Have I always loved my hair? No. Am I constantly in search for the perfect product? Well, duh.
I have envied many people in my life and it’s quite unfortunately most often been based on the merit of good hair. How is it possible that my best friend in middle school could have gotten out of the shower every morning and just…came to school? I’d seen it with my own eyes: she’d get to school with wet-hair but by the time second period rolled around, it was dry, straight, shiny, and looking effectively perfect.
What about the products and the blow-dryer and the hair-iron?
I think if anyone has been able to ruin my mother’s life in any profound capacity, it has been me. Why? Because of my hair. If I had a dime for every morning we spent wetting my hair, gelling it back, combing it strategically, and tightly pulling it to create the illusion of straight locks in spite of its natural, frizzy, rather huge demeanor, I’d buy all of you drinks.
By the time I was in high school, I’d almost accepted the fact that I’d probably always hate my hair. My mom didn’t want me to think that the way in which I felt was wholly based on whether or not I loved my hair (“it’s from within,” she would tell me, “if you love you, everyone else will”), but the sporadic professional blow-dry I would indulge in made me feel like a considerably better version of who I already was. She couldn’t fool me, I had to love my hair but how the hell would I do that when I looked like a fucking poodle? And then I heard about semi-permanent hair straightening processes.
The subsequent four years found stick straight locks of hair that all too keenly resembled loose leaf sheets of paper cascading from my skull. My mom scoffed at the sight frequently, I thought I looked fantastic. For the sake of this story, I tried to find photographic proof so that we could share a laugh together but it occurred to me that I’d recently destroyed the evidence–just imagine, though, that it looked a little like the below. Only my face was rounder and I had braces. I also wasn’t cloaked in Sacai leather and plaid.
Every six months until I was a freshman in college, I would go to one particular hair salon located just four blocks from my home and sit there for three hours while a specialist wore a mask over his nose and mouth and dumped formaldehyde into my scalp. I think it must have been around the time I started college that my Jewish neuroses began to kick in and I was almost certain that everything I’d been doing the last eighteen years of my life had been giving me cancer.
The first ritual I cut to prevent terminal illness was the hair straightening.
Once I’d graduated from the bi-annual process, I was forced to rely on a hair-iron. When I got too lazy for that and began to grow hungry for something rather foreign: big hair, I let my locks run free. But the combination of post-Brazilian Kertain Treatment damage plus frequent hot metal to hair had ruined what I could now retrospectively recognize as only my thick, wavy–often kinky–really nice, natural hair.
There’s another brand of woman I have always envied: she who not necessarily has great hair, but works in, you know, the hair industry. She tests products on herself and then reports back because it’s her job–flocculent journalism, I like it to call it.
When I learned about AG Hair‘s keratin restoration shampoo and conditioner, I was reluctant to try it. (There have been few hair products that haven’t let me down.) The bottle told me that AG Keratin Repair would “fortify,” “reverse,” and “repair” damaged hair like mine. I was beginning to think the frizz was no longer even combat-able. Would my hair get flat again? I didn’t want that. Could I substitute post-shower creams?
For the sake of social experimentation and nipping this particular, rather silly brand of envy in the bud, I gave it a try–I would use the keratin restoration shampoo and conditioner for exactly six weeks and appraise the effects on my hair. The products made me feel like I was in the final month of a keratin straightening treatment.
My hair is soft and it bounces (which it never did before) but it’s still wavy and rather thick–maintaining the body and health I want. Using the treatment didn’t change my natural hair, it just gave me the best version of it. And though it gets oily quite fast, that actually bodes in my favor considering the current fashion climate where dirty is cool and clean is, well, kind of snobby.
Recently, I was looking through the runway images from Bottega Venetta’s Milan Fall/Winter 2013 show when I noticed my interest focused on the way in which the models wore their hair. It was big and poufy and they looked phenomenal. To think, here I had spent the first half of my life trying ceaselessly to maintain something I didn’t have: straight hair, killing it by way of proverbial fryer. And now, I wanted it natural, huge, healthy, me. I reminded my mom of the torture that my hair and I subjected her to.
“Can you believe I now prefer my hair big?” I asked her.
“Of course,” she told me. “You’ve grown up, and it takes a woman understand the beauty of full hair.”
Runway images via Vogue. Part 1 of 1 in a collaborative series with AG Hair.