Friday, June 20, 2008

To Straighten or Not to Straighten
That is (always) the Question

I have really curly hair.  MUCH curlier than it appears on the outside, actually.  It's been a struggle in some way or another for my whole life.  Some of my earliest (and best) memories are of sitting cross-legged on the floor with my wonderful mother while she tugged at my head with a round brush and blow dryer for what seemed like an eternity.  I can never thank her enough for being sensitive and taking the time to blow out my hair for at least ten years. Other memories involve breaking brushes over my head out of frustration--or desperately trying to straighten my humidified frizz under Magic Mountain's bathroom hand dryers during band trips to California, but why go there.....

It wasn't until my freshman year in college when I went to a really hip and handsome hairdresser, who after wetting my "straight" hair said, "Whoa, hon, you've got some really cool hair under here--you should think about going natural."  Being young and easily persuaded by a smooth talking Steven Michael, I changed overnight. Though it didn't hurt that 1989 marked the beginning of the granola era and everyone was going for Birkenstocks and whatever came "naturally."  However my curly was just too curly so Mom started giving me perms--to take the edge off (bigger curls, straighter roots).


So, for over twenty years I've been a devoted friend to the perm...until now.  I thought my mom would be especially interested to hear that I've made a change for the better.  After much googling I found a hair relaxer I was willing to try.  It got great reviews about being safe and non-damaging so I ordered it.

Last Tuesday, nice sister Jill, who has given me the majority of my perms (bless her) set me up in her kitchen to give it a whirl (pun).  Once the solution was mixed and and she had just saturated and smoothed the "test strip" of hair, I got a little nervous about the DONTS on the instruction packet.  


•your hair has been previously permed
•you have used a henna on your hair
•you have color treated your hair

Hmmm.....yes to all the above.  Well, we figured they were probably just protecting themselves against freak hair damage but I called the 1-800 just in case. It went  something like this:

Me:  So, we're doing the test strip right now and I just read the warnings.  If  I've had a perm in the past three months do you think it'll be a problem?

Her:  Yes it will, don't use it.  I can't  recommend you using it--the two products don't mix.

Me:  So you don't think I should use it even if it's been awhile?  

Her:  No, don't use it.

Me: Will some hair break off--I've also used a henna.

Her:  A Henna!  Don't use it!  More like your hair will MELT off!  You'll have to wait until you cut every bit of the henna out before you use our product.

So there we were the two of us--thinking about her advice--just thinking and smoothing, smoothing the test strip.  After twenty minutes Jill rinsed it out.  No melting, no breakage, just stick straight hair.  STICK STRAIGHT HAIR.  Unbelievable really.  Jill then made her move.

"I bet I could do your roots without getting any on the henna part. The worst that can happen is you get a wig, one of the really good ones.  We'd find one you like.  That, or extensions."

Jill's always been a spiritual person, so I figured she was experiencing "a good feeling about it" so we went for it.  So... (get this Mom!) in exacty 10 minutes my roots were as straight as a perm!  No, rolling or stinky solutions...easy as pie.   I'm happy to say, I've reached a new landmark in my hair journey.

The curls are still there, but how great it is to have found a new trick.  I can't believe it's been twenty years since I tried something new.  Thank you Jill.

If you always do what you've always done,
you'll always get what you've always gotten.


jill said...

Glad to help! I'm glad we tried something different. You should put that stuff with your food storage and get enough for at least one year. ;)

Steven Michaels you gotta love that guy!

Elisa said...

I had a similar experience with a hairdresser after years and years of perms, hot rollers, curling irons, and blow dryer with hairspray (trying to look like a Bon Jovi groupie). The hair dresser said, "girls come in here all the time wanting me to make their hair do what your hair does naturally"
I am so grateful for those Birkenstock years, perhaps we all looked frumpy but we needed a cosmetic break!

So glad you found a great product, I will pass it on to my curly haired friends.

Jayne Layne said...

Well post a picture of the outcome. Great job Jill!

Trust me if Steven Michaels told me to do something specific with my hair I would have. It was great looking at him everyday for a year and a half!

The Bobos said...

My goodness, you are brave. I'm glad that turned out well! But just to let you know a secret, I have always been jealous of your hair. I really wish I had curly hair like that and I was super excited when my Natalie was born with thick dark curls. But they all fell out and now it's blond and straight.

Jek said...


Ann Marie said...

Don't we always want what we don't have?? I'm not too keen on my fine/thin straight hair.
I think your hair really fits you ( from the pictures I've seen anyway ). I have to say, you are brave and daring! I see that there may be a side effect to anything/something, and I freak out. Yay for being bold! :)

Becky said...

hey jen! soo glad i came across your blog. must say ive actually always LOVED your hair. the grass is always greener on the other side, ehh??

Suzanne said...

First of all, I really like your hair. Second, I would like to see a picture of you with straight hair. Whatever makes you happy, I say go with it!

Lauralee said...

you are so brave! after that conversation.. I would have been more than nervous!

glad it worked!
can't wait to see a picture!

careymc said...

I have always LOVED your hair! Jill is awesome, isn't she? Tell her hello, by the way. (I can't click on her blog.)

alexis said...

as i was reading, my heart was beating faster and faster as i kept on reading because i got sooo nervous that you were going to say that your hair broke of and is now a pixie! i am so glad it worked!!! can't wait to see the results!

CrazeeAngee said...

Is this a ward blog site? Geez.... Who would think so many people would comment on hair products. You go girl. I say the straighter, the better. (Just kidding!!)

Rebecca said...

So how's about a picture?

Maybe, one day, if I can't possible come up with a thing to write about, and I'm feeling like being made fun of, I will post a picture of the time I got a perm.

It was right after my daughter was born and I was feeling so bad - baby weight, no stylish clothes in my bigger size and hair that had to be styled every day or else I felt so mannish and unfeminine. I had been watching Judging Amy reruns the last 3 months of my pregnancy and decided I wanted her (Amy Brennaman's) long, curly hair.

I failed to realize that my just-past-the-shoulder length hair would look quite short after the perm and let me tell you, I looked like a clown. I had to have it relaxed and my previous virgin hair hasn't been the same since.

Your hair always looks so lovely, but I get where you're coming from. Good story. :)

JENNIFRO said...

Fun comments from everyone!

The reason I didn't bother with a picture is because the changes to my hair aren't visible to the naked eye. Not even Jill could tell too much of a difference--but l can tell and I am HAPPIER!

partii said...

And when you're happier, I'm happier!

Steve and Dayna Magleby said...

Jen!! I'm so glad you found me!!! Blogs are such a fun way to keep tabs on people (or stalk, which is probably what I'll be doing to you now that I can see pics of you and your adorable kids!). I've always LOVED and envied your fun, unique, beautiful, curly hair, so after reading this post I say be grateful for what your daddy gave you! So glad to see you and your fam are doing so well- I love your new home!! I was just showing Steve and we were oohing and aahing at how gorgeous it is. Your kids are SO BIG- It makes me sad to see how grown up they are and how fast time has flown by. They sure are cute. We miss you guys!