then again, stronger curl patterns and coils tend to get drier more easily, tend to have less shine and are often more frizz-prone than wavy or loosely curly hair. Detangling waves or loose curls is relatively easy. A plus point for curlier hair: depending on tendency to frizz, curlier types can often go 2, 3, 4 days … up to a full week or more before the curls are frazzled and in need of more washing/styling. The clear winner here is … every curl type!

Volume and body: captivating and overwhelming

Big hair is often viewed as sexy and alluring. It probably does attract mates the way a large plume of feathers attracts peahens to a peacock. Thing is, while you're envying someone's amazing volume, s/he may see it as too big, too difficult to manage and high maintenance. It often takes foreeeever to wash and detangle. Still, there's a lot to love about a voluminous mane. It still looks great as it thins with age.

Hang” can be a drag

Part of the majestic beauty of kinky/coily hair is its fantastic root lift. That means less or no hair falling into the eyes and face. But instead of lift, k/c types often want “hang” and more length. Truth is, “hang” can be a drag for those of us who naturally have it (the wavy and curly types). So what's the upshot for those of us with hang, droop and drag? … Easier detangling sessions, as a general rule, because the curls are looser.

Growth rate: don't assume fast equals good

If you're a sprouter (hair grows quickly), that razored pixie-mullet you suffered will practically grow itself out overnight. If your hair grows slowly, well, not so much. 

But if you love your cut and have slow growth, your look will last a while, whereas the sprouter will spend more money on a bunch of trims to preserve the cut. Also, sprouters often get so sick of getting cuts they just let their hair wind down their backs. That may not be the most flattering look for folks with no necks; folks with very long or wide faces, or for very short people. Long hair also means more product and far more time spent on it. Fast or slow: both have pros and cons. Average growth? You dodged the extreme disadvantages and advantages of both.

… Hopefully you and I are doing our best to embrace what nature gave us, otherwise it starts feeling like the days when we straightened to achieve someone else's idea of how we should look. 


The Allure of Short Curls

Reasons to Go SHORT

Short, naturally curly hair is spectacular and unique, even when it's disheveled! Just be sure to do your research and understand what you want before seeing your stylist. Here are some of the rewards you could reap from going short:

Improved State of Hair

Longer hair is older hair that's been exposed to a lot of wind, weather changes, mechanical damage, and other stressors. Cutting it off is like hitting “reset”. You get new, healthy curls!

The Look

The right cut can emphasize and flatter facial features. You get more volume.Volume masks thinning hair better too. You look taller (if that's appealing to you).

Practicality / Convenience

Shorter means less time and effort spent on detangling (but could mean more time spent styling). Your hair will air dry more quickly and your hair will blow dry more quickly too.

Easier exercise sessions. Short hair doesn't have to be pulled back, so you can stay cooler. Super short and TWA cuts are ready-made, low-maintenance styles. Hats and swimming caps fit more easily.

Short hair is more acceptable in many business settings. All of your wet hair may finally fit inside a hood dryer! Yay! You stay cooler in warm weather and in warm climates. There's less hair around the house and less clogging of the tub. You might be able to ditch the headache-inducing pineapple for an easy overnight bonnet.

No more accidentally sitting on your hair. Less accidental tugging and pulling of hair. No more – or far fewer - frazzled curls from zippers, necklaces and seat belt straps. You'll eat food instead of hairy food. Less hair will get caught in and on everything. 

(For you violent types ... ) When your back is to the wall and your enemy has removed her stilettos and her earrings and she's ready to throw down, you'll have less hair for her to grab and twist!

Weight is lifted off you, literally! (Fewer headaches because of it too.)


Less product is needed, so it's easier on the wallet (though certain styles may require more frequent trims). Salon services cost less when you already have short hair.


Going short could mean you're letting go of more than just your hair. Your cut could also be a physical action symbolizing a willingness to release an emotional burden. A new, low-maintenance cut can feel deeply satisfying following a recent break up with a high-maintenance putz of an ex-boyfriend. Or maybe going short is a way to express a willingness to accept (or celebrate) one of life's many changes. 

… What do you think of short hair? Long hair? Are you satisfied with your length?

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Curl-bashing & How to Respond


Our curls: we take them into the world to endure wind, UV rays, extreme weather, and silly, insensitive, obnoxious remarks! It's always wonderful to receive a genuine compliment, and that person always deserves a gracious response. But then there are all those comments that are innocent but intrusive, ignorant, or downright diabolical.

Here is a list of comments I've received or over-heard. The responses were designed to educate a few people, or at least make them think twice about what they're saying. Though I rarely suffer negative hair comments, I have suffered them - they are included  below and the responses I gave at the time are in black print.

You should straighten your hair.
You should curl yours.

Why do you wear your hair like that?
Because I'm cute. / To disturb you. / Because you can't.

How'd you get your hair to do that?
I crossed my eyes and hopped across my lawn at midnight, under a full moon.

Will you straighten your hair for the prom / the wedding / your job interview?
No, I'd rather look amazing. 

Don't you own a brush?
Yep, I agree, you don't understand curly hair.

Why do you leave your hair curly?
Why do you leave yours flat?

Is that real?
No, it was on sale at 7-11.

You must hate your hair.
You must hate yours.

I love your hair ... You should straighten it!
I love my hair too ... especially my curls!

Your hair is huge. How do you cope?
I think of how much yours will thin out as you age.

That's a rat's nest / tumble weed / mop / blob / frizz ball / poodle / helmet / Q-tip / pubic mound / circus clown / hobo / Madusa / Chia Pet ...

Whoever you're talking to must think you're crazy.

... What have people said about your hair? What have you said back?

Curl Compliments

Comment: "You have beautiful curls ...  really beautiful."
Response: "I hate my hair."

You may not agree that you have beautiful curly hair when someone pays this kind of straight-forward curl compliment. And because the Universe is ineffable and fundamentally entertaining, the majority of curly compliments are collected on "bad hair days", making it even harder to accept that person's kind words.  What makes "I hate my hair" a troublesome response, even if it is genuine, is that it's ungrateful. A compliment is a present that a person bestows upon you. A compliment is an act of generosity. An unqualified "thank you" for that gift shows gratitude and allows you or me an opportunity to accept something positive into what is often a hectic, stressful day. 

Comment: "Wow, you have great hair!"
Response: "No I don't. It sucks. You have great hair!"

This can be really awkward for the complimenter. Suddenly a simple compliment has become the foundation for a negative comparison.

Yes, you may genuinely think the person somehow has "better" hair. But if that's true, there's no reason not to graciously accept their compliment and then praise that person's hair in return, without insulting your own hair.

As we curlies learn to embrace our hair, the "My hair sucks, yours is great" line represents a type of trap that people in American culture, especially women, tend to fall into. Many of us have been  taught that being apologetic or self-deprecating is noble, or that it somehow morally elevates us; that wholeheartedly embracing compliments make us look overly-confident, stuck up or too proud. Well, it's worth the risk, in my opinion. It's healthy to be positive about oneself.

Comment: "Your hair is amazing. People pay a fortune trying to get your curls."
Response: "That's crazy. My hair is a nightmare."

Our negative responses to compliments don't just affect us individually. Unfortunately, when so many of us downplay our curly hair, it re-inforces the societal message that we all hate our curls. And we all know what that results in: An onslaught of trollish remarks from people who assume we all hate our curly hair, plus those crazed anti-curly straightening wand sales people chasing us down in malls across the country  ;)

... Have a wonderful curly day :)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Holy Grail Syndrome

Here are a few uncomfortable thoughts many of us have about our hair, especially at the start of our naturally curly journeys:

I covet [Jane Doe's] perfectly formed curls
I covet tighter curls
I covet looser curls
I long for root volume  [I suffered this one]
I long for “hang” rather than volume
I loathe frizz
I want shine [or more shine]
If only my hair were softer
If only my hair could …

It's natural to appreciate what others have, or what we don't have. It's natural to have hair envy sometimes. But an unhealthy extreme is Holy Grail Syndrome. HGS is not to be confused with a simple, casual mention of a “holy grail” product. A holy grail label in itself isn't problematic and can be an exaggerated way to describe a product that is especially suitable to a particular head of hair.

Here are the problematic symptoms of the syndrome I call HGS:

Obsessively searching for the “perfect” product or hair care method.
A constant need to attain or maintain “perfect” curls. (Agitation or upset when hair is mildly “off”)
Excessive time/energy/money spent researching and buying product and equipment
Repeatedly discovering a so-called HG product, followed by dismay when it stops working
Daily complaints or negative thoughts about hair

HGS is as crappy as "flat-iron affliction" or being "straight-struck" because HGS involves a lack of acceptance of one's natural curls. Obsessively chasing after holy grail products fails because nothing in life, including hair, is perfect.

Practical advice: If you have to throw a bucket of products at your hair to get it to look a certain way, your hair probably wasn't meant to look that way and it will let you know because all those products will stop working the way you want them to. You could also suffer build up or protein overload as a result.

General advice: Holy grail chasing is expensive and elusive. If you're obsessing about your hair, consider where you'd place all that energy and all those thoughts if you had no hair to obsess about.