At a very young age, I learned that having big, curly, untamed hair in my (Egyptian) community was not acceptable. Like if I left my hair curly as a child/teenager, people would start talking about 1- my hygiene and 2- my mother’s supposed inability to teach her daughter how to take care of herself. Surprisingly, now that I’m an adult… and frankly just don’t give a shit anymore… I’ve learned that it isn’t just my community that feels like way!
Many of my friends from various backgrounds: Hispanic, African, Caribbean, Indian have all said the same thing: that their whole lives they have been told that straight hair is the more proper/pretty/clean/socially acceptable way to wear your hair. While I’m sure there’s a ton of social and racial backing to this, that’s not why we’re here today. Today I will tell you about why and how I learned to love my mane and how I genuinely don’t care about what people say about it!
I already feel stronger having just said that in my head!
Let’s start with the root of all of our curly hair problems: frizz. Frizz. Oh and more frizz. And just when you think the moist AIR has done its job on you, there is additional frizz building up on the frizz that’s already there. Like WTF SF humidity? Can’t help a girl out sometimes?
Not to mention the many products out there that label themselves as “anti-frizz” and “healing damaged hair to reduce frizz” — that are all bullshit. I’m here to tell you that. And what else I’ve figured out!
I’ve spent hundreds of dollars on every product imaginable: the creams, the oils, the leave in conditioners, the gels, the moose, the list goes on and on and on. But they just don’t work and here is why: Frizz is a product of your outmost layer (on a strand of hair) to rise for moisture to pass through it. This can happen during many different scenarios. Like if there is a lot of moisture in the air (cough cough, referring to YOU, Karl the Fog). Or if you blow dry a certain way and the moisture from the hot air touches your hair the wrong way. Or if the type of brush you use is actually breaking up the layers in our strands and allowing for easier moisture access. ORRRR when strangers insist on touching your hair allowing their moist hands to dampen your strands… (seriously this happens ALL THE TIME). Etc, etc.
Look, we can do various things to lower the amount of frizz, but let’s be real: it’s inevitable .
So Rule #1: for the love of God, save yourself the hundreds of dollars and embrace the frizz!
Before I moved to SF, my old hairdresser used to tell me that curly hair dressers vs. non-curly hair dressers shouldn’t be a thing because when you’re in school, they (hairdressers) learn to cut and treat all types of hair. So it’s possible a stylist may have more experience with cutting curly/straight hair due to their clientele, but the labeling makes me so upset! Why, you ask? Because if a stylist is labeled a “curly hair stylist,” I am not getting a hair cut for less than $200. Is there a reason that running scissors through my hair will cost me that much money? Unbelievable. Certainly getting a cut/color anywhere in SF is pricey but if I am going in for a maintenance trim, I am not looking to spend my month’s food budget on my hair appointment. (True story: I spent 8 hours in a chair and $295 on getting my roots re-done once — lesson learned.) So do your research and ask around. Find a hairdresser that meets you half-way: they don’t have to be “curly-hair stylist” but they need to be comfortable with your hair and they need to not require that you sell an organ to be able to afford their services. Having someone who knows their shit, but you can actually afford, will help you explore what cuts/styles/colors work for you and your texture.
So Rule #2: find a hairdresser you trust that you are comfortable seeing without having to sacrifice meals (because we need extra TLC with our hair and we can’t be trying to avoid that fact.)
There’s a stigma that comes with having a mane…people assume you let loose more often, that you’re a hippie flower-power child, that you’re wild and crazy. Now… curly haired folk don’t wash their hair as often as our straight haired sistas so naturally it’s less cooperative, wild and crazy. BUT that doesn’t mean that I am, by association, that way also. When I was interviewing for positions during my last year of grad school, every single piece of advice included “straighten your hair” or “tie your hair back in a bun” because it’s “more professional”. Soooo.. not only does the texture of my hair say to the world “hey I’m crazy and wild” but it also says “hey, I’m unprofessional and you shouldn’t hire me”?? C’mon! Stupid. Also, ain’t nobody got time to be straightening their hair before an interview if you’re busy prepping. That’s just not what’s important.
So stop listening to everyone’s suggestions about how you should wear your hair — whether it be in a work environment or not. If people have a problem with it, then be gone, because you don’t need that negativity in your life. Same goes with products and styling tips and accessories. For example: I no longer go to a hairdresser without my own brush. Why? Because stylists will try and comb your hair or brush it out using the same brush or comb that they use on a variety of textures, but you know what works for you so why not travel with it! It has made a world of a difference for me!
Products: I love hearing about what works for other people. But I still have yet to find a styling product that doesn’t weigh my hair down and still keeps my curls intact. So again, what works for one person, may not work for you.
Lastly, Rule #3: listen to your gut and go with what feels good and comfortable, because if not the suggestions and opinions will be endless and you’ll never feel 100% about your hair. And you should!