Fashion Friday :: from curly to straight (and back again)

So I tried something this week that I’ve never done before – I flat-ironed my very curly, very thick hair. And it worked. And I liked it.

A lot of curly girls know their way around heating appliances quite well; I am not one of them. I’ve never used a flat iron and I’ve had a blowout precisely once, about fifteen years ago when a hair stylist friend asked me to let him try it. It took forever and then curled right back up before the night was done. In sixth grade, tired of being teased about my unruly red hair, I let my mom and my aunt chemically straighten my hair. It was an unmitigated disaster – the chemicals damaged my hair, which hung straight but also limp and gave my classmates new reasons to tease me. What’s more, the curls came back within a week. In my late teens, I finally accepted my curls, and in my twenties I finally discovered how to wear them (number one rule: no more short layers, including bangs!) and what products to use (number one rule: the right conditioner is key). I quit wanting what I didn’t have, I learned to love what I did have and to treat it right, and I honestly never really considered trying to straighten my hair in any way – blowouts, flat irons, or chemicals. My curl type is “3B,” which is to say that I have corkscrew type curls and my hair is curlier the shorter it is. I typically wear it in long layers:


I’ve been doing all sorts of playful things, appearance-wise, lately, including experimenting with new hairstyles. My new desire to try some new things does not at all imply some sort of rejection of my natural curls. I am still and always Team Curly! But sometimes, it’s just fun to do something different.

When I had the urge to look into flat-ironing curly hair, I went to YouTube and found this fantastic video – her hair is much curlier than mine (3C? 4A?) and it seemed like if she could do it, I should be able to. So I set out to acquire all the proper tools and products. I bought this flat iron, which I think is the one she recommends in the video (her link was dead, but she mentioned the name in the video):

I got the Conair Infiniti Pro Tourmaline Ceramic 1″ Straightener (only $22 and it has ceramic plates – also comes with a bonus bottle of Argan Oil).

Next I consulted my hair and makeup guru, Heather:


Then I set off for Sally’s Beauty Supply to see to gather some products. They didn’t have the Moroccan Oil Heather highly recommends, so I decided just to use the Argan Oil that came with the iron for this time. They also didn’t have the heat-resistant spray mentioned in the video, nor the finishing spray Heather told me about. So I got what the women at Sally’s recommended, Beyond The Zone Turn Up The Heat Protection Spray (which I ended up really liking).

I got home and got to work. I’m about to show you photos, but please no judging on my bathroom mirror. Ugh! I didn’t realize when I did this quite how dirty it was – the camera seems to pick up every speck – and I certainly would’ve cleaned it had I realized I’d be showing it to all of you! Anyway, here we go. I started with clean, dry hair, with my usual leave-in conditioner and one of my usual gels (I rotate through a few), dried under a hood dryer.

(honestly not loving how my hair was looking that day)

(honestly not loving how my hair was looking that day)

I sprayed the heat-protection spray everywhere and started sectioning it the way the girl in the video does:



Then I sectioned it further and got to work, putting a little argan oil on each section and using the Tangle Tamer Max (mentioned in the video) to get each section smooth and following the tangle tamer down each section with the flat iron. This part was pretty foreign to me, as not only am I not accustomed to using flat iron, I also don’t ever use any kind of brush or comb on my hair – I just use my fingers to detangle in the shower and then leave the hair undisturbed after putting gel in it.

Anyway, it worked:

first section, straightened

first section, straightened

It went faster than I expected it to, and before long, half my head was done:

20140314-120141.jpgThere’s a pretty big discrepancy in length, between the straight side and the curly side, but of course the curly side was also still up in a pony tail.

I kept going, and before long I was done:

20140314-120146.jpgHonestly, I was shocked that it worked. I am so used to having hair that does exactly what it wants that I really did not expect to have this much control over it.

20140314-120152.jpgIt took about 50 minutes to do all of it, and that included lots of consulting the video, texting up-to-the-minute progress to Heather, and being interrupted by a son who was, on the one hand, fascinated by what I was doing, and, on the other, terrified that something was going to go wrong. But nothing went wrong, and I was very happy with how it turned out.

the next day

the next day

I’m actually kind of surprised at how much I like the end result. I expected that either it would turn out poorly or that it would turn out right but that I wouldn’t like how it looked on me. I thought I would try it for a day and then go right back to curly.

But here I am four days later, and I feel like my hair is still looking pretty good:

20140314-120212.jpgIgnore that one piece that’s out of place, please! That’s one thing I’m not used to with straight hair – it’s actually possible to have your hair mostly “in place.” With my usual style, I just kind of let it be where it wants to be.

A few things that have surprised me:

  • how fast this was
  • how easy it was
  • how long it has stayed straight
  • how easy it has been to maintain
  • how much I like it

I’ll be washing it this weekend and going back to curly, but I’ll definitely be giving this a go again. It’s been fun to try something new, and to actually be pleased with the result. I still have some things to learn – like how to get the roots on the back of my head done, and how to properly treat my hair each day its straight (brush or comb? wrap and cover at night?), and how to treat the ends. I am interested in any tips anyone who has done this wants to offer.

Wow. Who knew I could write so much about straightening my hair? Some day I may write about my curly hair routine, and then you’ll really be surprised with how much verbiage I can use. Apparently, hair is a thing I can go on and on about.