Hair & Fashion

Curly Girly Goes Simply Smooth

“Bad, Bad Hair Day” by downing.amanda @

I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with my hair. I’m a sproingy girl, so my wild curls kind of mesh with my personality. In middle school, my straight-haired friends would marvel at my effortlessly formed curly-Q’s; some would even stick their fingers inside the corkscrews and squeal with delight. (Seriously, they did.) And all the while, I coveted their straight, blunt cuts. I watched them brush and comb their hair, stared as they absently dragged their fingers through their locks. Après shower, I slathered my hands with V05, a thick petroleum-like product, rubbed it all over my hair, and never touched my hair again for the entire day. If I dared to twirl or twist a dry tendril, it was over: frizz city.

Shauna, The Miracle Worker

About a year ago, I went to a fancy-schmancy event where I was the only woman in attendance with seriously curly hair. Everyone else had perfectly smooth, pin-straight, flat hair. It was confirmed. Clearly, G-d hated me. As we posed for a photograph, I sighed and commented how unfair it was that everyone else had such perfect hair while mine was so unruly.

“Honey,” said one of the women, “You need to meet Shawna.”

It took a while, but eventually, I found myself in Salon LuSandra, not my regular salon, thinking about my husband’s words that morning before I left.

“I love your curls,” Hubby said again with emphasis adding, “Your curls are one of the things that most attracted me to you…”

“You’ll learn to love other things…” I told Hubby, smooching him on the cheek. “And it’s only semi-permanent. In four months, the wild woman shall return.”

I sat on the wooden chair in the salon for about 35 seconds before an extremely adorable blonde materialized and introduced herself as Shawna: the woman who was going to make my curls go away.

There was no time for nerves. Shawna wrapped my neck in a black towel and had my head tipped back in the sink before I could ask but-what-if-my-husband-doesn’t-love-me-after-we-do-this? She washed my hair three times. She scrubbed and scoured my hair as if I were a nasty little street urchin who hadn’t washed in weeks, maybe months.

Once in her chair, Shawna applied a chemical mixture to every strand of my hair from root to tip. She explained that once she was finished, I would have to wait for 15-20 minutes to let the product saturate each follicle. She told me that if I did everything properly, the process would reduce 50% of the curl and 100% of the frizz.

And by “frizzy,” this is what I mean.

Truth be told, I could not imagine what that even meant. I’ve always had frizz. I have always been the girl with crazy hair. In the decades before there were long aisles devoted to hair care products, if I attempted to use a blow dryer, I emerged a wild lioness – and I don’t mean in a sultry, beautiful way. I mean I had a mane that was enormous, fluffy and uncontrollable.

As she stood behind me in her black and white polka-dotted smock with skinny red trim, Shawna applied the chemicals. Wearing short black gloves that stopped just above her wrists, she painted and combed, making sure to coat every single strand, fussing over my tresses the way no one has ever fussed before. She was serious about this procedure.

That’s when Shawna reviewed The Rules associated with Smooth Keratin Treatment. She told me that for the next four days I could not get my hair wet. No shampoo. No conditioner. I promised:

On my honor, I do swear, not to wear my hair in a ponytail. Or use barrettes. Or clips or hats or headbands or any other fashion accessory that might leave a crease in my hair. I promise not to tuck my hair behind my ears. I promise to sleep carefully and, upon waking, I promise to touch up any bumps or lumps with a blow dryer and/or flatiron. I promise to wear a shower-cap while washing. I promise not to venture outside if there is any sign of precipitation.

But I was worried. I knew I had to teach over the next four days. What if I had to get to school while my hair was “curing” – and it just happened to be raining? How would I get inside the building without getting my hair wet? I made elaborate plans, involving umbrellas and shower caps and running shoes. I considered which colleague would not think less of me if I needed to leave a flat-iron in her office. In case of a hair emergency. In the end, I decided it would just be easier to cancel classes in the unfortunate case of poor weather.

Three hours into the procedure, I was amazingly relaxed. Maybe it was the cyclopentasiloxane (one of the ingredients in the Simply Smooth product). Maybe it was the prospect of no frizzies or the idea of not having to devote so many hours to hair care. Maybe it was just that Shawna knew what she was doing. Because she knew what she was doing.

Meanwhile, people wandered in and out and bubbled over with testimonials. They used words like “life-altering”: clearly, everyone loves this keratin treatment.

Eventually, Shawna removed my plastic hat, which was good because my eyes had started to tear up a little bit under there. She grabbed a dryer and started blowing-out my newly chemically treated hair. I was confused. My hair was still huge.

“Now we flat-iron every teeny-tiny section about five times,” Shawna explained.

For over an hour, Shawna tugged at my head.

And then it happened.

Someone walked by and said, “Oooh. Gorgeous hair.”

Could I have “gorgeous hair”?

And I realized (or I thought that maybe, possibly) they could have been talking about my mop, except it wasn’t a mop anymore. It was flat, shiny hair that looked healthy and vibrant and felt soft.

“Try not to touch it,” Shawna said.

The following four days were all about the hair. About not touching it and avoiding water.

Here are the results:

Day 1 – no curls. And no shampoo.

On this morning, I showered (with a shower cap) and used a flatiron to dry any wet areas. See that one little “dip”? I got rid of that!

Day 2. Still no shampoo.
Day 3. Stinky.

This is where things got tough. I had to conference with  students, and I felt like my scalp may have smelled more than a little funky. I asked a good friend to give a sniff (good friends do things like this), and she said, “Not so bad.” I pressed on, impressed that my hair on day 3 looked even better than day 1!

Day 4. Definitely wanting a shower!

I can’t lie. Day 4 was rough. Our family went to a football game, and I was terrified that I would see people I knew because – even though I had been showering my body, my head was stinky. Or, at least, I felt like it was. It was. I’m just putting it out there. I mean, I was coming up on 96 hours without shampoo.

Day 10

So, this curly-haired girl now has straight hair. What used to take hours to try to accomplish can now be easily achieved in under 25 minutes. Do I miss my curls? Kinda, but this is a fun little hair vacation because I know they’ll be back. They always come back. And besides, if I don’t want to blow dry, I can wear my hair like this:

Wavy hair with no product!

So I can wear my hair straight or wavy. And the biggest surprise of all? Hubby likes it! Only downside, I never realized how many products I would need to buy to have this hair. I had to buy a blow dryer (never had one before), a flat-iron (never had that either), and I had to buy a boat load of products (shampoos, conditioner, serums, oils) that are specifically formulated to extend the life of the procedure; otherwise, the curls will return more quickly!

The procedure has confirmed it for me: curls or no curls, I’m still a wild woman. And while I am enjoying the change, I kinda like knowing my inner wild woman and my outer wild woman will be reunited in full force around March. 😉

Has anyone else had a “hair experience”? Do tell!

tweet me @rasjacobson

36 thoughts on “Curly Girly Goes Simply Smooth

  1. Great articles and pics. Your hair was always matching to your personality…although looks really great straight. (Hubby must be enjoying the “other woman” !) I wish I could have “multiple personality” hair. Mine is STRAIGHT!

    Even when I modeled my hair for Revlon back in High School…they would perm my hair for a shoot and it would be out the next day. UGH. The chemicals and gunk they used to then make it look the way they wanted (taking my waist long hair and turning it into a braided birds’ nest on top of my head – complete with birds!) took days to wash out. Because of that I need wash and go….I will not fuss. But simple and easy going I guess fits my personality. Enjoy your straight hair-or curly hair. You look beautiful both ways. 🙂 Enjoy.

    1. Susan:

      It is definitely higher maintenance than the “shake and go” to which I am accustomed, but I do feel like it makes me look more polished. I am sure I will appreciate the process even more when the deep freeze comes, and I do not have crunchy icicle-hair hanging down my back. 😉

  2. Your hair doesn’t matter, Jakes. First real picture of you I’ve seen. Your smile and eyes radiate an effervescence and glow that is refreshing and delightful. You are smile beautiful. Now my hair. That is a problem. It is getting so white I can’t get a second look at the nursing home. When I walk through the mall checking out the babes their eyes look right through me as though I am now composed of invisible molecules. In order to get two grandchildren, I had to trade my radiant chestnut brown hair with glitter specks of amber and gold for white hair. The joke is on Mr. Age. I got the better deal!

    1. Carl, you are such a sweet talker/writer. How can anyone look through you? You just need to slither up to someone at a Starbucks or something: not a creepy slither, but a “hey-let’s-talk-about-the-world” casual kind of slither. I am sure you can find love in the mall AND the nursing home.

  3. Love this post! I have crazy curly hair too – little ringlets that fall and fly at will…

    You look great with your new straight hair, but when you get back to your curls I suggest heading to your nearest bookstore and flipping through Lorraine Massey’s Curly Girl handbook. She came up with a new way to take care of and cut curly hair. I found a local salon that has a handful of “curly girl” certified (yes, you can travel to NYC and get certified in “the method” of cutting curly hair) stylists… they’ve worked wonders on my hair!

    1. I have never heard of Lorriane Massey’s Curly Girl Handbook, but it sounds like a necessary purchase. I actually like my curly hair, I just wanted to try and see what this procedure was all about. As I said, it’s like a fun “hair vacation,” but I’ll be ready when the curls return. (They will return, right? I mean, hair always grows back eventually… gulp!)

  4. Well, as one of the straight haired people, I used to covet curls. (Also coveted long hair, but I ain’t never gonna be one of those Rapunzel types—all that hair does nothing for my face in the end.) I never realized how much work went into maintaining curly hair, though—ack. Perhaps I’ll be able to live vicariously through our kid (well, assuming it’s a girl) because my husband has basically a ‘fro up top and had beautiful curls as a child, so curls could be in the cards for our progeny. Now I just have to hope Kid will let me comb them and take care of them without screeching like a banshee at every hair wash (like I used to do). Enjoy your silken tresses! 😀

  5. Bravo! A dream comes true! Congrats to your hairdresser doing a fine job. Cheers to you for following directions to a tea! Enjoy your new look…CHANGE is good. Keep us informed what you plan to do in March. Either way your wit, talents, smile, and personality remain.

    (I have curly hair and I straightened my hair once; interestingly, it was harder for me to take care of, so I went back to my curly hair. I was never sorry for the experience.) Enjoy life to your fullest.

  6. I totally understand where you’re coming from! When I was younger, I always envied the girls with perfect straight hair. From when I was in kindergarten, I wondered why my mom gave me crazy hair styles. She always tells me that was the style. As I grew up, my hair was frizzy and poofy. I always had to pull it back into a tight or messy bun so it could hide some of the frizz. In first grade I got lice. 🙁 It was horrible! My mom had to chop all my hair off, and I had to leave it a short puffy frizzy style because it was too short to pull back. When I got older I tried to dye my hair different colors to make it look prettier. It did not work. My friends started telling me they straightened their hair with an iron, so I tried it. Eventually, my hair fried out. It was horrible; it smelled putrid and looked dead and frizzy. I eventually got a nice straightener in high school and learned what it meant to have nice, beautiful hair. 🙂 I was very pleased!

    1. Leanna, I cannot believe you even mentioned the “L” word here! Did you not see my blog on the vermin? Ick! I live in fear of getting them. Serious. Utter. Terror.

      It’s nice to know that you can relate to “poofy-hair” woes; although, I must confess I am finding this treatment is not much of a time saver. As a person who likes to exercise, shower, then get up and go, this feels like a lot more work.

  7. Renee, What a great blog! Unlike you, I am addicted to this life saving Keritan treatment. This frizz remover has enhanced my life in so many ways! I can now eat dinner at restaurants with outside seating, go for evening walks, leave the house when it is raining or humid out and travel to Florida for vacations. It is worth every penny and I will continue to do it every 4 mos. til my hair falls out (and then I will buy myself some beautiful straight haired wigs) 😉

  8. Ok, yes, you do look great. But I must admit, I am very happy that your curls will eventually return. You may have felt like the oddball with curly hair, but your curls were beautiful and you stood out as the hottie with the curls. No one wants to blend in and not be noticed…just sayin’. I love your hair but glad your curls will eventually return.


  9. OMG! You know, the hair is always better on the other side of the head. Ok – I know that’s not how the expression goes, but you know what I mean. My daughter covets stick-straight hair, but instead has natural wave/body. Her hair is thick, thick, thick – just like mine.

    No hair stories, here – just always hating it in whatever shape or form it’s in – but I must say, your tresses are looking terrific! How do you like the new “do” and how did your students/colleagues respond?

    1. On the first day after the treatment, some students actually did not recognize me. And over Thanksgiving, I went to a party where an old friend had absolutely NO idea who I was. I think most people think Renée = curly hair.

      That part is kinda fun.

  10. Okay Fryber Renee, you’ve said this before but now it’s my turn. The overlap between our lives is just getting freaky. First of all, in the part of my life that doesn’t really exist anymore, I’ve managed two salons (one men’s, one women’s). I know way more than I should about what you’re talking about including the gestapo hair rules and the amount of product and time it takes to look “natural.” That industry is insane. Yes, you look great.
    But the REAL freaky thing is how in the world did you just write a post about your hair when that is the exact topic coming up for me next Monday? I mean I’m writing about my hair, not yours. So bizarre! Anyway, get the story next Monday.
    Keep being you and rock what you got, curly or straight.

    1. Hold onto your hat. I purposely did not post a blog today because it included that video clip that you posted in your blog the other day (on failing students) and in fact, my whole topic was called “End of the Semester Blues,” and it was about students who suddenly wake up, shocked that they are failing. I didn’t want to be accused of plagiarism.

      Meanwhile, you managed salons? Okay, seriously, something I have considered on more than one occasion: getting my degree in cosmotology.

      I think we really are like the Wonder Twins. (You be the one who always has to take the form of water.) 😉

  11. My hair is poker straight and as fine and soft as rabbit fur. It has no body, no volume. Not a wave, not a kink, not a curl. I have had perms, root perms – I’ve tried everything. I don’t want frizzy hair but my hair refuses to do anything except lie flat on my head.

    It’s a hard life.

  12. Most of the time girls want straight hair, but all my life I dreamed of crazy curls! I naturally have wavy hair but, in 6th grade, I had my Nani give me a perm. This way I could have gigantic rock star hair! I feel like everyone who has straight hair wants curly hair, and everyone who has curly hair wants straight. The other night I was at this party when this random girl gave me a compliment; “I wish I had your hair! I am so jealous.” This made me realize that getting a perm once every year was the right decision. Plus, I believe in being different, that’s why I love curly hair over straight! You’re so lucky to have natural curly hair like that because most people envy body and volume. Having straight hair is a nice change but curly hair is definitely the way to go.

  13. Mrs. Jacobson, as you know one thing we had in common the first day of class was our crazy curly-Q hairstyle. Not many people are blessed with the natural curl; many envy the voluptuous spirals so, in that sense, I feel we are very lucky! But as many people say, “You always want what you can’t have!” Many individuals with curly hair dream and imagine of what they would look like with silky sleek strands of hair. It seems the maintenance would be much simpler and less time consuming. With curly hair if you take a brush to your head the curls separate and multiple causing a frizzy look, like a lion’s mane, but with straight hair it only clears the knots and makes the hair appear soft and silky.

    I know that curly hair takes a lot of care, product, time and effort to achieve a presentable style. Personally I’m known for always having hair products handy because my hair is one of my prized physical features, but my crazy obsession with my hair is almost necessary because curly hair seems to have a mind of its own. If I decide to straighten my hair, not only does it take forever and have multiple steps in order for an appealing sleek result, but also it is easily un-straightened. If my hair comes in contact with any humidity, condensation, water, or moisture I’m in store for an Afro to form. My hair is at the top of my list for my daily morning routine, and it is the last thing I think about before bedtime. Luckily, I have tricks and habits to prevent any type of hair crisis.

    I would like to state that I am very impressed and shocked by the results of your chemical straightening experiment. Your hair looks very nice, and it seems you received the results you wanted and expected according to your blog. I don’t know if I could get the strength to try the treatment though, only because I’ve grown to accept and like my hair for the way God made it. But props to you, it is a change of pace and a good look for you congratulations!

    1. Thanks for the props, Heather. I am truly amazed at the different looks you are able to achieve, and each one looks amazing! You must have some amazing tricks up your sleeve (and obviously some amazing product knowledge). Maybe at some point this teacher can become the student! 😉

  14. You are lucky to have curly hair. My hair is pin straight and when I want to curl it, I have trouble. I use many products in my hair and within in 30 minutes, it goes flat and looks terrible. Your hair does look really good, but I agree with everyone else: with your personality, your hair does go with you! Showing each day on how the product work really can help others who want change their curls to straight hair. I bet you feel a difference in weight on your head. This a great blog, by far my favorite.

  15. Straight hair is much more work to take care of then curly hair, but straight hair looks high-quality and tame. Also, it is nice to try something new once in a while. Keratin treatments are beneficial when you have straight hair; it makes your hair softer and gives your hair volume and body. It amazes me that you’ve never owned a blow dryer or a flat iron, because when you have straight hair, those are necessities. Also if you needed to do a quick touch up, there are mini flat irons that you can carry in your purse. Trust me I have one and it’s a miracle.

    1. Kayla:

      I was not kidding that I had NO idea about what to do with my hair. Before this treatment I would get out of the shower, comb, apply mousse, and go. Can you imagine? After reading some of your essays and having some discussions with you about how much time and money black women spend on their hair, I KNOW you cannot fathom this reality, but it is true! (Actually, I did have one hair dryer back in the 1980s. It was my friend Jessica’s and it accidentally came home from summer camp with me, but I never used it. It sat in a drawer for years!) I have never even heard about mini-flat-irons! I think I might have to get one of those! You’ll have to tell me what kind to get. I’m a little lost, like a babe in the woods.

      For me, not having to wash my hair everyday is really nice, but I feel like I should buy stock in plastic shower camps! 😉

  16. I think it’s funny, how women who have straight hair crave curls while curly haired women desire the sleek, straight look. For example, everyone has their own preference, but is there no end to the trend? I happen to think a lot of how women change their hair has to do with what “society” thinks is beautiful.

    I have pin straight hair. Seriously, it looks like I iron it sometimes, yet I have always wanted a mop of curls. I think they are so pretty. For example, being a student of Professor Jacobson’s, I have seen her unruly mop of curls. I’m envious of how she can pull off both the curly and straight look.

    After reading this blog, I’m glad she did it for “her” and not for anybody else. Many women I know have self-image issues. It depresses me when someone who’s absolutely stunning ruins it with a new hair style because their trying to stay “in style.” For example, my friend Alice had the best curls ever. They were like the singer Shakira’s. She had the hair I always wanted, but then she chopped it all off because someone told she would look better with straight short hair. I could smack that person. She looks alright, but not as good as she did. I hate how one idiotic comment made my friend change her style.

    One’s image of beauty should be all her own. Professor Jacobson changed her hair style because she knows who she is on the inside, so she can mess around with the outside; this is a trait worth idolizing.

    1. Okay Megan:

      I know grades are due soon, but using my name and “idolizing” in the same sentence? C’mon, that is full court press suck-up! 😉 For future, I rather prefer the idea of being worshipped. I feel confident this error won’t happen again. 😉

  17. Dude! I have so totally been looking for someone with my kind of hair to answer this question for me!! And here you are!!! Now that I’ve used up my allotment of exclamation points for the week. . . my hairdresser was suggesting this treatment to me even though I don’t want to style my hair straight. I want to keep the curls but ditch the frizz. She says it will relax the curls “somewhat”. I’m wanting to know how much that is really- are you still curly if you don’t blow-dry and straighten?

    1. OMG! JM! I never saw this question! One year later, here is the answer: when I did the keratin treatment, it was awesome. Everyone I know does it and loves it. See Sheryl up there? She’s my sister-in-law! She goes every 4 months. FOr me, my hair is so low maintenance that trying to keep up with this regime, seemed impossible. I am just a jump-out-of-the-shower kind of girl.

      That said, it looked really good even when I didn’t straighten. Much more calmed down. No frizzies – which is hard to explain, but it was miraculous.

      It also meant I couldn’t go in swimming pools or oceans. Both undo the process. I had to buy all these expensive serums and shampoos & conditioners. For me, blowing my hair dry started to take so much time, I just went back to my old look.


      Would I do it again?


      If someone else were paying for it! 😉

      Did you ever try it?

  18. Ha! I love it. Thanks for pointing me here, Renee. Your conclusion is spot on: Our hair doesn’t change who we are… But it can make it dang tough to feel happy and relaxed. 😉 You rock straight, wavy, frizzy and curly, lady!

  19. I actually snorted… and laughed out loud at this post. It is exactly what I wanted to hear. Google has not satiated my research needs on whether I should do this treatment. My last hair cut was almost entirely talking about this subject of getting Keratin!

    My stylist convinced me that my hair dryer might explode on me, so I threw it away. Like you, I have no memory of the last time I must have used a hair dryer… maybe sometime in the 1980’s? But now I’m realizing a diffuser is a good thing and that I could set my curly hair better with it. I’m in that “do I work harder on my hair” or cheat and try Keratin? But from what you’re saying, you end up spending all that money and have to blow dry to make it straight so… I guess a question is, do you enjoy your frizz free, low maintenance curls? (I’m also a serious wash and go girl.)

    The one thing for *SURE* I’m taking away from this is to try to get it done on a Wed night so I am stinky over the weekend…and not in small rooms with clients (I’m a grad student in marriage and family counseling.)

    1. I have been curly again until two days ago. This time I did it myself with the help from my neighbor when it came to the hot iron. I will eventually put a post up about it. It was a product called Organix or something, and @GDRPempress swears by it. So I’m trying it. It is supposed to work for 30 days. We shall see.

      Now that the weather is getting colder where I live, I don’t want to go outside with a wet head all the time.


      I’m giving it another whirl.

      We’ll see how long this lasts! Nice to meet you! Last time, the professional job lasted 4 months, but BOY was it a lot of upkeep. This will represent a short-term change.

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