Quest for the Curls: Part 1

One of the many wise things my Grandma used to say to me was “we always envy the hair we don’t have.” She would say this after every comment I made comparing my fine strands to my cousin’s thick, gorgeous locks. She would mutter it with a small shake of her head after every time that same cousin dyed her hair a different color, masking the gorgeous strawberry blonde shade she had been blessed with. And she would say it whenever my mom got a new haircut, trying a look that was different than what she was accustomed to without sacrificing precious time meant for styling that could be spent doing much more important things.

My gram was right; I did envy the hair I didn’t have. From ages eight to 11, I slept in rag curlers every night, trying to shape my hair into the bouncy, luscious curls that I dreamed of. Beginning in middle school, I was introduced to the world of hot styling tools. GAME. OVER. I  was sold. I flat-ironed, begging my mom to spend hours helping me smooth and straighten the crimpy frizzy mane on my head. My mom bought me a set of hot rollers, which I would throw in when I woke up in the morning, and take out after I had eaten breakfast, washed up, and gotten everything but my uniform shirt on. Eventually, I acquired a curling iron and soon began to spend time curling my hair.

By the time I was a senior in college, I had it down to a science. If I woke up with dry hair (whether it was blown dry the night before or simply dry from sleeping), I could have my long hair curled in 12 to 18 minutes, depending on the amount of frizz I was working with. It was my morning habit. Wake up, plug in curling iron. Wash face and brush teeth while iron heated up. Divide hair into two sections. Curl bottom section. Put on makeup. Curl top section. Get dressed. Out the door.

The summer was always the worst when it came to my hair. We don’t have central AC in my house and, even if we did, drying my hair would result in me being so sweaty I would need another shower. When I was in high school and even my first few summers of college, it was okay to not do anything to my hair. I worked at summer camps, played tennis, and generally a bun or a braid and, if it was a super humid day, a baseball cap, were all I needed for an acceptable ‘do. This past summer, however, I was working full time in the largest office building in my city. The program I was  a part of was a step in to one of the largest companies in the state and it was understood that we needed to dress and act the part if we wanted to be back. I realized that this meant I was going to have to do my hair. Every. Single. Day.

I began seeking solutions to making my hair habits last longer. I learned how to blow out my hair to cut down on frizz. Dry shampoo became a staple and, one my worst days, I perfected the chignon as a way to mask my frizzy tresses. I would fry my hair Monday through Friday and then usually let it go as a “breather” on Saturdays and Sundays. It wasn’t ideal and I hated thinking about the damage I was doing, but I also didn’t think I had a choice.

It wasn’t until months later, in February, when I was perusing a Cosmo snapchat story that I came across an article titled “What You Would Never Know From Looking at My Full Head of Curls.” I was hooked. I read along as the author described the time and dedication it took to get her full head of luscious bouncy curls back after years of heat damage. After reading the article, I began to think. I thought about how, just like the author, I had been using heat on my head almost every single day since age 11. I thought about how, while I had never had the types of curls she did when she was little, I did have a lot of “body” to my hair, as my mom like to say and how I didn’t really know what my natural curls looked like anymore. What if I gave up the heat, for the most part? What would happen to my hair? Could I get curls similar to hers, or at least ones that looked more manageable?

I knew I would be entering the work world after graduation in May, and frying my hair every single day for the rest of my life sounded miserable. I needed to begin to experiment with my natural hair now, while I still have time and I am still at place where it is acceptable to wear the same outfit two days in a row because your Monday Wednesday Friday classmates don’t have to see you on Tuesday and Thursday.

So, I am embarking on a natural hair journey. This does not mean I am giving up my hot tools forever. Rather, I am going to choose to experiment with my natural hair more and uncover the style that lives within it. Using heat on my hair will be saved for “special occasions” like job interviews, fancy date nights, and holidays (because if I rocked my natural hair to Easter mass, I think I might be disowned). I am super nervous to see how this is going to go, but also very excited. I feel like I am going to discover a whole new part of me. I’ll post periodic updates and product reviews on here as I go. Here we go; on the quest to find my natural curls!

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