After living in New York City for over a decade, I recently moved to Texas. Well, back to Texas — it's where I grew up, went to college, and spent the first 22 years of my life. One of the biggest learning curves of my cross-country move has been relearning everything about my hair.
I have thick, naturally curly hair that always felt a little out of my control. I grew up with a mother (and a grandmother, and a great-grandmother) who had thin, straight hair. My mom wasn't able to help me learn to style or care for my hair. She didn't know what products I should use, how to do a blow-out, or really anything about curls at all. We lived in the suburbs outside of Houston, which is one of the most humid places in America. Not long ago I was helping her digitize all our family photos and looking back at my school pictures was like looking at the evolution of my learning how to style curly hair. I went from perfectly coiffed as a toddler to a child with straight and long hair. When I hit adolescence my curls kicked in; there's some pretty hilarious evidence that I clearly forgot it was school picture day once or twice and was caught with my mane looking wild and unkempt. It's super obvious that I started going to an expensive salon (and finally got some professional advice on which products to use and how to properly dry curly hair) during my sophomore year in high school, because in photos my curls suddenly look like the perfect spirals that most girls get perms to achieve. By my senior year, it seems like I finally have curly hair figured out, aside from my unfortunate, straightened, thin line of bangs.
I never straightened my hair before college because I had no idea how to do it with a hairdryer, and the challenges of a super humid climate and hard water made it seem like an impossible feat. I started experimenting with the concept using a flat iron (don't do this, it was a horrible idea!) in college, once I moved up to the Dallas area where humidity and heat weren't quite the same oppressive force.
When I moved to NYC, it became apparent during my first winter in the city that the dry climate, soft water, and cold weather were actually making it hard for my hair to curl. This was a massive shock to me! After a few trips to NYC salons, I picked up on how blow-drying straight hair worked and started wearing my hair straight because it was the easiest way to style my locks. I got used to that being my default for over a decade, so moving back to Texas has been a shock to my hair — and my ideas about how it should look.
When I moved to Texas, my hair was the longest it has ever been. It went halfway down my back. That was fine until summer weather arrived in early May. It took me over an hour to blow-dry my hair straight. The process was so painful and labored, my beloved hair dryer actually stopped working and had to be replaced with a new model! If it rained, all that hard work would be destroyed in a minute and the wild curls of my adolescent days would reappear. Clearly, I had to do something about my hair. It was time to embrace my curls again, before the heat and humidity forced me to.
I searched Dallas for the best salon I could find, landing on l.a.r.c. salon and choosing a stylist who specialized in curly hair. I knew I had the right person when I saw her bouncy, gorgeous curls. She totally got why I wanted to cut six inches of hair off and then asked me if I wanted my hair thinned also — something I hadn't had done in a very long time, but is now necessary again. We talked products and what she does to maintain her curls. Since then, I've been experimenting with styling my big, beautiful curls again and it's fun. Getting used to the texture and embracing big hair is an exciting change. So is trying different products and throwing in braids and hairpins, the little accents I felt were too overpowering when my hair was straight.
In a way, it's like being a whole new woman. It's a challenge, but I'm up to it! Do your worst, August weather. My hair and I will be ready for you.