Wednesday, September 29, 2010

How I straighten my hair, and a deodorant update

The following series of photographs is not flattering. But it's information I wish I knew long ago, so I'm putting it out there. Even if it makes me cringe.

If you knew me eighteen years ago, you may remember this look:

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I didn't know what to do with my hair. It has quite a natural curl, and the only thing I knew how to do was to make it even curlier with a blow dryer/diffuser combo.

The first time I ever tried to straighten my hair was at my friend Kathlene's house. (Do you remember that, Kathlene?) It involved an iron — not a hair iron, but a clothes iron. The result was less than spectacular. My fuzzy hair, stiff and somewhat straight, fluffed out at the ends. It was slightly kinked in places, like a hair sculpture of a pyramid. It was a good attempt, yet still a massive fail. I gave up the straight hair quest and worked on perfecting my ringlets.

Eventually, I tried again — this time, I attempted to straighten it with a blow dryer. Seventeen told me to do it this way, therefore I couldn't go wrong. While not quite as angular as the clothes iron attempt, my hair was still unmanageably puffy and wouldn't lay straight. The problem area seemed to be right at the scalp, where my hair tended to kink the most, and at the frizzy ends. No method I had ever tried was able to get the hairline straight.

Over the years, I tried a slew of different products and methods. Finally, I figured it out. flat irons weren't the answer; they were too flat and led to the pyramid effect. A blow dryer just wasn't effective enough and was very time-consuming. I needed a curling iron to straighten my hair. I bought the widest barreled iron I could find and tested it out. At last, I was getting somewhere.

So, without further ado, for my curly-haired friends who have recently asked me how I straighten my hair, here's the scoop.

First, I wash with a volumizing shampoo and conditioner, and spritz the 3 inches closest to my scalp with volumizing spray.

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Then I let my hair dry naturally, to let it rest before the heat torture it is about to endure. I usually pull it into a pony tail while it dries; it pulls the hair a little straighter and makes the ironing portion go pretty quickly.

When it's dry, I brush it out and turn my wide-barreled curling iron on to high.

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(I can do the pony tail dent like no other!)

Then, starting alongside my part, I take a section of hair,

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and brush it out.

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Here's the secret. In order to get those tiny curls next to my scalp, I need to get the curling iron right down there as close as possible. To prevent the iron from burning my head, I pull the hair opposite of the way it's supposed to lay, clip the iron on top, and the hair acts as a buffer between the iron and my head. Added bonus — ironing the hair in the opposite direction this way increases volume, which I need when my hair is this long.

I very carefully clip the iron right at the base of my hair, with the barrel on the top and the clip underneath, and pull it across and away from my scalp, like so:

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I slowly pull the iron along my hair, making sure that the iron is turned a little bit so that the hair gets a little curl, all the way to the ends.

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("It's fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.!")

Then I roll the hair back up for 5 to 10 seconds to give the ends some additional curl.

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Then I use my fingers to separate the next section of hair, ironing it across the part the same way I did the first section.

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This looks like I'm torching my scalp, but I'm pulling the iron over my head a little bit at the very beginning to put that layer of hair beneath the iron.

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I thoroughly brush out each section as I go, before ironing it, to prevent kinks from getting ironed into place.

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Working my way down the side of my head... pulling the hair across, maintaining the curve of the curling iron....

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curling the ends....

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For the bottom swath of hair, instead of pulling it up and over, I flip the curling iron over and pull the hair down and curl it outward:

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There! A third of the way done!

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(I was super tired when I did this. Can you tell?? Ugh. Sorry for the dead-pan shots.)

I then repeat the process on the other side of my head, pulling the hair across the opposite way:

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When I'm done on both sides, I start down the back of my head.

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I do one section of hair in the middle,

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and then one on each side.

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Middle... right... left... middle... right... left...

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the view from the back:

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(The things I do for my readers!!)

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When I get toward the bottom in back, instead of pulling it up over my head all the way down, I take the last few sections and iron them out sideways instead:

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Done!! This ironing process, once my hair is dry, takes me about 15 minutes — depending on how thorough I feel like being with it.

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Then, just flip all that hair out of the way,

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separate it out a bit,

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and there you go!

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Now, about the deodorant — I took your advice, and bought me some Dove antiperspirant. I am in love! And my pits are dry! I like a lot of the scents and had a hard time choosing just one. In the end, I picked the one that matches my body wash.

Thanks for the recommendations!

27 comments:

Hydrant girl said...

I never thought to use my curling iron to straighten! You're so smart (and I appreciate the post. I'm going to try it tonight)

Fire Wife Katie said...

Oooh, let me know how it goes!! :)

Rachel said...

Thanks for the tutorial! Unfortunately, 15 minutes is about twice what I spend on my entire morning routine :) I blame the 4-year old booger that bogarts my makeup time!

I have super stubborn curly hair too...but yours looks like it layers so nice! How great it looks!

Fire Wife Katie said...

Lol, my neighbors can always tell when my husband is home, because my hair is actually done and I have makeup on. :D The rest of the time... I'm stuck in the 'let it dry naturally' phase for a few days. :)

Cristina said...

It's remarkable how much time we spend on things like this, isn't it? This is why I cut my hair in an A-Line and never looked back. Your hair, however, is beautiful. Mine, not so much.

I'm glad you listed to reason and bought Dove :)

Shelly said...

I used to use a curling iron to straighten mine as well. When it died I got my Chi Flat Iron.

Jen at Cabin Fever said...

Holy cow... I have inapporpriately curly hair too! But goodness, just looking at all these photos made me tired. I choose to simply only straighten my hair when the weather is bone dry and frizz risk is minimal. Of course if I exercise or anything *poof* come the curls. I don't know if I am patient enough to do that. How long does that take you??

Fire Wife Katie said...

Cristina, I wish I could style my hair simply by cutting it!! So jealous!

Shelly, I've been very tempted to try out the Chi line.

Jen, now that I've got it down, it takes me about 15 minutes (give or take, depending on how thorough I want to be.) About a minute per section of hair. Not long. :)

Katherine said...

Some I've spent the last, oh, 16 years trying to straighten my hair. I do a okay-ish job with a combo hair-dryer/flat iron approach. However, my hair never looks that nice! I'm going to have to try this (after I get a wide barreled curling iron.) And I'm glad that you love Dove. Ah, my favorite!

Firefighter/Paramedic said...

I'm glad you posted this. I have such a hard time straightening my hair.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v321/pleweb/FireBlog0910/DSCF3261StationVisitRev-1.jpg

Ratz said...

it was a long time back when i called my hair as hair... they qualify for being called as the "WILD MANE" sigh!

Stef @ TooMuchToDoSoLittleTime.com said...

You have really pretty hair. I have naturally curly hair and I straighten mine, too (when I'm not too tired). I use a flat iron, but sometimes a curling iron. I haven't tried the super large barrel. I like the result. I may look into that. When I use the flat iron it is "flat". I like the wave you have.

StacyB said...

I also straighten mine with a curling iron. But mine is not as curly as yours. Just frizzy. These days I am working to enhance the curls, not straighten them. I go in phases.
You look beautiful either way!

Kristy said...

I'm tired just watching you do your hair! I love your curls!

Carrie said...

That is quite a routine! Thats awesome that you posted it though! Left you a blog award!
www.ourtipsandtales.com

Crystal said...

My mom always used a large curling iron too, then she started using the one that blows hot air instead of actually having to heat up. It was also the large barrel type and worked great! I use that or a flat iron. Hers was naturally curly. Mine was always stick straight until I had kids, now it is just a straight frizzy mess and always has a pony tail bump even when I didn't wear a pony tail! Weird, I know, lol So I flat iron it and it looks good then.

strawberry CAKE said...

Your hair looks gorgeous, but what a lot of work! Who took the pictures? Glad you found the dream D O for the B O. I have a pit issue too, Mitchem for women seems to do the jobright now.

Fire Wife Katie said...

Thanks!! It's not so bad, takes about 15 minutes for me to straighten my hair like this. Which really isn't bad when compared to the 45 minutes it used to take me to blow dry my hair with a diffuser set on low!!

I set up a tri-pod and used the timer on my camera to take the shots. :)

Karen Peterson said...

I think this is the most useful tutorial I've found in a long time. Thanks!

It's kind of funny to think of using a curling iron to STRAIGHTEN your hair, but the results look fantastic!

Life with Kaishon said...

Your hair looks gorgeous Katie! I can not believe that it takes all that work though. HOLY COW! Wowza!

I am so excited that I am going to be in the same tribe as you at SITS this week! How fabulous is that? For some reason, I can't log in right now, but as soon as I can, I will definitely try to!

Fire Wife Katie said...

Cool! I'm glad there will be a familiar face there! :D

OF SPRING AND SUMMER said...

Hi Katie,
Your hair looks fabulous! See you on SITS!
Ingrid

MAMMA MIA said...

Your hair looks fantastic when it´s NATURAL! Women actually pay for perm, you know...It looks nice straight, too, but why bother?

Allyson & Jere said...

WOW! That is an impressive amount of work going into that hair there. I don't know that I'd have the patience. How long does it take you?

Of course, I have to spend time drying mine with a round brush, then straightening it in parts, and ratting like there's no tomorrow just so I can pretend I even HAVE hair.

nicole@http://theclarks-nicole.blogspot.com/ said...

I have curly hair as well and I us a flat iron. I 100% cannot live without this. Have you ever tried a flat iron?

Tiffany Ellis said...

I was just browsing your blog after reading your SITS post and came across this post. I always have used a flat iron but I will have to give this a try. I love how you still have a bit of curl to the ends not just stick straight.

RachelintheOC said...

Thx for the follow over on my blog. I have course hair that tends to frizz so I blow dry & flat iron. However...

I finally did a keratin conditioning treatment. Not the Brazilian kind w/ all the bad stuff in it but the good kind & it's AMAZING. Especially now in winter, living by the beach.

Best $100 I have ever spent. I don't even have to use the flat iron now. I'm in love. :)

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