Story by Alex Taylor
Straight, silky, sleek hair is the thing for 2014. Just look to the new Spring 2014 ad campaigns — Miu Miu, Prada, Givenchy, Fendi, Peter Pilotto for Target. Or Drew Barrymore and Naomi Watts at this year's Golden Globes. Or Versace’s spring couture show. The impending trend is everywhere. But with every straight head of hair I see, my heart kind of skips a beat. You see, growing up, all I wanted was to have straight hair. Mine, however, was brunette and curly — and ridiculed by my pre-kindergarten peers. And my mane was not made up of long, flowing curls; I had more like an afro of kinky curls (un)complemented by delicate, wispy hairs that framed my face. (My adoring mother would call me Alfalfa due to theses “baby hairs,” awkwardly referencing the Little Rascal and his unfortunate persistent cowlick.)
I would liken my locks to the hairdo our Depression-era grandmothers would get “set” each week at the “parlor.” And having the same hairdo as my grandmother wasn’t exactly becoming at that ripe age. Plus, amidst the pop star days in which I grew up, all of the young, female entertainers had straight hair — Britney, Christina, Mandy. This straight, silky hair symbolized being “pretty,” and moreover, “normal,” which is what we all really want to be in our formative years.
I, on the other hand, felt like a cotton swab during much of my childhood: I self-consciously walked my way through life on my “chicken legs” (which I have never been able to fully embrace either), topped off with a mop of ringlets on my head. So ever since, I have been spending a large part of my life beating my hair into submission.
Toward the end of my elementary and middle school years, my mother was constantly offering to blowout my hair. I think her remedy for the situation was just to change the situation, because she had already tried (and failed at) the route of helping me embrace it. But here is the thing: I lived in Jacksonville, Fl., which is framed by St. John’s River and the Atlantic Ocean — also known as humidity central. So, by noon, my hair was just flat-out frizzy. At that point, I would regret even messing with those curls, which would have thrived in the wet climate. And I have gone through intermittent states of growing my hair long and cutting it very short. I used to think that just cutting off the curls would make them go away, when in fact, this does the opposite. Curls need weight on them. So, after I would cut my hair, I would be back to where I started — grandmother-style perms.
Then, in the 10th grade, I discovered something seriously wonderful: Brazilian blowouts.
I have been getting them ever since. This has drastically cut down the time it takes for me to wash and style my hair. I used to get anxiety about getting ready with friends, feeling bad for the amount of time it would take for me to get ready. It used to take well over an hour to brush my hair, dry it and straighten it, and now, I can complete the entire process in a mere 20 minutes or less (sometimes even letting it hair dry!). Oh, and product. Lots of product is involved. Again, beating your hair into submission — making your hair your bitch — is key.
With all of this said, I think curls are beautiful. I think that so many women look so perfect with curls — more than they would straight hair (a la Carrie Bradshaw, or our very own senior editor, Jaime Lin Weinstein). They just weren’t for me. Throughout the changing beauty trends — crimps, bangs, big curls, braids, “beach waves” — I have stayed true to what I think looks best on me: slightly-off-middle part and straight. Nothing messy.
And finally, straight is “back in”; after I’ve been chasing it for so long. Not that I think it was ever really out. If you like your hair straight, you like your hair straight, and no trend is going to change that. But for those of you who want to try out the trend, or for those that just want tips for maintaining their usual straight ‘dos, here are my tips.
Note: I have to use sulfate-free products with my Brazilian blowouts so the keratin is not ripped out.
I shampoo with No Frizz from Jennifer Aniston’s Living Proof line. It really does kick humidity’s butt and allows you to not wash your hair every day. This is a not-so-shameless admission, but I do not wash my hair everyday. In fact, I wash it every two to three days ... Okay, more like three or four ... But when you have thick hair that tends to dry out like mine, these are the things we must do. I also use Davines’ Naturaltech Well-Being shampoo. (I try to interchange my products each wash.) For conditioner, I use Davines’ Nounou Nourishing Illuminating Cream. I do color my hair a bit, so this helps maintain that. But mostly, I use a deep conditioner each wash called Brazilian Blowout’s Acai Deep Conditioning Masque.
Immediately after getting out of the shower, I brush my hair with my wet brush, which is soft-bristled and makes brushing knotty hair really painless. (I often wonder where this thing was for all of my childhood. It would have prevented so many crying fits trying to get the knots out.) I read somewhere that you are supposed to apply product immediately post-shower, because once the hair is back in its natural, humid habitat, it starts to curl. I put Brazilian Blowout’s Acai Daily Smoothing Serum all through my hair and then apply Davine’s OI/Oil on the ends, which tend to get dry. The cream and oil both tame my mane and protect it from the ensuing heat. I use a rectangular, flat brush to blow dry, as opposed to a round brush. I find it much easier to maneuver my hair with a flat brush. If needed — especially when the keratin starts wearing off — I use a straightener.
Now, back to my “baby hairs” — I try not to fry these. But I have learned that if you don’t get the front under control, the rest is going to look messy. Get the front right, and you’ll be ahead!