I embraced my biggest beauty fear every day for a month and I've never felt so damn empowered
How I embraced my frizzy hair.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been addicted to tongs, straighteners and any other heated hair styling tools within reach.
Pre-ghds, my friends and I ironed each other’s hair (I know, sorry mum), craving the sleek locks of Jennifer Aniston and co. If you were to ask me which beauty go-to I’d worry about being without, this would be the one.
Probably my top beauty insecurity, perfectly preened hair is like a comfort blanket. As a teenager I was super self-conscious about my fine, fluffy locks, comparing them to the smooth, shiny hair of other girls at school. Crazy really, on reflection, but I guess we all fall into dodgy comparison traps - with them playing on our individual inferiority complexes.
I’ve never conquered a casual blow-dry, the hairdryer just making it even more untameable. And don’t get me started on attempting that salt-sprayed tousled effect everyone raves about this time of year. So when straighteners and curling wands came into my life, I finally started to gain a new lease of haircare confidence.
I’ve got back-up straighteners in case my everyday pair break, and a hair styling drawer so full I can’t close it. Despite all this, my hair’s always been in fairly good condition, and I go a couple of days in between heat, as well as taking care with regular trims and treatments. Like most of us, a trip to the salon is me time and an excuse for a cuppa and Crunchie in peace.
Having had endometriosis since my teenage years, I’ll openly admit that hair and makeup has become a form of body armour. They each equip me mentally to cope with whatever pain or complications arise.
So, when my hair started seriously snapping off a couple of months ago, I was freaked out and that protective shield felt tarnished. Strands became horribly brittle and I faced an insanely sore scalp too, while I wondered what on earth was going on. Almost overnight, my hair didn’t feel or look like my own, with no solid confirmation of the cause. After so much medical trauma already, the idea something else was going on within my body frightened me. Blood tests solved the mystery, finding a serious depletion in oestrogen. Now on some different hormone meds, things have started improving, albeit gradually.
Meanwhile, in haircare recovery mode, my stylist chopped several inches off. Thankfully she’s also a really good pal too, because between the weird hair change and hormone madness, I was an emotional wreck. Never one for shying away from change, I’ve always loved being a hair chameleon, and have had every look going, from a crop to red shades and more. An excuse to get on board with the latest bob trend, I usually love a restyle. But, courtesy of the disassociation I’d been feeling between my hair and self, I was a bit meh about the whole thing.
With seriously depleted confidence, my stylist, sister and best friends have all told me that the damage is not as bad as I think it is. But what I’ve reiterated to everybody is that how I look isn’t what matters, it’s the way I feel. And shaken is the only word which covers it. Paranoia about more hair breaking off has consumed me, and a friend’s passing comment that it feels softer and finer than usual really took hold.
The beloved heated hair tools sacked off (temporarily), I knew I needed to detox from further potential damage for a few weeks. And this brought a wobble with it. Because both the act of sorting my hair before a busy day and feeling strengthened by being in control each contribute to my overall sense of self. It’s what I’ve known for so long.
Rough drying my fringe and leaving the rest to mostly air dry every day for the last month, I now have a new hair texture - one of a strange shape that is far from the sleek style I usually go for. To set the scene, I’m neither blessed with Carrie Bradshaw-esque curls or super straight sass. When left to its own devices, my hair is instead a random frizzy/wavy/straight hybrid. You could even say it leans towards an 80s look, which let’s be honest, isn’t an era often celebrated for chic style.
Officially the first time in decades I’ve downed hair tools, at first I felt ridiculously self-conscious. It was as if my outfit wasn’t complete, between missing the styling ritual and feeling a bit discombobulated. And the funny thing is, when explaining that to my husband, sister and best friend, they all looked at me like I was speaking another language, having not even noticed.
Grabbing some TLC during my hair ‘mare, I’m relying on a few treats to offer a boost. Jumping on the hair accessory bandwagon, I discovered gorgeous celeb-approved silk Slip headbands. Victoria Beckham, Kendall Jenner and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley among their fanbase, I’ve been in good company. Depending on a new Livingproof Restore Dry Scalp Treatment too, I’m also knocking back the Lumity supplements Cheryl swore by for her hair after having baby Bear.
But despite these pick-me-ups, it’s not been product crutches which have saved my self-confidence, although trying new things has been fun. Instead, the realisation that having come out the other side of what’s best described as hormone hell (let me tell you, my hair has been the least of it) has meant I’m just damn grateful.
No longer quite such an emotional wreck, I’m in control again, caring less about my locks and more about the strength I possess inside. This last month’s mornings have actually been way easier, with much less time spent in front of the mirror. I’ve discovered weight training while looking for a mood-booster during these gruelling few weeks. Addicted to exercise endorphins, and feeling that inner power, I’d far rather spend half an hour in the gym than styling my hair.
Having freshly straightened tresses has no impact on the kind of woman I am or successes I’ll achieve. Walking around without a tonged wave will probably be noticed by less than 1% of the people I chat to. Approximately.
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