How I Tamed My Imperfect Curls

I grew up with the curly hair of a cross between little orphan Annie and a clown. It’s not just an explosion of unruly wannabe ringlets. It’s also red. It’s the kind of hair a high-fashion stylist would want to tease like there’s no tomorrow (see above), and the kind a child once reacted to with the words, “Oooh, MONSTER!”

It really started to get to me: How could I control my life when I couldn't even control my hair? After hundreds of beauty product trials, multiple second hair opinions, and some online assistance to finally understand, the fiery mane is finally tamed, and here’s how I did it.

1. I stopped feeling like a traitor

If you’re like me, sometimes you feel like you’re betraying your curly haired colleagues when you grab the straightening iron. And when you get a bunch of complements on your straightened hair, you wonder, Is it really that crazy when it’s curly? Remember, they’re your curls, and you’re as free to do what you want with them. If you want to calm down the curliness every once in a while, do it! Just don’t do it because you’ve given up on your curls completely.

2. I tried literally everything — and found a process I liked

After trying about a billion different relaxing processes that didn't work, I perked up when my hairdresser said he wanted to experiment with a magical, protein-enriching, formaldehyde-free curl-taming keratin treatment on my hair for a very, very discounted price.

The long process involved painting on the product, then locking in the shine by straightening small areas repetitively. For the two weeks following, my hair was completely flat, even after showering. It wasn't my look. A month later, however, the straightness turned into beachy waves and the volume increased as my roots grew out. Finally, I understood all the rage. The keratin miraculously took away frizz, added shine, and maintained volume. It kept my curls’ free-spirited liveliness, but I was in charge. Every morning, waking up became a fun little surprise. I was always left wondering, what stage will my curls be at tomorrow?

I eventually figured out the trick to keratin success: the number of times the hairdresser straightens an area determines how dramatically flat the hair will become. So upon my next visit, I requested that he was less intensive when performing that portion of the process, and my super-flat phase was skipped altogether.

Because I like the way the keratin looks with volume, I would never personally get the treatment more than once a year. Let’s be real — any more than that is simply out of my budget. However, keratin is not a permanent straightening process. It essentially smooths and softens hair, making it easier to style but also still requiring some upkeep — especially if you ask for it without the flatness. And even if you choose not to go the treatment route, you can still benefit from the next step.

Moral of the story: Experimentation is worth it, because the right process and technique is out there for you.

3. I finally started to use the right tools

I gave up on blowdryers out of confusion turned frustration. And straightening irons weren't a permanent solution. When I discovered the Bed Head Curlipops 1" Curling Wand, my life was changed. These magic wands come in different widths, allowing you to decide the shape of your curls.

The secret to obtaining that perfect curl? My fellow curlies, you are halfway there. All you have to do is pick up the wand and do the unthinkable: curl your curls. Then comb your fingers through them, do a fun little hair flip and put on some lipstick. BAM.

By skipping the blow-drying and straightening stages, you maintain volume and your curls look natural. And since you already have that curly texture, sometimes just using the wand in the front part of your hair is enough to get the look you want. If your roots are the problem, you can quickly use a straightener (or the edge of the curling wand) on just that area.


Maybe we freak out when it's raining. And when our hair ties disappear. And when our hairdressers have straight hair. But, truth be told, as high-maintenance as we curl carriers may seem, we love our curly locks. From attempting to tame them to letting them loose, they have shaped all of our childhoods in some crazy, wonderful way, and there's a way to live with 'em and love 'em.

Who run the world? Curls.

Image: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images