Thursday, August 26, 2010

Do You Love or Hate Your Curls?

Hair is a passionate topic, and we spend a lot of cash and emotion and time--and I say this from personal experience and observation over a half century--on trying to get our hair to look and feel a certain way, either according to fashion or according to our own ideas of what suits us. Some of us grew up with hair ideals out there in fashion and media that was the opposite to what grew out of our heads. Angst. Struggles. New products. New Tools. Maybe with rough-on-strands chemicals.

I've heard stories from gals of mothers who'd practically hit a  Biblical-level of mourning and rage--wailing and weeping and gnashing of teeth, maybe some rending of housecoats-- if daughters got "natural" with their hair (ie, let their kinks or coils or curls just fly out untamed). Boyfriends who clearly stated a preference for weaves, extensions, or "relaxed" hair.

Then there's the racial level of hair prejudice, where "kinks" are "bad" and smooth and straight is "good".

Whatever stew pot of issues and emotions, personal and socio-political,  that come into play, it ultimately comes down to this: Do you love or hate your hair's texture the way it grows from your scalp?

I am particularly interested in those who have hair that can be classified as curly to kinky asking this question...and finding the answer, honestly.

If you can't even remember what your hair looks like in its natural state, that says something, huh?

Maybe you've been altering the texture for so long, it's hard to really pinpoint what your hair is like in a healthy, unprocessed form. Maybe you've keratin straightened and  kept doing it. Or you relaxed it old-school style and kept relaxingi it. Or  you blow-dry it from when it's sopping wet,  and soyou  never see it air-dried in all it's "realness." Why not ask yourself  "Why?" Maybe it's simple and has no agenda (racial, feminist, religious, historical, cultural, relational or otherwise): You just like it straightened.

I like my hair in many forms. The important thing is I don't HATE it or deny it in its natural form. I really, really love that it has its coiling properties. I don't love that it's dry or porous or easily breaks (years of harsh blow-drying no doubt contributed to the fragility) or that it's thinned with age and health issues. BUT...I enjoy my curls. (And I enjoy it set and blown-dried, too, because variety is fun, but I do love its natural curl.)  I consider it as it is and, then, if I wear it natural or do something to it, there's not denial or self-loathing or social pressures involved.

And, not too strangely, really, I feel more myself when my hair is its curly self.

Yes, I enhance it with moisturizers. I do use stylers to keep the curl from weather's attacks and agitation from movement and sleep, but we all do stuff to maintain health and appearance, even "natural and green" folks. Whether it's oils or creams or jellies, hair, like skin and teeth and nails, likes to be groomed. Grooming can enhance natural texture rather than deny it, though. :)

Maybe it's not simple at all an issue for some. Maybe taking a second look at your natural texture can help you find out something about yourself and why you do what you do with your hair and appearance.

Whether you go on a quest for your own curls or kinks in order to be more "green" or more "yourself" or just for a new experience, I do encourage you to give it a shot. It may not be for you, but it may be very insightful or never know.

So, yeah, do you love or hate your own natural curly hair?

I hope you love it. Or at least like it. Or at minimum...see the value in what is uniquely yours.

Maybe your neither love or hate, maybe you feel indifferent. You may be one of the few for whom hair is just this stuff you have to get trimmed (or not) and otherwise just keep clean and pay not much mind. (Really? Wow. I may envy you.)

Or maybe you're just puzzled and know very little about your hair or even how to start treating hair that coils or spirals or spins or boings or frizzes or wiggles or tangles like mad inside those clumps or kinks?

Well, you can start to learn about your hair, little by little. Yeah, maybe you can start here:

Live Curly, Live Free: The Basics.

And maybe you can find some articles of interest here:  Naturally Curly

You even might wanna go whole hog and try the Curly Girl Method (or one of its modifications): How to Follow the Curly Girl Method 
What Exactly Is the Curly Girl Method?

Some abbreviations and terms useful for those wanting to discuss the above method:

NoPoo: "No Shampoo" =  not using sulfate (or harsh) shampoos
LowPoo: using light shampoos, those without harsh sulfates
CoWash: conditioner washing--using a conditioner (usually a lighter one or one specifically for cleansing) rather than a shampoo to cleanse hair.
CG: Curly Girl, Curly Girl Method (ie, not using shampoo, washing with conditioner, using water-soluble hair products, eschewing silicones unless water soluble)
Mod CG: modified Curly Girl, doesn't follow method exactly, as may use some lighter silicones and use lowpoos
Diffusing: Using an attachment to your hair-dryer (a bowl diffuser, usually) in order to soften the air flow so curls are maintained and enhanced while drying.
Clipping: Using a variety of hair clips (jaw clips, duckbill clips, octopus clips, etc) to hold up parts of hair (usually at the crown/bangs/sides and at the hair close to the scalp) in order to add root lift and volume to hair as it dries (either air-drying or diffusing).
Scrunching: Using the hands in a "clawed- fingered action to gather up sections of hair and push hair up close to scalp in order to encourage curl pattern (done with bare hands or with a microfiber cloth or floursack towel)

Maybe you don't want to do conditioner washing (see Curly Girl method link), but you do want to use the LEAST harsh shampoo needed, which is where I fall on the spectrum. Meaning, I'm a modified CG. Then be aware of what cleanser is needed to remove what silicones (yes, see the above links for why Curly Girl method users eschew silicones): The Scoop On Silicones 

Maybe today, right now, you just want one quick sentence's worth of go here for that: Best 1 Sentence.

My best one sentence:  Treat gently and moisturize avidly!

Curly and kinky hair can be more fragile than straight hair. Dryer. Needing more conditioner and gentler handling. Many curlies (myself included) will no longer brush or comb dry hair, but only comb or brush (with proper wide-toothed combs or gentle-on-hair brushes like Denman types) when hair is wet and has conditioner in it to ease the combing/brushing. It's all about minimizing breakage and preserving texture.

I hope to blog more about my own experiences working with my natural hair and some products and techniques I've liked.

I'm not a zealot "Curly Girl" by any means. But I do think many of us with textured hair have grown up with a certain loathig of what we have, or if not loathing, then just frustration and perplexity about what the heck to do with it.

But yeah, I do want us curlies all to like or love our own matter what its genuine pattern...and not run to have it chemically altered. To give natural curls and coils and kinks and waves a shot to express themselves.

I'd like for you to have your own wonderful Curly Flair!



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  2. I'm ok with them. Learning to love them. But since i live in such a humid HOT place, (miami, florida) i sometimes feel i want to just cut them off! my conclusion curls require patience. a lot of patience especially when you're looking for a great salon here.. any ideas?