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The Curly Hair Curse

By Edited Jan 20, 2014 2 15

Problems, Tools, And Treatment


curly hair gal

How a person feels about curly hair is often governed by the type of hair they have.  Many people with straight hair think they would be happier with curly hair.  This kind of thinking is an obvious result of never having had to press your hair with a GE steam iron so you don’t look like a circus clown. 

Right or wrong, wavy and frizzy hair is often lumped into the classification “curly hair”.  No matter how loose or tight the curl, I haven’t known many people who love their curly hair.  That’s because it can be very difficult to deal with.  Those who say, “You should be happy you have curly hair.  I can’t get my straight hair to curl like yours.” just don’t understand that having curly hair means having to fight daily to control the way it looks.  Yes there are those L’Oreal exceptions, but how many have you known? 

One of the biggest misconceptions about curly hair is that it is reliably curly.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  You might have waves around the face and tight curls at the crown, or any other combination of kinked up madness that you have to view in the mirror each day.  Actually, each morning can be a coif surprise when you discover the daily offering.  Like an incorrigible child, curly hair must be disciplined every day. 

If you have curly or wavy hair, you not only have to eventually prepare for Medicare, you also have to brace yourself for changes in your hair's behavior.  As you age, you may notice that your hair becomes straighter, something you’ve always dreamed of right?  The unfortunate gotcha is, it’s not uniform.  It happens here and there like some cruel joke.  So now, you not only will be smoothing out some hair, you’ll be curling the rest.

Curly hair isn’t always pretty.  I accept that beauty is in the eye of the beholder but I'll repeat, curly hair isn't always pretty.  Some heads of hair compress with more of a tight wave than a curl, one that flattens close to the head giving the appearance of a Flapper hairdo.  This kind of hair can be a huge problem when it comes time for a cut because some stylists don’t understand the shrink factor of curly hair.  The shorter the hair cut, the harder it is to control.  Unlike Halle Berry, most of us don’t have a face beautiful enough to support a close-cropped do.  Hair should be long enough to wrap around a brush if you want any hope of styling it.

Some locks in the curly hair club may range from simply frizzy with the look of cotton candy, to the look of corkscrew pasta, to the ideal of soft tendrils flowing away from the scalp.  The tendrils are what many people with straight hair think all curly haired people are gifted with. 

Unhappy curly haired people have two choices: embrace their hair as it is, or fight it.  Many people chose to fight because they have a certain hairstyle they would like to wear that defies their hair’s warp and woof.

There are plenty of articles pointing to round hair follicles resulting in straight hair and oval follicles resulting in curly hair.  But at the root of it all we find undeniable genetics.  If your mom and dad had curly hair your chances for the same were very likely.  If only one parent was affected with oval follicles, you got a 50/50 shot at a normal life. 

Curly Hair Problems

Moms who have curly hair and pass the torch to their kids, devote a considerable amount of time to grooming.  Detangling is one of the biggest hair challenges when children have curly locks, that and treasures hidden in the nest.  Another concern is finding a hairstyle that will minimize the daily care needed to keep the child looking plausibly groomed.

Most curly haired people who work at wearing their hair straight have a hope chest full of stories about bad hair days.  I remember my high school graduation gift, which I received before my senior prom – a salon hair straightening procedure, one very different from today’s offerings.  The stylist promised I'd have a cool new hairdo for the prom.  The procedure required that before the goopy solution was applied, my shoulder length hair be washed and dried freely under a hard shell bonnet dryer.  When the dryer stopped and the bonnet was lifted, I looked something like this. 

really curly hair

A woman getting a perm in another chair, gasped at the sight of me.  I looked in the mirror and gasped too.  But it turned out the woman’s reaction was one of admiration and she expressed how she would love to have my beautiful hair.  Again, beauty is in the eye…

If a curly haired person is invited to an evening beach party, they have to consider how their hair might react to the humidity.  A few minutes exposed to ocean air could be disastrous.   It’s embarrassing to arrive at a party looking sleek and put together and skulk out looking like Orphan Annie. 

Tools And Treatments

Today’s management of curly hair has changed from even ten short years ago. Gone is the practice of rolling hair around orange juice cans to stretch every strand into submission.  The most popular procedure for home hair straightening now is the flat iron with ceramic plates, a much gentler approach than the GE steam iron.  It comes in many sizes and price ranges offering the ideal solution for untamed hair. 

hair straightening

In addition to the irons come a whole new collection of products, and techniques.  The latest discussions on the Internet include the Brazilian Blowout, a salon system that lasts about three months and can cost as much as $250 for longer hair.   People opt for this solution when they don’t have time each day to deal with their hair.

It’s a fact of life, curly or straight, most of us want the hair we don't have.  Although we can get it with a wig, the daily battle in the bathroom finds straight hair being wound onto hot curlers and curling irons to achieve a specific effect.  Meanwhile people with crimped hair seek the latest tools and treatments for smoothing out the bumps. 

If you are unhappy with your naturally curly hair, it may be consoling to know that the majority of Americans have it too.  You’ll see the proof of that in the heap of specialty products that fill beauty supply store shelves.   Curly hair products include heat protective sprays, special conditioners and humidity fighting hairsprays, all dedicated to making and keeping your hair smooth.  If you look around and don’t see as many curly tops as you’d expect, it might just be because there are so many flat irons in bathroom drawers.



Aug 17, 2011 11:20pm
Great article. I have had curly hair my whole life, and have had to deal with many of the problems you mention. I even used orange juice cans as a teen to try to straighten my hair. I use a flat iron and it works quite well, now, except when I take a walk on the beach. Then, it frizzes up until I look like a clown! I hate it. My best solution is to wear a hat and tie my hair back. Great info on all the aspects of dealing with curly hair.
Aug 18, 2011 4:35pm
That's interesting about your walks on the beach. The iron I bought was chosen because I was told it keeps hair straight even in humidity. But maybe all flat irons are not created equal?
Aug 18, 2011 8:07am
I now have a better understanding of what my curly-haired friends have to go through.
Aug 18, 2011 4:34pm
Believe me, they need understanding!
Aug 19, 2011 8:34am
Great info, I have a one grand-daughter that has very curly, thick hair. She has a lot of trouble just getting a comb or brush through it.
Aug 20, 2011 5:45pm
Thanks for the comment. You make a very good point that I didn't even address in this article - tangles!
Aug 20, 2011 6:00pm
That was interesting about your flat iron. The one I use is about six years old. Perhaps they've made some improvements. I'll have to check it out!
Aug 20, 2011 6:14pm
I'll email you the information on mine.
Aug 21, 2011 8:44pm
I'm also a member of the curly hair club! When I blow it out, I use a large round brush, a straightening gel or other product, and a hot iron. Great article!!
Aug 22, 2011 12:01pm
Thanks Introspective. I can see from your avatar that the straightening gel really works! :)
Aug 23, 2011 11:46am
LOL! :o)
Aug 23, 2011 9:02pm
Wow, I had no clue, I always thought that curly hair would be great. Guess I'm lucky mine is wavy,thick and curly underneath. You have given me a new perspective!
Aug 23, 2011 11:31pm
Thanks. Sounds like you're perfectly happy with your tresses. I bow to you Footloose. Wanna trade?
Sep 23, 2011 10:57pm
I have had tight curls all my life. Now living in a dryer climate helps as does finding someone who really understands how to cut curly hair. I have only just found someone like that. My hair is now short and it is much easier to deal with in addition to finally having found this lady who now cuts my hair. Frizz Ease by John Frida helps, too.
Sep 29, 2011 4:47pm
You're right. A good cut by someone who works with curly hair can minimize the problems. The John Frida products are also great. Thanks for commenting.
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