Curly Planet

Before I got called out of town Saturday, I’d made an appointment at a new salon in the city called Planet Curls. I’ve known about the salon for awhile, but never made an appointment before because it’s about 50 miles from my house, and I am much too spoiled by the suburbs to deal with traffic and bad city parking on a regular basis. But since I’m not actually getting my hair cut frequently (I get a trim every three months) and I had no other options, I figured if I was going to try out someone completely new I might as well make it someone who is good at cutting curly hair. As a bonus, Gerri, the owner of the salon who did my cut, also knows how to give perms, so I figured she’d be good to know in the future if I decide to get another one. But since it turned out I was in a hurry to get the cut done and get on the road to Hallettsville, I didn’t take such great pictures (Gerri has a little dog that follows her all over the salon, for example, and in my rush to get out of there I forgot to take a picture of it. Boo).

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View of the street in front of the salon, and a little glimpse of the front porch – the phone camera focused more on the screen that I thought it would. Oops.

I read up on the salon before booking the appointment, so I knew I wanted an early slot as Gerri spends a lot of time with each client and by mid-day tends to be running late (this is what a lot of her reviews said), so I grabbed a 9 AM spot to get ahead of that, and then showed up about ten minutes early. As I suspected, the parking lot was small and the area is prone to traffic, so getting there early is definitely a must for me even if my stylist doesn’t tend to run late (nothing rattles my nerves more than bad city parking). The salon is an old house and is very small and quaint, which made me a little nervous – I tend to prefer big, busy salons to small quiet ones, so i can blend in and be more anonymous (in a small salon like this, everyone can hear each other’s conversations, and I get a little self-conscious about that. Weird I know). Plus, there’s usually not a decent waiting area and you end up crammed into the odd chair here and there waiting for your stylist…I am a spoiled little princess, it’s true. Anyway, getting there at 9 AM took care of that too, because there were only a few other people in the salon while I was there.

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The hair-drying area doubles as the waiting area – yep, it’s a small salon!

Gerri is a devotee of Lorraine Massey, who wrote the Curly Girl book and created most of the products I use, and actually trained with her, so I was interested to see how she did with my hair. I knew that Massey always recommended cutting curly hair dry, to avoid cutting too much off when wet that would then shrink up after the hair is dried, and that is how Gerri cut mine. Massey also says you should take the cut curl by curl, being very careful at what point in the wave pattern of each curl that you snip to avoid those curls that stick out like horns. Sure enough, Gerri just sort of snipped away at individual curls while we chatted – she was friendly and just opinionated enough to earn my trust. I don’t like stylists that insist their way is the only way, but I do want one that will give their honest opinion of what I should do with my hair. Gerri had that nice balance; she agreed with me that my hair will look good a bit longer and encouraged me to keep growing it, but she disagreed with some of my styling choices and explained why she thought I should try to do some things differently. Not pushy, but confident, and accepting when I disagreed. Perfect.

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Here are some of the tips and suggestions Gerri made while she worked on my hair:

  • Even though I so far have not been able to stand it, I should continue to strive for not washing my hair every day. To her logic, my hair should look better on day 2 or 3 after washing because “it has more product in it,” which is exactly why I’ve always thought my hair looks worse! She gave me suggestions for how to style day 2 hair and even used her own as an example, wetting her hair down and putting more product in it like it was no big deal – OMG I’d never do this at 10 AM after already styling my hair for the day! But to her it was nothing to just put more in. So, I’ll work on that.
  • I am a bit too focused on having perfect curl definition and it’s making me dissatisfied with my hair when I shouldn’t be. So, let some of that go and move on.
  • Put all products in my hair after washing when the hair is still dripping wet. I’ve never done this; in fact, I’ve always thought my hair should be semi-dry before putting product in it, and have always let each product “settle” for 10 minutes or so before putting the next one in. Gerri just put them all on at the same time, one after the other, without even towel-drying my hair first, so I’ve been doing it that way too since the haircut and I think it does make a difference.
  • Sleep on a satin pillowcase to reduce the amount of frizz generated in my hair at night while I sleep. I’ve read this recommendation in the Curly Girl books before and just always forget to try it. I’ve got some pillowcases on order, but they are not in my possession yet.

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Gotta love having loads of reading material to choose from while you wait

We also disagreed (in a friendly way) about some of the products I’ve tried and liked/disliked. Here’s where we differed:

  • She was very surprised I liked Mirror Curls, and felt it wasn’t made for hair of my texture and type. But, since I expressed such love for it, she put some in my hair anyway.
  • She thinks Set It Free is an ideal product for my hair, whereas I’ve never been that impressed with it. Based on her recommendation, I’m giving it another chance.
  • She felt the Dry Shampoo probably was too oily for my hair and would weigh it down, and didn’t recommend I use it to get through no-shampoo days. I rather liked the effect of using it as a refresher, but I can see what she means about it being oily.
  • She wasn’t surprised by my dislike of Set Up & Above, agreeing that it tends to make hair pouf out more as the day goes by. But she did say I could try just applying a bit of it to the roots for volume.
  • She was very surprised by my hatred of Heaven in Hair, but didn’t get much into it. Maybe she could sense by my tone that I was not to be persuaded otherwise.
  • The ArcAngel gel that I tried and wasn’t impressed by, in spite of its rave reviews, she also felt wasn’t a good choice for my hair type. She used a bit of gel called Ulta Defining Hold and I liked the way it worked for me, so I’ve ordered that one (of course – should have bought some at the salon but I forgot).

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Cool chandelier. Enough said.

Some things happened during my Curly Girl Cut that I didn’t expect – after the dry cut, she then took me into the shampoo area and gave my hair a good wash (wish I’d known that was going to happen; thinking that I would get a dry cut and then be on my way for the day, I washed my hair the night before and styled it that morning). It was after the shampoo that she loaded up my hair with product by having me lean my head over my knees and scrunching everything in. Then she did something I really didn’t expect – she had me sit under one of these for about 20 minutes:

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Old-school hair-dyer!

The only other time I’ve sat under one of these was, I think, when I got my perm; it was a surprise to me but it made sense, because this way I could get my hair dry without disturbing the curls at all. I liked the idea so much, while I was sitting there I got on the Amazon.com app I have on my iPhone and found a portable one I could buy for about $40. So yeah, I guess I’ll be reviewing that some time soon. She also did a much better job pinning the crown of my hair for lift than I could ever do (I still pretty much suck at doing this):

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Look at all those pins! No way I could do this myself.

After I came out from under the dryer, I was ready to go. I asked her when I should come back for a trim and she said four months, to which I promptly replied I’d come back in three so I’m not sure why I bothered to ask her in the first place. Moving on. I also said at that time I’d want to discuss the possiblity of another perm, and she was game, so that’s nice. She did say, however, in response to my statement (made here many times) that I wished I’d gotten a tighter curl initially, that it probably wouldn’t have mattered if I’d tried to get tighter curls and my hair would most likely have come out looking the same way. She was surprised when I told her what a light wave I was actually going for based on how curly it turned out, and then said it was probably just that my fine hair really took to the perm and was going to look like this no matter what. She also did say it looked nice and Philippe (G-d rest his dear soul) did a good job – and she said my hair didn’t look too damaged, just had some dry ends. So yay, a nice curly haircut and possible perm-partner for later.

Here, then, was the end result:

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I can’t believe she got all that curl out of my hair without the help of a curling iron or even all that much styling; it was just the cut, lots of product, and the hair dryer that did it. Oh and all the pins in the top for lift. I will say as I went through the day the curls relaxed a bit and looked less “stiff,” and it also looked great the next day even after sleeping on it and putting zero product in it the next morning (because I was at my cousin’s and didn’t bring anything with me). However, I have not been able to re-create this look, and my hair looks more like it does in other recent pictures, just a touch shorter and springier. But perhaps when I get the portable hair dryer in I can pull this off. Anyway, it always takes me a few days to get used to styling my hair when it’s freshly cut, and I’ve only had one shot at it since Saturday.

In total, I was at the salon for about an hour and fifteen minutes; Gerri definitely took her time with me and did a great job. The cost wasn’t cheap – $80 before the tip – but when I’m only getting it cut once every three months that’s fine by me. I definitely plan to go back in December (already have my 9 AM appointment set up) and continue to grow this hair out a bit, as well as consider another perm in the future. Although, if I don’t perm again, Gerri can still be my stylist. Her own hair has just the slightest wave, but she still uses the  Curly Girl method on her hair, and she said a lot of her clients with curly hair actually straighten theirs too, so it’s not like I can’t keep going to her if my curls fade.

Steam Queen

I haven’t talked about my hair in awhile, so let’s catch up, shall we?

Never let it be said that I won’t try any ridiculous thing in my quest for perfect curly hair. This latest contraption did not accomplish it, but it might at least be useful. And what is it, you might ask? Well, it’s basically a steamer. For your hair.

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The Q-Redew is pretty straighfoward and easy to use; there’s a little water reservoir that clips into the top of the device;  you plug it in and wait for the go button to light up, then hit the trigger to release some steam and get to work. The theory is that the steam will revitalize and moisturize dry hair and reduce some of the frizziness that is so often a quality of curly hair (and is currently plaguing mine). The woman I watched on YouTube who uses it also claims it helps her extend the life of her curls between washings, and since I am still having to wash my hair every day to get the look I want, I thought I might be able to use it for that purpose also as I’d really like to stop washing it every day. And a ton of African-American women have reviewed it, so it must work well on ethnic hair too.

So did it work? Well, sort of. Here’s a pic of my hair before I used it (you can also see in this photo how much the perm has relaxed from the last time I wrote about it here – and how much it’s grown!):

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And here’s a photo of my hair right after I used the Q-Redew:

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I don’t know if it did much to reduce frizz, but it seems like nothing I’ve tried so far that makes that claim has worked for me at all, so that didn’t surprise me. It did fluff the hair up quite a bit and probably revitalized some of the curl too. I’m not going to wash my hair tonight and see what it does for second-day hair in the morning, so more to come on this. Overall I think it’s a useful little tool and was pretty easy to use. I found it worked best for me when I flipped my head over and scrunched the prongs into my hair all over; volume is something I am always lacking and this added quite a bit, at least temporarily.

You can also see how much of my darker roots have grown out, and my little wisps of gray. It’s actually not as noticeable in reality but the lights and my processing make the difference between the roots and the dye more pronounced in pictures. Also I am in need of a cut, but I struggled a bit to find a new stylist after Phillipe died. I tried to go back to my previous stylist, but he has done that thing stylists do where they open their own salon and then immediately become inaccessible. I called twice to make an appointment  and never heard back from him, so he is officially off my list. I made an appointment instead at this salon in the city that specializes in cutting curly hair; the owner is trained by Lorraine Massey herself, who created the DevaCurl line I’ve reviewed here, so it should be interesting when I go see her on the 20th of this month as she only cuts hair dry, and I’ve never had that done before but always wanted to try it. She also is experienced with perms, so if I do decide to perm again she’ll be the person I can go to for that. I’m back to considering it doing it again, but going even curlier; hopefully she’ll give me good feedback on what that would do to my hair. And a curly hair product reviewer on YouTube I like reviewed a new line yesterday called Raw Curls and she raved about some of their products, so of course I ordered a few of them (including yet another product claiming to control frizz) so we’ll see how those go.

Oh and one more photo before I go – you may have noticed it in the two pics above, but I ordered the most amazing fuzzy sweater from Free People and it finally arrived, so I did a quick jump in it for my 365 of the day. You will definitely be seeing more of this sweater in better pics later! It’s amazing.

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And by the way, what the hell is up with WordPress suddenly squinching my photos down to thumbnail size when I upload them? I’ve been re-sizing my photos to the same specifications for a year now, and all of a sudden when I do that they are minuscule on the page. I don’t get it. I’ve uploaded the huge files this time because I don’t have time to bother with figuring it out right now, but it’s really ticking me off. WordPress, you play too much!

 

 

Sulfate-Free Hair Products: DevaCurl

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve tried out a ton of products targeted for curly hair since getting my perm a few weeks ago, so I thought I’d share here what I’ve tried, and what I liked or disliked about them. It’s not the most thrilling subject in the world, so I’m going to keep my comments about each product brief.

Keep in mind that any of this stuff could be used on whatever type of hair you have; just because it says it’s for curly hair doesn’t mean a person with straight hair couldn’t use it. The line I’m going to discuss in this post, DevaCurl, consists of all sulfate-, silicone- and paraben-free products, and the website also highlights its use of botanical extracts (even though the list of ingredients on the bottles still reads like a lab experiment -but some of the first ingredients listed are things like beeswax, soy, or olive oil). So even though none of this stuff is cheap, it might still be up your alley no matter what type of hair you have.

Also keep in mind that I didn’t try out anything but styling products for this post – I purchased some rather expensive shampoo and conditioner at the salon when I got the perm, so I didn’t try DevaCurl’s “Low-Poo” or “No-Poo” cleansers and conditioners, which claim to be the first sulfate-free (and therefore lather-free) shampoos on the market (although there are others out there now). I did try them years ago, both the No-Poo and Low-Poo offerings, and honestly I could never get into them, but that was when my hair was un-permed and basically straight, and I felt the no-poo method left my hair looking greasy and limp. As a side note, I’ve been following the no-poo method the past week, and am getting terrific results out of it so far now that my hair is permed – but I’ve written about that in a different post. And I just bought the low-poo and no-poo cleansers to try out (along with a few other products I hadn’t yet tested), but haven’t used them enough to write about them yet, so stay tuned for more about those.

Aside from wanting to try these out for the botanical aspects and lack of certain chemicals, you may love the smell of these products as much as I do. However, I’ve noticed when reading reviews of these items that not everyone loves the scents, so that may be a love-it-or-hate-it aspect of them.  Personally I think they smell nice, with one exception, but it was a product I hated overall so it didn’t matter too much. But keep in mind that fragrance-free these products are not. Moving on.

Gotta Love It – Five Stars

Deva-Curl Frizz-Free Volumizing Foam  

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This is DevaCurl’s version of a mousse. I put it in my towel-dried hair and let it air dry at night. While I don’t think it performs all that differently from any other mousse I’ve ever tried (yes, if you put it in wet hair and let it air-dry without touching it, it will dry “crunchy,” but that’s part of what helps reduce frizz, and I can use my diffuser and a few other products to de-crunch it a bit) I love the consistency of the product and the smell is fantastic. It’s more of a liquid-y foam than a true mousse, and it feels silky and downright luxurious when pumped into my hands. And did I mention the scent? It smells like lemon candy, which I just love. Even though it’s not anything earth-shattering, this is the favorite of everything I’ve tried so far.

Pretty Good – Four Stars

DevaCurl Spray Gel

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It’s a spray gel, which has always been a part of my hair styling routine. Mousse at night after the hair is towel-dried, then re-wet in the morning and apply some spray gel before drying. I’ve used many different kinds of spray gels over the years; they’re all basically hair gel thinned out with water so it can be dispensed through a spray nozzle, and they all work about the same way. But I do notice this one is a touch lighter than some of my other standbys I’ll discuss in an upcoming post. It’s easy to apply, and it adds the extra hold my hair needs to get through the day without allowing my curls to droop or fall, so I’ll give it the four star treatment even though it’s not doing anything unusual. And it’s got that whole sulfate-, paraben-, and silicone-free thing going for it, so there’s that. A bit of a medicinal smell to this one, but it’s not strong and doesn’t linger.

 

It’ll Do – Three Stars

DevaCurl  Mist-er Right

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This product is…interesting. Way back in 2004 when Lorraine Massey, who owns the DevaCurl line, first published the book “Curly Girl,” which landed her on the hair styling map, one of the things she recommended for women with curly hair was this homemade solution of water and lavender oil to spritz onto hair and re-vitalize curls throughout the day. I remember making my own batches of it back in the day, and while I never felt like it did anything magical to my hair (again, part of the problem was I was trying to use her methods to make my non-permed hair transform into springy curls, which was never going to happen) it didn’t hurt it to spray some on every now and then, and it sure smelled heavenly. I’d say pretty much the same thing about this version. It doesn’t hurt to spray it on my hair, but it doesn’t help either. It certainly doesn’t help combat frizz or give my curls extra definition if I start to get too fluffy throughout the day.  A little spray bottle filled with plain old water would probably work better, actually, but then my hair wouldn’t smell like lavender. My husband loves the way this smells, and it does feel like a nice little luxury to me, something to refresh the hair if you’re out and about and feeling like you need a little pick-me-up. But that’s about all it does, at least for me. It’s actually the most-used product I’ve tried aside from the mousse and the gel, so even though it’s quite possibly a ridiculous product, it still gets three stars.

Deva-Curl Set It Free Moisture Lock Spray

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I’m on the fence about moving this one too – I still don’t see much frizz reduction with this or added shine, but it’s not horrible and actually has some uses for me. So far, I’ve found it works best to spray a few pumps into my hand and rub it through my hair when it’s looking a little too “crunchy” from the mousse, gel, and/or spray wax I use for final hold; this will add a little moisture and softness. With my baby-fine hair, generally too much of such a product will turn my curls to mush and make me look like a puffball, so I do use this product sparingly. This is another one I dumped into a little spray bottle to carry around in my purse for use throughout the day if I see fit, and as a big plus this one has the awesome lemon candy scent of the Volumizing Foam,  so it gets an extra star for smelling delicious. Some of these products may become more useful as my hair adjusts to the no-poo routine I’ve only been on a few days now; we’ll have to see about that. But right now, it’s not performing any miracles.

I’ll Probably Pass – Two Stars

DevaCurl Shine Spray

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I bought this to try as a finishing spray, but it had zero hold for me and left my hair looking a little limp. The only product I’ve ever liked using for hold as a finisher is a spray wax, and I’ll discuss my favorite in a later post as it isn’t a DevaCurl product. I did notice, however, that this can be useful if my hair is looking a little too dry; I can spray a bit into the hair and it moisturizes it a bit, so there’s that. It also has an interesting, citrus smell that’s slightly medicinal, but still pleasant. I may use this from time to time, but I don’t know if I’ll re-purchase it once it runs out.

Deva-Curl No-Comb Detangling Spray

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I forgot to take a cutesy picture of this one, sorry

My hair is much more prone to tangling now than before, so I was hoping this stuff might help with tangles right out of the shower so I didn’t have to tug on it when it’s wet. For about a week, I sprayed it liberally into my hair right out of the shower, sprayed a little more on my hands, and worked through the tangles with my fingers. I think it might have helped with tangles a little bit, but ultimately I didn’t see too much difference between using this and not (nor did I see too much benefit to trying to work through the after-shower tangles with my fingers as opposed to a comb). I certainly don’t feel like my hair is coated with anything after using it, and have tried using a little more in the mornings when I re-wet my hair to style it, but it never did wow me with its effectiveness. It has a faint scent I’d describe as “lotion-y” for lack of a better word – not unpleasant or long-lasting. Even though it doesn’t feel like it’s coating my hair, it isn’t effective enough to justify applying it every time I shower and adding one more layer of product I’ve got to deal with later. That said, it didn’t have any negative effects on my hair that I could tell.

DevaCurl DevaFuser

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I know, you guys. I know. Look at that thing.  But it looked so insane, I figured it must have the ability to do something fabulous to curly hair to justify how silly it looked, as well as how much it cost (I got it for $44 at an Ulta store, but found it later on Amazon for $25). The truth is, though, I don’t get near the amount of curl from using this as I do from my regular diffuser, which came as a free attachment for my hair dryer. I guess if I want more toned-down curls I can use this, but that’s not likely to happen. One decent use is that it does give me a little bit more lift and volume if I mash the “hand” right up against my head and aim some heat directly at the roots, and that is nice, so it isn’t a total loss. It fits awkwardly onto my hair dryer and occasionally pops off, however, so it’s a bit of a pain. Overall it’s much easier for me to use my normal diffuser – with that one I can use the highest heat setting and a low speed to give my curls the right amount of definition and spring.

Ugh – One Star

DevaCurl Set Up & Above Versatile Styler

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This stuff claims to add volume, texture, hold, and definition to curls, and interestingly, it did all that for me while simultaneously making my hair look horrible. How this is possible I am still unsure, as you would think a product that did all those things would make curly hair look fabulous, but it also created more frizz than all the humidity in Texas could accomplish. The results of using this stuff were just…weird. I had some random tight, deadlock-y curls, and then acres of frizz between that curl and the next one. I was almost in Roseanne-Roseannadanna territory whenever I tried to use this, and I tried applying it both to wet and dry hair. I had curls all right, but zero hold, and it made my hair way too soft for its own good. I looked awful both days I tried this, plus it smells like molding clay and in the jar it looks just like a green Jell-o mold without the marshmallows (mmmm…marshmallows). Fail.

So that’s it for this round of my DevaCurl experiment. And yes, I did purchase all these products over the course of about two weeks, which is pretty impressive as I’m not usually a huge hair-products person; I tend to use the same stuff or products just like it that I get at the grocery store on my weekly trip and I’m happy. But what can I say, with the new hair I got curious. I’ve already talked enough about hair products for one day, so in another post, I’ll share with you the other DevaCurl products I’m currently testing – the No-Poo and Low-Poo Cleansers and Conditioner, a leave-in conditioner, and a dry shampoo (that post is up now – you can read Part II here). I also have some non-DevaCurl products to share – It’s just a few more, in case you’re worried you’ll have to sit through another post as long-winded about hair products as this one. And you can go here if you want to read about the results of my no-shampoo experiment,  which may in fact render some of these less-useful products more useful as time goes by (although I don’t ever see that Set Up & Above working out).

*Everything I review in this post was purchased with my own money, and no one requested I write about these items. I never review products that are given to me for free – mostly because no one ever offers, but even if they did I wouldn’t do it. Just so you know. 

My No-(Sham)Poo Perm Experiment

I first heard of the no-shampoo method of haircare (dubbed the “no-poo” method) when I read the book “Curly Girl” by Lorraine Massey in 2004. My hair has always had a bit of curl, and I bought the book out of curiosity to see if it could help me get more out my hair’s natural wave. The book is sub-titled a curly hair “manifesto,” and it really does read like one. It’s fun and inspiring, but ultimately the methods described in the book just did not work on my baby-fine, fairly limp hair. I tried all the products and strategies, including going “no-poo” for about four months. But eventually I concluded that while the Curly Girl method probably worked great for women with very curly hair, for someone like me with just a touch of wave it was less successful. I abandoned it, but always kept in mind the styling tips for times when I wanted to use get more out of my hair’s natural wave, and I still believed Massey made some great suggestions for curly-haired persons.

Fast forward to getting my perm in July of 2014, and spending many weeks figuring out how to manage it. I liked it right away, and expected to need some time to adjust to having an all-new head of hair. One of the things I decided to try again was the no-poo method. I found that after the perm calmed down I had less spring in my curls than I would have liked, and of course my hair was particularly dry after all the chemical processing. Another reason (besides just being in an all-around hair-experimenting mood) was how awkward it felt to use shampoo on my hair after the perm – lathering up felt downright unpleasant, because my hair would immediately foam into a mass of tangles, and my fingers would snag into all these snarls of hair, and it was a pretty awful experience. So one night while in the shower, I remembered the no-poo method and decided to try using conditioner instead, like I did way back in the day.This time, I’m experiencing terrific results with it.

There’s lots of information out there about how to go ‘no-poo,’ but on a basic level it requires using nothing but conditioner to wash your hair. The theory is that shampoos are drying and damaging as well as unnecessary, because you can use your conditioner to cleanse your hair as effectively as you can a shampoo. Once again, when trying this before I had a perm and my hair was just a bit wavy, I did not care for the results at all and got no extra bounce or curl out of my hair. But with the perm- WOW. The difference has been striking.

The secret, at least for me, is to use a TON of conditioner as a cleansing agent. I put a load of it in my hair and scrub vigorously at the scalp to loosen any dirt or product residue, then only lightly scrub the rest of it. I use so much conditioner that it almost lathers. With the perm, this is much easier to do than use shampoo, because my hair doesn’t tangle, so it feels like it gets cleaner – but I do scrub at it for quite a while. And did I mention I use a ton of conditioner? Then I rinse that out, continuing to scrub my scalp for cleansing purposes. Then, I actually put more conditioner on it to use as, well, a conditioner, and leave that on my hair while I finish showering up. Then I rinse that out and follow up with my DevaCurl No-Comb Detangling Spray.

Now being me, I’ve got before and after photographs to share, because ever since I got the perm I’ve been taking tons of pictures of it. So yay for photographic evidence. Here is a photo taken before going no-poo. I’d just re-wet my hair, added spray gel, and diffused it after washing it with shampoo and adding mousse the night before:

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And here’s a photo taken using the exact same styling process (washed and moussed the night before, then wet down , spray-gelled, and diffused the next morning) but washing only with conditioner and forgoing the shampoo:

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Even though my fill flash was bit more harsh in the ‘before’ photo, that’s the only difference between the two shots. The amazing thing to me is how after washing without shampoo (the second photo), my hair didn’t get all crunchy when adding product. It stayed soft, as if my hair absorbed the styling products better than in the before photo, when they appear to have stayed more on the surface (not very technical descriptions here, since I know nothing about how hair products actually work) and gotten crispy. Again, I promise I did absolutely nothing different styling-wise between the two photos except for wash one night before with shampoo and the other night without it.

Here’s another example that’s even more dramatic.  The photos are iPhone ones and are pretty horrible; in the “before” shot I was at LensCrafters trying on new frames so the picture is particularly bad (no, I did not end up getting those glasses, and I’m frowning because I had on fake glasses instead of real ones and literally could not at all see what I was doing when I took the shot) and once again I’d washed my hair with shampoo the night before, then done my usual styling routine as previously described (I’m sure by now you’re tired of reading how it works so I’ll stop describing it). In the after shot, once again, the only thing I’d done differently was wash my hair with conditioner only:

beforeafterNPcollage

I mean, WOW, right? That’s a huge difference! Even though Massey claims in her book that it can take weeks to see positive results from this method, I’m seeing a pretty dramatic change right away. Perhaps this is because it’s a perm? I don’t know what it is, but so far I am loving it. It’s not even been a week yet, so we’ll see if it continues, but for now? No shampoo for me!

 

Post-Perm Haircut

As I moved into week two of my perm, things started to go awry. First of all, the perm was calming down, and I actually had liked it as curly as it was in the beginning. Next time around I may go for a full spiral perm, as I really enjoyed having the springy curls more than I thought I would. It was still pretty springy, but it had toned down just a bit and gone a little flat.
done4_Snapseed

Mostly, though, I fell into the trap of thinking it would be “fun” to try out new products on my new hair. Not that there’s anything wrong with this; I just went overboard with both product-buying and hair-styling, which stressed my hair out and made it a bit of a mess, so  overall the experience was more frustrating than it was fun. It’s not usual for me to put more than two products into my hair when styling it, but since I was continuously curious about the new stuff I bought (all made for curls, supposedly), I was piling as many as five products on my hair during the course of a day. I was also washing and styling my hair more than usual; pre-perm, I would have at least 2-3 days a week where I didn’t wash or style my hair, opting for a ponytail or just letting it go. Post-perm, I was washing and styling every day because I was trying out new products or styling strategies. And some days, I’d dump a bunch of stuff into it, attach some new fancy diffuser to my blow-dryer, style it, then decide halfway through the day I wanted to try something else out and re-wash and style all over again. The end result of all this was a frizz-fest. So as I said, at the end of week two my hair was not very happy, and after three days of nothing but fluff I was feeling regretful.  At that point, I decided to get back to basics. I washed my hair one last time, put my old standby products in (mousse when wet, a little spray gel before diffusing, then a bit of spray wax after drying to hold the style) and it looked much better.  Not that some of the products I tried weren’t nice, mind you,  and I may review them later,  but it wasn’t like any of them were more magical than other, similar products I’ve tried over the years. I even spent $44 on a special diffuser that looks like a big robotic hand and claims to be THE BEST DIFFUSER EVER for curls (see below) only to discover that the diffuser which came free with my cheap old hairdryer worked much better. Sigh.
fuser It looked too ridiculous NOT to work…It didn’t work.

Once I pulled myself out of my product-induced hair funk, though, I suspected there was still a problem. I’d considered the possibility when I first got the perm that my one-length bob cut might not work with it, but I didn’t want to do any chopping too soon. As I moved  into week three, though, I began to believe that I did, in fact, need a more layered cut – especially around my face. The perm added so much weight to my hair that those long layers, which framed my face so nicely when it was straight, were dragging my face down, making my forehead look big and making my face look older – not to mention turning my hair into a triangle by adding all the bulk around the bottom. I became so convinced I needed a few wispy layers around my face that I got scissors and tried to do it myself. But with one snip it was clear that was a bad idea, because even though the wisp of hair I cut was tiny it still looked horrible, and I decided to make an appointment to get my curls cut into a new style ASAP before I could do any more damage. I was nervous about going to my usual guy, because he didn’t give me the perm and had never been very enthusiastic about the idea of me getting one. But I decided to face his potential wrath since I trusted him to give me a good cut that would work with my curls, even if he didn’t like them.  I also knew I could trust him to tell me if my instincts were wrong and I shouldn’t go adding layers to my hair. As it turned out, he was fine with the fact that I went elsewhere for the perm, admitting he hardly ever did them himself so it was probably better that way. And although he made note that my hair was still “fragile,” he said that it had nice curl and the guy who permed it did a good job. So, he was very gracious and supportive of the new look, which I appreciated. We discussed giving my hair more shape and he got down to work:
cut1_final
No idea why I’m making robot-face here

I think the results are great, but it does look very different from before (not to mention that whatever he put on it before styling made it VERY crunchy) so I’ll have to get used to it. I have never been one to voluntarily wear too many layers in my hair when it’s longer, so this is definitely an adjustment. But I think it’s what the curls needed to keep from dragging my face down and aging me  -to be honest, I think I look about 5 years older in the before-the-cut pic. I also think it gave the curls back some of their original bounce and spring, so overall I think it’s an improvement. I also think it’ll look more like “me” when I style it for myself in the morning. He did some things to it when diffusing it dry I wouldn’t have done (like diffusing when it’s too wet, but I get why he would do that since he needed to get me out of his chair and move on to the next customer).
permcollage Crappy iPhone pics, but you get the idea

I’m tempted to like the before shot in the pic above, until I really look at what it does to my face, which is pretty much swallow it. And the curls were getting dragged down by the weight. So I still think the after-cut was the right move, even though all those layers are going to take some getting used to. The whole look, quite honestly, is 180 degrees from any goal I ever had for growing out my hair, and to think I did it so impulsively (if you call thinking about getting a perm for a year before actually doing it impulsively that is) is freaking me out a little. But I don’t regret it; I still have my length and both layers and perms grow out, if nothing else. I will say once I figured out a good routine that styling has been a snap and has never been easier, so there’s always that. So I’m on the right track here, I think, and I’m still glad I went through the whole process. But I can’t wait to wash this crunchiness out of my hair tonight – I don’t know what product he used to get such a Ramen Noodle effect, but believe me, I have loads of other products on-hand now that will work better!

Got Perm, Will Travel – Part 2

Holy hell, this whole hair-perm thing has been one serious rollercoaster the past few days. I went through an entire romance with this ‘do in the span of a few hours – from love to tearful breakup and total reconciliation in one night. And all it took to set me off was a shower. I actually wrote a whole blog post at each stage too, and am having to re-write it a third time now that the whole cycle is over. Here we go:

I got through Day 2 of the no-shampoo edict that was handed down when I got my perm on Thursday; the hair had calmed down a bit and I was thoroughly enjoying it. Then I went ahead and washed it Saturday evening since it was after the 48-hour time limit and I wanted to start playing around with it to see what it could do – major panic! The ends frizzed up and dried as soon as I got out of the shower, and it appeared to have suffered major damage from the perm. It looked really bad, and I was back in that “OMG I’ve ruined my hair” headspace I was in on Thursday.

Fortunately, I’d stopped off at Ulta Saturday afternoon and picked up a product called “Anti-Snap” by Redken that I had to use when I bleached and fried my hair two years ago; I figured I’d be needing some sort of deep conditioner to use regularly on my perm, I just didn’t know I’d be needing it this soon. In fact, the stylist specifically told me not to deep condition the hair right away, but this looked too bad to leave alone, and fortunately with a little Anti-Snap worked into the damaged ends it looked a bit better.

day2_3_final
Taken before the breakup

I don’t mind telling you that the five minutes or so I was staring at all those fried frizzy ends was almost as bad as the first few minutes after I saw myself in the mirror Thursday. I went through a depressing period of considering all I was going to have to do to learn how to work with this new ‘do.  I considered the possibility that I would have to find all new products to use; the stylist put something in it that gave the curls nice definition, but the little bit of mousse and curl cream I applied Saturday night definitely did not do the trick. I began to swim through the internet sea of products available to curly hair currently on the market – the number is somewhere around eight billion I believe – and I began to worry I might spend weeks trying to concoct the proper hair cocktail to get the curls back that had apparently washed down the shower drain, while in the meantime I pulled my newly-permed hair back into a ponytail and prayed for a miracle.

Then I considered the ways I’d need to change my normal hair routine, as my usual one was working against me. I’ve always washed my hair at night and left it alone to air-dry, then styled it in the morning. Because of this, my hair generally looks terrible in the evening after I shower; I just let it go and don’t even put much product in it, so it’s a shapeless mess. I am totally used to this, but it was painful Saturday night looking in the mirror and seeing this big puffbull atop my head, waving back at me like a massive dandelion in a breeze bidding goodbye to it’s previous curl definition. I thought I would probably have to completely change my daily routine and start washing and styling my hair in the morning until my perm grew out to avoid being depressed every night.

And then I started thinking I would probably need to add some layers to my hair to balance out the triangle-shape that was going on too…and just about the time I started regretting the whole thing, I realized it would be easier, and not really all that ridiculous, to go ahead and finish the entire styling process to see what I was really dealing with, even though the the only thing I was going to do was go to bed once I was done, and I would have to do it all again in the morning. And of course, with just a little more product spritzed in it and a blow-dryer shot with a diffuser, it looked great. At least in my opinion.

Photo Jul 05, 11 29 33 PM
I was so excited I stuck my tongue out and it looked terrible, and no way I’m sharing that, sorry.

Overall the curl hasn’t relaxed much and is still very tight, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but if it tones down a bit more it’ll look more on-trend. Curls in general are making a comeback – or so the magazines say – so in time I can figure out how to work with this and make it more current if I need to do so. Oh and by the way – the stylist did mention that since my hair was dyed back in March, the perm would lighten the color, and that has definitely happened. Not totally thrilled with that, but it was unavoidable. And I really do still think some layers are going to be necessary to make the shape work better with the curl, but that’s not a major deal and can be done without losing much length – I think adding some long layers around the crown area would do it, and I’m supposed to go back to the stylist in 4 to 6 weeks to get the dried ends trimmed off anyway. I’m not going to do that too soon though, so I have time to play around and be certain that it’s what I need to do.

day2_1_final
Another one taken before the split-end meltdown – actually, I think you can already see the curls getting a little softer in the photo above

On another note, I am having thoughts about the blog and ways in which I’d like to change it. I’d like to utilize better categories than the ones I have now, since it appears the blog is never going to be solely about art and will always in part discuss things like clothes, hair perms, and other frivolous life-in-generals. I figure I might as well structure the blog that way so it makes more sense instead of labeling everything that isn’t about photography “blog” and letting it all pile up in that category. I’d like to change up the look of it too – it feels so dark to me right now. Lightening it up should be easy; the rest might take awhile, so stay tuned.

You can read another update to the perm adventure here!

 

Got Perm, Will Travel

I couldn’t think of a better title, sorry. Hey, if you have one let me know and I’ll change it! Moving on.

Well the three or four of you that read here regularly know I’ve been toying with the idea of getting a perm for awhile now. About a year, in fact. I love curly hair, and I like my hair curly when I can get it to actually curl without falling out halfway through the day. Recently I bought this styling tool called a ‘bubble wand’ that can create lovely beach waves in the hair – when it works. As with all things heat-styling, my ability to consistently create the same result from it each time was sketchy at best; sometimes it came out great as in the photo below:

bubble1_final

And sometimes it just looked unbrushed and sloppy (for obvious reasons, I do not have photographic evidence of this). When it looked great, I loved it to death – enough to bother with the 15-20 minutes or so it took to style it each morning (and in spite of my concerns over what all that heat-styling was doing to my hair). Well, after two days of attempting to use the bubble wand and having it turn to mush almost immediately and being ticked off at losing twenty minutes of my time only to end up with it in a ponytail at the end  of all that, I decided to go for a consultation to get a perm. I’d been reading and researching and debating about this for some time, so I knew the risks as well as the flat-out truth that I was going to be frying my hair, it would need time to recover, and I was most likely going to hate it the first week or so. I was also prepared for it not to look anything like the photo above, because perms rather do their own thing depending on the hair of the person who’s getting one. I felt ready to take the risk.

I also knew you needed to go to someone who does perms regularly, even if that person is not your regular stylist. I knew my regular stylist did not give perms, and I also knew, based on an article about perms that came out in the newspaper two years ago, that the salon where I get my nails done has a few stylists that do them (the article was on how perms are “coming back,” which I have been reading about for a years or so, ever since I started to get the desire to try one) so while I was out running errands Thursday I called the salon and set up an appointment for a consultation. We met, I showed him the above photo, he told me my  hair would work fine with a perm, and we got down to it. I won’t keep you in suspense any longer:

perm2_Snapseed

Yyyyyeah, not exactly like the big waves of the previous picture. But I expected that. Everything I’d read in the past year said I’d have to wait at least a week to get the curls I wanted, and that my hair would look like a frizzball at first while I waited for that to happen. But it was still a huge jolt when I put on my glasses for the first time and saw it (one thing about getting anything done to my hair – I have to take my glasses off so the stylist can work. which means I never know what is happening to my hair until it’s over and I can put my glasses back on). The whole experience at that point became quite odd – I was in shock and just trying to process (no pun intended) what was going on with my hair and stay calm, while also trying to get a read for what other people were thinking about it. And, get this – it was July 3rd, around 5:30 PM at this point, and I was literally the only client in the salon. I guess everyone else was already heading out of town for the holiday instead of getting their hair done. This salon is quite nice and incredibly big (a  huge two-story building) and none of  the other stylists or technicians appeared to have clients, so, there were loads of people standing around while I was trying to remain calm and get out of there, and not one of them looked at or said anything to me while I was at the register.

Now, I’ve spent a lot of time reading people in my years of wig-wearing, going out in some fake hair and trying to get a sense of whether or not others are noticing what’s on my head, so I immediately shifted into that mode, and the lack of reaction felt ominous – this was a hair salon after all, so it’s pretty typical for the receptionists to at least comment on whatever it is you just had done to your hair, especially when it’s something drastic. But then again, I don’t normally get my hair done there, just my nails, so maybe I’m wrong about that. For my part, I was still shaking a little bit, and the only thought that was going through my head was “oh my God, I’ve ruined my hair.” I finally asked the woman checking me out why none of them were looking at me, and if that meant it was as bad as I thought. She just said no, it looked fine, and some ramble about how she used to get perms a long time ago and it always looked like that, but the whole experience was terribly uncomfortable, and the guy who’d permed me had also disappeared, so I feared the worst – that somehow the perm had gone horrible awry and everyone was waiting for me to leave so they could stop holding their breath and pretending like I looked OK and talk about how terrible it turned out. Awkward.

perm3_Snapseed

Instead of heading home right away after I checked out, I went down to the Marriott hotel that is a part of the town square center where the salon is and headed straight for their guest bathrooms to get a private gander at it and think. And well, it was pretty bad. Super-frizzy, tight, 80’s-perm curls, no doubt about it. But. Everything I’d read over the year I’d been researching the subject told me to expect this and that it took days if not weeks for the curls to relax (and the stylist said the same), so that kept me from going into complete shock. I’d had no delusions going in that I was doing anything other than damaging my hair with chemicals; I’d just weighed the short-term negatives of that against the ongoing heat damage I’d get from the various methods I used to wear my natural hair either straight or curly (I was either using the bubble wand to get decent  curl from my air-dried hair or blowing it dry straight) and figured in the long run it would come out to be the same, since with the perm I could just air it dry and be done (not to mention the time I could save with the day-to-day styling). So I knew the first few days were going to be tough, but wow – I was still stunned, let me tell you.

And, I had to go home and face my husband. I don’t mind sounding a bit like a Stepford wife here and telling you I was terrified he was going to hate it – and I’m someone who has worn her hair in a manner for most of her marriage that her husband hated. I just knew he was going to take one look at it and we’d be back to that ‘we’ll just agree not to talk about your hair’ arrangement we had for twelve years, and I really did not want to go back there (fortunately I’d told him I was having the process done, so at least he wasn’t going to be totally thrown). I decided to take some time and “test run” my new hair as I often did when trying out a new wig – wander into some shops and pretend to look around while really monitoring other people’s reactions to me instead. What I noticed was that while no one was going out of their way to compliment my hair by  any stretch of the imagination, no one was reacting to my hair negatively either; I was being more or less ignored, which for anyone who wears supplemental hair will tell you is exactly what you want. If it’s not what you want, it is at least perfectly OK and way preferable to people staring at your head and smirking or scrutinizing. In short, while my hair clearly did not look amazing, it also clearly did not look horrifying, so I started to calm down.

perm4_Snapseed

By this time it was about 7:15 PM and I figured I had to go home sometime, so I put on my best and brightest happy face, snapped a selfie in the Marriott bathroom, and sent it to my husband with a text that read “I look amazing!”  – which I saying to myself as much as to him, in that Stuart Smalley sort of way. Then I got in the car and headed home. By the time I got close, he’d already responded by saying that he thought it looked cute, but that it would “look even better if it was longer,” which is so typical of him it’s hilarious. I reassured him that no length had been cut and that it was just the curl shortening it up a bit, and that yes I was still growing it out and the frizz would die down in a few days and then it would look better. And by the time I walked through the door I was in the lemonade-out-of-lemons mode I can go into quite quickly when it comes to my hair, wherein I know I can deal with it and make it work as long as it doesn’t fall out – the loads of hair fiascos I’ve had over the course of my life have trained me well. It’s definitely going to help as I get through the 48-hour period here where I cannot wash or do anything to this new adventure I’ve got going on top of my head. Because right now it’s wait and see for sure.

perm1_Snapseed

So it’s Friday morning now, and although it still looks like a frizzy puffball, it doesn’t feel nearly as dry as it did yesterday, so that’s a good start. And I don’t have much to do the next two days so I can hide out until it calms down, or at least until I can wash it on Sunday. I will keep you all alerted of my progress, but please, keep the comments gentle. My hair and my ego are a little delicate right now – although I think in the long run I am going to like it. If not, I’ll make it work. I always do. And I am glad I finally took the plunge and gave this a shot, since I’ve been wanting to do it for a long time and at least now can say I’ve done it and get it off the to-do-someday list. If nothing else, it will take interesting pictures!

You can read an update to the perm adventure here.