The Image section received quite a bit of e-mail about Dawn Fallik's article on curly hair ("There was a little girl who had a little curl," April 22). Most of the e-mails commiserated with her search for the perfect products, but other readers took offense at the word "Jewfro," which the writer used to describe her own hair.
Dawn Fallik responds: "I'm a practicing Jew and I'm proud of my heritage and my hair. I was simply talking about my reality in my words, and not taking myself so seriously. My words were not meant to be offensive in any way."
Back to hair: Kathleen Geist, of West Point, took the time to write out a thorough list of rules for women who have the opposite problem. Below is part of her letter:
I have always had straight hair. People used to ask "do you iron it to get it that straight?" I wish it had enough curl to warrant ironing!
When you have very straight, very fine hair:
Forget about styling. If your hair will not curl, curling irons, styling products, and blow dryers cannot change that. Way back, for my senior prom, my mom took me to a stylist to attempt to do something with my then very long, straight hair. After a long session with the rollers and dryer bonnet, the stylist removed the first roller - and his jaw dropped just as fast as my hair. I've learned the hard way that I can get my hair to hold a curl for about an hour, max.
2. "Styling" for very straight hair consists of just these options: braid it, put it in a ponytail (if you can keep the hair ties from slipping out), or clip it.
3. Clips, combs, hair bands, and hair ties tend to slide out of your hair, unless you tie it back extremely tight - which causes your hair to either break (yuck - split ends) or be pulled out (so now you have thinning, fine, straight hair!)
4. Either find a very good stylist who understands totally straight hair, or give up and do it yourself. The best cuts for very straight hair are to go with one length. When you have totally straight hair, every clip of the scissors shows, because there is no wave or curl to blend it in.
Layered cuts just lie there and stick out like roofing shingles. Growing your hair out from these failed layered cuts is misery because there is no way to disguise the unevenness of the hair lengths, and you tend to look like a pre-schooler who took scissors to her head.
My Straight-Girl Rules
Always use conditioner, but in most cases apply it only toward the ends, not the roots. If you apply conditioner to your scalp, it tends to weigh your hair down so that it looks slicked down.
2. Do not blow-dry (or else now you have staticky, fly-away straight hair).
3. Do not brush. Use a wide-tooth comb to cut down on static.
4. Cut your hair all at one length, such as a chin-length bob, or shoulder length.
5. Do not attempt to use styling gels or your hair will just look oily or slimy, and the curls you set will still fall out after a maximum of an hour or two anyway.
6. A very light hair spray can help keep flyaway hair out of your face once you've braided, tied or clipped it into place.
7. Try a permanent if you are brave (I am not, so I never have) but be warned, it will look miserable growing out (super-straight hair with curl at the ends - ludicrous!), and you cannot bend the rules and get a permanent more often than recommended.
Hair products that work for me
Your Crown & Glory for Thinning Hair
shampoo and conditioner (My advice is, don't be vain about the name, the stuff does give very fine hair body and texture, and is one of my favorites).
Jane Carter Solution scalp renew - which I use pre-shampoo with any other shampoo brand that I use other than Your Crown & Glory. It gives my hair texture, body and a good feel.
Aubrey's Organics has a good and varied line of shampoos and conditioners that straight-haired girls can experiment with. I've had more success with some than with others. I especially like the Egyptian Henna shampoo and the Green Tea conditioner.
Burt's Bees Super Shiny Grapefruit and Sugar Beet shampoo and conditioner give straight hair a great shine.