Update: Curly Hair

I’m pleased to report that it has been over 2 months since I’ve straightened my hair. That post I wrote a while back, Resisting the Urge to Straighten, ended up being one of the most popular posts I’ve ever published, which was unexpected. I mean, there are so many bloggers out there who talk about their hair, and it’s kind of a superficial subject in general, that I felt a teensy bit bashful about writing something so self-indulgent to begin with. Apparently, though, it resonated with a lot of people, and it ended up feeling like some sort of pledge. Could I straighten my hair when I’d declared to a tiny slice of the Internet that I was no longer going to do so? NO! And so, my Chi straightener has been thrust into permanent retirement.

Has life changed dramatically since I stopped straightening my hair? Of course not. I got a couple of funny looks at work for the first couple of weeks, but that’s probably just because people weren’t fully aware of the amount of fluff sitting atop my head. I do feel like I have a bit more time in the morning, and generally my head doesn’t get as hot (ha!) since straightened hair is more dense and retains more heat. I wish I could say that I’m now at peace with myself or something, but that’s really not true. I do like the idea of being lower maintenance, but let’s be honest: my recent impulse purchase of a 10-piece eyeshadow palette hardly supportsย that argument.

I do think, though, that I’m somewhat less fraught about my appearance. I don’t feel as though I’m duping the world (or myself) quite as much now that I’m working with, instead of against, my hair’s natural curl and wave. I’ve worn makeup since I was 14 and that’s not going to stop anytime soon, but I think that’s duplicity of a much lesser degree (e.g., I’m not committed to changing my skin color, covering up my freckles, or altering the shape of my nose or cheekbones). So, yes. I think it’s just one less thing to worry about, and since I lean slightly toward the anxious side, that’s certainly not a bad thing.

If you are wondering exactly how I get my hair to look like it does, then here’s a detailed explanation for everything I do.

Shit for curly hair

I wash my hair at night (yes, every night! I’m so bad) using Pert. Pert is super cheap and the 2nd ingredient is sulfate. I tried using a sulfate-free shampoo for a couple of weeks after several people recommended it to me, but it just didn’t work for my hair. My hair is curly, yes, but it’s also fine and oily, and it needs that SO2-4 foaming agent, dammit. A couple times a week I use the Aussie 3-minute miracle conditioner. This stuff is also super cheap but just as effective as the significantly more expensive Redken conditioner that’s been banished to the corner of my shower. The Aussie stuff is really conditioning, though, so I’d warn against using it too often otherwise your hair will get weighed down really quickly. When I get out of the shower, I spread 1 pump of the Paul Mitchell Super Skinny Serum throughout my hair, comb through it, and pin it back with a couple of bobby pins. The Paul Mitchell stuff is expensive, but I prefer it to the cheaper & stickier leave-in serums, plus I feel like it does genuinely make my hair softer.

Then I just let my hair dry overnight while I sleep. I hate hairdryers and yes, my pillow is perpetually damp, but I’m lazy and this will never change. In the morning, I simply comb through it with my fingers, apply a generous dose of the Bumble & Bumble curl conscious defining cream, then flip my side part over juuuuuust a little bit more to make things more dramatic and to hide the pillow frizz. The Bumble & Bumble stuff is really expensive ($29), but the jar lasts for ages – you can see that the label on mine has started to rub off. (If you want a cheaper alternative, then I also like the Giovanni Strong Hold Styling Gel). I apply a bit more of the defining cream until I’m satisfied, then smooth it down with a tiny bit of oil. The oil I currently use is the tiny Biosilk jar that I got at Ulta for $1 (it has lasted since November). Finally, I spray a shitton of hairspray over everything to make it stay. I find that the hairspray is actually a very important step. It helps keep the curls looking consistent throughout the day & also adds volume back to the hair after the Bumble & Bumble stuff takes a bit of it away. This Garnier one is quite cheap and I prefer it to the Tresemme one that I was using previously.

That’s it!ย That’s all I have for you. Again, I’m not trying to start a revolution or anything, but if you do feel like it’s high time you stopped fighting your hair’s natural texture, then I’m here to tell you that signing a ceasefire works out well for everyone involved.

Photos thanks to G.ย 

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23 thoughts on “Update: Curly Hair

  1. Good for you! I feel very lucky having curly hair. Sure, it annoys me at times, but I love that all I have to do after I get out the shower is comb it and then let it dry. No products or technology needed. Some days it looks better than others, and some days it can’t seem to be bothered to make nice corkscrew curls and would rather just frizz, but most of the time I’m happy with it. I’ve tried some anti-frizz etc products but they never seem to work for me. I actually tried a new one today and it didn’t do much. Another waste of money! Straightening it is a way to make me look VERY different if I feel like it, but then it loses its volume and kind of looks like curtains, so I prefer it curly. You look lovely with your natural hair! ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Yeah, the last few times I straightened my hair it just looked… flat. Curls have inherent energy, I think! I’m sorry to hear that you’ve had bad luck with anti-frizz products. I bet a lightweight leave-in conditioner would help, though. The Paul Mitchell one that I mentioned is very lightweight (since it’s intended for straight hair, after all), and the Biosilk one isn’t bad, either. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  2. Your hair looks beautiful and getting ready in 5mins must be such a relief! It’s funny how dropping just one way in which we modify our appearance can assist in developing further acceptance of ourselves. Sounds like silly symbolic stuff but it’s so true!

  3. Love the wavy hair! I would love to have naturally wavy hair like yours, but will settle for my thick, straight hair, which curiously, I still have to straighten sometimes to even out the strays. I have to be honest, I shampoo every day, condition once a week, and the only hair product I use is John Frida’s magic serum to prevent flyaways. I do put effort into how I look in the morning (make-up, clothes and all that), but I don’t like dealing with my hair! By most afternoons, I have it pulled back, ready for the gym. I think you have a routine that works for you, judging by that photo – lovely!

    1. The grass is always greener! Growing up I always wanted straight hair, as I thought it looked neater & would be SO easy to take care of since all I’d have to do to get ready would be to brush through it. Hmm… I might have to give that John Frieda serum a go once my Paul Mitchell stuff runs out… I prefer spending more time on my makeup as well, and yes, my hair is inevitably pulled back into a ponytail by 6 pm, ready for a tennis session!

  4. You look fabulous, lady. Don’t worry too much about labels like sulfate-free and stuff like that – just do what’s best for your hair! I’m glad you found a routine that allows you to showcase the real you. Superficial it may seem, but honestlyโ€ฆI would far rather see lots of naturally curly and wavy-headed peeps embracing the real them rather than constantly straight-ironed ladies trying to fulfill some societal standard of beauty. You’re gorge.

    1. Thank you, Jess! And I don’t think it’s superficial at all to encourage people to embrace their natural hair! I love that you have an entire blog dedicated to the subject ๐Ÿ™‚ And yes, the sulfate-free thing may not be for me, but I am thinking that mayyyyybe I spoke too soon, since my hair is getting along with Bumble & Bumble’s latest Invisible Oil Shampoo launch. But I really don’t want to get addicted to a $30 shampoo, haha.

  5. Hey Alina, your hair looks really lovely and healthy! It’s been ages since I last straightened mine too and the difference it’s made is amazing. I rarely use products either (aside form the usual culprits) but I really want to invest in something that adds a bit of shine, but isn’t heavy like an oil. I don’t suppose you have any suggestions?

    1. Thank you, Libby! Life is so much better without the straighteners, isn’t it? ๐Ÿ™‚ The Paul Mitchell Super Skinny Serum that I mentioned might work for you. It’s not quite a heavy as most hair oils (like coconut oil, for example), but it does have to be applied to wet/damp hair. In the past I’ve also used the Kendra Shine Spray on my dry hair — I’m not sure it does a HUGE amount, but you can at least perceive a difference + it smells amazing. It has very good reviews and isn’t too expensive, at least in the U.S. Finally, the Bumble & Bumble Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil is also on the lighter side considering it’s still an oil. I’ve only used it a couple of times (my sister had a little sample bottle), but I did like it! Maybe one of these will work? ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. And it looks beautiful! Seriously, if I had naturally curly hair like that, I would keep it the way it is. It’s interesting to know your hair routine as I am trying to get out of a year-long beauty slump. I also use the same hairspray – I really like it. If you feel like doing a post on your skincare regime, I’d be interested in that too ๐Ÿ˜‰

    1. Do you now! I was really impressed by the hairspray, especially since I’ve tried multiple things from Garnier but this is the only product I’ve really liked. I don’t have much of a skincare routine really – I’ve been using the same products for years. I can 100% recommend the amazing Alba Aloe & Green Tea Oil-Free moisturizer. I’ve tried many products from Alba since I love the moisturizer so much but nothing compares. Perhaps I will do a skincare post in a week or two, though, since you asked! I promise it’s nothing elaborate.
      I think I was in a beauty rut my last year of college. I just didn’t have time to do anything. I remember telling my mom that I’d wear the same pair of earrings for weeks at a time because I didn’t have time to swap them out. Craziness!

  7. I was born with curly hair and spent my early years longing for straight hair in braids. Then, I decided to let it be, had it always in a shoulder-length or shorter, natural style, and found it was an easy way to manage it. Your hair is beautiful in its natural beauty. Don’t change!

    1. Thank you for the lovely comment! When my little sister was born, I was terribly jealous of her for YEARS because she had blonde hair. I thought stick-straight, blonde hair was the ideal! But blonde hair really wouldn’t suit my features, and it certainly wouldn’t suit my personality! It’s always best when we let our hair just be ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Your hair looks like my hair! I’m so glad you’ve taken the big step from straightening. I hope it changes your life like it changed mine. You mentioned duplicity: do you feel more yourself since quitting the heat styling? Or is it just a relief not having to do it?

    1. I think it’s both! I am massively relieved that it only takes me about 5 minutes to get my hair ready in the morning. And it looks so much better curly than it ever did before. It’s so happy, it barely frizzes anymore! (comparatively speaking). I do like the idea of slowly becoming more authentic towards myself, and I think this was a big step. I’ve been working on fashion/style authenticity for the past year, too. Thanks for commenting, I’m glad we’ve been able to bond over our curly hair ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Great post (love the photo)! Who was it that said, “You’re amazing — just the way you are”? ๐Ÿ™‚ Pretty hair, love the natural waves.

    1. Bruno Mars! Ahaha. Sorry, very bad reference! (And I don’t even like Bruno Mars!) I’m sure the quote comes from a more reputable source originally ๐Ÿ™‚ And thank you! I had to cajole the boyfriend into taking the photos, but he ended up being ok with it.

  10. Great post! Straightening takes up a surprising amount of time, I know. And your hair looks great curly! Well done for turning your back on the straighteners. I’d like to follow your lead, but I fear I’d be left with a perpetual fuzzy quasi-afro…

    1. I know, it’s crazy how time-consuming straighteners are! I estimate that it took me a solid 20 minutes to get it looking presentable. Just not worth it! Now it takes me <5 minutes to get my hair ready in the morning.
      As for fluff & volume, I noticed that within a week of not straightening my frizz went WAY down. It's possible you might need a richer shampoo, too. The Fleur de Temps one is AMAZING and smells like camellias (but is also super expensive), and Redken is always really good quality. Thanks for commenting ๐Ÿ™‚

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