Photographed by Megan Long.
As a curly-haired person, it is both my pleasure and my responsibility to be the beauty team's guinea pig. I even let these ladies put me on a no-shampoo regimen for two weeks (and the results were eye-opening, in case you're wondering). This time, though, we took on a slightly more sensitive topic: turning curly hair straight.
Growing up around mostly blonde, Scandinavian types in Minnesota, I truly loathed my curly coiff from grade six through grade nine. So, I can understand why some people tend to react to curly hair gone straight with a pitying look — as if we are oppressed, our straight hair a sign of deeply ingrained societal prejudice. That might have been the case for me when I was frying my locks into oblivion through various treatments, but now, when I go straight, it's a choice with no less gravity than that of the many, many straight-haired girls who switch on a curling iron every morning. I actually love my hair now, so I don't do it often, but it's fun from time to time.
I was wary, then, when our beauty bosses approached me about trying a new product from Aveda that claims to make straightening hair easier, with increasing effects after each use. It was that latter part that got me. Would this stuff slowly but surely straighten my hair for good? If so, I wasn't interested. But, I later found out the stuff — Aveda Smooth Infusion Naturally Straight — effectively "stretches" hair, thus only keeping it straight while the product is still there and returning locks to natural curliness after it's washed out. (And, after five consecutive days of applying after washing, it should stay in for three days.)
I've learned the hard way that no product can make my hair air-dry straight. So, I was actually encouraged that Aveda didn't make such claims. Smooth Infusion is intended to reduce frizz and slightly relax curls when air-dried. It's also supposed to make straightening and blowing out quicker, more manageable, and more lasting — always a plus if your locks are like mine and are easily damaged from heat styling.
I went in one morning at the ungodly hour of 9 a.m. to have the process done by a pro — blowout included, courtesy of Aveda global artistic director for haircutting Ricardo Dinis. (Yes, that's a real job title, and yes, it's awesome.) The most important thing to know, he said, is that you must apply the product very evenly and comb it through from root to tip for maximum "stretching," which I found relatively easy to replicate at home.
Photo: Courtesy of Aveda.
Less easy to manage with my mediocre skills was his incredible blowout. The honest truth is, for a novice like me, this product isn't going to make blowing out and straightening that much less challenging. (After all, it doesn't help you grow eyes in the back of your head.) But, at the salon, I definitely noticed less pulling, and the whole process (from shampoo to finish) took about 15 to 20 minutes less than I've normally experienced. The blowout also lasted without developing a single kink near the roots (normally impossible for me) for two very humid days. I also observed a more "natural" appearance to my straightened hair instead of the usual stiff, frayed, clearly over-styled look I normally end up with.
The real benefit I found from this product, oddly enough, came when I let my hair air-dry curly. The result had all the volume I love about summer weather with none of the frizz, and I actually got a lot of compliments. Most products will make my fine hair greasy very quickly, which is why I eventually had to give up on Devachan's curl-enhancing foam (unless I was willing to use a diffuser every day, which I'm not). But, over my week or so of consistent use of the Smooth Infusion Naturally Straight, I didn't get that side effect once. And, as promised, I found the results just got better after a few days of use.
Maybe it's counterintuitive that the biggest benefit from a product called Naturally Straight is bouncier, shinier, all-around-better curls. But, that was honestly my take on it — and I was both surprised and quite pleased.
Aveda Smooth Infusion Naturally Straight, $26, available at Aveda.
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