How I lost the battle of the frizz and then won.

I thought long and hard about writing a post about hair and my hair no less. Too trivial? Maybe, so this post languished in my draft box, grays pushing through…

One night, falling back into bed after my nightly bathroom empty out, it hit me right between my bleary eyes. As much as I champion the inner, isn’t the outer just as deserving of consideration?

Of course it is! And our dos are right on top, our crowning glory, speaking silent volumes of who we are. If your hair is meticulously cut, colored and groomed, amazing! Many of us are just happy to stay somewhere near the beaten path, mostly intact. As for our hair, whatever… And if you don’t give a hoot what anyone says about the way you look, more power to you! From time to time I’ve still been known to crumble under the unflinching eye of the fashion police.

So, to my hair.

I think it’s safe to say that the majority of Asians on the planet have straight hair…and there are a gazillion Chinese, so that’s a lot of straightness. I’m one of those…


(Me at 7 clinging to my mum. Note the lovely, shiny, STRAIGHT hair!)

…until I turned 13. As if struggling in a strict, traditional Chinese family where children are born to serve wasn’t enough, add to the mix, transitioning hormones and to literally top it all off, rebellious hair.


(Me at 13. Where did that wave come from? And that hideous tracksuit!)

My hair is the quintessential rebel without a cause, the Thelma and Louise of the hair world. (groan…)

Not only do I have healthy coverage, (people always say there’s a good chance I won’t go bald), but I’m ‘blessed’ with natural wave and horror of horrors, I have the dreaded frizz. Living in Australia’s humid, hippie central, Byron Bay, magnified my condition. It was either a sumo bun or 80s rock ponytail, while my fringe/bangs undulated from my forehead like an unruly canopy.


(Me a few years back in Byron Bay…frizz, frizz!)

In an attempt to comfort me, hairdressers often say we Asians have “such lovely, strong hair” and “so much of it!” (Hmmm…)

Most philosophically I hear you say, “We always want what we don’t have, don’t we?” And you’re quite correct but there’s a reason why “anti-frizz”, “smoothing argan oil” and “tames fly-aways” flood the supermarket shelves.

And now to my recent brilliant discovery.

I tried a plethora of smoothing shampoos, oils and serums with varying results…some worked okay, but only until the next shampoo. I wasn’t keen on anything toxic either and a huge no to formaldehyde (goodbye Brazilian Blowout!)  It’s important to add here that I hate constant blow-drying so I was looking for a minor miracle.

Next step. Speak to a hair professional. (Shout out to  “Object Hair Salon” in Santa Monica.) They patiently explained their two processes for straightening as follows:

  1. Japanese straightening: This is chemical, thus permanent, breaking the bonds of the hair to achieve that super straight, ironed look. The process takes 4 to 5 hours and is costly but lasts until the appearance of new growth. As for how re-growth integrates, I am unsure.*
  2. Keratin treatment: This is a non-chemical, therefore non-permanent process. Your hair will not be completely straight but will be softer and smoother and will retain your natural wave or shape. The process takes 2 to 3 hours and costs between $200 to $300 depending on the length of your hair. Two months from treatment and my hair is still falling well with blow-drying dramatically lessened.*

I opted for the Keratin and have not looked back! I’ve had so many compliments (not that I’m doing it just for those but, oh well…), many from my darling husband. Most importantly, I’ve never enjoyed my hair more!


(Breakfasting in New York earlier this year after a keratin treatment.)

So to my fellow embattled, frizzy colleagues, there’s hope, wonderfully summed up here:
“A lost battle is a battle one thinks one has lost.” Jean-Paul Sartre

Hmmm…now to find the keratin treatment equivalent for the inner…

*Please note: I am not a hair professional.


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