I Quit Straightening My Hair Cold-Turkey

When I was really young, I hated mornings. I’d go to bathroom to be met by my mother holding a hairbrush soaked in water. We’d both face the mirror and she’d take the wet brush to my head, then would tie my hair back into a half pony. I looked neither bad nor good — just plain average, which is so much worse than either.

I bought my first hair iron from CVS at age 15. It was Conair (no relation to Nicholas Cage) and christened an extremely inefficient routine that I would carry late into my 20s. I would wash my hair, wait for it to dry (by air, never blow dryer) and then I’d start ironing, piece by piece, beginning at the nape of my neck and working my way up to the crown and my top-of-head roots. All in, I’d need about three hours to feel presentable enough to simply go outside — even if I was just running to get a coffee, or buy a grocery (singular). With straight hair, I felt much prettier, cooler and a hell of a lot more confident.

Not all hair struggles are equal. For so many women, hair is not just “hair” and the choices are much more fraught. For me, hair has always been directly tied to my vain side. Early on, I began to see “my best self” as the version of me with straight hair — and straight hair alone. I envied girls who could achieve this look by simply getting out of the shower; they never had to interfere with the natural course of time, air and how that factored into what their hair would look like. They didn’t have to manipulate the elements — say no to dinner this night, get home early that night. They just lived. Effortlessly. I, on the other hand, exerted plenty of effort. I revolved my week around the days I had to wash my hair, wait the two hours for it to dry and then spend another hour ironing to achieve a process that would yield the same carefree aesthetic result.

But I don’t have that kind of time anymore. I mean, I’m sure I could find it, but I’d rather not. So instead of waiting around for my hair to dry and then straightening it, I just get out of the shower. I apply two products — first a smoothing cream, then an anti-frizz serum.

Usually I’ll tie it back while it’s still wet because this smooths out the top, but sometimes I forget to do that. What I end up with is an equal parts wavy and frizzy mane that, at its very best, makes me feel like Russell Brand or, at its very worst, a poodle drenched in the rain. For whatever reason, I don’t hate it at all. As a matter of fact, I think I prefer it.

In many ways, it feels like its own character — like my hair and I are two separate entities who live together on one person but who hold disparate, if not illuminating, viewpoints. It doesn’t make me feel an untamed horse losing the love of her life to a woman with long, straight locks the way Carrie Bradshaw once felt (see: “Your girl is lovely, Hubbell”).

And where I used to think that it made me look messy, or like I had no concept of what it means to be “put together,” now it just seems right. Maybe this is because my style is growing up. In my closet, there are more matching sets and neat dresses and garments that require frequent steaming. These make room for more personality to emerge above the clothes.

Or maybe (and I’m really rooting for this one), this is what the start of “coming into one’s own” is like. Here I have spent the greater portion of a decade deliberately augmenting my most salient, inevitable truth — the hair above my head — because I didn’t feel good enough if I didn’t.

Photos by Edith Young.

It’s been about two months since I last put an iron to my head. My hair feels healthier, I have a shit ton more time in the mornings, but the best and most interesting piece of the whole thing has got to be that no one, not a single person, has even noticed that I stopped straightening my hair. Not my own husband, who usually recognizes so much as a new color on my toenails, nor my own mother, who weathered the coif-fostered tantrums of my youth. For something to have played such a significant role in the trajectory of my self-confidence, for me to have placed so much emphasis and conviction on looking a way I don’t and reject the way I do — how could it be that no one has noticed? Self-absorption, in its sometimes-delusional and always-misleading glory, is remarkable.

Do you have a thing like this?

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  • Andrea Raymer

    as someone with hair naturally so straight that it looks like a 7th grader flat ironed it in 2007 (before there were beauty tutorials readily available on the internet for their education) you hair in these photos is what I wish my hair looked like. I have been resurrecting the pin curl (which I learned to do from Molly, the American girl doll) in order to give myself some hair texture so I don’t have to wash it every day.

    • Cristina

      I was about to say the same thing. Hair envy is a biotch, huh? My hair air dry’s straight as a board. I always gaze longingly at Harling or Haley’s thick messy hair and wish mine would do the same. It doesn’t hold a curl (ask any hairdresser who has tried) it isn’t thick and I’ve got several weird parts and baby hairs that just won’t grow. Volume is out of the question, no amount of teasing or texture spray lasts more than an hour. Luckily, I knew these barrel curls would be out at some point and pin-straight hair back “in” (re: Kim Kardashian recently). Although, I don’t color my hair. I did the ombre thing once and then I had some awesome natural texture, so I think that’s part of it. It’s cray to me how many celebrities don’t even have real hair. I remember when I read Lauren Conrad’s first book and learned she has extensions, I was devastated. DEVASTATED. I’m naive enough to believe everyone has their best, original hair forward but now I just assume it’s all dyed and clipped in to look like that!

      • Andrea Raymer

        I once had a perm and my hair was still pin straight! though it did hold a curl a little better when I put some effort into it. I also just don’t look good with the Kim Kardashian sleek straight hair. I have a very small head compared to the rest of my body and I need some volume to balance it out!

        • I permed my hair in high school (I have straight AND thin hair) and had glorious TSwift curls for about two months until it started to grow out, frizz and fall out (the perm, not my hair). Then I could totally relate to all my curly-headed friends. Now I totally appreciate my stick straight hair. Never again!

    • Adrianna

      Same here. For most of high school, I showered at night and applied Got2b Glued Styling Spiking Hair Glue all over my hair, and brushed it out in the morning. For some reason I started blow drying my hair too. As you can imagine, I destroyed my hair and started college with a chunk of it broken off above my ear.

      I’m at a point where I absolutely do nothing to it. I don’t even touch it with a hairbrush. It’s something I have to emphasis to the stylist when I get my haircuts. I recently discovered that shampooing every 2-3 days makes it more voluminous. I’m still paranoid about looking greasy though

    • I also learned the pin curl from Molly!!!!!

  • Jen

    I feel you Leandra! My hair has always been the bane of my existence. I used to have the exact same hair routine – air dry for two hours, then one hour to straighten. The frustration of dealing with all the frizzy, thick hair was just maddening. However, the keratin treatment (or brazilian blowout) has worked wonders. Now can leave my hair to air dry (and it turns out wavy without frizz) or straighten it in 15 minutes flat. It is also incredibly sleek and soft. Lifesaver right there 🙂

  • Jeanne Zamansky

    I’m glad you did ! You look very very beautiful this way ! Not that you didn’t look beautiful before right ? But you look… stunning ! Not average at all 🖤

  • Leandra!

    This could not be more timely. Thank you for this post! Today is the first day in about a decade (I’m 28) that I’ve left my hair natural and your words resonate 100000!

    I feel 100% more like myself and genuinely felt liberated last night just washing, applying some curl creme and letting nature work its magic! This is absolutely a step forward for me in self-acceptance. The older I get the more I embrace what I look like. I have to live within this body so I am determined to enjoy it. Love your damn self <3

    P.S. This is a sneaky selfie I took over pre-work coffee this am

    P.P.S Going curly has been one of the most product purchasing enabling decisions I have ever made – next stop, silk sleep scarf!


    • Jac

      cannot recommend the silke london sleep scarf enough. it’s so absurd and luxurious and i look like a 50-year-old 1920s movie diva in the best possible way

      • amazing! was vvvvv much looking at getting this! thank you, fair enabler!

        • Jac

          I got u 🙂 and I mean, you *could* get one that does the same thing for like $3 from any black hair store/amazon but they are not NEARLY as absurd-chic

  • KK

    I distinctly remember the moment in 8th grade when a “popular” girl got a CHI and everything changed. Seriously. Straight hair was cool, duh. Get on board or remain a loser. Crazy to think it’s taken me 15 years to slowly shake that mindset off. Trying to embrace my natural texture as part of becoming a GrownUp!!

  • Mariam Elle Zoghbi

    I recently went through the same thing! I have the exact same hair as you, the same hair every woman with Mediterranean decent has.

    About a year ago I stopped straightening my hair and haven’t looked back. What’s crazy is that with every passing month, I started to actually like my hair more and more. Within the past six months, I’ve been getting compliments like crazy. Turns out, I’m not just getting used to my hair, my hair is FINALLY recovering from the years of damage. Apparently healthy hair looks good and doesn’t frizz out as often. I guess I never got that memo.

    Anyway, this is what I do and this process has changed my life. I have to condition my hair three times every time I wash it (deep condition, condition, and leave in condition). I tell this to people with straight that buy volumizing shampoo and they are sooo confused and extremely concerned about my hair being weighed down. I try to explain that weighing down my hair is my mission in life, but they never seem to understand.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is Leandra, on your way home from work stop by Duane Reade, pick up It’s a 10 Miracle Hair Mask and get back to me with results.

  • kate

    I embraced my curls a few years ago, and then I turned 40 and my hair had a midlife crisis. It’s harder to embrace your hair’s natural texture when your gorgeous ringlets have been replaced by frizz. Tried the Deva Curl system and other various approaches to letting one’s hair “be.” They didn’t work. What works is straightening my hair with a hair drier with a brush attachment, unless it’s hot and humid as it’s starting to be in D.C. I wish Keratin treatments weren’t poisonous.

  • Charlotte

    Hair is such an important ‘piece’ of you. I’ve had extremely long hair, a pixie, short bobs, long bobs etc. and through every style I got to know a different side of me. Very interesting process – inside and out. I actually clicked on this article on my FB feed because I thought – wow Leandra’s hair looks incredibe!

    PS. The latest change of hair, however, isn’t one I want to discover. I recently been diagnosed with alopecia (as in last week). I stopped taking the pill and because my hormone balance changed it surfaced. Haven’t stopped crying since. I first thought that the hair loss was temporary and that my body just needed some time to adjust. But this is not temporary. It’s getting worse and worse. I will start taking the pill again. But unfortunately, the one I took (which best targets this type of alopecia) is not prescribed to new users because it has potential (high risk) side-effects during the first year of usage. Used it for 8 years, but 5 months off this pill makes me a new user… My hair is such a big part of who I am. It’s like what the bob is to Anna or red curls are to Annie. I just canceled an appointment because I’m feeling insecure. Sleeping makes me anxious (head touching pillow) and washing my hair does too. I wanted to check with the MR community for tips. You are such insightful women. And the internet feels like a much safer environment to talk about this than my direct environment. (Sorry for bringing such a negative vibe to the comment section!).

    • Kelsey Moody

      My mom at 54 out of the blue got alopecia areata (circular hair loss, not universal at first), no history in our family yet there has been some autoimmune issues within our family that some specialists think could be related. Unfortunately, theres not that much research dedicated to alopecia because “it’s just hair loss”! How ridiculous is that! In one month, my mom lost all her hair just like that. We went wig, scarf and hat shopping immediately but the identity connected to hair is such a powerful one. It is truly devastating, especially how fast it can happen. After about a year (including a few strangers yelling at her for wearing a scarf on her head “without cancer, how dare you!”…people are insane…), her hair started to come back after receiving cortizone (steroid) shots in her head which she’s been getting every month for the past 6 years. She also went on an anti-inflammatory diet as well. Everyone’s diagnosis is different, sometimes hair does not come back, and it really is like mourning a loss when the hair is gone. Lean on your friends, your family, find what makes you comfortable (wigs are hot! sometimes going bald is a necessity in the summer, also dont open an oven with synthetic hair! It’ll singe!) and, most important, do not let ANYONE tell you that you arent allowed to grieve your hair. My coworkers friend has had alopecia since highschool, check out her blog: https://www.baldisthenewblack.com/ so many great resources and an amazing alopecia community to help with this sort of thing!!!

      • Charlotte

        Thank you so much for taking the time to comment and sharing all the information and links Kelsey! I appreciate it so much that you took the time to say that you understand how hair is connected to identity and that you used the word grieve. I didn’t use that word before. But it actually feels like that. It’s like a void and a big elephant is sitting on my chest. It must have been horrible for your mum to go through that. All that change and over the course of a month! It’s shocking to read that people actually said that to her. So incredibly insensitive. People often don’t consider it and are just not serious about hair loss. My first doctor also said ‘it’s just hair loss’ and I think he thought it was just pure vanity talking. He isn’t my usual doctor and kind of a jerk to be honest. I now have a doctors appointment next week. Since my alopecia is directly related to hormone imbalance (androgenetic alopecia) it can be stopped by taking the (specific) pill again. She told me that only under serious circumstances she will prescribe it. I’m torn. It’s Sophie’s choice. Do I certainly lose hair in a rapid speed or do I take a pill that comes with a high risk of thrombosis in the first year of usage?

        Anti-inflammatory diet? I don’t know anything about that so I will make sure to look into that! Thank you 🙂

        • Kelsey Moody

          Definitely consult with your doctor about diets and, obviously, of course, pill prescriptions but the “anti-inflammatory” diet essentially is cutting out all processed foods, high in fiber and fruits n veggies, nothing too earth shattering! My mom also has rheumatoid arthritis which is an autoimmune disease so this diet aids in helping deal with that too. Like the other commenter pointed out, self care in all ways is so important! 🙂

      • Charlotte

        * I will also ask about cortizone.

      • Thanks for sharing your mom’s story.

    • sleepingonsnow

      if you get desperate: https://www.thepaleomom.com/start-here/the-autoimmune-protocol/

      there’s a lot of woo-woo surrounding autoimmunity, and a lot of victim-blaming, but lowering inflammation, by whatever means possible, seems to help

      • Charlotte

        Thank you @sleepingonsnow:disqus! I’m going to read it thoroughly!

        • sleepingonsnow

          Of course! Try to give yourself as much self-care as possible. You are beautiful and it’s okay to feel sad. Allow yourself to grieve if it feels helpful! There are SO MANY women dealing with autoimmunity in all its ~lovely~ forms, you are not alone. There are as many ways of coping with it as there are people and the important thing is to look into all the different strategies, meditation to steroids, and to find what feels right/what works for you. <3 <3

    • snakehissken

      I sleep on a silk pillowcase to reduce breakage. Not sleeping is probably making your issue worse, so I really suggest you look into it. I have one that I wash regularly because it was like $30.

    • Hunter

      It must be terribly difficult for you right now. My mom lost all of her hair during breast cancer treatments, and I can only imagine how it must feel to be experiencing it, let alone with no ability to determine if or when it could recover. I do however remember my mom taking the opportunity to get a wig in an awesome auburn red colour. She found it uncomfortable but she said she never would have done her hair that way and seemed to enjoy the unique opportunity she was presented with. It’s not a permanent solution but sometimes it can ease the pressure on oneself to just take the big change as an interesting opportunity.
      All the love and support to you, I am sure you are as funny, smart, charismatic and beautiful as ever ❤️

  • Bailey Stark

    I have weird kinda straight kinda wavy kinda frizzy hair that I’ve been self conscious of in the past, but now I just let it do its thing. Sometimes its straightened, sometimes its curly, sometimes its up in a bun but either way I love my hair. My hair is special to me, and thats why I love it and treat it with R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

  • Maria

    Never straighten it again. Your hair looks amazing au naturel! #goals

  • Love this look–you look pretty and…(dare I say it?) French.

  • Rheanonn Perez

    i love your waves, leandra!


  • katie o’meallie

    This is so interesting to me! I know that hair seems to have some weird power over how we feel about ourselves and everyone is always wanting what they don’t have, but I have an almost opposite story.
    I have long, thinning a bit after having a kid, but still relatively) thick and healthy hair.
    It’s been awhile (old lady alert), but when I was first at college for the freshman “welcome week” we were put in groups. At the end of the week we passed around sheets of paper, each with one group member’s name at the top. We were instructed to each write something we liked about the person whose name topped each sheet. The sheet with my name had 14 mentions of my hair and 1 compliment of my personality. I was devastated. In the next few years I cut off and donated 14 inches twice.
    I KNOW I use my curtain of hair to hide in a way, but having my hiding pointed out started a serious shift in the way I see myself.

  • Bri

    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU. This article was everything I needed to read.
    Have been struggling with my puffy freezy hair for a decade and a year ago I decided to give up on the chemicals to find its own natural beauty. It turns out that I don’t have curls to bring back to life (never had any), so I was about to give up on this transition, since the only thing that came out of it was a puffy, freezy, dry straight hair. But this article encouraged me to find new ways to see my hair: maybe I just have to embrace my brunette Grace Coddington side <3

    • lateshift

      +1000. same. I’m…trying to get there. The day job makes it hard 🙁

  • Lindsey

    Oh my gosh, yes!! As a kid, I had stick straight hair, and somewhere in high school it started to get wavy, and my hate for it grew tenfold. By college it was most definitely curly underneath with weird, kinky waves on top. I straightened my hair to death. I would absolutely never wear my hair down if I hadn’t straightened it.
    I’m not sure exactly when I first stopped straightening it. It may have been when my now-husband first saw it in its natural state and was shocked that I would straighten such “beautiful wavy hair”. Every time I would force it into straight submission, he would bemoan the fact that I was putting so much energy into something unnecessary. But I really hated the way I looked with all the wild, frizzy, untameable waves. Eventually though, the straightener I had saved for (a Chi, back when those were like, The One to have) started fritzing on me, and I didn’t feel like spending the cash to replace it. This was around the time when French-girl fascination was starting to catch on (I think I had just read Bringing Up Bebe, and discovered Caroline deMaigret), and the first thing I noticed was their wild, natural hair. In fact, they looked down on women who obviously spent too much time on the beauty routines. I didn’t want to be the uncool American girl who tried to hard! Plus, I hated putting in all the time anyway.
    It was probably the combination of these things, and my move to a warmer climate where hot tools felt like such an unnecessary burden and casual beach waves were desired, that made me ultimately put it down. When I moved apartments a year ago, I finally threw away the broken Chi. I have never loved my hair more than I do now.

    • Kattigans

      Your story and mine are such a parallel! I had stick straight thick hair my whole life until 12 or 13 when I cut it short and it was curly!!! How the hell does that happen?! I have this weird wave on top and then curly bottom and have been straightening it ever since high school. My bf cannot understand why I would straighten “such beautiful hair” but I just don’t like it and its so much work to make work. I hope one day I can maybe embrace what nature gave me. I just truly like the way it looks straightened and then with a wave put back in it.

  • Kelly Ben

    Leandra, your hair looks abso-fucking-lutely gorgeous “au naturel”, no string attached!

  • Em

    Let the floof fly! You’re gorg. Also, where is that top from? 😏

  • Gracie

    I actually stopped straightening my hair the moment I went to college! I did it the same way, air dry, wait for too many hours, etc…I had an identical twin, and I straightened my hair partially because I just liked how it looked, and partially because everyone at school said they wouldn’t be able to tell us apart if my hair was curly. When we went to different colleges I guess I felt like I could have curly hair, and like I should focus more on work anyway. Now when I straighten my hair people tell me I look too different! My boyfriend says I look less pretty with straight hair. He really likes the curls. It’s weird because I will always think that straight hair is objectively prettier.

    • Klaus2001

      And all the straight hair girls think the opposite! I know I do. Can’t count the hours and products I’ve spent trying to achieve any semblance of a wave or curl.

  • I used to straighten my hair and then curl it! Took me 4 hours every morning and now I either go natural or just curl it (which only takes about 20 minutes) and the curls last for days. It’s kind of just a more polished version of my natural hair.

  • Holly Lee

    My hair as been the bane of my existence. I have very coarse, frizzy, curly, and prematurely graying (a fact that I’m resigned to) hair. If I wash it and go- I will inevitably look like I just stuck my finger in a light socket. I found a way to combat nature by washing it at night, putting on a hair oil and defrizzing cream and letting it dry as I sleep. Then in the morning, unattractive ringlets in tow, I heat up the straightener and spend a good twenty minutes at it. Not too long in the great scheme of things, but still- a heck of a lot of work to achieve like you said, what a lot of girls have naturally. I’m in my early twenties, so there’s hope that one day I’ll be free to let my hair be its own entity. Thanks for understanding what it’s like to have imperfect hair.

  • Jac

    @ everyone: please find and read the curly girl method by lorraine massey and michele bender!!! the name is terrible but the content is LIFE CHANGING. natural hair blogs are also a great resource for coming up with the best routine for your curl pattern, hair porosity, etc etc etc


  • Romina

    Same here, I have frizzy, wavy (not neat waves, messy, uneven waves). I just get so jealous of people who just brush their hair and it`s straight and polished. Even if I straighten it it continues to be messy. Its even starting to grey in some roots and I`m on my twenties! Besides it falls out leaving hair everywhere.
    The things I use to combat it besides heating tools are coconut and argan oil, but its a constant struggle. I wish to find some hair peace like Leandra some day..

    • Bambi loves Rose

      you have to make inner peace with your hair, not external by quitting to straight or applying coconut oil…believe me, you waves will flow from itself (sorry, this should not sound too personal, just my own personal hair experience) Good luck on the journey 🙂

  • Elizabeth Haight

    UGH. I need to be doing this. I have thick/curly/textured/course hair that I also straighten every day. IT IS EXHAUSTING. Planning my week out to decide which 2 days work best with my schedule. Sticking my head in the freezer afterward because I worked up such a sweat during the process. I even have a special outfit to keep me from overheating. I use a GHD blow dryer and flat-iron with Oribe Royal Blowout spray. So this is not only a timely endeavor, but an expensive one as well.

    I’d love to wash it, throw it up in a bun, and see what happens. Does anyone have any good product suggestions for this? Fighting the frizz… Thank youuuuuuuuu xoxoxoxo!

  • LEM

    I, too, have wavy, thick, frizzy hair that is more poofy than curly and I definitely implement the wash-spray-with-defrizzer-and-go method in the summer, but what do you do in the winter? Go outside with wet hair?

  • cryptdang

    Your hair looks beautiful! I thought it had more texture than usual but, you know, didn’t think too much about it. I have to say as another woman with curly-wavy hair, it has also been a process of accepting my hair and I appreciate it so much when women in the public eye wear their hair naturally. I think it helps set an example that you don’t have to have pin-straight hair (or perfect heat-tool made curls) to look neat (not that you changed your hair styling to set an example, I’m just saying). I never straightened my hair but until recently felt pretty conflicted about it, like I was doing “femininity” wrong.

    Also, two curly hair tips that I only recently discovered to welcome you to the curly hair club: Moisture is everything (too little and hair=frizzy, too much and hair=flat), and you can tame fly-aways with some light hairspray once hair is mostly dry. To diminish the top-of-head frizz halo you can lightly spray hairspray on the top of your head and use a (CLEAN) toothbrush to comb down those little frizzies.

  • Kattigans

    I can so freaking relate to this. I grew up with dead straight, thick long hair and then one day when I was 12 I got a haircut, a very short one, and my hair to everyone’s surprise turned out to be wavy/curly! How this happened, id-fucking-k, but my hair and I have been in a battle ever since. I’m like you, Leandra. I wash it once or twice a week, have to plan out my days for it to air dry afterwards and must, must straighten it once dried. I just don’t feel like myself if I don’t do this and know exactly how you feel when you say it’s your more put together self. My boyfriend does not understand at all and we’ve had many a fight about him begging me to wear my hair curly. I’ve broken down in tears to him -looking like a loon- trying to explain how he just doesn’t understand and that this is how I feel my best. I know its insane, because curly hair is my “natural” state but it doesn’t feel comfortable for me. And isn’t that what matters? I mean my curly hair is out of control. I would have to wash it every day for it to look halfway decent because if I sleep on it, the next day its looks like I’ve emerged with a birds nest on my head. And I’m not a morning shower person! I don’t want to change my routine to make way for my curls. I mean at this point in time the straightening process makes my hair on most days the get up and go kind that I yearn for.

    P.S- my envy for wash and go girls (that’s what my other curly haired friend and I call them) is real. I really envy the girl who can swim, shower and air dry her hair into beautiful goodness and easiness.

    • EmUhLee

      Hair Puberty. It came for me, too. My hair went from honey blonde and straight to light brown and frizzy/curly/wavy when I got to middle school. You can see the progression very clearly through my school pictures.

  • GaeaGirl

    So I have an odd question – what’s the easiest way to deal with cowlicks and not look like a throwback from 1998 (tiny butterfly barettes anyone?) or a 12 year old? I know all the complicated tricks – styling product/ heat tools/ hair clips… I’m looking for a wash- n -wear solution. I have medium-fine textured hair that on less humid days has a decent wave (more humid and the Irish frizz is doing a jig all over my head). But I’m looking for a 20 minute morning routine. I can live with frizz – I’m in my late 30s – who cares at this point, right? But I have to blow dry or flat-iron the top /front of my hair EVERY SINGLE DAY. If I don’t my highly unfortunate cowlick lifts my hair back flat against my head like I slept with a swimming cap on my head. Not pretty. Has anyone won the battle of the cowlick? Thx.

    • Kattigans

      Maybe try a keratin treatment? This may not change your hair pattern but could help with the way the hair cuticle falls. I suggest researching and going in for a consultation.

  • lily

    Leandra I did the same thing around the same time! It’s been life changing and life affirming. I feel way more comfortable in my own skin/I don’t waste an hour/I can actually go swimming or be in the rain. Also no one has noticed!!! or cared! FREEDOM

  • TinySoprano

    I’ve got that wavy-frizzy hair too. Though I never had any success straightening it because it’s so coarse it just goes to fluff town (my mum used to touch it and ask me where I got that horse hair from!!). My high-school coping method was copying every hairstyle Carrie Fisher wore in Star Wars ever. Then my uni coping method was cutting it all off. Now I’ve dyed it pink and I’m (mostly) just happy looking like a fabulous insouciant sea hag. The moment I started treating it as a Look instead of a Fail was the turning point.

  • B.D.

    Love love love
    A) a Deva cut that is done dry and curly cuts the hair in a way that works with waves/curls
    B) living Proof in shower cream. You use it after conditioner, rinse just enough, towel dry, scrunch and done
    (Silicone serums are aesthetics; they actually dry out hair making more frizz and then a cycle happens)

  • Beepoop

    If you think having textured hair is a burden, tying being fat!

    • Beepoop

      Or, I should say, have curly hair *and* fatness.

  • melodyvon

    you guys have the best comment section on the entire internet

  • Hannah

    Every single word of this piece resonated with me. It’s crazy how so many of us can feel the same exact way about something. That’s the beauty of human connection I guess!

    I have curly hair and to save breath, my experience is very similar to yours. Except add in cross country as a factor so most days in high school I probably smelled like a teenage foot because I didn’t want to wash my hair and go through the straightening process…after running 8 miles. The commitment we hold for things like this is insane, right?

    Stopped straightening in college and never looked back. I still feel a little messy in professional situations, but hey, fully “coming into one’s own” takes time, I’m only 25. Great article 🙂

  • Laura

    The end of last year, I gave up trying to wear my hair straight. It all started when I began researching the style of French women – I loved how natural they wear their hair, make-up, and clothes. I even cut bangs in my hair. I’ve never been happier.

  • Jillygirl

    Appreciate the tip about avoiding drying silicone serums, thx! My hair is the floofy, wavey/frizzy type, sigh. It’s also just thick enough that it take hours to dry naturally, meaning I have to carefully plan for that. My takeaway here is to go back to using only aloe vera gel as a shampoo, rinse with apple cider vinegar (a friend with gorgeous silky long hair tipped me!), dry with a microfiber towel, comb out minimally with a wide-tooth then let it air dry. Thanks for all the tips here!

    • Jillygirl

      PS: forgot to mention that chlorine treated shower water is ultra drying for hair and skin, so a filter makes a huge difference! I like the vitamin c filters – neutralizes chlorimines as well as chlorine…

  • lateshift

    holy cow your hair is GORGEOUS! If I had that hair texture or my hair had that natural shape, no way would I straighten it. And as someone who shares your heritage, I am jealous of your amazing good fortune – as I’m sure you know, it could be so, so, so much tougher. So very much tougher. You could have, say…my hair.

    If I just apply smoothing cream/anti-frizz serum, I look like a homeless lady with dull, coarse hair in the shape of a helmet (best-case scenario is, it looks like a bag lady version of Lewinsky hair. worst-case: like I just stuck my finger in an electric socket.) If I tie it up while it dries – well, first, it takes well over half a day to dry (yes. seriously.) And I still look like a homeless lady – just one with weird, random bends in her dull, coarse hair. I’ve tried half a dozen ways of tying it down or using curlers – the result is basically the same. And it is a bad one. I basically have a giant lump of horsehair. And there’s a LOT of it.

    My dream is to ditch the heat tools and just let it be, but I have yet to discover a solution that makes it look 10% as presentable as yours. And I’m not aiming that high! I just want to be able to leave the house without a bag over my head. Fellow Jewish/Mediterranean/Middle Eastern ladies with Peak Jewish Hair – I don’t mean beautiful natural curls like Leandra’s, I mean full-on sheitel hair: in all seriousness, what do you do? Is there any hope?

    • Mina

      Did you try the “curly girl” method? Probably you’d end up with more curls, but it would help with the frizz for sure 🙂

    • EmUhLee

      One of my friends has the classic super-curly, thick “jewish” hair and ended up doing the big chop. She has never looked better than with short hair (pixie, short on the sides with volume on top). It really lets the texture shine and doesn’t get weighted down – as well as being far more manageable and using up way less product. It makes the curls look so much better. A lot of women never even consider going short, but it can look fabulous and is better for some hair types.

  • Bo

    Haven’t blow dried my hair for several epochs and I miss it 0% percent of the time. Occasionally I’ll v. quickly run a straightener through the front pieces but always ask myself why I’m doing it

  • Flóra Mihály

    I am so happy to read about this. I’ve always had curly hair and I ironed it so many times. I didn’t like to go outside with my natural hair, I rather put it in a pony tail or a bun to hide it (or ironing it for 3 hours) I just didn’t feel confident, because ‘I didn’t fit in’, I didn’t look like everybody. Now that I’m 19, I realized how stupid I was. I don’t even want to fit in. “I don’t ever want to look like everybody else.” – says Linda Rodin (and she’s damn right).And now I feel much more confident and MYSELF with my curly hair. I learned that we have to embrace our own beauty not to ‘fake’ it. And I really enjoyed reading this article, it just gave me more strength. Thank you, Leandra!

  • Pauline Brulez

    Looks like your inner French conscience is showing itself, and it looks stunning on you !

  • Hannah

    I’m sorry this is not some sort of personal journey, you are not coming into your own, fashion has just moved to champion big messy curly hair at the moment. That’s all.

  • Bambi loves Rose

    Hi Leandra, I waited for this post of you for soo long…watching you and wondering when you will have the “peace” moment…I made peace with my natural wavy hair 3 years ago…

  • Laura Guarraci

    I have this situation in spades, I used to look like I got electrocuted if I didn’t blow dry/flat iron. My ultimate solution was not using sulfate shampoo anymore! The texture of my hair has changed completely, I actually won’t shut up about it. I don’t flat iron anymore at all, only blow dry, and I just embrace it from there. I think my hair has found some zen.

  • defne

    I, too revolve my week around the days I have to wash my hair and it’s exhausting! I have to calculate the weekly cycle every time I wash it because sometimes I need the second day hair as it looks less frizzy and shinier!

  • Pandora Sykes

    I thought you had! I literally LOVE it like this. You’re very lucky that your hair looks better natural than it does straight. I wish mine did!

  • Slushee

    Sincerely beautiful. And crazy sexy 🙂

  • Slushee

    People talk about body confidence and hair and boobs etc. For me it’s my glacial ice cold blotchy skin. I look like I came right out of the freezer – frozen turkey style. In summer I go for the least ‘offensive’ option. How much skin can I reveal before I tip over to unattractive? No matter how lovely I feel, I feel as though my skin betrays me. No-one talks about girls like me. Shrug

  • amelia

    i’ve been thinking about giving up straightening– well actually, “half straightening” (another story) –because i have this new theory…. that you have to train your natural hair? kind of like how everyone has an asymmetrical part? idk but my side bangs are fried and i wonder if greasy fingers and repetition could replace hotplate heat

  • Devon

    This is the wonderful thing about getting older – at least from my experience, I have become so much more comfortable in my own skin. For years I colored my hair or had scheduled hi lights because I hated the natural color of my hair. A month before I turned 30, I got six inches chopped off my hair and then colored it back to my natural color, a dark blonde/light brown. My hair is finally feeling healthy and looks natural and for the first time in my life I really love it. I don’t have to worry about roots or thinking about when my next hair appointment is so I can hide my roots. I’m also focused on making the most of my assets instead of trying to change the inevitable, whether it is my skin or my curvy, shapely figure. It feels so good to not be constantly fighting against my true self <3

  • YoungEarlGrey

    Go Leandra!! Breaking away from the iron grip of the….er….iron is not an easy task. I did something similar when I finally stopped using hair products with silicon in them and it took my hair MONTHS to recover, which was devastating because I am one of those people who invest almost their entire lively-hood in their hair because heritage and all that. But finally my hair is coming good – actually BETTER than it ever was with the old products. SO HANG IN THERE. The light is at the end of the tunnel! Embrace the curl!! Also top buns are your friend in summer.

  • Mari

    I have this method of drying my hair too. I secure both sides of it with bobby pins, so the top is smoother (I have A LOT of hair and if I tied it back it would be forever humid) and the I keep it untouched until it’s dry or else it becomes a huge frizzy mess. But I feel trapped by this method. I don’t like how it looks during this process (very antiquated) and I can’t wait for it to dry before leaving the house so I just go to work like this everytime I wash my hair.
    So I just succumbed to another keratin treatment. It’s my first one in a year but I hate it that I did it. It’s very straight right now, I know it will become wavier in a few weeks, but I feel so tacky for not knowing how to deal with my hair without harmful chemicals and a bag of money.
    And the worst part it, even after all that I won’t be able to relax. I will still wear it up a lot and feel uncomfortable when it’s completely down, panicking at every breeze. Self-absorption IS a bitch 🙁

  • Robin

    Leandra, darling, your hair is gorgeous! Idk why this came to mind but, grow it out some more and then write a story about how you tried Olivia Palermo hair for a week (or anyone in the office)! How much energy does it take to look that sleek and is it maintainable, is it achievable on a daily basis — what kind of products/tools go into it? I’ve never had the time but always been curious. Funny you wrote this because I’ve been into hair lately, watching Ellie Kemper, Unbreakable; Nicole Kidman, Big Little Lies; Emma Roberts, just her instagram; and wondered what I would look like as a red head. I swore off of dying my hair for the past 2 years, I had been dying it since I was 16 (6 years), and my hair has never been softer — random old ladies compliment and ask how I get the shine almost once a week (the secret is, step 1 – moroccan oil, step 2 – brush, step 3 – blow dry, voila). A color story would be good too! Anyways, peace!

  • Ire Li

    Oh yes! My hair has a frazzled life of its own and it’s an unnatural boost of confidence when it’s tamed. Thank you for this well-rounded expression of “coming into your own”, Leandra. Going to give the hair iron some time off now.

  • Good for your Leandra! You hair looks beautiful.

  • My hair is naturally thick and wavy like Leandra’s, and I’ve stopped ironing it as much as well, and actually LIKE it – something I used to hate, especially growing up. As she mentioned, I think it is a sign of maturity and acceptance of one’s self! If you have a thick, crazy, curly, wavy head of hair – EMBRACE IT! 🙂

  • Suzan

    So lush! You look gorgeous, Leandra!

    In the same (sorta) vein I’ve been forgoing mascara a couple days a week now and am starting to really like it (especially the low-maintenance and casual feeling/look it gives). This has been partly inspired by you!

  • Nikka Duarte

    Just came here to say YOU LOOK SO GOOD !

  • enC

    You look unique and beautiful! Makes me think of the days when I was a teen, early adult and we didn’t have all the hair products and tools. At the time I fought my hair constantly, but now so many young women all look the same…

  • likedolphinscanswim

    Maybe a strange comment, but you with wavy hair looks so much more *you* than you with straight hair. That being said, I’m still in the process of coming to terms with my own (extremely thick) hair that appears to have a life of its own. Currently having super short hair doesn’t, in fact, help much! I’m hoping that having straightened it (and killed it off with hair dye, let’s be honest) for the past………. decade and a half, yikes, once it grows out from this semi-pixie-cut it’ll be more well-behaved curls and less giant-fluffy-cloud. Here’s hoping, anyway :/

  • Ana

    This is me! I’m 23 years old and I have straightened my hair since I was 13. I don’t know how to stop it.

  • Ali

    Question – looks like the Bumble defrizz is discontinued. Is there another product you’d recommend?

  • Christina

    I’m in my early 20’s (21-what a weird age!) I too gave up the hours spent all on my head, cold turkey. I did have the fear that people (I work in a business profesh setting) would judge or think that I lacked the effort of getting up early to tame the beast that is my thick wavy frizzy hair! Something really changed when I was peaking 20, I stopped really doing the thing I would do in high school to feel “pretty” (even wearing gobs of make up) because I started to feel pretty in my own natural/wild state, it is what I prefer because IT’S ME! Being my unapologetic self makes me the happiest. I see you Leandra, you shine like the suns rays!!!

  • Ava

    Looks lovely. You have very good hair. Have the same thoughts abt becoming grey/white – I am 42 but might just let it grow out after years of hardcore processing. Please do a piece on women with cool grey or white hair! 👵🏿👵🏿👏🏽👏🏽

  • Katrine Loris

    AMEN. From age 13, I didn’t feel like I could leave the house without spending hours on my hair, only for it to look like I had done nothing to it. Humidity has long been my enemy, emphasizing the natural poof I’ve been blessed with. At age 24, I finally decided I prefer sleeping in and staying up a little later with my hubby to waking up at the crack of dawn to fake an effortless look. LET THE FRIZZIES FLY!

  • Katherine Barrios

    Leandra, you look beautiful with your natural hair! I have a very similar hair texture as yours, and was also tortured by my hair in my teens. But now I’m in my 20’s and haven’t straighten my hair for about 6 years now (except for 2 very special ocassions). I feel so free, and I now that my true hair is beautiful, and I feel that way too!

  • Congrats on accepting one more thing about yourself. And hair is a big thing! Personally, I love your hair naturally. But, my hair is much curlier and frizzier than yours, I am so jealous. I was thinking the other day how nice it would be to go swimming, but then I thought, oh no, I won’t have time to have it blown out at my dry bar. Ruling your life around your hair is something I have done for at least 50 years, and I am 64. When I hit puberty, it just went insane. Anyway, I have straightened my hair with lye (sodium hydroxide) for years. It left burns on my scalp. One time a hairdresser put me under the dryer while the lye was on and all of my hair broke off. I have had a brazillian, keratin, you name it. I do let it go natural sometimes and it is one big hot mess. The irony. After the age of 50, it seems the only time I get hit on by a man is when my hair is its wild self. I guess to men wild hair means wild woman? I am about to go mountain climbing in Peru and will be in and around Cusco for about 3 weeks with my sons. I guarantee there are not blow dry bars in Cusco. Guess what my biggest worry has been? Not if I can make it up the mountain; not if I will get altitude sickness; not if i will get sick from eating something bad…..but what am I going to do without a blow dry bar? Congratulations on not letting your hair rule your life and now having more time to enjoy it. I wish I could do what you have done. And, you have gorgeous hair too!!

  • This was so inspiring that I think I might try going a couple of months without really touching my hair!

    Loved it💛

  • Esperança Padilla Richart

    Now you’re the french girl you’d always wanted to be! Congrats! 🙂