I should’ve said ‘straightened hair’. I meant straightened hair.
So those of you who have been reading me for a while, are very aware of my hair woes. And you would also be aware of the ‘happily ever after’ I managed for my hair by getting it straightened. It’s worked for me, and pretty well, I might add, and for almost 8 years now. Except that there is this small, tiny glitch in the miracle we call ‘permanent straightening’. It is not what says it is. It is straightening, but it is no where close to permanent.
I am not complaining about it, God, I am actually thankful for the strength my hair has shown (pun intended) and absorbed all the torture inflicted upon it without much backlash. I have straightened my hair 8 times in the last 8 years, which is something even the salon guys marvel over. I mean, these are guys who will see you treatments like they are potatoes, and want you to try it all. And here, the salon guys usually go ‘Whaaaat, 8 times!? And you still have hair on your head! Hey, come here, look at this specimen, she got her hair straightened 8 times! EIGHT TIMES!’ And then they proceed to stare at my head for 5 minutes before starting on whatever I have come for.
But the point is, it is not all happily ever after. Which is what brings me to the actual point to this post. The life-cycle of permanently straightened hair.
Phase 1 – The Cleopatra
This is when you have freshly stepped out of the salon, your hair one smooth, shiny layer of awesomeness. The lightest of breezes will make wisps of your hair flyaway, and then land exactly where they started from. Even if the hair does get a tad messy, it is always gorgeous messy. If it doesn’t suit your taste, just run your fingers through the top, and leave it at that. Glorious, shampoo-ad-like beautiful hair, which stays the same whatever you do. During this phase, you are never a bed-head, because even when you wake up after a long restless night, with multiple breaks for ‘Dudhu’, ‘Potty’ and the like, the hair doesn’t budge. It still stays as glamorous.
Phase 2 – The Reality
This phase started 2-3 weeks after the Cleopatra, depending on how often you washed your hair. The initial impact of the neutralizers would have died by now, so what is left behind is sleek, straight hair alright, but with with a little bit of a bounce. I say this because while you will love Cleopatra, it tends to look a little limp after a while. The reality on the other hand, is realistic straight hair that can be managed with a couple of runs with the comb. This phase also brings in the possibility of hairstyles other than open hair, by which we mean a pony tail. The phase also brings along with it, the need to shampoo and condition your hair to avoid it from turning into a broom.
Phase 3 – The 90s (well, almost)
This phase starts at around 6 months post straightening. What has happened is the the hair that was straightened, remains as straight, perhaps not as shiny, depending on how you have treated it, but still straight. But that’s not all that is on your head now, is it? I mean, that’s not how biology works. So obviously, hair grows. And while usually, that is a celebratory thing, in this case, not so much. Because when your hair grows, it’s not like the multiple straightening sessions you have had, has grown them brains, and told them that ‘dude your predecessors have gone straight (that doesn’t sound very right now, does it?), high time you do too’. No, that doesn’t happen. So this new hair, comes out as squiggly and wiry as your original hair. So what you are left with is hair that is curly at the scalp, and straight after a couple of inches. I will give you a moment to digest that. Done? Yep, not a pretty sight, you imagined it just right.
So basically, you have this puffy hair on the top of your head, and then relatively straight hair at the bottom. Much like the Madhuri Dixits, Karishma Kapoors, and Ayesha Jhulkas from the amazing 90s. Think Khiladi, or Sapne Saajan ke, or Dil? Yep. So this phase warrants bringing out the very dependable hair irons. So every time you wash your hair, and it goes 90s, you fix the roots, so they are atleast kind of in line with the rest of the hair. Not easy. Not fun. Totally essential.
Phase 4 – The Monica at Barbados.
This is another 3-4 months down the line. By this time, your squiggly roots have gained confidence, and are pretty much sharing the limelight with your once straightened hair. If you have gone ahead and cut your hair in between, they might actually be forming majority, by which we mean, terrible days are back. The straightened edges are now hardly visible, and you are pretty much back to square one. Only you are not, because you are so used to seeing yourself all pretty haired most of last year, that this seems disastrous. Actually, it is kinda disastrous. In this phase you might have alternative plans like ‘Let me cut my hair real short, then I can iron it easily’, or ‘Let me keep a natural look and spend 1000s on products which promise to tame curls but actually only make the curls look oily and still as haywire’. A word of advice, it is best to avoid thoughts such as these and move on.
Phase 5 – The I-cannot-take-it-anymore
As the name suggests, it basically means hauling your ass back into the salon for those torturous 4-5 hours of smelling, and smelling of ammonia, while sitting with your neck stiff, and head bent, but handling it all amazingly well, because we know, that on the other side, lies utopia.
And utopia is so worth it. Like I already mentioned, I have been doing this for 8 years now, and there is no backing out anymore. Unless they come out with some miracle which makes my hair look and feel even 50% as manageable as this magic, with less work, lower costs, and less ‘long lasting negative impacts’. I doubt that will happen.
And till it does, we are (straight) haired for good.