Singing the Curly-Hair Blues

I have curly hair. Very, very curly hair actually, with my curls rated somewhere between 3B and 3C. That rating means I have corkscrew curls loose enough to put my finger through but a few tighter ones in places.

My naturally curly hair used to be the bane of my existence, or at least it was from middle school onward, when long, straight hair was the fashion. However, my hair grew curlier and curlier with each year. I chemically straightened my hair, ironed it, or used other heating tools to try and get the straight look I craved (it’s a miracle I still have hair). For years I slept with giant 3- or 4-inch rollers on my head at night or made a big braid if I wanted waves, but no matter what I did, a few minutes after I stepped outside all was lost and I would usually end up with a fuzzy puffball on my head. When others said (and still say) they wished they had curly hair like mine I would laugh and say “no you don’t.” Curly hair is always the boss and does whatever it wants in spite of all your dreams, plans, and efforts. Every day with curly hair has the potential to be a very bad hair day.

Curly hair also brings along with it an issue of finding someone who knows how to cut it properly. I won’t go into how many bad haircuts I’ve had over the years except that they are legion. I wore my hair short-short for many years just because it was the easiest style to explain to a stylist and not have to worry about getting a bad cut. It’s been very daring of me to grow my hair out here on Kaua’i because of the humidity, but with the help of some good curl cream it’s been going pretty well.

One of my big headaches when we traveled before was finding a stylist who specialized in cutting/styling curly hair. In the U.S. I look for Deva Curl salons, where stylists are trained to work with curly hair. But overseas? And with the language issue? Let’s just say I never got a haircut while we were out of the U.S.

However, through the miracle of Google I have found curly hair specialists in Strasbourg, Oxford. and Edinburgh, and even one in Tokyo, although cuts at the salon there start at around $150, an amount I would honestly be happy to pay if I need a cut. I haven’t checked Mexico yet, but I’m sure I can find a stylist there as well. I also haven’t researched other places around the world as we’ve only planned our travels through a Tokyo stay at the end of the year, but I now know salons and stylists for curly hair are out there. I plan to get my hair cut before we leave Pennsylvania (have already located a stylist), probably let it grow out in Strasbourg, and then get it cut again after we arrive in Oxford.

I’m taking along plenty of curl product in my suitcase this time too, enough to last until I can find products for curly hair locally. I will say that styling my curly hair these days is a piece of cake compared to earlier efforts: a quarter-sized dab of curl cream rubbed through my wet hair and finger styled and I’m good to go.

The curly-haired blues is definitely a first-world problem, but it is a problem. Thankfully my days of craving straight hair are over, and there are products out there to make life with curly hair easier, as well as trained stylists who know what they’re dealing with when they see a head of curls. I just need to put in the effort to find them, and so far I’m off to a good start.


10 thoughts on “Singing the Curly-Hair Blues

  1. That’s funny because I have the opposite situation. My hair is very straight. Even though I’m not Asian, I go to an Asian hair salon because they do an excellent job on straight hair. When I was in HS and college in the 80’s, poofy hair was in style, so I had to get perms. I was so happy when the styles went back to straight. I started growing my hair when COVID started and now it’s shoulder length. It’s easy to manage and I only get it cut a couple of times a year, so I can’t complain.

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    1. I remember when Meiling was little, an Asian woman was talking with her and told her, “you’ll never have a bad hair day!” I remember feeling jealous.

      I love my hair now, but so wish curly hair had been a thing when I was in HS. I love that these days everything is accepted.


  2. With pin straight hair, I have wished for curly hair. But I had no idea it was that kind of challenge (I still love curls, though.) One thing that is the same appears to be finding a stylist who understands how to cut it. I, too, have had a TON of bad haircuts before I figured out how to find a good stylist. My solution has been to find someone with a really cute short and straight haircut and ask who cut it. It doesn’t always work, but when it does, it’s great!


    1. That’s how I’ve always found curly hair stylists – I asked someone with a style I liked who cut their hair. But, moving from navy base to navy base it was hit or miss.

      Apparently we always want what we can’t have when it comes to our hair. I am happy to finally be satisfied and happy with my hair.


  3. I have very fine, very straight hair. I hate it. When I was complaining about my hair to a hairdresser, she said I had enough hair on my head for three people. Then, I got older and it got thinner. I spent many years and dollars on permanents. Finally, I had to choose between color or curls. I chose color.

    I forced a friend to trim just the bottom of my hair–the length only. When I finished, she said I had to cut her very curly hair all over. I did. She said it was better than most salon cuts she had gotten.

    I have fixed my hair to go to work, loved the results, got in the car, looked in the mirror and my hair is frizzy and straight!!!


    1. I think woman have been given impossible standards and desires when it comes to our hair. If we have curly hair we desire straight and vice versa.

      Having someone cut my hair that knows how to cut curls was a revelation. And the products available these days for curly hair are equally amazing.

      I wore my hair short-short for so many years. The first question my mother always asked when we got together was, “Is your hair still curly?” She kept my hair short-short when I was young because she didn’t want to deal with my curly hair, but in retrospect I think she may have been slightly jealous – her hair was stick straight.


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