Hair Secrets

Here’s the thing. Left to its own devices, my natural hair is a wild mop of crazy. Half wavy, half curly and somehow thoroughly frizzy, my hair’s natural texture approaches steel wool. A couple of years ago, though, I discovered the best thing ever for managing it.

I liked my hair whenever it was blow-dried and straightened, but this was a) damaging and b) very time consuming. When I was at the peak of busy residency training plus marathoning, I was desperate for anything that would make my hair-washing and managing routine faster. So I started asking hair stylists about options for permanent or semi-permanent solutions.

Initially I landed on keeping my hair short, which I liked but was still a bit of a slog. If you can’t tie your hair up and you want to look like a professional woman, you’re left with styling it every morning. In late 2017 I learned about something called Japanese hair straightening, which is what I’ve done about once a year since then- whenever I needed a reset or my hair needed to recover.

Japanese straightening is a chemical treatment that actually smoothes your hair- mine still holds a curl for several hours if I take a curling iron to it, but otherwise it dries completely pin straight. It takes a long time- up to 4 hours even for my shoulder-length hair (and it is not cheap) but I think both of those issues are OK with me given that I only need to do it once a year (more like 2-3x if I really didn’t want it to grow out).

Before I did the Japanese straightening I would go to bed with wet hair sometimes and wake up with it still wet 8h later, plus have the texture issues. Now my hair is air-dried in about 20-25 mins and is completely smooth- like in this photo! I use heat on it less than once a week, if I want a little curl, and overall it seems a lot healthier. I just use a regular drugstore shampoo and conditioner (usually Dove!) and my trusty Living Proof styling products if I need something extra. I get 2-3 days between washes (more with dry shampoo) which was typical for me before, and also depends on exercise.

Before I committed to straightening, I was worried it wouldn’t work well on my hair, but it actually works almost too well- for the first several weeks before I have a bit of growth at the roots, my hair is super flat and I need to work at getting a little volume in there.

Do you have naturally straight or curly hair? Do you have any tricks for making getting ready easier? I’m always curious about mornings!

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