By Shannon Sarna
(Kveller via JTA) – I’ll be the first to admit it: I gave up. After nearly two weeks of 90 degree days with 95 percent humidity in New York, I had enough of the uncontrollable frizz atop my head.
So I decided to say goodbye to my stereotypically Jewish lady hair this summer. Last week, I got a Brazilian blowout, which is similar to a keratin hair-smoothing treatment but takes less time. A lovely woman I was connected to came to my home, and while I worked on my laptop and chatted with my girls about their day, she applied some (horrid-smelling) chemicals to my hair and flat-ironed it. And that was it.
While I was debating getting the treatment — it lasts for about three months — I did get some pushback from friends and fellow curly-haired ladies. Some interjected that I should cut it short or embrace the crazy curls.
And part of me gets it: I should push against the norms of how beauty is defined in the West. After all, my cellulite and I have been out there day after day fighting this good fight.
But this isn’t about me judging anyone else’s hair, or that I don’t like curly hair. It’s really more about my own sanity, time management and, yes, a smidge of vanity. I am a busy mom with thick, crazy hair and sometimes — just sometimes — I want to feel put together.
I didn’t do it for my husband or the judgmental mom who lives down the block. I did it for myself. And the result? I love it. I can blow dry my hair in 10 minutes and it stays completely frizz-free. I do need to wash it more often than before; it definitely gets oilier faster than I am used to. But I no longer have to allot 45 minutes to blowing out my thick mane only for it to expand into Krusty the Clown heights minutes later.
During my exploration of what to do with my hair this summer, I was lucky to uncover many passionate, informed views on how to tame stereotypically curly Jewish hair. I understand that not everyone wants to go straight for summer, so I want to share this wealth of knowledge for those embracing their Jewfro.
Start with a great cut
You cannot go to just anyone when you have curly or wavy hair. Make sure that you are seeing someone who has extensive experience cutting curly or textured hair. Even better, visit a salon like Devachan (as one friends swears by) in order to guarantee a curly-hair friendly cut. (Not in New York City? They have a salon finder on their website.)
Invest in good products
When you have curly, thick or textured hair, you need a good-quality product. And by the way, not all curly hair is the same, so make sure to tailor your product choices for your specific type of hair. Some products that our experts (read: curly-haired Kveller moms) recommend:
Ouidad Climate Control Gel
Catwalk Curls Amplifier
John Frieda Frizz Ease
Nexxus Humectress Leave-In Conditioner
Want your hair to look shinier and healthier day to day? That’s right, wash it less. Your hair needs its natural oils to stay healthy. And there’s like a whole list of reasons and various ways to do it, but my belief is that if The New York Times makes a recommendation about hair, you should listen.
Jeff Chastain, a hairstylist in New York City, recommends that women get their shampooing down to once or twice a week. Less washing, he said, means stronger and longer hair. And women with curls need not wash their hair as often as others.
Yes, it’s too hot to break out a hair dryer during the summer. But also, air drying your curls will yield a much nicer, less frizzy result. Try washing your hair at night, add your desired product and then sleep with it tied loosely in a bun or ponytail. Style in the morning and you’re ready to conquer the day without ever plugging in an appliance.
Make a change
There are all kinds of semi-permanent treatments you can have done at a salon to help tame your mane. Before deciding on the Brazilian blowout, I spoke to several stylists and described my hair — they agreed it would be a good treatment due to my hair’s thickness and texture. There are also keratin treatments, and even one Kveller mom swears by the Oscar Blandi hair botox, aka “Blowtox.” These chemical treatments can be no joke, so check with a doctor before having any of them. This is particularly relevant for anyone who is pregnant.
(Shannon Sarna is editor of The Nosher, like Kveller a part of the 70 Faces Media family.)
Kveller is a thriving community of women and parents who convene online to share, celebrate and commiserate their experiences of raising kids through a Jewish lens. Visit Kveller.com