Monday, 22 December 2014


After many years of over-straightening and even more years of hating my curly hair, I am now able to wear it naturally without feeling like it's a big fluffy mess.  However here are some things I didn't realise before growing it long that I wanted to share. Put simply - it's a big commitment.  HUGE.  So if you're thinking of embracing your curls and getting them lengthy, then you might want to read this first...

1. I started using terms like "anti-humectant", "co-washing" and "silicone-free".
Anti-humectant means a product that won't let your hair go frizzy in humidity.  It's basically a hardcore wax that you have to apply very lightly otherwise you'll end up with locks that look uber greasy.  My favourite is Aveda's one, it will last you approximately 47 years. Co-washing is when you don't use shampoo on your hair, you only use conditioner.  It's basically the same as using a cream cleanser on your face rather than a lather-based soap product.  I did it for a couple of months, but I really missed the feel of using a shampoo.  So now I use L'Oreal's EverSleek Smoothing and Nourishing shampoo and conditioner.  They're silicone and sulphate free.  I always leave in a bit of the conditioner (a tiny amount) after my shower as it really helps stop frizz and in general seems to help my hair feel and look better.  

2. I became convinced that sulphates are REALLY BAD.
A lot of people, especially those with curly hair, believe that sulphates and silicones are very bad for the hair and skin.  I don't know how much science there is behind these beliefs - personally I find I'm OK with silicones, but I steer well clear of sulphates.  Curly hair is very delicate, and it's pretty much universally accepted that sulphates are very harsh.  Same goes for people who dye their hair.  I also found mine grew so much more quickly when I cut back from the 'phates.  Now there are more and more sulphate-free hair options, it's not hard to find alternatives if you're that way inclined.

3. I was suprised how often I'd accidentally get food in my hair.  It happens all the time.
This is gross, I'm sorry, but it's true.  You take up more space with long, curly hair, and it will go places you hadn't realised it could go.  I don't mean hairs falling into food - luckily that never happens - but the ends will drip into soup and oh man this is not nice.  Likewise it took me a while to be able to apply deoderant without getting it onto my hair.

4.  It will take all day to dry.
I try and use heat as little as possible, so I spend a lot of time with wet hair, sat in my house, dripping from my head.  It takes ages.  Summer is amazing because suddenly your dry time is halved, but even then it's still a good four hours or so.  And you don't want to move it around too much or sit on the curls, so it's kind of a pain.  I spend a lot of time baking when it's a hair wash day because then I can close the kitchen door, get it really toasty in there, and reduce drying time.  I now think it's a legitimate excuse when female characters in the '80s would say they had to stay in or miss a date because they were washing their hair.

5.  There are websites that will tell you how your curly hair will react to the weather that week.
I'm not kidding.  People take this very seriously.  That's also one of my favourite websites for all my curly hair needs.

6.  The pineapple and scrunchies are important for curls that last.
I have so many scrunchies.  I like velvet ones because they're the softest, and feel a bit luxurious.  And the pineapple is when you have all your hair on the top of your head in a ponytail while sleeping.  It's the best way to make sure your curls look good the next day.

7. Water is your best friend.  It's also your worst enemy.
Rain and humidity sucks and makes curly hair frizzy, but if you wet your hair in the morning you can "reactivate the product" and your hair will look just washed again.  It's one of life's great mysteries.

8. You need special towels.  Or T-shirts.
Normal towels rough up the cuticle of curly hair so it's best to use a special curl towel, or even just an old T-shirt.  I style my curls when they're soaking wet so I get big clumpy curls, and then use my towel to scrunch the water out.

9. In the beginning you can never rely on it looking the same way after a wash.
The hardest part of having curly hair is that everyone is on their own journey.  Let's hold hands.  But the truth is you have to experiment with loads of different products and techniques, you have to try lots of different methods, you have to invest time and thought into it.  I had many months of never really knowing how my hair would look after each wash, which can be tricky.  Every curly head is different (although there are some attempts to define curls in terms of groups, here's a quiz you can do to find out where your curls fit in).  However, the good news is that once you discover your magic combination you can stick with it, and end up with hair that is reliable, and it's so much easier than having to blow dry or straighten it.  Plus you'll have then reached end of your hair journey and achieved something wonderful for the entire world.  Right?

12.  You'll spend a lot of money on conditioner.
Ratio is always 2:1 when it comes to buying conditioner and shampoo.

13. In the morning you have to let it settle.
I would always take it out the pineapple and think it was a ruined mess so I'd try and fix it before leaving the house.  Then one day I took it out and left it for half an hour and realised it just takes time to drop into a normal position.  This was an important lesson.  Especially for a chronic fiddler.

14.  You'll look younger. 
Someone asked me if I was under 14 the other day when I had my hair curly!  UNDER 14?!  I wasn't wearing make up so that probably helped too, but it was one of the best moments of my life.  Then I found three grey hairs and the joy ebbed away slightly, but still!

15.  You will talk about it a lot.
I'd like to take this opportunity to apologise to my husband, my best friends, my mother and sister, strangers, people on the internet, and anyone else I've ever bored by discussing whatever hair issue I had or had just overcome that week.  I should probably also apologise for this post as I'm still doing it.  And on that note, I'm going to stop.

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