Hair we go.

Our number two daughter and child, C, is a wonderful example of how two parents contribute genes to their offspring but have no control over how they are expressed. I am blue-eyed, redheaded and relatively un-curly (or so I thought — more on that in a minute). Husband/Father is hazel-eyed, brunette and….well, bald now but curly back in the day.

C is blond, has curly curly curly, and has one blue eye and one brown eye. Did I say curly? This baby girl was curly from Day 1, and just got curlier as the years went on. As you might expect, there was not a cuter child in the Universe. Look:

Am I right? (It’s okay, you can agree with me. We won’t tell anyone, like your own children.)

She’s still pretty lovely, just bigger and curlier:

Somewhere along the line, however, C got the message that she wasn’t cute as a bug. That her eyes made her different — in the bad way, of course –and her hair….Oh! Her hair….It became the bane of her existence. She hated it.

She had plenty of reasons to hate it, for sure: In the morning she looked like a wild animal; it tangled mercilessly; enormous mats would form at the nape of her neck; it couldn’t be tamed; it didn’t “swing” the way hair was “supposed” to; strangers commented on it and wanted to touch it. (This last one I remember well — as a baby redhead my hair would draw uninvited touches from strangers almost daily. It was weird, and it was annoying.)

One time, about six years ago, my father brought a book over for her called Curly Girl. He didn’t crack the cover (he’s not a curly girl, you know) and assumed it was one of those amusing “guide to life” kind of books. Turns out, it is not. What it is, is the Bible for Curly Girls. Part self-esteem manual, part how-t0 guide, it provides the ignorant with all they need to know about curly hair. It was waaaaay to old for a then-5 year old curly girl, but her mother lapped it up and had a brainstorm.

The author, Lorraine Massey, is the founder of a salon in New York City, Devachan, that has built its reputation on the cuts and care of curly hair. (And no, it’s not Oidad — although that’s another one.) I decided that, living in suburban NJ within a stone’s throw to New York City, that C and I would make a birthday trip into the City and get her hair cut at Devachan. I made an appointment with a stylist named Carlos, and off we went.

The experience was eye-opening. I won’t trouble you with the specifics of curly-girl hair (email me if you want specifics!), except to say that curly hair is Special and therefore requires Special Care by way of the kinds of products used, the kinds of towels you use, a determined lack of appliances (*no* blowdryers, people!) and, most alarmingly, no more shampoos and rinse-out conditioners.

Carlos worked his magic on C, under my watchful eyes. He was charming and funny and C fell in love with him. The salon experience made her feel that her hair was wonderful and amazing and so was she. It was worth the trip for sure, and we have continued to go to Carlos for all of C’s Curly Hair Needs.

At one point during that first visit to Carlos, he turned to me as I was standing there and said, rather casually, “You know, you have just about the same hair as your daughter,” to which I demurred, “Uh, you’re nice but wow are you wrong.” But he insisted, “Do what I’m telling you to do for C and for God’s sake stop cutting it, and you will have hair like hers.” I didn’t believe him. For all of my then 35+ years, I had hair more or less like this:

But Carlos was doing my Baby Girl right, so I decided to follow his rules. The result? I couldn’t have ever imagined it myself:

Apparently, the guy knows what he’s talking about.

So my Curly Girl and I live our lives according to the decrees set forth by Carlos — we don’t shampoo, we leave in the rinse out conditioner, we get our hair cut dry first, then washed, and we visit NYC twice a year for maintenance our face time with Carlos.  And, lest you be hyperventilating over the idea of a trip into NYC for haircuts, with a child no less, let me just say this: including the tolls and parking, the haircuts for C and me cost less than (what I am told) a cut/color/highlight event costs the rest of the world — but some of you do that way more often than twice a year!!

Did my Curly Girl salon brainstorm have the desired effect on C’s self-esteem and hair image? The jury’s out — some days yes, some days no. Such are the vagaries of an adolescent girl, you know? But I do know this? Twice a year (well, okay more than that but you know what I mean) we look really good and get lots of la-la’s for having curly hair.

Our next appointment is in the Spring, on C’s birthday — at her request. What’s that tell you?

Carlos is no longer at Devachan — he moved to across the street but brought his magic touch with him to the Mario Diab Salon. So now we cross the street too.
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12 Responses to “Hair we go.”

  1. Cecelia Winesap Says:

    Awesome! I wish I could find someone to do something with my hair. I have the opposite problem. My hair is too thin to do anything!
    Cecelia Winesap recently posted..Pumpkin Patch Idiocy

    Alyson says:

    Frankly, there are days that I wish we could embrace a bald look — it’d be a bit chilly, but a helluva lot easier on a lot of us. Plus, we’d have the bonus of becoming discerning hat-wearers.

  2. Poppy Says:

    This straight hair girl wishes she had your curls! This happened to my mom when she was around 50. She always thought she had straight hair until she went to a hairdresser that knew what they were doing and now she has gorgeous curls. Unfortunately I still do not.

    And I totally agree with you, your kid is a doll. My kids are completely average looking, but I try to dress them really well to compensate.

    Alyson says:

    There’s a lot of mystery surrounding hair and hormones. God only knows what will happen to me in a few years. So hang on — maybe a little estrogen/progesterone/testosterone will kink your hair (in a totally good way).

  3. Sherri Says:

    Love it! I have a friend with the curly hair, and it took years for her to figure out how to work it and live with it. It’s beautiful, and I have to admit to wanting to touch it….

    You daughter IS adorable and we can all agree on that. But please don’t tell my kids! Your hair is absolutely beautiful, and I love that you’ve let it grow like that. And that girl time at the salon? Priceless.
    Sherri recently posted..The Power of a Mom

    Alyson says:

    The girl time is fabulous — and I don’t think I mentioned that we hit the great NYC Scholastic book store….so we’ve got mind AND body covered…..

  4. Deanna Says:

    What is this crazyness about no shampoo? My hair went from straight to curly after I had my first son. I have a terrible time finding someone near me that is able to cut curly hair.

    Alyson says:

    In a nut shell: the physical hair of a curly head is finer and more delicate than straight hair (but you may have more of it). Therefore, most all of the shampoos on the market have chemicals that are really drying and damaging. Look for shampoos and conditioners without laurate/laureth/laur-stuff. That’s the chemical that makes it foam. Bad bad bad for hair.
    We use just water and conditioner — these days (no smokey rooms, for example), there’s not much in the atmosphere that makes your hair “dirty” — and the stuff that comes from your scalp is sterile until it hits the air, so good old water and finger tips keep your scalp healthy.
    Try it — leave enough conditioner in your hair so that it feels slick (kind of seaweedy) and scrunch dry. See what happens….

  5. liz Says:

    First, I’m glad you found a way for C to embrace something that is so unique to herself. Second, I LOVE that you listened, because I love your curls and longer hair!
    liz recently posted..Christmas Will Soon Be Upon Us

    Alyson says:

    Thanks, Liz. Now if I can just get my $^^% together and get through Halloween, I’ll feel like $1m bucks….

  6. Alyson Says:

    You are too kind. Stop in one morning and witness me with my hair out in a redheaded bedheaded afro, and the Girl moaning about me complaining about the mats in her hair.

    If only the camera could capture that — but Carlos would kills us both.

  7. Boo. | Common Sense, Dancing Says:

    […] creations were first spotted in Dean & Deluca’s bakery cases during last week’s Day of Hair. The tag on them read, “$195/ea.” Yes, you read that correctly. Mine did not cost $195 to make, […]

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