New chemo curls.

BoingBoingBoingBoingBoingBoing Registered Users Posts: 22
Past - Long lanky, wimpy, uncolored dry gray hair. Low humidity = straight; high humidity = frizz. It used to be very thick and required a pick to comb through.

Present - I had chemotherapy last summer and when my hair finally started growing back in October, it was disorientingly curly! (And a little darker.) The oncologist said that my hair might get curlier, but even she is surprised at the amount of boing! Every time I look in the mirror, it's a shock. It's currently about 2-3/4" long pulled straight and curls to 1-1/8" from my scalp. It's not thick, either. I had absolutely no idea what to do.

A friend recommended DevaCurl products - what a difference they make. I might just get the hang of this someday.

I think my hair is category 3-A, but I'm unsure of all the parameters. The lumen of the curls is about the size of a blackboard chalk stick, not that of sidewalk chalk. And when the instructions say a lumen size of a "Sharpie", do they mean a thin pointed kind or the one with a thick chisel-point? So much curly jargon, too .^_^.

(Question - Are chemo curls generally permanent or transient?)


  • BoingBoingBoingBoingBoingBoing Registered Users Posts: 22
    I have read the "Texture Typing" section, but just don't understand how to translate it to my hair.

    For instance, the curly patterns confuse me right off the bat. I guess I'm not yet curl-sensitive enough because I swear that types 2C through 3B look so similar to me that I can't separate them with confidence. Maybe it's because my hair is so much shorter than the example photos that I'm having trouble comparing.

    My hair used to be so thick that I was unable to get a standard barrette around it. I had to use three thick hair elastics to support a ponytail because it weighed so much. I could only comb it with a pick or wide tooth comb in the shower with conditioner on it. Now that it's curly, it's much thinner, but I still can't see my scalp through it. So, it's weird calling it thick even though it seems to fit the definition.

    The rest of the hair parameters have totally confused me. Is it really so important to pin it all down?

    How long does your hair have to be to get it styled? If I pull it straight, it's about 2-3/4" long, but sprongs back to about 1 to 1-1/8" proud of my scalp.

    Thanks for your help.
  • kathymackkathymack Registered Users Posts: 9,999 Curl Neophyte
    Curl type is relatively unimportant because it's transient (weather, products, technique, etc.) It's hair properties that really matter. Here's a link to help you with yours Curly Hair Basics | Live Curly Live Free I just checked on that website and her very informative e-book's price dropped to $3.99! It's all the information in one place. Once you know your properties, it will be easier for people to help you.

    The tighter the curl, the less length you need to see it. If it's looks good with no styling help, all the better for you. You don't really need to do anything until you don't like how it looks. You may want to start with a good haircut to get some shape (avoid it looking like a triangle) and go from there. There are lots of people on the boards who will help you along your curly journey.
    3a (Corkicelli), highlighted, fine, low porosity
    SE PA

    HGs: Anything Sevi; Curly Kinks Satin Roots, Curlycue ReNew and Coil Jam; homemade FSG and okra gel; soap bars; UFD Curly Magic; Botanical Spirits Jellies, CJ Repair Me, Aloe Fix
  • kathymackkathymack Registered Users Posts: 9,999 Curl Neophyte
    Forgot to add this. Here's a link to Curl Junkie Marsha's blog Curl Junkie - Natural Hair Care for all types of Curly Hair!: My 2 cents on Protein/Texture/Porosity/Moisture Balance! :-) She gives visuals of hair to help you with texture.
    3a (Corkicelli), highlighted, fine, low porosity
    SE PA

    HGs: Anything Sevi; Curly Kinks Satin Roots, Curlycue ReNew and Coil Jam; homemade FSG and okra gel; soap bars; UFD Curly Magic; Botanical Spirits Jellies, CJ Repair Me, Aloe Fix
  • BoingBoingBoingBoingBoingBoing Registered Users Posts: 22
    Thank you, kathymack.

    I read the Live Curly, Live Free booklet and looked at the "Curl Junkie" blog. I am starting to understand some of the jargon and finer points of curliness. My hair is now approaching 4" long and curls back to about 1-1/4 - 1-1/2" proud of my scalp. My hair is also darker than before chemo. Since some hair has started to normally fall out again, I have hair available for the experiments.

    1. TEXTURE - Obviously fine.

    2. POROSITY - The strands are very smooth and feel very slick (like silk embroidery threads) when I stroke them the wrong way. I think this means low porosity.

    3. ELASTICITY - Oh my - it stretches so much that I'm shocked! But within a few moments, it rebounds to its pre-stretched length. No threat of breakage at all.

    4. DENSITY - In spite of the very fineness of the strands now, it seems that my hair has remained thick. I am definitely concerned about looking like I have "poofy" helmet hair.

    I TRIED: Twice I've used conditioner instead of any-poo. The curls now look thin, like coils of spaghetti on a plate, instead of fatter. This could be a function of the increasing length, though, right?

    I TRIED: I've been washing my hair in the morning before going anywhere, but it means that my hair is wet when I travel around. Since I had to leave very early the other day, I slept through the night with a long-sleeved cotton shirt wrapped around my head after I washed it. It gave my husband hysterics. In the morning, the curls were plastered to my scalp like spit curls with bobbie pins. I had to re-wash my hair anyway and leave with it wet.

    I TRIED: I combed with a standard comb after my hair dried for the first time since it started to grow back (indeed, for the first time in many years) and even though it's only 4" long, I got instant snarls. Back to wide-tooth combs and only when wet after the conditioner's in.

    I still have the cottony frizz that I hoped to get rid of with the conditioner washing. With low porosity, that means that the conditioner doesn't get in anyway, correct? Maybe I should not use any conditioner?

    I read a thread here somewhere about the importance of using apple cider vinegar rinses, but from the booklet, I see that I shouldn't be using it with each washing. Maybe that caused frizz to remain.

    One thread here said that the chemo curls lasted only 3 months for one poster's mother. Someone else told me that they lasted for a year with their neighbor. An oncology nurse I saw recently said that they can last for years in many long-term treatment patients she's worked with.

    It's already been more than 3 months for me (my hair started to curl when it reached ~ 1/2" long in mid-November). Maybe they're here for a while. I'm starting to get used to them and the more people I know that see me with them are fascinated and insist they like them (even though I look like a grey-haired Harpo Marx).

    Here are 2 photos of my new curls. With increasing length, a few ringlets are starting to form. The lumen is still about the size of blackboard chalk, though. The pattern is somewhere between 2 and 3, I think.

    Thank you for helping me get a handle on my new-found curliness.
  • chupiechupie Registered Users Posts: 5,280 Curl Connoisseur
    I kind of wonder, with your description of your pre-chemo hair, if you didn't have some real curl/strong wave back then. My guess is you did and didn't know it. VERY often someone who says their hair is just dry and frizzy really have a curl or strong wave pattern. Soooooo, you may very well have these curls from here out if that is the case, or at least something like them. They may loosen.

    There is an article with great pics right on the front of right now about 3a curls that you would benefite from. I think these are probably 3a - ish.

    Main things for maintaining is moisture! So, you want probably to look into co-washing. I'd say a huge percentage of folks use Suave conditioners. There are also good actual "co-washes" on the market these days if you need a little more cleaning power, without the drying properties of a poo. As I Am (Sally's and Target) is very good.

    I'm of the opinion that ACV rinses should be kept to like once a month if you do them, but honestly, I'm not totally convinced they are needed. But I sure would not do them everytime. IT messes with the pH of your hair fiercely.

    At this length plopping is probably not for you. Your hair is fine and short, and it should dry fairly quickly. But you could also invest in an inexpensive dryer if you want to speed things along. I have a Conair HH400 that is pretty darned good. You can have a cuppa sitting under it and probably be dry before you leave the house at this length.

    So maybe list all the products you have. We might be able to give you a routine to try. Pretty much you probably shouldn't comb or brush at all with this tight curl. You will just frizz. A loose wavy like me can get away with it but fine and curly it's just a no go and you'll be happier in the end.

    As mentioned with that fine hair, you might want some protein treatments. I like the Ion Effective Care at Sally's. It's a nice medium way to get protein, plus they sell individual packs so you can just get one and see if you get results. If you don't don't despair because there are ALL KINDS of protein products and different proteins work differently on different people. Lots of people love sceincey Hairblogs geletin protein treatment and it doesn't do anything for me but IEC from Sally's does and also at Sally's they have this little bottle called Neutral Protein Filler that I mix a bit in with conditioner in the shower and it works really well for me. I just leave my conditioner on a bit longer and rinse out.

    And are you using a leave in? Because your hair is fine and gray, it's probably dry enough to need one. A light conditioner or a specific product called leave in works. Sometimes just a bit of what you used as a rinse out.

    And honestly, a lot of this is just practice and getting to know your hair. You WILL get to know your hair, what it likes, how it likes to be handled, the type of ingredients it likes. I mean, after a few months I knew if it has behentromonium in it, most likely my hair will like it. Avocado in a product? My hair would salivate for it.

    One last thing is you do have to kind of pay attention to the weather, especially dew points. If dew points fall in between say 30 and 70 degrees, you are probably safe with products that have glycerin in them. Outside of that you might want to have a few things that have some other humectant in it like Pectin or propylene glycol. Not all humectants are equal and glycerin seems the most touchy. Some people's hair Just. Hates. It. Others, it's just best used between those dew points and some people can use them all year.

    Ingredient reading is important. The majority of your product is going to be made of the first few. If an "iffy" ingredient is way down the list it probably won't affect you or is less likely too.

    Don't give up! This is a huge learning curve but like anything you learn with practice. :)
    2a medium porous, You can see my wavy tutorials here: and my wavy blog is The Wavy Nation
  • anonymous_150263anonymous_150263 Registered Users Posts: 773
    Do you know how many ladies go and get their hair curled and set so it looks like yours? Or permed? I have a lot of patients who get very frustrated that their hair falls flat while they're in the hospital and I just am no good and fluffing it up... the hospital rinse free cleansers don't help.. lol. But seriously it looks beutiful just the way it is. It doesn't look like it needs anything at all.
  • chupiechupie Registered Users Posts: 5,280 Curl Connoisseur
    It is very pretty. And by your properties tests it seems strong.
    2a medium porous, You can see my wavy tutorials here: and my wavy blog is The Wavy Nation
  • naturecatnaturecat Registered Users Posts: 1,986 Curl Neophyte
    Your hair is gorgeous! Looks very similar in pattern to my aunt's. Also as it grows longer I wouldn't be surprised if the curls turn out to be 3b. I also agree that your pre chemo hair had texture. I used to call mine "straight frizzy hair." If hair has frizz, it often has curl… it's just that sometimes the curl gets hidden by things we tend to do to it (shampooing, etc).

    With your CO wash, not just any conditioner will do. It takes most people awhile to find theirs. On this site some of the ones I've heard of people using (and tried myself) are Kiss My Face Whenever and Trader Joe's Tea Tree Tingle conditioners; and others (that I've not used but others do, and are cheap) are VO5 Kiwi Lime and Suave Coconut, and others have used As I Am. Most of the time I use edible aloe gel mixed with glyercin. Since I can't always strictly CO wash it's a good compromise.
    You should use conditioner if your hair is dry. Otherwise it will dry out yet more. Or find alternative moisturizing treatments. This is true regardless of porosity.
    With porosity, a better test is whether your hair dries quickly or not (if it takes a long time it's low) and whether it absorbs things that are put on it, such as product (low porosity hair tends not to absorb product well).

    Super baby fine hair, low porosity
    Shampoos: SM Fruit Fusion (mostly), Avalon lemon (to clarify). Occasional aloe vera and glycerin to wash.
    Stylers: Intelligent Nutrients Perfect Hold Hairspray
    Treatments: Catnip tea, IA girl's PT, Fermented Rice Water, Catnip Tea, Amla tea, Irish Moss, SS PT
  • BoingBoingBoingBoingBoingBoing Registered Users Posts: 22
    Thank you, Chupie. (I don't know what it means, but it's a cute name.), Ashleynicol, and naturecat, for all the tips. I really appreciate it.

    I found a woman with intensely curly hair - tight, bright, red Irish corkscrews. She set me on the path to curl control. She suggested DevaCurl products that have helped a lot.

    * DevaCurl No-poo
    * DevaCurl One Conditioner
    * DevaCurl Light Defining Gel

    When I tried using the DevaCurl conditioner instead of any-poo, my hair just kept soaking up the conditioner. I saw dollar signs flying out the window! After I finally got it to look a little oily, I stopped. The second time, I used some left-over Frizz Ease conditioner. The curls stopped looking fat and began looking skinny, but that could have been because my hair is getting longer, maybe. If I try conditioner cleansing again, I dilute the DevaCurl product with water so it will cover better.

    My hair can take about 2 hours to dry even now with thinner strands.

    "Do you know how many ladies go and get their hair curled and set so it looks like yours?" That's one of things I'm afraid of - that it will look that. I used to drive one of those elderly bridge ladies every week to get her hair done with those teeny-weeny rollers - yikes! .^_^.

    When Murphy Brown talked about her bad hairdos over the years, Corky Sherwood remembered a tight permanent, "Those were the tiniest curls I ever saw. From the back, you looked like blonde broccoli!" I don't wanna look like grey broccoli!
  • kathymackkathymack Registered Users Posts: 9,999 Curl Neophyte
    I totally agree that you probably had wave/curl prior to chemo. Your hair is similar to a good friend of mine who went through a similar experience.

    I'll confess that I skimmed through a lot and apologize if this was said previously. If your hair dries in 2 hours without a lot of "water removal," it's porous. If you've removed most of the water, then 2 hours is still a short time, which says about normal to me. You also mention absorbing a lot of the Deva conditioner. Other low porosity folks can chime in; however, my lp hair never noticeably absorbs anything. Sometimes, it takes it almost 24 hours--and then it's time to start over.

    If you're styling your hair in the morning, there are ways to cut down on drying time. You still may leave with "damp" hair, but it won't be soaking wet. I apply styling products to soaking wet hair, wrap in a Curlease towel (you can use 100% cotton t-shirt, flour sack towels, etc.) while I dress and do makeup, scrunch with a CLU towel (once again 100 cotton will work) and then diffuse. Personally, I get much better results from a professional dryer.

    I'm careful about using some chemicals, especially polyquats 4, 7 & 10. They coat my hair, cause build up and are hard to remove. The Deva NoPoo causes issues for me and took a few SLS shampoos and 7-10 days to get my hair back to normal (my CJ Daily Fix fell out of the bag I bring to the salon, thought I forgot it.) I think you'll find products you like, at least as much, that are cheaper then Deva (many of started out with them, too.)
    3a (Corkicelli), highlighted, fine, low porosity
    SE PA

    HGs: Anything Sevi; Curly Kinks Satin Roots, Curlycue ReNew and Coil Jam; homemade FSG and okra gel; soap bars; UFD Curly Magic; Botanical Spirits Jellies, CJ Repair Me, Aloe Fix
  • chupiechupie Registered Users Posts: 5,280 Curl Connoisseur
    yeah, I agree, apply your gel soaking wet and then squeeze out water with a t-shirt or flour sack.

    On the conditioner side, One Condition is awesome but yes expensive. But there are LOTS of CG conditioners out there. I'd stick with that gel if it works for you, if you like it. It's fairly unique. There are others out there, but honestly if you think it works, I'd stay with it.

    Since your hair liked the One Condition so much and soaked it up you should look for a richer conditioner. Did you rinse it totally out or just baptismal? I'm thinking if I were you, I'd try a few good Suave naturals. If you have a Sally's you may be a prime candidate for Generic Price Value Conditioning Balm. Good moisturizing heavy conditioner that's way less.

    FrizzEase has silicones I am sure. That probably contributes to the "skinny curl" and is much less likely to be what you want.

    Your hair will grow, easing the broccoli brigade look. But in the meantime, you might also play with headbands and clips. I have trouble IMO with hair down by my face being kind of dumpy looking. I use jaw clips (little and even tiny ones) to clip my hair where I want it to be.

    And don't underestimate headbands, alice bands, wire headbands, for breaking up the look even on short hair. See:
    2a medium porous, You can see my wavy tutorials here: and my wavy blog is The Wavy Nation

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