I ditched my hair straightener, and transformed my frizzy hair

My hair has always been… rough.

In one particularly unforgettable moment, when I was 15 and like a peach to a hard surface when it came to commentary on the way I looked, someone once described it as, ‘thin, but coarse. Like tiny, ugly, ropes’.

Ok, the last part may have been tacked on by my adolescent brain, but my hair always caused me grief.

You see I don’t have traditionally curly hair, or wavy hair, or straight hair, I have what my friends and I decided is fluffy hair – really voluminous, but in a Hermione Granger way, mainly frizz with no real curls.

`Photo of girl in coloured dress holding Cactus with frizzy hair
Even on a good day, my hair was frizzy and undefined in it's natural form. Photo: Yahoo Lifestyle

Like many victims of the noughties and 2010’s, I have so far exclusively dealt with this by straightening the living crap out of my locks.

For a decade, at least three times a week, I would straighten any hint of life out of my strands, thereby frazzling my ends into a series of unrecognisable paintbrush-tufts. Inevitably this would increase frizz, which would call for more heat, more tools, more frying, until I repeatedly found myself chopping the whole thing off and starting over again, and again, and again.

So I decided to stop.

Ten years later, I took the huge step of untangling myself from the self-perpetuating cycle of hair-straightening and curling and committed to one month of managing my hair without any heat.

Yep, that meant walking into the office everyday, without straightening or curling. It sounds silly, but for me it was like embracing a bare face after years of always wearing makeup, I actually felt more naked and exposed than I anticipated.

I went on a date with my hair wild, I went to a nightclub and I went to a bar. I went to places I can guarantee I have never before set foot without first using my 2014 Remington to tame my frizz.

Eventually, despite my initial terror I got on top of the frizz, and learnt how to make my hair work for me, without cooking it within an inch of its life.

Writer with curly cropped hair in selfie photo
In one month I learnt to lean into my hairs kinks and curls, without the hair straightener. Photo: Yahoo Lifestyle

Six weeks later, and I’m in it for the long haul.

My hair is finally sitting in its natural wave, the frizz is under control, and I am learning not only to like my hair curly, but to prefer it that way.

As it turned out, of course, I jumped the gun a little by choosing to do this when I still had an office I had to go in to.

What neither I nor anyone foresaw was our current global pandemic and the perfect opportunity for embracing a heat-free life free from the eyes of your peers – a very minor silver-lining in what’s been a devastating time for many.

It turns out great, frizzy minds think alike – heat-free Aussie hair products have reported a spike in sales since we all started isolating.

So if you’re looking to dump the straightener, there has never been a better time.

Here is how I did it, what I used, and my verdict on going sans-heat (Spoiler: it’s more than worth it).

John Frieda’s Frizz Ease dream curl mousse

John frieda's Dream Curls Curl Defining Crème
John Frieda's Dream Curls Curl Defining Crème was a game-changer for me. Photo: John Frieda

First of all, I got my hands on John Frieda’s Frizz Ease range. I am usually sceptical of products that promise to ‘banish frizz’, ‘tame your mane’ or ‘unfurl your curl’ (Ok, I made up the last one, but someone should use that.)

The few times I tried these products, I would inevitably find myself left with lank oily tresses that would hang like greasy noodles from my scalp. Yes, they would ‘banish my frizz’, but at the cost of my hair’s life and cleanliness.

John Frieda however, was a revelation.

It didn’t transform my hair so much as make it more malleable. Every morning I put a dollop of their ‘Dream Curls’ Curl Defining Crème through my hair and twist it into shape, and it actually stays.

Penny before using JohnFreida dream curls (left) and after (right)
A dollop of Hair mousse relaxed my hair straight away for a quick morning routine. Photo: Yahoo Lifestyle

Too much and you can get a little crunchy, so I recommend focusing on the ends and keeping it to a small coin-sized amount.

A tiny bit in the morning and a touch up during the day, as well as a touch of the brand’s serum to my wet hair once a week after a wash to keep the silky goodness flowing, has been a game-changer for my hair.

It’s also great for anyone on a budget, with the products retailing for around $15 apiece in pharmacies.

Sleeping on silk: the game-changing pillowcase and turban

Damn Gina's turban keeps hair smooth while you sleep. Photo: Supplied
Damn Gina's turban keeps hair smooth while you sleep. Photo: Yahoo Lifestyle

The next eye-opener for me was Damn Gina’s silk pillowcase and hair turban.

Damn Gina is a Melbourne-based company from Aussie hairstylist Sue Jayanth, who decided to bring Aussie women a range of silk products to naturally manage curly hair.

Hair wrapping is far from a new concept of course, it’s been a staple practice for many black women for centuries and Damn Gina has taken the concept and put it into an easy-to-use bonnet at an easy to pay price.

To say it has blown up is something of an understatement. Made for a spectrum of hair types the brand does silk scrunchies, pillowcases and turbans to minimise breakage.

Sleeping in the turban every night completely changed my hair, and made my morning routine probably half in length.

It kept its form and didn’t work its way into a birds nest when I would toss and turn, and I seriously woke up with almost ready-to-go hair.

A silk turban will set you back $55 while the pillowcase is $80, and I couldn’t recommend it more.

Their scrunchies are also a sell-out online at $30 for a pack of four. A word to the wise, silk is a fragile material and overusing the scrunchies as I did can leave them a little worse for wear, but on the plus side, they definitely don’t tear hair and can keep your split ends to a minimum.

IGK Hair Balm: not cheap, but indispensable

IGK's Hair Balm is a daily ritual that keeps hair silk, but tamed. Photo: IGK
IGK's Hair Balm is a daily ritual that keeps hair silk, but tamed. Photo: IGK

Another lifesaver for me is the IGK Mistress Hydrating Hair Balm. This one is probably my strongest ally.

The balm can be worked into damp or dry hair and leaves it noticeably silkier, without undoing curls.

I used a dollop a day on top of the Frizz Ease mousse to keep my hair hydrated and tight and love the combination of the two products.

A little steeper at $44 for 145ml the product will stretch for several months and is a wise investment for the Hagrid-haired like myself.

In the end, I cut a huge chunk of my morning routine down before isolation, and have won back a bit of confidence in my hair which remains miraculously split ends free.

In a surprising twist, I realised my hair isn’t frizz-free, I still have my flyaways and my volume, but with a little more control the frizz is something I’m beginning to love.

Isolation is the perfect time to learn how to work your frizz. Photo: Supplied
Isolation is the perfect time to learn how to work your frizz. Photo: Yahoo Lifestyle

I won’t be throwing away my straightener, there are some styles you just need to indulge in a little heat to achieve, but my day to day hair is thriving with a little more TLC.

If ever there was a time to let your frizz flag fly, it’s now.

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