Why does my hair form locks, not a curtain - and can I change this?
November 15, 2017 4:43 PM   Subscribe

My hair likes to hang in strands. I can brush it, and then for a little while it will be curtain-esque, but then it just returns to being locks. It's wavy hair (probably around 1c); can look almost completely straight when brushed, but tends to air-dry in wavy locks. I do see other people with hair that is more of a homogeneous mass, and I think it looks nicer. Why does my hair not do this? Can I get it to do this?
posted by tangerine_poppies to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (26 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I have similar hair and similar envy. At one point I asked a few women who have nice curtain hair and found out that mostly they either a) they spend a lot of time heat-styling their hair or b) they get regular blowouts. (Some of them just won the genetic hair lottery.) Seriously though, I was shocked by the number of women I know who get professional blowouts every week.

Thus ended my dream of curtain hair. For special occasions, though, those things work. (Also carrying a brush around and brushing my hair every ten minutes. Sigh.) Lately I've been leaning in to the waviness by putting some curl product in and scrunching rather than brushing it out -- it's kind of the look right now anyway so this seems like the time to embrace unruly hair.
posted by goodbyewaffles at 5:22 PM on November 15, 2017 [2 favorites]

Maybe look at what people do to get a "piecey" textured look and do the opposite? Ask for a hair cut that does not involve any layers. Avoid the beach hair or wax type products in favor of blow drying + flat iron or curlers, heat-styling products, maybe hair spray...
posted by redorangeyellow at 5:27 PM on November 15, 2017

you need to blow dry it using a big round brush every time you wash it. if it gets damp or it's humid out, it will revert to waviness. that's pretty much it.
posted by poffin boffin at 5:48 PM on November 15, 2017 [9 favorites]

poffin boffin, I don't mind it being wavy - I was just describing my hair type - it's that I'd rather it didn't form into locks.
posted by tangerine_poppies at 6:05 PM on November 15, 2017

All hairs are not created equal. I think blowouts or DIY blowouts are your best bet.

(The grass is always greener; I have "curtain hair" and it absolutely will not do the fancy updos and braids I'd love to rock. It is very committed to pointing straight to the Earth's core.)
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:25 PM on November 15, 2017 [14 favorites]

Again, If you blow dry it with the round brush (I would add spray Tresommé on your hands and gently frame your hair with the spray on your hands) it will stay as a curtain until it gets wet or humid--like she said^^that is it.
posted by MidStream at 6:30 PM on November 15, 2017

Kerastase + Blow dryer (upside down) + round brush. L'Oreal makes that. Idk what their drugstore version of it is.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 6:40 PM on November 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

I have your hair. A blow out at a salon achieves the curtain look.
posted by stowaway at 6:41 PM on November 15, 2017

Use some gel or syling cream and a good blow out. You can do it at home, the trick is making sure your hair is 100% dry or it will get frizzy. If you want to reduce using heat on your hair wash it every other day and use some dry shampoo or talc if necessary and let it separate into locks the 2nd day if it looks okay. I often put mine in a barette or ponytail the 2nd day, my natural waves return a little and look nice pinned back.
posted by RichardHenryYarbo at 6:58 PM on November 15, 2017

Waves mean having them fall in to locks. The hair curls together supported by itself. There isn’t really a way of having curtain hair and wavy hair. You need straight or blown out style for curtain hair. The blown out hair is basically straightened with the curl or bend put in place where desired. Your hair might be curlier than you think so it is curling up more than you want.
posted by Swisstine at 8:24 PM on November 15, 2017 [10 favorites]

Yeah wavy plus curtain does not grok. Not without extreme time and effort. Maybe rarely but that’s clearly not you.

The grass is indeed always greener, know that plenty of people envy your wavy locks and wish their limp straight hair could do that without hours of work.

Also: I bet you could rock a sweet mad scientist look, try that maybe for a fun change of pace.
posted by SaltySalticid at 9:41 PM on November 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

if you do blow your hair out, I have found a sprinkling a dash of baking POWDER (NOT SODA!) on a hairbrush is as great as almost any dry shampoo I have tried. If you are willing to spend a bit more, Alder New York's Hair Powder is excellent.

I have found the Mason Pearson hairbrush to be pretty life-changing. It's certainly pricy, but lasts a lifetime. I probably spent a solid year thinking about it before I finally took the plunge, but it was worth every penny. It distributes the oils evenly throughout your hair leaving it really smooth and curtain-y.
posted by wowenthusiast at 10:18 PM on November 15, 2017

it's that I'd rather it didn't form into locks

yes. that is why i described how to achieve the smooth curtainy look.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:58 PM on November 15, 2017 [7 favorites]

What Poffin Boffin said. Either you embrace your natural waves - and IMHO I quite like a bit of piecey, wavy separation - or you blow it out with a round brush. If you do decide to go the blowout route, the Kerastase heat protectant Fluttering Hellfire linked to is EXCELLENT, and also get yourself a round boar bristle brush, rather than a brush with a ceramic core. The boar bristles really grab the hair and make it way easier to keep tension while you're blow drying it. Also, buy the most powerful hair dryer you can afford if you choose to go the blowout route and want to keep your sanity. I bought a Parlux 3200, because that's what every hair dresser I've ever been to has used, and the thing is a monster. Heavy, yes, but it blasts my hair dry so quickly and leaves a MUCH smoother, more curtainy finish.
posted by nerdfish at 1:59 AM on November 16, 2017

So I know the curtainy hair is usually straight, but this kind of look is what I was thinking of too - wavy but smooth, not bitty.
posted by tangerine_poppies at 2:01 AM on November 16, 2017

That picture looks like she may have let her hair dry in a braid.
posted by gennessee at 3:40 AM on November 16, 2017 [9 favorites]

gennessee has it. I have long wavy, frizzy hair that forms into locks and the easiest way to achieve the curtain is to wash it at night, leave it to dry until it's just damp and then sleep with it in a tight French braid.

Too wet and it just goes extra frizzy, bone dry it won't hold but just damp gets this effect in the morning. Brush lightly!
posted by freya_lamb at 4:34 AM on November 16, 2017

My hair has a slight wave to it, like you've described, and if I braid it when wet it will NEVER dry, and will also develop weird kinks. If I sleep with my hair in a braid, however, then brush it out in the morning, it will look like that picture. I prefer a more polished look, however, so I usually tong it to get smoother waves.

Also, those are 100% braid waves in that picture.
posted by nerdfish at 6:09 AM on November 16, 2017 [3 favorites]

The shape of the actual hair shaft is not quite round, so you hair trends to form ringlets or locks. That curtain of hair on tv ads? Silicone. I have wavy/frizzy hair. I use a hair shine product whose 1st ingredient ends in -icone. It makes hair slippery so it reduces frizz. I also use some hair gel.
posted by theora55 at 7:02 AM on November 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

The picture you've posted is of someone with naturally straight hair that has been braided not someone with naturally wavy hair. Wavy or curly hair settles into locks, its a feature not a bug ;)
posted by missmagenta at 7:28 AM on November 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

Tangerine poppies that's what my hair looks like after I let it air dry to wavy and then brush it. (Or also if I've had it in braids.)

I don't know that there's anything in particular that I do though. I would also say that you have to be really careful with this dance because it easy turns into triangle head (close to the scalp and frizzy on the rest) or just plain frizzy in general.
posted by raccoon409 at 8:22 AM on November 16, 2017

My first thought when I looked at the picture you posted is that woman has massive amounts of hair. It's not just long, but also very thick and very full. If you don't have equally thick and full hair, with the same texture as she has, your hair just won't end up looking like hers.

Also, as the debate here shows, no on here has any idea how that woman's hair was styled prior to that picture.

I spent years and years hoping for hair styles that my hair was never going to support. I really turned a corner in my (hair) self image when I accepted that I (very fine, somewhat thin hair, so fluffy, not much body) was never going to be able to just bring in a picture of, say, a person with thick hair with tons of body at the roots and have a hairstylist magically give me that hair.

I'm happier now that I have my hair cut and styled for its best look, rather than trying to get what other people (with entirely different follicles) have. (I also accepted that lots of work and heat styling is involved in most great hair we envy on other people.)
posted by Squeak Attack at 8:41 AM on November 16, 2017 [3 favorites]

I have had hair like the picture you posted. Can confirm: that is hair that has been braided and let dry that way, then brushed with a bristle brush. When my hair is very long, it's more or less straight because it's so heavy (I have A LOT of hair, which is another factor in that picture). When it's shorter like it is now, it's wavy, 2a ish, and I get locks unless I get a blowout. It's just how natural waves roll. If you want waves that are curtainy, you need to first blow it out, then use a curling iron or other heat-styling thingamajiggy.
posted by soren_lorensen at 9:43 AM on November 16, 2017

I think I have hair like the hair you want -- wavy and all kind of "one thing," not in pieces. It isn't a beautiful perfectly smooth curtain of sculpted waves (that Hollywood 'wavy' hair look I think requires a salon blowout and that is why you are getting lots of comments suggesting you do that) but it is definitely what I would describe as a mass, rather than tendrils. And it isn't super long, either.

The good news or bad news is that I do absolutely nothing to it -- basic no-frills shampoo, no conditioner, air dry, brush with cheap square plastic brush. The only time it gets stringy is when I go to the salon and they put Stuff in it and do special drying techniques -- they seem to think I want it that way, and that it is a feature, not a bug.

Are you putting anything in your hair at all that isn't designed to wash out in the shower? For me, any sort of product makes the strands stick together and form small alliances, and then it becomes strings. I also do not recommend combing or brushing it until it is 100% dry, because that pulls the hair apart into little ropes, and for me they seem to set that way until re-washed.
posted by space snail at 5:55 PM on November 16, 2017

Sorry, also, do you have a reference picture of someone whose hair has the look you're trying to avoid? We all might be picturing different things for your starting condition.
posted by space snail at 5:58 PM on November 16, 2017

Sorry this has taken so long - space snail, here is a photo of my hair after air-drying naturally (in this case, this is it in the morning after going to sleep with it damp, but it looks like this whether or not I sleep on it).
posted by tangerine_poppies at 2:52 AM on November 25, 2017

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