For thousands of years, beauty, status and wealth have been measured by the length, condition, colour and celebrity appeal of the follicular crown. A glossy mane symbolises strength, health and vitality.
Follicle worshipping has become the norm all over the world, and humans undergo daily grooming rituals to appease the Bedhead Gods.
Even the Bible advocates good hair care, stating that rather than simply using a towel, Mary of Bethany washed Jesus’ feet with perfumed oil and then dried it with her hair… (while it was still on her head of course…she didn’t shave it off and then make a towel out of her hair…) – John 11:2 and 12:3.
In ancient civilisations, women’s hair was often elaborately dressed and set in different ways, with many choosing to wear wigs and extensions to add volume. For the ancient Greeks however, extra volume was rarely needed.
Stereotypically, Greek hair is known to be thick, curly, coarse and out of control. Most Greek babies burst forth from the womb inflicted with a plague of dark ringlets on their head (although my brothers’ turned golden when he was a few months old, then reverted back to the dark side), which continues to grow until they are engulfed by a hairy cloud.
While some of the male Greek population are then struck by the curse of the Monk’s Bald Spot, the females continue to battle with the wild haired monster long into old age.
I was born with a completely full head of hair which initially fell in soft waves that curled at the bottom. See below:
Then I hit puberty.
And my hair got ANGRY.
Throughout my secondary school years I refused to wear my hair down, and used to scrape it back into a tight ponytail that stuck out like Basil the Brush’s behind. It didn’t help that during this time I became a competitive swimmer, and my hair would spend hours trapped inside a wet, soggy, swimming cap, desperate to burst free a la Sideshow Bob.
When I turned 16 God threw me a lifeline and created SUNSILK – a range of hair care products that smoothed and comforted my wire woolly locks. Finally I was able to wear my hair down – although I kept it wet most of the time with a centre parting so that I resembled a clown that had been caught in a torrential downpour.
(No I am not sharing any pictures with you of this era – along with the eyebrows it’s just all too much!)
When I hit 18, my Sunsilk regime came to an abrupt halt as stores suddenly stopped selling it. I then had the mane cut shorter. BIG MISTAKE. When you have curly hair, it will always look shorter as the ringlets spring up at least an inch. So although my hair wasn’t that short, and to be fair, it looked quite good up in a soft ponytail, when down it ended up looking like a shoulder-length frizzy, Sideshow Bob/ Sponge-bob Square HEAD afro…with LAYERS.
At university, I experimented with different hair lengths as well as colour, going from a natural dark reddish brown, to caramel highlights (that came out ginger).
By the time I started working in film and television, I had worked out that if I just drowned my hair in lots of conditioner, only brushed it when wet, and then put even more leave-in conditioner on, my curls would form tight ringlets and most of the frizz could be held at bay.
80% of the films and TV shows I worked on were set in historical periods where women tended to have curly hair, so while other girls had to spend hours in hair and make-up, most of the time all I needed were a few well placed pins and the curls would hold in place as they needed no further volume. However, a lot of the hair stylists had no idea what to do with my mane and I remember one inexperienced young woman STRAIGHTENING my hair first, then trying to RECURL it. Naturally, my mane just didn’t want to play along and instead turned into a raging ball of furious FRIZZ.
EVENTUALLY after years of trial and error I have finally pinned down the products that work for me, although I regularly test out new hair care brands.
I have tried a range of shampoo and conditioners, some really cheap, some too expensive to dare talk about, but I still go back to Dove’s Nourishing Oil / Intensive Repair range for dry and damaged hair. I like the creamy shampoo and the conditioner makes my hair really soft. What’s more, at £2.99 my purse strings are still intact and Superdrug often do special promotions and buy one get one free deals.
I love the Umberto Giannini Curl Friends range from Boots – all the products smell great and the prices aren’t bad either – around £5 each (and don’t forget your Boots points!). I don’t bother with the shampoo/ conditioner/ hairspray and just go for the mousse and natural curls styling spray. I use the spray more than the mousse when my hair is dry, just to give the curls some moisture and have also started using the leave-in conditioner spray although it is a little bit too light for me.
I don’t wash my hair everyday as it tends to be on the drier side rather than greasy so needs time to calm down before I blitz it again. In actual fact, my haircare routine is quite quick and simple. I wash once (sometimes twice) with shampoo (depending on how the hair feels), then I brush through the conditioner and tend to leave it in. Leaving conditioner in is not generally considered a good idea, but for me, I need the extra weight to contain the frizz and help the curls to form properly. I only ever brush my hair when it is WET – brushing it dry only breaks the hair. I then wrap my hair in a towel and give it a gentle toweling. Then I apply a small amount of leave-in conditioner or hair cream and brush through with my FINGERS, leaving the hair to dry naturally.
After attending a hair show, I was offered a promotional deal on the Moroccan Oil hair range so bought myself a large bottle of Intense Curl Cream, which I have since started buying from eBay for between £20-£30 depending on the size. This is definitely more on the expensive side but I don’t need to use loads, and it smells divine.
A cheaper alternative is the Umberto Giannini Beauty Secrets Moisture Mask (£5.61) and cheaper still is Vitapointe Leave-in Conditioner (£2.09 from Boots, also available from Superdrug) – a product that I came across when filming, which I sometimes use just to smooth down the top of my hair if I’m doing a quick bun and my hair is starting to get to the frizzy phase.
Bumble and Bumble also have their own curl range (although I never really liked the smell and didn’t find the texture thick enough for my hair) and I use various oils if I want to put my hair up in a tight plait and recreate the ‘wet’ look. I only use hairspray for when my hair is up (NEVER when my hair is down and natural) – I find that WELLA holds the hair quite firmly in place.
So my TOP TIPS to tame that curly mane:
- Do not wash your hair too often – every other day is sufficient
- ONLY brush when wet
- Use plenty of conditioner – don’t be shy
- DO NOT blow dry – leave to dry naturally
- Length is the key
People regularly ask me if my hair is naturally curly. My usual response is, “No, I just stick my finger in the plug socket every morning until I get the frizz just so.”
Taming the mane can take time and effort, but the best thing to do is embrace what God gave you and take good care of it.
Despite the tough times, my hair and I are one (quite literally). I don’t prefer my hair straight, in fact I think it takes away a little bit of ‘me’. My curls represent the part of me that won’t ever be tamed, the part that will always be a little bit wild. And no amount of hairspray, will ever tie me down.
P.S. I should stress that this is NOT a beauty blog, and while I do use a semi-professional camera (SONY NEX 5R) I couldn’t spend too much time sorting out lighting, staging etc of the products as I was needed in the kitchen to smash some plates, so apologies if the product pictures are not on par with Vogue!