Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Always learning

On Saturday, I was part of a group of curlies who paid to fly Tiffany Anderson Taylor out to San Francisco (well, Fremont, actually) so she could cut out hair. I've gotten to know Tiffany through various means for the past year or two, and even helped copyedit her e-book, Live Curly Live Free. (If you don't have the book, by the way, I strongly urge you to purchase it. It provides more help and information than any book ever written on the topic of curls. And I am not exaggerating.) Here is a photo of Tiffany that I took at the event and as always happens with my stupid iPhone camera, you cannot see curls!

Tiffany cut hair all day Saturday and all day Sunday. It's clear that she thoroughly enjoys her work! Everybody left looking better than when they arrived. Except, strangely enough, me!

I am fortunate to have an outstanding hair stylist here in San Francisco: Bebe of Sassy Salon. She does not cut my hair according to the Deva method. She gives me a traditional, layered cut that takes my curls into account. I have never had a bad haircut from her. When I arrived at my appointment with Tiffany, I knew my hair already looked ... well ... fabulous. (I've been using Mop Top Daily Conditioner, Karen's Body Beautiful Hair Nectar as leave-in, and a combination of KCCC and Fuzzy Duck gel as my styler -- this combo has yet to let me down!)

Tiffany asked me why I wanted anything done to my hair. She said she didn't think she could improve on it. And really, I kind of agreed but thought I kind of needed a trim so why not let her do it?

So, Tiffany sat me down and inquired about what products I used, what my routine was, and what I wanted from the haircut she would give me. All very good questions and ones that every stylist ought to ask their clients.

She cut very little, which is what I wanted. She gave me a tip or two to relay to my stylist, but insisted that my cut was already just great. (I can't wait to tell Bebe that her work was so appreciated!) Now that a few days have passed, I don't see much difference in the way my hair falls, and actually, that's fine by me.

Then came the wet-down and product application. And this is where I started to learn one major lesson: not everybody follows the same routine! Tiffany used Aquage conditioner and gel on me (I preferred that to the Deva products she had available). Both the conditioner and gel contained protein, so that was good by me. But from this point forward, I think things started to go awry for me.

Through no fault of Tiffany's, my styling and drying sequence contrasted fairly sharply with what I do at home. But I wanted to stay open to new techniques, so I went along.

1. She applied the gel to sopping wet hair. I don't do this. I squeeze out as much moisture as possible and then apply gel. If I don't do this, my hair is weighed down by the water, takes forever to dry, and does not encourage curl.
2. She clipped my hair with metal clips. My experience with metal clips has been abysmal, but the ones she used were of better quality and they actually did work well. (I use these plastic ones and love them because they hold better and don't get tangled in my hair like the metal ones generally do.)
3. She put me out to air-dry before diffusing. I generally diffuse right away to get some volume and then I air dry.
4. She used the Deva Fuser dryer. She likes it but I can honestly say that for all the curlies I saw that day, all of them had their curls broken up and slightly frizzed because of this dryer. It is just god-awful and I must be honest about that. At least two of us who had terrific clumpy curls when we arrived, left with no clumps after the Deva Fuser was used on us. Maybe it's a case of operator error with this thing, because Tiffany did not personally blow-dry most of us -- a curly "helper" did. In my case, I used it on myself and hated it so much that I asked the person whose home we were at if I could use her blow-dryer and diffuser. Marginally better.

After two hours, I couldn't take it anymore and scrunched out the crunch. It looked terrible. Tiffany saw my disappointment and offered to do me all over again. We did that and this time, we followed a routine that more closely resembled my own. Although my results were better, they were still not great.

I really want to emphasize that none of this is Tiffany's fault. She didn't do anything wrong, and she even asked all of us to bring our favorite products if we wanted her to use them. I should have brought my KCCC!

I learned that there is simply no right or wrong way to care for curly hair. Everybody's hair is different, and more important, everybody's preferences for the end result are different. Some people don't want clumpy curls. I do, and I want them by the truckload! Some people don't want volume. I do. Some people can't stand a really wet head and I am one of them. My routine has been adapted to my preferences. And it works for me, but it may not work for everyone. Tiffany's routine may work for some clients but it did not work for me.

So, next time you're trying to follow a routine that's been posted somewhere on the Internet yet you aren't getting the results you want ... TRY SOMETHING ELSE. Pay attention to your hair and don't be afraid to alter your routine or your products to honor your instincts.

The right way to care for curly hair is whatever way works for you.


gekko422 said...

I tend to be a same product, same routine kind of curly. I was eamiling back and forth with Kathy Mack and she told me to switch it up some days. She was right, I am trying new thing, incorporating some, tossing some, and my hair is just thriving.

Sorry I didn't get to see you Saturday, I was over there on Sunday. I am definitely interested in getting my haircut at Sassy though, my current stylist isn't doing it for me anymore.

Jc said...

You're a fussy customer Jill (cheeky smile)! I think when you truly care for your curly hair, we all become protective since we learn routines and products that our hair likes and dislikes. Such is life :)

Sage Vivant said...

It's true -- I *am* fussy! The good thing, though, was that Tiffany said she is even worse about her own routine. Her saying that somehow gave me permission to feel like my own preferences were okay to have. It was weird, though, to see just how attached I was (and am) to my little hair rituals!

Wanda said...

I could have pretty much written your routine as my own.

I used to leave my hair sopping wet when applying styling products but have found through trial and error I do better when it's not.

I also used to air dry then diffuse. Don't remember when or why I changed but couldn't imagine going back.

And I've used clips with limited success.

Where we completely diverge, is that I seek out methods to prevent big clumps - they need no encouragement to hang out. LOL

When I go to my own stylist, he does not follow my routine at all and my hair is barely recognizable as my own and is typically frizzy. He constantly says that every head of curly hair is different and that there is no one right way to style it.

I look to reviews and methods for inspiration. While I typically perform a method pretty much verbatim the first time, I change it up to suit my own hair's unique characteristics the next.