August 13, 2009

Beauty Experiment: Riding the Wave (An Intro)

I took one horrified look at myself in the mirror and let out a shriek.

My frizzy wiry curly hair – the bane of my teenage years – was back. After disappearing for 6 years and lulling me into a false security, my bad hair days are back to stay.

Meldee and my sister claim that my big mane is due to the strong Leo influence on my birthchart. An anthropologist friend happily tells me that wiry hair (and enjoying the sound of crickets apparently) is characteristic of my Austronesian ancestry. I am more inclined to put the blame on my Arab, Filipino and Mongolian forefathers.

“Straighten it,” my cousin advised me. She straightened her hair during high school and never looked back since.

I hesitated. As much as I desired a quick fix solution, cousin’s hair looked tired and damaged after years of straightening. I didn't have Afro-type kinks anyway. Then, something within me stirred.

“I will cultivate my curls!”

Googling "curly + hair" turned up the wonderful Naturally Curly website. A mine full of information but a pain to use until I got the hang of navigating their website. The articles range from caring for curls, support-group type affirmations on being a curly girl (CG) to CG products. Initially disappointed that most of the products featured seemed to be only available in the UK or the US, I was delighted to stumble upon an Aussie thread in their forums (yes, they have a Curly forum) focusing on CG-friendly products in Australia.

They also recommended picking up a copy of "Curly Girl" by Loraine Massey. I couldn't find a copy in my local Borders though (plus, I am pretty broke for the month) so I made do with the forum threads and blog posts linked on Naturally Curly. i am planning to get my paws on the book some day though.

The first thing I did was to look up what hair type I had. This was followed by a slap in the face discovery that I wasn't curly. I just had really wavy hair. 2B, to be exact. Just like Sandra Oh. Seeing how her character on Grey's Anatomy managed to snag the very delectable Dr. Owen Hunt, I am not complaining.

Mousying around the Naturally Curly forum led me to this pretty good post on hair basics about texture and porosity. Out of everything I have read, this gives the best idea of how to care for hair, curly or not. I think the writer is actually a hairstylist.

To summarise briefly, hair texture indicates what kind of products you should be using for your hair. Fine hair often seems dry even when over-moisturised because it lacks protein so you should avoid product with lots of emollients and humectants and go for proteins instead. Medium/ Normal hair can basically go for anything but those with coarse hair (like me) have to watch out for products with protein in it as their hair already has an overabundance of it. They should look for more moisturising products instead.

Hair porosity indicates how well your hair can absorb moisture and is determined by checking your hair cuticle (the article teaches you how to check your hair porosity so take a click). Hair with low porosity has a tendency to repel product as the hair cuticles are pretty compact. Again, hair with normal porosity does not pose much of a problem. Hair with high porosity absorbs products very quickly (YAY!) but has a problem holding on to it as the open hair cuticles simply can't retain the product. Boo.

No wonder my hair feels like bloody straw half the time.

I'll stop here for now before your brains boggle with too much info but basically, the key for pretty curls and no frizz is keeping a good balance between protein and moisture (and in my case, an extra 3 hours of research every week for hair products).

Coming up next week? Hair care for CGs and my daily diary on transitioning over to the CG routine.


Meldee said...

ELI! I loved this whole entire post. Well-researched and informative, and funny to boot.

I think you'd look adorable with cultivated curls! :D

Eli said...

Thanks, Mel! I was worried that I had info overload in this post.

My hair is settling down now that I am in Week 3 but I looked like disgruntled lion for the first 2 weeks. Pet thought that I had lost it.

Kahani said...

Me loves the post too. So well written babe! And yes embrace your mane! can't wait to see you when you get back =D

Ghost said...

Eli thank you soooooooo much for this post!!!!!! It's excellent. I have fine red hair and your post is well written and uncovered some mysteries about my hair - thanks again.

I know how you fell about unwanted curly hair. For years as a child I had dead straight poker hair, all I would have to do was wake up, brush, that's was it. Now 6 year ago it started to go curly (wavy). But the weird thing is that all my curly bits (and we're talking Shirley Temple spirals) are located underneath my hair, while on top I have slightly wavy, flyway hair - urghhhhhhhh. I blame my mother who has natural curly hair and as a child was the spitting image of Shirley Temple.

thanks again Eli : )

Eli said...

Kahani: Thank you! Coming from you, its a huge compliment. Hopefully I get to swish around pretty waves when I get back.

Ghost: I am glad you liked the post! I found the article on hair texture and porosity really useful so i had to write about it. It's something everyone would find useful, methought.

Shirley Temple curls mixed with straight? Eeek. I can imagine how awful that is to manage. If it makes you feel better, a cousin of mine got the short end of the family hair gene stick and had to go around with an afro for a really loooooong time.

Gwyneth said...

Very nice post! i know it can be a real pain to have a curly hair that you cannot do anything with. It takes such a long time every morning to make it look normal and not frizzy :( It's good to know there are products out there that help you tame curls and keep them "organized". When I google curly hair or curly hair products, I also found this site: . Maybe it is also worth trying.