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Monday, 23 July 2018

Curly Goals

My hair and I have had a complicated relationship over the past four years. For 17 years I worked with a skilled stylist who stayed on top of trends - we had a lot of fun trying out various cuts and colour combinations over the years. When she died, four years ago this past weekend, actually, I lost momentum and direction with my hair. We had started a grow-out plan, but without her guidance to ease the transition, I have kept cutting it off - with the help of various local stylists and my own scissors and clippers. Before Gabriella died I had also been experiencing mixed feelings about continued use of chemical colour. On top of that, it took me a few months to become ready enough to have her last cut and colour work altered (I know, she would have wanted me to keep it fresh and current)! So, in the past four years, I have been grieving the loss of Gabby (only a few years older than me), I turned 40, and I stopped colouring.

I did use henna for a while, and really liked it - the colour was rich, and my hair was shiny. Eventually I began to question the health risks and benefits of that (I know how to spoil my own fun), had an unfortunate incident involving blonde highlights (not what I really wanted, and they destroyed my hair), and ended up chopping off a bunch of growth due to the damage. At that point, I was also pretty worried - my curl was disappearing. I have always appreciated having wavy/curly hair, although find it terribly unpredictable and can't stand any stringy crunchiness, or imbalance in the wave pattern - the feel or the look of it. My favourite curly hair time was Summer 2012 (I think I have some posts from then, actually - sure, it had some frizz, but I was working with it and enjoyed the volume and overall uniformity. A lot of the time, though, I have been straightening (or partially so) for convenience and because it usually feels more "put together" - at least a bit more predictable. In Summer 2017 I briefly committed to working with the curl consistently (after being flooded with relief after giving my hair a trim and discovering that it still curled)! That said, while I have worn it curly more often over the past year, I have certainly not done so consistently, and it has been a LONG time since I have been excited about my hair, and felt confident in it.

Last week, while reading a post in a Facebook group, someone made reference to the Curly Girl Method, and recommended a group to another commenter. I joined, and have now officially started the adventure. Needless to say, I am a bit nervous, as I still have a pixie, and I have never grown out a short haircut without the help of flat irons and hair dryers.

We'll see how it goes, but I am excited to have some new strategies and motivation to help me along the way. Some of the specific Curly Girl (CG) techniques are things I have figured out over the years, trying to find more reliable and effective ways to bring out curl in my hair, and keep it soft rather than stringy, but there is still lots to learn and explore. I am most curious to see if there is any chance those tight, smooth ringlets I get underneath my hair, at the back, when it is longer, could ever possibly appear on the top layers. Time will tell - if I can refrain from chopping it off repeatedly.

Here's a bit of the journey:

1998, smoothed with curlers for a vintage nod:

2011, likely flat ironed and curled...

Summer 2012 - Gabriella's work, an inverted bob with exaggerated long side pieces that worked especially well with curl, as they didn't totally shrink and disappear when worn curly.

A pixie, done by a local stylist. I do miss colour. And my cat - I miss her, too.

Attempting a grow-out, with henna...

Spring 2016, still using henna and a hair dryer:

Summer 2018. Stuck. No colour, cutting it myself with a stylist trim occasionally. Relying on the hair dryer and usually the flat iron as well.

 Pre-CG, but had just learned about it. Used my current products and diffuser to see what happened using a couple of techniques (like putting the product in soaking wet hair - I usually try to have it pretty wet when I style it, but I made sure it was even wetter this time). Reasonably happy with the outcome, but...

...note the flatter back and top, compared with the front. Not a great balance.
July 19, 2018. Hadn't picked up CG products yet - but was about to head to the store for some (which were clearly needed - not very exciting limp waves, lacking uniformity)!

 Day 1 CG - pre-scrunch (final wash, deep condition, leave-in, gel):

Day 1 - post-'scrunch-out-the-crunch' - pretty happy with it for a first try - fairly even, soft, not greasy, not too stringy - room to improve, but I'll take it for now:

Day 2 - post-sleep, nothing done to refresh. Curls held up well overnight and just needed a bit of "tidying" for the day:

Day 3 - low-poo wash, condition, gel, and a bit of mousse as an experiment. Not sure I loved the mouse, but I was pleasantly surprised to compare photos to date and see overall uniformity, and decent waves.