Another Fertility-Free post, sorry if they are less interesting. I promise to write a big, long post after my appointment tomorrow and then get back to my regularly scheduled, fertility related, crazy-pants self ::wink::
So, who are my curly haired sisters out there? Any wavy girls (cause you count, too!)? My curly hair is one of my best loved features (and I have so few: my eyes, my collar bones...that's about it). But I didn't always love it and it wasn't always curly. When I was a kid, I had bone straight hair, not a hint of curl. Around age 12/13 my hair rather suddenly got a rougher and bushier texture - it was horrible trying to deal with it through Jr. High! My mom finally got fed up with my weird hair and took me to her stylist who announced "Well no wonder, she's got curly hair!" I was so confused, but apparently hormones can make your hair curl.
From the time I learned my hair was curly until about a year ago I had a serious love/hate relationship with my hair. When it was good it was very, very good and when it was bad it was *awful*! And I could never tell when bad hair days would strike, they seemed so random. I could spend a half an hour on my hair in the morning and it might look like I just rolled out of bed. Frizz was impossible to tame through all known means. And remember, this was back in the rather early days of the internet. No youtube to find videos on how to manage curly hair, naturally curly dot com didn't even exist, so I was very much on my own. I lived with my hair this way for 14 years before finally *finally* figuring out what I was doing wrong.
At Barnes and Noble one day last year, I found The Curly Girl Guidebook
on clearance. I leafed through it and knew I had to buy it. I went home,
read the book cover to cover, watched the videos on the DVD and knew my
hair's life would never be the same. It turns out that 90% of commercial hair products are formulated with straight hair in mind (even products that claim they are for curly hair). Straight hair and curly hair are structurally *very* different and therefore have very different washing and care needs. Who knew!? Not me, that's for sure. To combat frizz, companies load up their conditioners and styling products with silicones which coat the hair shaft and force it to behave. The hair has no access to air and water, which is what creates frizz. However, silicone is not water soluble, so you can't just rinse it out of your hair - it takes a strong surfactant to wash out the silicone or it will build up on your hair and make it dull and very unhealthy. Most shampoos contain sulfates to be able to wash out tricky chemicals like silicone from the hair - sounds like a simple enough solution, right? Except that sulfates are incredibly *harsh* cleansers which strip the hair shaft of everything including its own natural and necessary oils. This is not a terribly bad thing for people with straight hair because they have more oily hair to begin with. Curly people on the other hand have more dry hair because the oil originates at the scalp and our kinky texture keeps the oils from sliding down the hair shaft. So we strangle our hair with silicones and then strip them of nutrients with harsh sulfates and this creates very sad, unhealthy, and unlovely looking curly hair. Not to mention all the damage you can do to it by flat ironing it! I was so guilty of this, especially in the summer when humidity made my hair a frizz-ball unless I ironed it. I have permanently retired my once beloved flat iron.
I had to throw away all my shampoos and conditioners, as well as some of my styling products. I pitched my brushes and combs. At first I was very afraid that the only products on the market without dangerous chemicals would be *super* expensive, but I have been happily surprised to find many "drug store" quality brands that will not harm my hair. I have been sulfates and silicone free for almost a year now.
Until earlier this week when I had to buy more conditioner. I'd found a popular, reasonably priced brand at the grocery store which had none of the chemicals I avoid and was very good for my hair, so I had used it for some time. When I went to use it in the shower, the texture came out *very* different that I was used to. I ran it throughout my hair and knew something was wrong. I quickly checked the ingredients on the bottle and found they had added SILICONE! Without saying anything! No, "new and improved formula!" or any bullshit like that. I was horrified. I had to use a clarifying shampoo (hello harsh sulfates) to get it out and then do a protein treatment. I was SO MAD at the company for changing the formula! Fortunately, I was able to return the offending item to the store and pick up a different conditioner with a label pronouncing "no silicones!". Damn straight, no silicones...
For the first time in my life, I love my hair. I love the way it looks, I love caring for it and I love knowing that it will look beautiful almost every day. And when I do have a rare bad hair day, I know what to do about it. And I've gotten good at noticing the subtle ways that the media and popular public perception try to make curly hair sound like a bad thing. I watched a segment on a Saturday morning talk show that promised to help women with frizz issues. Every single one of the women they showed obviously had some degree of curly hair (whether wavy, or truly curly) that simply wasn't being managed well. The "expert's" solution to their hair woes was to dump a bunch of chemicals on them and flat iron the shit out of it. I got so mad (silly, I know) because it was clear to me they were implying "curly hair ugly, straight hair pretty!". I guess you could say I'm a militant curly girl, and there's just no going back. Why would I *want* to go back when finally love my hair? I wish I could spread the good word to every frizzy haired woman who can't understand why her hair won't behave. Curly hair is *beautiful*, don't believe a word the "experts" say!