I’ve struggled with my hair from the age of about 13 when it changed from bushy (think Hermione Granger) to out of control curly with a large proportion of frizz. I’d always blamed our hairdresser, a friend of my mum who first suggested I have my waist length hair cut into a bob and then suggested the addition of layers. The resultant “do” was a mullet. Yes, a mullet. The top layers were very short but at the back it was fairly long. Not a good look on a pubescent girl who attended a single sex private school. But really I think it was just a cruel coincidence that at the same time our very nice hairdresser gave me the hairdo from hell, my dodgy genetic history kicked in and gave me uncontrollable curls and frizz to match. Luckily for me (or not) I wasn’t alone in my hair woes, another girl in my year at school had a similar look, and she named our “style” the Fright Wig. If I hadn’t destroyed all the photos from around that time I’m sure you’d agree the term was perfect.
Back in the dark ages when I was 13 there were very few “products” available on the market. Hairspray, of course, and maybe mousse, but also, given that I was young and clueless it didn’t even occur to me that covering my bonce in gunk on a daily basis might spare my blushes a little. It probably did me no favours that I brushed my hair as ever I had either, separating the curls into a kind of special halo of fuzz. I’m not sure how long I walked around like that but I can assure you the ill-advised addition of a fringe did nothing to enhance the overall effect. It wasn’t just a Fright Wig. It was a Fright Wig From Hell. And then I discovered that not brushing helped a bit. As did water. If I wet my hair several times a day it would clump together into a temporary ringlet. The ringlet would dry out eventually though and de-clump a bit but at least it was less of a frizz halo. Except soaking wet hair is pretty impractical and teenaged girls are not backwards in taking the mickey out of someone whose hair drips all over the shop several times a day. I’m staggered at my lack of common sense at this age. Did it not occur to me there might be something out there that would achieve the same effect without looking like a drowned rat? Really?
By the time I did discover that hair products make your hair look better I’d already been a sight for some time. And that’s without even thinking about my awful glasses. Hair mousse was great, really it was but most of the time it made my hair crunchy. It might have looked OK but it felt pretty awful. It also had a tendency to stay looking wet, but obviously didn’t drip so was marginally less embarrassing. I later learnt that a combination of mousse and wax made my hair look really pretty good but if anything this felt even worse, the mousse still made it crunchy and the wax gave it the added bonus of feeling all greasy as well. Had any myopic boys wanted to run their fingers through my hair, well, I imagine they would have been quite upset as they tried to surreptitiously wipe their hands on their jeans. And if they had persevered their hands would have got stuck anyway.
Needless to say I spent a great deal of time and effort trying to find ways of straightening my crazy curls out. A blast from a hairdryer created a sort of pom-pom effect. Not really what I was looking for. Perming solution, it turns out, does not give curly hair an anti-perm, no matter how much you try and pull it straight. I tried crimpers as well, crimped hair being the fad of the 80s/early 90s. They were marginally effective but it was very short-lived, plus the smell of burning hair was a bit disconcerting. I even tried using the crimpers in the way you would use modern straighteners, pulling it down the length of the hair. Not only did it do untold damage it also bloody hurt and didn’t look that good anyway. I was depressed. So would you be, I looked like this:
I resigned myself to a (celibate) life with rubbish hair. I couldn’t understand why random people would tell me how lovely my hair was when they had beautiful straight, easy to manage hair. They could get out of bed first thing in the morning and not have to do battle to make themselves look halfway normal. I was once accosted in a pub by someone that refused to believe my hair wasn’t permed and wanted to know where I’d had it done, she was SO adamant about it I had to make up the name of a salon just to get rid of her. I think she may have been drunk.
Pairs of straighteners came and went in my life but they were never up to the job. My hair would be straight-ish for a bit and then the tiniest amount of moisture would mess it up or a sudden rain storm would end up with me looking like the poor soul in Woman in a Dressing Gown (great film, watch it). Then they invented GHDs and all my prayers were answered. For a long time from the day I bought some I straightened my hair every day, ruining the condition, of course, but I didn’t care a jot, I finally felt attractive: the Fright Wig was gone. I liked it. People told me they liked it. I was happy. During periods of great laziness where I couldn’t be bothered to spend half an hour or so on my hair I would leave it curly, but I found that my hair wouldn’t curl quite right any more and I’d always go back to my GHDs in spite of the hassle. I just didn’t like my hair curly, I felt unattractive and was always reminded of the fuzz halo. The fuzz halo was bad.
After I had Hattie, though, my time became severely limited. With her and a very demanding Poppy to look after, needing to find 30 minutes to spend on my hair became a serious annoyance. So I stopped. I felt horrible most of the time, I was using the same old crunchy greasy mousse/wax combination and after so much straightening it didn’t really want to curl into the ringlets I occasionally quite liked. I always just leave my hair to dry by itself when curly so I kept looking for the Holy Grail of hair products that I could shove on and forget about and finally came up with something that worked quite well. I got the hairdresser to cut it so it would curl better and I must say I’m much happier with it now. More or less. Of course no one’s happy with what they’ve got and it is still a Fright Wig. But a Fright Wig that’s quite ringletty and almost pretty in certain (low) lights.
Which do you prefer?