big hair don't care

I don’t know about you New Yorkers, but I had the biggest hair crisis last week due to the stretch of unseasonably warm and humid weather. I’m thankful that its finally turned brisk (if not for the hair, right?), but then the rain totally screwed up my run of frizz-less days. I’m pleased to be back breathing fresh, crisp air and of course have my curly mane start to somewhat behave, but you never know when precipitation is going to rear it’s ugly head again. And the hair-anoia continues…

I’ve disliked my hair for the majority of my life. It all began in childhood when each morning after dousing myself with a bottle of No More Tangles, I still wound up with a frizzy mess. My mama did her best to tame the mane, but it was tricky. And at that point, I just wanted hair like my best friend(s) and Barbie dolls. Fast forward twenty-five years later, after keratin, haircuts, hundreds of products, diet changes, vitamins, acupuncture, etc., and I’m still working on accepting what others deem an asset. Simply put, it’s never going to be what I had wished. It’s never going to look like my peers, or women in magazines, or the girls on my “Hair Envy” pinterest board (Yes, I have one). Or Barbie. 

We are constantly being taught to go against our natural grain. Be it through the media, our parents, teachers or friends – there are cultural norms considered ideal, and we expend much of our energy trying to fit into them. Curly girls go straight, curvier women spend hours at the gym to downsize god-given assets, we make our dark hair blonde because clearly they have more “fun”, we buy clothes because they are “in-style”, we become lawyers and doctors because our parents want us to be “successful”, we even go as far as going under the knife in effort to become more “beautiful” or younger-looking.  In one way or another, we are all victims to falling down the rabbit hole of conformity, myself included. I, just like you, continue to work towards undoing my own perception of myself that has been pre-programmed by someone else’s standards in an effort to uncover my authentic self.  Work in progress, always!

I’ve been on the fence for some time now about a major change – a big chop, which will take the locks I’ve been growing for months into a shoulder length, wild and crazy, side-parted, long bob. Something like Beyonce’s do from the 2013 MTV awards. The last time I made a dramatic cut, I had recently undergone a keratin treatment so wasn’t too worried. But now, it has grown out, and I’m dealing with the natural texture which can be a bit unruly. I know it doesn’t seem like a big deal to most, but getting a haircut is my worst possible. I chalk it up to a bad move in college, when I cut it to my shoulders (you should know it was ridiculously long), started blowing it straight daily which totally destroyed it, and am since convinced that its never been the same. Truth. It’s also tricky because curly hair takes double as long to grow. When the response from a friend to my proposed haircut is, “it’s hair, it’ll grow”, I’m not sure they are fully taking into account the lengthier commitment. I’ve been wanting to embrace this change for quite some time though, and as I learn to embrace my hair (that will never be as long as I want), instead of fighting nature, why not just go with it. It’s curly. And it’s big. It breaks. And it’s frizzy. And that is OK. In fact, it’s better then ok. I think a shorter, confident and edgy style will be the perfect fresh update. I’m kind of over trying to manage my hair to a standard that I didn’t even create. There is something completely freeing about giving yourself permission to just accept who you are.

With all this being said, and as I continue on my quest for hair salvation, I’ve solicited some expert advice on how to deal with unruly frizz from the incredible hair stylist Janet Waddell, who will be styling the cut for me when the time comes (Stay tuned for a follow-up “after” post, even if it comes in a year from now, but don’t hold it against me if I opt out. Ha!). Hailing from the UK, Janet Waddell has an international resume that includes running the Vidal Sassoon in San Francisco to working with one of the most prominent and prestigious hair stylists in NYC, John Barrett, as the Education Director and Senior Stylist in his Bergdorf Goodman location. After 8 years with John Barrett, Janet left to open her own studio here in New York, which has grown exponentially in a short amount of time. In addition to her epic hairstyling skills from an artistic perspective, Janet has also “introduced a very special private Health and Wellness area, dedicated to helping women experiencing hair loss. She offers beautiful solutions to issues such as alopecia, trichotillomania, and hormonal hair loss/thinning due to the effects of chemo.” When her and I met for a consultation, she guided me towards a style that would work specifically for my hair, that wouldn’t defy nature, and would coincide with my personal style. A testament to who she is as a person, her goal is to always empower women to feel their best and be the most beautiful version of themselves. A woman after my very own heart.

As a special promotion for Your Soul Style readers, Janet is offering 20% off for new clients, either with her or one of her lead stylists, Thea Derecola. Just be sure to mention Your Soul Style when you make your appointment. Thank you, Janet! You’re the best! In the meantime while I continue to hem and haw about making the cut, some tips on how to achieve a frizz-free mane.

Have an epic weekend!

TIPS TO FIGHT FRIZZ, by Janet Waddell

  • Moisture with a super emollient  shampoo and conditioner
  • Towel dry gently and apply a cream based styling balm from roots to ends ensuring even distribution of product
  • Never brush or comb hair when it is dry
  • Don’t over wash hair, once or twice a week is better
  • Reactivate product in the hair by spritzing with a water spray in the morning
  • Longer hair can be braided before you sleep to avoid excess frizzing that can happen overnight
  • Avoid hot styling tools that damage the cuticle. A damaged cuticle not only accentuates frizz , it eliminates any shine.
  • Use natural oils like coconut oil or vitamin E, frizzy hair is thirsty hair!
  • Don’t run your fingers through frizzy hair during the day. The less you handle it, the better it will be.

photo via trop rouge

hair today, gone tomorrow…

There was never a time in my life that I wasn’t hair conscious – or rather I should say self-conscious about my hair. From as far back as kindergarten I cried about how my side pony was too frizzy and asked questions like, “why can’t my hair be smooth and straight like all the other little girls?” My Mom used to brush and pull and smooth, but no matter what we did – my hair felt like a cotton ball protruding from my head.

Screen Shot 2013-01-19 at 10.51.08 AMFirst Grade Picture: 1985

ponytailRocking the Pony: sometime in the early 80’s

This continued throughout elementary, middle, high school and college. It was only until a few years ago (I’m 33) where I began to “sort of” embrace the curls and own them. I had no more fight in me so I threw in the towel and started to work with what I had. I can’t deny that even though I’ve resolved some of my frustrations with my mane, I still get bent out of shape about it. My wife calls it “hairanoia” (hair + paranoia = hairanoia). She thinks that I see my hair way different from the reality of it. Sort of like when you look in a fun house mirror and your perception is completely distorted. I know I’m not alone here, right??

For the past few years since keratin hit the market, things have increasingly gotten better. I get the treatment 1-2x a year. I wouldn’t say that I’m 100% satisfied though (and the fact that I have grey hair too does not help matters – shhh). My hair is smoother and more manageable, but as each month goes by – I know it’s slowly creeping back towards its original texture (keratin girls – you know what I mean!). And I am not thrilled about putting the chemicals in, but hey – the things we do for beauty. I continue to search for the perfect cocktail of smoothing serum, gel, comb, diffuser, shampoo, conditioner, and any other hair treatment that will tame the mane. Every time I purchase a new product it’s another glimmer of hope towards transforming the locks. I try out my new combination and fingers crossed I’ll look like Penelope Cruz.

This brings me to the present day. Due to my hairanoia I’ve been resistant to getting a “real” cut – keeping it long and simple to maintain some level of ease. I detest haircuts. Every time I go into the salon I sound like Woody Allen – anxious, overly descriptive, nervous, uneasy and annoying to the stylist! I’m pretty sure every one I’ve ever seen thinks I need to be medicated. Haircuts to me are up there with sky diving, bungee jumping and swimming with the sharks. I’ve dreamed of cutting it shorter, but fear that it will be even more difficult than it already is. I know, I know – hair grows back so what am I sweating? And the truth is I don’t know! Like all irrational fears, this one is on my list.

You’ll be happy to know that yesterday I took the plunge, threw caution to the wind and went through with it. I was literally debating it up until the time that I sat in Johnny’s (Bumble and Bumble) chair, but after the first chop there was no turning back. I watched him carefully craft my do and tried my hardest not to freak him (and myself out) along the way. Towards completion I was still on edge about the whole thing and (even though going reverse wasn’t an option) having a conversation with myself whether this was the right move or not. After Johnny was done he shook it out and turned me towards the mirror. I took a deep breath, I put my hands to it, touched and played for a minute and decided that I LOVE IT! It’s a great change, feels fresh, exciting and I think I’m a bit bolder having gone through with it. If in a month or so I hate it….luckily it’s hair and will grow back!

Yesterday morning I asked my wife as we looked in the mirror together, “What if I don’t look sexy without long hair?” and she said this: “Your hair is not what makes you sexy. You are what makes you sexy”. I’ll continue to remind myself of this when I get hairanoid!

Are you thinking about making any changes soon? I’m always inspired by you so please share your stories!

inspirationInspiration: Sarah Paulson



Screen Shot 2013-01-19 at 9.41.05 AMMy tool kit: Ouidad Climate Control gel, Bumble and Bumble Defrizz, Luxor diffuser, T3 Hair Dryer, Keratin Color Minded Shampoo/Conditioner, Hair Pick Comb