It is a truth universally acknowledged that a woman having a good hair day must be on her way to the beach. Or maybe the pool. Both places will wreck the ‘do, and it’s a damn shame, really. But we enjoy the beach and the pool, so we try not to worry about it too much. How sad would it be if we chose our leisure activities based only on their potential for hairdo destruction?
It wouldn’t be so galling, really, if it weren’t for the fact that good hair days never seem to coincide with job interview days, high school reunion days, or running-into-the-ex-who-dumped-you days. But no: those are the days when frizz forms, cowlicks go crazy, and odd lumps & bumps appear in places never before seen.
Expecting it to be otherwise would be ridiculous, really. Murphy’s Law will prevail. When you need great hair, the gods will know and they will mock you. The fix is in.
If you happen to be blessed with wavy or curly hair, this basic rule extends to the nth degree, on into infinity. I know this because I’m one of the wavy/curly ones (known in some circles as wurly). And just about everything I know about managing this hair — including the proper usage of the term, “wurly” — was learned at one of my favorite websites, Naturallycurly.com, more specifically on the website’s CurlTalk forum.
This forum’s participants — I call them “The Curlies” — know all about bad hair days and jinxes and curses and general bad hair karma. Fortunately, they also have a kickass arsenal of weapons with which to combat these heinous hair foes.
For example: did you know that if you bend forward to hang your head upside-down, gather your hair into a loose ponytail, secure it gently without pulling the hair taught, and then stand up…. you will have a ponytail on top of your head that will hold your hair in place while preserving your natural curl pattern? Yeah, you’ll look like Pebbles Flintstone, or maybe the Bride of Frankenstein. But that high ponytail — in clinical curly terminology, a pineapple — will protect your hair from frizz, flattening, and warping while you work out, sleep, or yes, even enjoy a day at the beach with full wind, humidity, and swimming. When you’re done, just take down the pineapple, and the ‘do should be presentable enough so that you can get on with your day, without having to wash and re-style all over again.
The pineapple is only one of many useful tricks. The Curlies are well-versed in many styling techniques you’ve never heard of (“plopping” and “super soaking,” the “Ice Queen” and “Pixiecurl” methods, to name a few). They use a variety of curly tools — headbands, clips, pins of all shapes and sizes — to achieve feats of engineering that hold and protect hair.
The Curlies can also tell you about proper curly hair care (more conditioner, less shampoo), styling (don’t comb, “scrunch” product into very wet hair), and maintenance (deep condition often, use protein with caution).
All of that is great, but none of it is why I really love NC.Com. I love it because these women understand. Most of them have stories about hair that just never cooperated — hair that frizzed and tangled and poofed, no matter how hard they tried to make it sleek and shiny. They speak of hair that, in a spongelike fashion, grows to five times its normal size whenever there’s a hint of humidity in the air.
Some of them, like me, used to think they had “straight” hair that was just always messy. They didn’t realize that the pieces that kept sticking up — or growing sideways — were just trying to form lovely spirals and waves!
Most of The Curlies came to NC.Com because they’ve decided, at long last, to work with their hair’ s natural texture rather than against it. And many of them, like me, are having more good hair days as a result.
Of course, there is a down side to all of this. Right now, as I write this, I am in possession of approximately fourteen different brands of styling product. That’s right, fourteen: five in active rotation, five waiting for the change of seasons (dewpoints matter), and four others hiding in the back of the closet because I’m just not sure about them yet. (But hope springs eternal!)
Yes, I know that’s a lot of styling product. You got a problem with that?!! Yes, I recycle the empty bottles; no, this product proliferation didn’t happen overnight; no, I’m not hoping to appear on Hoarders: the Hair Edition. Shit happens, Ok? Let’s just leave it at that.
Actually, if you must know, by NC.Com standards, fourteen really isn’t that many! The “natural” in “naturally curly” doesn’t mean unmaintained. Ask any curly: the right products help to hold things in place, define those curls so they can be seen to their best advantage, and prevent the dreaded mid-afternoon cotton-candy “poof.”
Lest you decide that we at CurlTalk are a herd of shallow, self-absorbed obsessives, let me assure you: we have lives. The forum includes dynamic, freewheeling discussions of many non-hair topics: workplace and relationship dilemmas, politics, racial and gender issues, you name it. It’s actually a rich source of diverse and interesting perspectives, peppered with an irreverent sense of humor. The Curlies have intelligence, spunk, and more than a little attitude. You have to, when you’re wearing curly hair in a flat-ironed world.
And to those who say, “But it’s just hair,” well, let’s think about that a moment. If you think hair is unimportant to a woman’s image, you haven’t been paying attention. Ask Hilary Clinton or Sarah Palin about all the ways their hairstyles have been deconstructed and analyzed by the media. Ask women in the higher echelons of Hollywood — or Wall Street, for that matter — how much unsolicited attention and advice they’ve received pertaining to their hairstyles. Or just search the internet for articles and opinions about what kinds of hair are or are not considered “professional.” (Spoiler alert: curly hair often falls on the “wrong” side of that line). People read our hair for clues as to who we are.
Thanks to NC.Com, I am now proud to put myself in the “wurly” group. The final reason why I love the forum is because, once every six months or so, there is a post saying something like, “Damn: having a great hair day, and no place to go!” Responders often chime in with suggestions for destinations to visit, things to do, superfluous errands to pursue. Nobody on the CurlTalk Forum wants a Good Hair Day to be wasted. Unappreciated. Unseen.
Oh, honey, do I ever get it! In fact, I’m supposed to be swimming right now, but I’m happy with my hair for the first time all week. It’s too nice to be pineappled!
Perhaps I’ll head into the city, instead. Lots of errands to do.