The Gallery: How I learned to love my curly hair

by on March 30, 2011

I’ve been waiting for the right inspiration to strike and enable me to join in the weekly Gallery Linky-thingy hosted by Tara Cain over at the Sticky Fingers blog. So when she announced that this week’s subject was Hair I was delighted. This is something about which I feel I have a lot to say, and the pictures to back myself up! It also gave my Mum the chance to dig out some of the more¬†embarrassing¬†pictures she has of me – thanks Mum!

All my life, people have told me I have beautiful hair. Strangers stop me in the street to compliment me on it. And it’s taken me a long long time to believe them. Because I have spent most of my life wanting different hair. So here, I present to you the photographic story of my hair, and how I came to love it.

I was born with a full head of thick, ginger hair. Both my parents have dark hair, and the only ginger we could find anywhere in the family prior to my arrival was my maternal grandfather’s moustache. Not the hair on his head, just his moustache! And before you ask, the milkman didn’t have ginger hair either. I guess I’m just some kind of weird genetic mutation or something. Anyway, when I was a baby, the one thing people would say to my Mum was “what beautiful hair – of course the colour won’t last”. And yet I sit here, almost 40 years later, proving you all wrong – yes the colour lasted!

When I was very little, there was no hint of the curls to come. My Mum used to brush my hair daily, and kept it cut short, as this picture of me at the age of 4 shows.

Awwww…. Wasn’t I cute?

As I grew older, my hair grew thicker, longer, more frizzy, and more unmanageable. I was desperate for long, straight, flowing hair like my friends (I’m looking at you here Anita Prosser!), and I spent a lot of time plaiting it to try to keep it under control.

Sometimes the plaits were many:

Check out those trendy legwarmers! With corduroy trousers no less!

And sometimes the plaits were more traditional:

Obligatory embarrassing school photograph

And the reason I plaited my hair so much? Because if I didn’t, it looked like this:

Yup – frizz central!

I got teased about it, not too badly, but enough to upset me. I tried cutting it short, but it went even more frizzy, so I quickly let it grow back again. Finally a hairdresser suggested I get it layered, and that seemed to work:

No, that’s not a perm. That’s what my hair does all on it’s own.

And about this point, people started telling me how jealous they were, how they paid a fortune to get their hair to look like that… Yadda yadda yadda. I still didn’t like my hair; it still had a tendency to frizz, was still unmanageable, and I’d still rather have that lovely straight hair that hung down the side of my face like a pair of curtains (yes, still talking about you Anita!). But i lived with what I’d got, pretty much until we got engaged. At which point I decided I’d grow the layers out and see what it looked like. It looked lovely for the wedding and honeymoon:

Ah, we were so much younger then (and the geekdaddy was so much less grey!)

But time passed, and I didn’t visit the hairdresser, and it just grew, and I kept brushing it, so it stayed frizzy, until finally it ended up looking like this:

I know, it’s a horrible, unflattering photo. But don’t look at me – look at the hair. Lank, not curly, out of condition…

And then, for my 30th birthday, my Dad bought me this book off my Amazon wish list:

And I read it. And I adopted the things suggested. And overnight I learned how to work with my hair, and it turned into this:

Look! Curls!

No layers, no visit to the hairdresser, just a change of hair care routine. Which I still keep up to this day. Since having the kids I’ve had it cut shorter, as hair that long is really not so practical. So today my hair is like this:

Even curlier now it’s a bit shorter

It took me 30 years to learn to love my hair, and in order to love it, I had to learn how to look after it. I’ve got my haircare routine honed to a fine art, and it really works! Here’s how I look after my hair:

  1. No shampoo. Not ever. Never. I wash it with carefully chosen conditioner, and a little dash of honey
  2. No brushing. Ever. Comb through with fingers or a wide-toothed comb when the conditioner is in
  3. Style whilst damp with Boots curl creme and a suitable gel
  4. Dry by wrapping in a towel (“plopping“)
  5. Don’t let a blow dryer anywhere near it.

If you have curly hair and are interested in learning more about how I care for mine, I recommend you get hold of Curly Girl the Handbook, and also check out the forums over at British Curlies.

It looks very much like the geekdaughter has inherited my lovely curly hair, and I’m trying to encourage her to love hers as much as I now love mine. I think it’s working. The last time she had her hair cut, the hairdresser started putting a pretty French plait into it as a finishing touch. This prompted a drama queen type outburst of crying and sobbing. When we asked her what was wrong she sobbed “I don’t want my hair plaited. I want my lovely curly hair!”

That’s my girl!

View the other gallery entries here:


Disclosure: Links to Amazon in this post contain my affiliate code. If you purchase something after clicking I get a very small commission


{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

Bev March 30, 2011 at 8:31 am

Oh I LOVE this post! I have curly hair to and my mum bought me that book, which I have lost and had forgot the routine so when recently trying to “go back to my roots” ;) It wasn’t working out. I am going to follow the routine this time without shampoo (how could I forget that?

Your hair IS gorgeous, maybe mine can be again….

Hop over to my blog if you get the time and see my son who has inherited the curls! :o)

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geekmummy March 30, 2011 at 10:12 am

I enjoyed reading your post too Bev, and your little man has the most gorgeous curls!!

Now I’ve learned to love my curls, I wouldn’t straighten them. Maybe you should try letting yours do it’s own thing again? :)

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Harriet March 30, 2011 at 8:39 am

Well done you! If you check out my pictures you’ll see that I definitely have not learned to love my curls… but then I’m not as curly as you. My sister, on the other hand, has a blond afro (literally – it has to get to about shoulder length before its weight obeys gravity…). She too has learned to love them by dint of a range of products called “Dark and Lovely” and not aimed at Caucasians…! I on the other hand have lovely ringlets underneath and a haystack on top…. Not a good look. Bring on the Frizz Ease I say!

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fenngirl March 30, 2011 at 8:40 am

Beautiful hair! I am so glad I found your post. My hair is curly after I lost my hair through chemo. It is really fab and I love it but I struggle to know how to look after it. I am going to buy that book and hopefully my curls will look as gorgeous as yours. Thank you! x

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geekmummy March 30, 2011 at 10:20 am

Thanks for your comment. I hope the book helps you get the hang of your new curls!

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Inside the Wendy House March 30, 2011 at 9:28 am

What a wonderful journey, learning how to love your hair! Mine has always been dead straight…I longed for curly hair! x

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geekmummy March 30, 2011 at 9:49 am

You always want what you don’t have, don’t you? :)

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helloitsgemma March 30, 2011 at 10:04 am

Ah! I feel your child hood pain. Similar hair and it only really worked for me when I started growing it. As I’ve got older it’s changed so much and now I have it short and manageable. Yours looks really beautiful. Interesting book, I may buy it for my son! many thanks.

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geekmummy March 30, 2011 at 10:18 am

Thank you Gemma.

The book has an entire chapter devoted to raising curly kids, so I am sure you would find it useful for your son.

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Anthea March 30, 2011 at 10:34 am

Wow! I know you’ve heard it before but gorgeous hair! My hair is much less curly but does the wild frizz thing when the air is humid and heaven help anyone who points a hairdryer at me… Definitely gonna check out the book though :)

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geekmummy March 31, 2011 at 6:04 pm

The book and website that I linked to both show examples of different types of curls, and provide advice for caring for each type. Hope it helps you!

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Mom-on-a-Wire (Alethea) March 30, 2011 at 10:40 am

What a fabulous post! I must you were an adorable four year old!

You hair is amazing! I had really curly hair when I was little but as soon as I hit my teens it went dead straight. Wish it would be somewhere in between!

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Sarah @Sarh March 30, 2011 at 11:57 am

You’re very lucky. Your hair is beautiful x

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Jacq March 30, 2011 at 1:19 pm

Your hair is fantastic! I’m glad you love it now, straight hair is so boring!
I’m going to pass this link around as I’ve got a few friends with curly hair who would find it interesting, I’m sure.

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geekmummy March 31, 2011 at 6:05 pm

Thanks Jacq. It would be great it it’s of use to your friends too :)

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Herding Cats March 30, 2011 at 1:56 pm

What lovely hair you have. I am so glad that you learned to love and live with your hair.

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Mari March 30, 2011 at 3:07 pm

Gorgeous hair, mine is as straight as a poker adn won’t curl for love nor money so I am always envious of curls

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neil h. March 30, 2011 at 6:17 pm

Your hair matches your personality – lovely, vibrant and ever so slightly mad … :-)

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geekmummy March 31, 2011 at 6:06 pm

Errrr.. thanks… I think ;)

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Lucy March 30, 2011 at 7:04 pm

I’m afraid I’ve got the kind of curtains hair you talk about – dead straight – but my dearest, oldest friend has red, curly hair like yours so I am sending her this link. Your hair is absolutely gorgeous! I really love it that you’re encouraging your little girl to love hers too (and that you both now realise how lucky you are!)

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Olivia March 30, 2011 at 10:17 pm

Hi Ruth,

I’m happy to see the success of this post in the comments section :)

Well you know me, you know my hair. I’m currently trying to get back to the beautiful hair routine but I got to find a convenient time for it. My problem is my hair takes forever to dry and I do not wish to arrive at work with wet hair. I’m interested in this plopping thing. How long do you keep the towel in your hair? And does it speed up the drying process by a lot?

If you don’t mind, I’d like to try your products when we come over at the end of the month as I currently don’t have a styling gel or a curl creme. And any advice welcome :)

Hugs and thanks for this great post,

Olivia

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geekmummy March 31, 2011 at 6:07 pm

Hi Olivia, and thanks for your comment :)

I use a microfibre towel for my hair, which does speed the drying a little, but I usually end up arriving at work with damp hair still. I’m of course happy for you to try any of my products when you’re here, and I’ll show you how plopping works as well :)

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tiddlyompompom March 31, 2011 at 2:33 pm

oooh, I love your hair! I have a love/hate relationship with my curly hair, so will check out that book :)

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geekmummy March 31, 2011 at 6:08 pm

The book definitely helped me. I hope it’s useful to you too :)

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Mummy and the Beastie April 1, 2011 at 4:28 pm

Great post showing your hair through the different era’s! I remember when frizz ease came out and that was a god send and then of course straighteners. I mean I don’t know how I left the house before! ha ha :-)

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Sarah Ebner April 6, 2011 at 2:13 pm

Lovely post – and I especially liked the payoff from your daughter! Sounds like you’ve got it all sorted out for her…:)

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Sarah, Maison Cupcake April 11, 2011 at 6:11 pm

Yup, I had similar experience to this, mine isn’t as curly as yours but in it’s natural state it’s definitely not straight and that wonderful curl cream and banishing the comb coaxes it into a much better place! Annoyingly the hairdresser who introduced me to this revelation is on maternity leave and the stand in has been rubbish cutting my hair meaning it’s just not behaving itself in the meantime. Can’t wait for her to come back!!!

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Ramya April 19, 2011 at 1:13 pm

Hey there…

Landed on this post…. Loved it…
I have curly hair too :)
Though a question I end up having dandruff if I donot shampoo, any tips…

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Keeley July 22, 2013 at 11:00 pm

Thank you so much for this, definitely going to invest in the book… No shampoo, who’d have thought it! Was also lovely to meet you at blog on and see your beautiful curls for real x

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