There are so many wonderful things my mother has passed down to me: Her recipe for chocolate cake, lessons about party planning, and great dance skills (you know, in our heads, where it matters). But there's one thing she passed down for which I've spent a lot of time being less-than-grateful, and that's my curly hair.
As a kid, I didn't really mind having curly hair. But once middle school hit, there were suddenly very strict rules about what was cool, and curly hair decidedly didn't fit the bill. After reading that "boys like straight hair" in some horribly offensive magazine article, I hated my curly hair even more. I began to regularly straighten it, and even get potentially harmful keratin treatments in an effort to get rid of my natural hair.
First things first, it is never okay to do something unhealthy in the name of vanity. To decide that a health risk is worth looking a certain way is, well… it's stupid. I didn't realize it at the time, but what I was really saying every time I got a keratin treatment was, "I don't think I'm good enough the way I am, and I'm going to potentially put myself in danger in order to look better." Everybody wants to look good, but vanity is taking that notion to the extreme, and that's what I was doing.
Eventually, I came around. There was no breakthrough moment; I just grew up a bit and realized, "Wow. I'm spending a lot of money for a potentially harmful hair treatment to please other people." I realized that curly hair is awesome, and that so many really great people have curly hair, like Taylor Swift, and Gilda Radnor, and my 6th grade literature teacher who let me stay after school and talk out The Giver with her. I also learned how to manage my curly hair, which changed the entire hair game for me.
Point blank: Curly hair is way more difficult to manage than straight hair. I think this is why curly-haired ladies get a reputation for being "quirkier" and "zanier" (insert eye-roll) than straight-haired women. Probably 90 percent of why Robert Redford keeps calling Barbara Streisand neurotic in The Way We Were is because she has curly hair. So, yes, having curly hair means that you can't just roll out of bed and call it a day. However, if you show your curls some lovin', you will reap the benefits.
Your number one tip for having awesome curls that will make all those straight-haired girls envious is — fanfare please! — not washing your hair. I know, I know. Ew! Gross! But daily washing will increase frizz. Instead, go for a dry shampoo. I like the one from Oscar Blandi, mostly because it's the only one that doesn't turn my hair white. On the days when you do wash your hair, make sure you're using a moisturizing shampoo and extra conditioner on your ends, since curly hair is more likely to dry out. I recently switched over to Bumble and Bumble's Super Rich line and am a huge fan. Bonus points: Five separate people have told me how amazing my hair smells (one dude even told me that my hair "smells like a fairy's," which was super weird, but still nice). When it comes to drying, a regular towel will frizz out your hair. Instead, use an old t-shirt. I like to put a dime-sized amount (too much will weigh down your curls) of Garnier Fructis Soothing Milk in my hair to fight off humidity.
I do still straighten sometimes, but being able to embrace my natural hair is a huge relief. So, thanks, Mom, for giving me curly hair. Sorry it took me so long to appreciate it.