Given the choice between visiting the dentist for a routine cleaning or a hair salon for a slight trim, I’d take the former. I’d argue there are fewer tears involved. And this is coming from someone who’s had eight teeth removed in their lifetime.
I’m blessed with the type of hair that never stops giving the gift of frizz, so it’s nearly impossible to find a suitable salon and stylist. In fact, I’d say it’s equal to landing a life partner. Instead of love and dedication, I’m merely seeking the understanding of curl types and hair textures. Is that so unreasonable?
According to my muffin hairstyle, it is.
In high school, my Guyanese mother stopped cutting my hair after I pleaded for more than one layer. (There’s only so much the poor woman can do.) And since then, I’ve sat in every imaginable chair and experienced “thinning” and frizz-shaming.
There’s the hairdresser who hasn’t a clue where to begin. Should they cut my hair wet or dry? Or maybe wash, dry, straighten, and then cut? Or fake a family emergency and request I leave and never return?
Better yet is the stylist who loves emphasizing just how thick my hair is. Did I know how thick? It’s really thick. As in, so thick that maybe I didn’t realize how thick. But guess what? I do because I wake up like this every single day.
And while I have found infatuation in the form of a white, straight male in a hipster salon, he’s unable to style my hair curly. (I STILL BELIEVE IN YOU, MATTHEW!)
The point is: the struggle is real, and I’m beyond jaded.
So when a girlfriend recommended The Curl Ambassadors in Toronto, I kind of shrugged off the suggestion. Actually, I passed it along to my older sister because I firmly believe in treating my siblings as guinea pigs.
I thought nothing of the whole arrangement until she sent via text a picture of the finished cut and style, which demonstrates that either The Curl Ambassadors practice witchcraft or my sister learned Photoshop. Only one of those arguments can ever be plausible.
Hint: It’s not the learning Photoshop bit.
Despite having doubts, I booked an appointment because, well, yes, obviously take my money if those are the results. And while I first debated on a Curl Conditioning Treatment, I ultimately went for it. You only have one life to live, right?
Before an appointment, I recommend not going into detail with a friend about your past experiences. This only causes intense stress and the feeling of your heart exploding the closer you get to the salon. (I learned this one the hard way.)
The Curl Ambassadors on Harbord Street is small but welcoming, and of course, every client has naturally curly hair. Three words to describe my feeling in that moment: I have arrived. This was my version of finding Narnia.
The receptionist was friendly and quick to let me know the stylist was finishing up with a client and would be with me shortly. This was the perfect opportunity to soak in my surroundings. I was quick to notice the reading material included Curly Girl: The Handbook and an employee with the most beautiful Afro ever.
So picking up what this place was putting down.
I met with Jacqueline who was blunt and to-the-point (which was refreshing). She was quick to point out I had two different hairstyles. This confused me at first until she handed me a mirror so I could see the back of my head. There it was: one shelf of short hair and then another shelf of longer hair peeking out at the bottom. That goddamn muffin effect is going to be the death of me.
Whenever I get embarrassed or nervous or shy or any sort of emotion around a stranger, I giggle a lot. Thus, I was giggling like a schoolgirl while dying on the inside. It was an interesting moment.
Luckily, Jacqueline has this air to her that said she’d seen it all and I could relax. She asked what I was looking to do, which was pretty simple: I wanted to keep the length and volume, tidy up split ends, and have one hairstyle.
From there, things moved quickly. A couple snips while my hair was dry and then the most incredible thing happened. She asked me to flip my hair forward so she could proceed to trim. JACQUELINE WAS CUTTING WHILE MY HEAD WAS IN MY LAP.
I was right: witchcraft.
Then came the wash: no shampoo, but a Mixed Chicks Deep Conditioner treatment. She asked when I last did a proper wash and how often I do so, and I hate to admit this but I totally lied. I said every two days, when, in fact, it’s every single day. I know! I’m the worst person ever and am doomed to a life of frizz and pouf.
Anyway, from there she continued to do a little more snipping while my strands were sucking up all the treatment. The best part was the compliments she’d slip in. I know it’s crazy, but I was beaming like a child while hearing my hair was beautiful and healthy. Yes Jacqueline, tell me more forever. What did you say about the color?
While washing out the treatment, I tried asking as many questions as possible and typing them into my phone. I was told not to worry; there’s a sheet of paper with every step, tip, and product used during the appointment that I would receive before leaving. The only thing left to worry about at this point was drying my hair.
Um, I love you?
Though, it did take a long time. Maybe my hair was just hydrated? First I was under the hood, and then over to a hand held hair dryer with diffuser, back to the hood, and finally one last time to the hair dryer. Between steps, there was a lot of shaking my hair forward and whipping it back, which was a treat in itself.
An hour and a half later, the impossible happened: Curls without the frizz AND a haircut I’m pleased with (she styled it using Kinky Curly Custard). All without the mystified look on a stylist’s face. I nearly kissed everyone in that establishment.
Thanks to the Curl Ambassadors and Jacqueline, I learned that I don’t need to straighten my hair during a salon visit to feel like a changed lady. Or apologize for my texture! I just required heaps of conditioner and a little TLC.
This could be the beginning of a very serious relationship.
Now, getting a desired haircut is one thing, but walking away with some knowledge is an added bonus. Here are a few tips and tricks the Curl Ambassadors provided in the take-home sheet of paper that stood out:
• Always apply shampoo to your hands like you would hand lotion. Then gently massage starting at the back of your head, working towards the top.
• Apply conditioner the same way to your hands. Start at the ends and work your way up while using fingertips to comb out locks with your head upside down.
• While hair is still wet, work in desired styling product (apply to hands the same way as mentioned before).
• Remember to scrunch your hair either with your hands or a microfiber towel until moisture is removed.
• When using a hair dryer, use a diffuser on warm heat, low pressure and try to decrease as much movement by holding in place for 5 to 10 seconds
Now tell me: what was the best or worst haircut you’ve ever received? Do you have curl struggles? And why when you try massaging your scalp while shampooing at home it never feels salon-quality?