For this story, let’s go back several years to the night I was meeting up for the first time with my now-husband. I took my normal approach to getting ready to go out in my early twenties: take a shower, blow dry my hair, and straighten it. The process took about an hour or so, but, hey, I had the time back then! To fully understand this story, as well, you have to know I originally hailed from New England, a land of mostly low humidity and cooler temps, and I was just in my first couple weeks of living in Central Florida. As I prepped for my evening out, I sat cross-legged on my carpeted bedroom floor in front of a full-length mirror, watching my wavy-curly-frizzy-confused mane turn into glossy straight locks right before my eyes. After I had chosen my outfit and felt ready for my date, I glanced once more in the mirror and thought, “Yes, I am ON POINT right now.”
I got into my car and, since I was in my early twenties and broke, decided that I would roll down my windows versus use my air conditioning because windows down used less gas than A/C. (Side note: I don’t even know if that’s true but, as I said, I was broke back then and felt if I even saved two pennies, it was worth it.) So I drove up I4 for the first time in my life, blasting some sweet emo tunes, letting the Floridian wind whip my hair around (that I knew would obviously result in the perfectly effortless windswept look) and just knowing I looked like a million bucks.
My poor, naive, faux-straight-haired self couldn’t have ever known the consequences of driving up the highway with the windows down on a humid Floridian night.
When I arrived at my destination, I entered the posh lounge area feeling confident and alive, and after introductions with my date, we started in on what would become such a fun evening. Everything felt right. I felt on top of the world and he seemed into me, totally confirming that my hair did (of course!) look so awesome. Ahhh, everything felt perfect.
Until I excused myself to use the restroom.
As I walked over to the sinks, my eyes caught something in the mirror. I looked in horror as I took in the full scope of what had happened to my hair. My long, dark head of hair had transformed from the smooth, shiny and sleek look I left my house with to a puffy, curly, wavy mess that was reminiscent of an unkempt lion’s mane. I desperately tried to smooth it out, to control the out-of-control mess of hair that clearly had been blind sighted by the Floridian atmosphere, and suddenly realized the mistake I had made.
The windows. The air.
Everything ended up being fine, of course, and my then-date/now-husband never said anything about the big poof of hair on top of my head that night, but it made me realize that I wasn’t in Kansas anymore – or, er, New England. I was going to have to ADAPT like a chameleon to my new environment. I was going to have to rethink my hair routine. I was going to have to accept the moisture in the Floridian air that clearly had won the battle that night in my open-air car.
It’s taken time (um, like, a decade), but after countless futile efforts to buck nature and carry on with a heavy-handed hair routine of daily hair washings, blow dryings, and straightenings, most of which resulted in the same frizzy hair situation after a mere five minutes outside, I realized that I was doing it all wrong. I was waging a war against nature. I was trying to defy Floridian humidity, which — newsflash! — is impossible.
It was time to Florida-ify my hair routine. And what I’ve come to realize that means, is that in the subtropics, a lighter hand when dealing with hair is usually the way that produces the best results. I had to work with the Floridian atmosphere, not fight it.
Here are the three easiest ways I have lightened up my hair routine and found a happy compromise between Floridian humidity and my wavy/curly/frizzy/confused hair once and for all.
4 Ways to Florida-ify Your Hair Routine
- Don’t wash your hair every day. I fought this one because I was always a wash-and-straighten-my-hair everyday type of gal, but since dropping down to about 4 washes a week, my hair’s been smoother and silkier than ever. Plus, who wants to be blow drying their hair every day? Ain’t no mom got time for that!
- Embrace dry shampoo. Okay, so you might be saying, “I have to wash my hair every day because it gets so oily!” I have an oily scalp, so I get the rebuttal, but…have you tried dry shampoo? Life. Changing. I mean it. I use it lightly on my Day Two hair, and it takes away any greasy/oily-ness I might be experiencing. It is amazing.
- #LeaveInConditioner4lyfe. I used to balk at the thought of leave-in conditioner because, like, why? I already used conditioner in the shower. It seemed redundant, but it’s not! First of all, it helps me tame my wild mane, and secondly it gives me the softer locks and cuts down on frizz. And isn’t frizz control what it’s all about?
- Embrace nature. Sometimes, in the thick of summer down here, my blow dryer and straightener get to enjoy a period of hibernation. There’s just no point spending the time straightening or wanding my hair when the wet-blanket air of August is going to undo my work in just seconds. Instead, I religiously use leave-in conditioner and a light anti-frizz serum that allows my hair to, ya know, do whatever it wants to do, but in a calmer, more aesthetically pleasing way.
I know we all have different hair types – thin or thick, curly or straight, fine or course – but I’m sure we all can agree that living in Florida means giving up some control over whatever’s happening on top of our heads.
Also, I think this goes without saying, but if you actually put effort into your hair while in Florida, don’t drive up I4 in June with the windows down, okay? Young Laurie would have appreciated that advice many years ago, but maybe this advice will save some of the youth out there now. Spread the word.
Here’s to happy hair days this spring and summer, my Floridian friends!