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How I Loved

        My Curls

Hair-products-laid-downEvery curly-haired girl has struggled to love her hair. Growing up I was always looking for that ever-elusive solution to tame my curls. By the time I was 25, I had a solid ammunition of de-frizzers, straightening balms, hair irons, blow dryers, and paddle brushes. But while my hair would fine right after styling, it would quickly become messy within the next hour.

Accepting my hair

Then, I tried to permanently straighten my hair. It looked okay until it started growing out as half my strands were straight, but the part close to the hairline had a mini wavelet. Hair-straightening-attemptsI had to cut it in a fringe just to make it look (marginally) better. But when I was around 27, I met a hairdresser who changed the way I looked at my hair. (Yes it took me that long to begin accepting my texture). He said that my hair was quite lovely but I was styling it wrong. He taught me that curls should never be combed, especially when they’re dry. This is because the texture breaks up and turns into a ball of frizz. 

This is the right way to style curly hair: Work a small coin-sized blob of leave-in conditioning cream from mid-shaft to the ends. Then when it's about 40 percent dry, flip your hair upside down and start scrunching it from the ends towards the roots. This is to enhance the curl and add volume. Whatever you do, don’t run your fingers through your hair as it will break up the wave. And that’s how simple it is to have beautiful curls.

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The common challenge

poker-straight-hairGrowing up in India was a task especially because I had curly hair. Television was full of advertisements where women with glossy, poker straight strands swished their heads about. Magazines were all about how to get long, straight hair. And at home, my mother had smooth, silken strands that were her pride and joy, her crowning glory. My hair, on the other hand, was a mystery. It hated being blowdried, it hated being cut in traditional layers, a blunt bob made it look poufy, while shorter than short wasn't very flattering, to say the least.

It's only now that there is some information (and products) about curly hair but more than a decade back it was all about getting smoother, silkier and straighter - three things my hair were not. I tried straightening it, which looked fine until it started growing out. I tried a fringe, and even a pixie cut. But the only thing that worked at that time was pulling it back into a ponytail.

hair-expertiseWould you believe that I continued like this till my late 20s, when I moved to Kuala Lumpur. There I met a wonderful hairstylist who told me (for the first time) that I had great hair. He said that my hair was lovely because it had movement and texture - two things that straight hair does not have. I didn't even know that these adjectives could be applied to hair until he gave me a new haircut and a few high and low lights. I also learned from him how to style my hair, which was the biggest beauty learning in my entire life.

Up until then, I would try to comb and straighten my hair with my fingers, which is a huge mistake for curly hair. My stylist told me never to comb my hair (not even with my fingers). I could only scrunch it from the ends to the roots. My products changed from smoothing serums to leave in conditioners and curl mousse. What I learned was that when you comb or run your fingers through curly/wavy hair, you break up the texture and the curl, which leaves behind a mass of frizz. I also learned that blunt, straight cuts are not for curly hair. You should ask your stylist for wispy layers that fall along the natural movement of your hair. If your stylist cuts your hair wet and then again when it’s dry, you’ve found a great guy to style your curls.

woman-with-curly-hairI love my curls because they're so versatile. Now that I’ve learned to style them, I realize that they look as good in a feathered bob as they do when long and layered. But most of all they’ve become my style, my trademark that stands out in the sea of straight hair.



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