Curly hair, letting go and a new identity in the making

I spent New Year’s Eve in London with my friends. It was after the Christmas madness, trying to see as many people in our respective families as we could. We arrived in London, knackered. But really happy. I always look forward to going back to what once felt like my town.

The first morning, I washed my hair and realized I had forgotten my oh so expensive, but oh so amazing, pocket Mason Pearson’s brush. I thought to myself “Am I really going to borrow a brush from my friend, that’s not going to work like my usual one and then plug my straighteners, but first blowdry my hair, just because I don’t feel confident enough to just let my hair be…?” I decided. Non. So I left my hair do their own thing. Which had not really happened in years. I guess I felt confortable enough to do it, to quit, cold turkey.

When I was 19, my mum kindly got me straighteners because I wanted to give this styling tool a try. Well, I tried, let me tell you.

So we left to have lunch in a pub in Chelsea. It was windy, my hair was wet, but for some reason I felt ok, almost nice actually. It might have had to do with the fact that my friends really encouraged me. Encourage me ? To do what you might think. Well, to me, letting my hair curl, be au naturel, is a new identity. Dry, my hair was actually really, really curly. It had not been this way in almost 10 years.

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When I was 19, my mum kindly got me straighteners because I wanted to give this styling tool a try. Well, I tried, let me tell you. The minute I straightened my first piece of hair, I knew I wanted to look like this forever. It was a new me. The closest I could be to kinda have hair like the actresses, singers, stars I’d grew up watching on TV, or seing in magazines. It made me feel more sophisticated, put together. Also, even though it’s actually harder to control straightened hair over curls, I felt like I was in total control. Paradoxically because I had to hide from the rain, (and it rains a lot where I live), hide from humidity, sleep with my hair tied up sometimes, not to mess up with the shape, and bring my straighteners anytime I’d go away somewhere for more than one night. But I felt good.

At least for the first few years. But as I was getting older, I felt guilty in a way to pretend I had this shinny, soft, frizz-free hair. Don’t get me wrong, I wear makeup and I love it, but I could go out without it. I don’t feel trapped when I put makeup on : it actually makes me deeply happy. It’s like being a kid again. I’m playing with colors, textures, looks. It’s refreshing and lovely.

But straightening my hair was not fun. It would take ages, and damage my hair quite badly. And again, the weather or a forgotten tool would make me feel shitty about myself.

Going out without doing anything to my hair was simply not something I was able to consider. That’s when it started to be an issue. Therefore, I had in mind I would stop that nonsense one day. Weirdly enough… I would always find myself excuses not to. But, when in London…

Back to now. When my hair was dry in London, in the Pub, my friends all noticed a difference, and one of them even said, “you look great and it looks like you’ve put some efforts into this look because of how nice the curls are”. This warmed my heart. And not only because it was very kind of my dear friend to say so. But because, it made me think that I looked pulled together, and sophisticated. See ? Why would I want that anyway ? Isn’t natural good enough ?

As you may be able to see on the pictures above, top left is when I used to straighten my hair. So, since that day, I haven’t blowdried my hair, or used a straightener. And I look more like the two other picures… When I came back from London, it was not that easy. I did not like it, thought I looked weird, different but not in a good way, not put together. But I pushed through these feelings, and I’m ok now.

It might appear frivolous but I would strongly say it is not. Hair can be such a big part of one’s identity. It’s funny how emotions, feelings, hopes can be attached to it.

With straight/put together hair I was armed to be strong, confident, and pretty. Needless to say I did not feel like that, but that’s how tricky it gets. If with pretty, controlled hair I did not feel amazing, how would it be with natural, curly, messy hair ? Who would want to know honestly ? I did not. Until a few weeks ago.

I don’t know why. It just happened. And I’m feeling brave in a way. Detached as well. Because curly hair just do what it wants to do really.

So I have to accept that and frankly ? It is so bloody liberating.

So it begins. I’ll take you on this journey with me ! Next up ? Products for curls !

Le perfume

I never really wore perfume until two years ago. I would not find anything I’d absolutely love. Everytime a friend or a blogger would talk about his/her favorite perfume, I would try it, and be systematically disappointed.

I remember once reading in the french Elle about a Paul Smith perfume. The article was so well written I thought, “that’s it, this is my perfume, this description is SO me”. The next day, I headed to Sephora. Needless to say, I did not like it. I really tried to find what the journalist described in the smell, but it just was not working for me. The funny thing is, I was so certain I would love it, I kept coming back to Sephora, to try it, give it time to develop, give myself time to love it, again and again and…

At first when I got the bottle, I’d spray it and it would smell a bit like cold rocks, you know like when you go visit a church in the winter.

It felt like this perfume was a secret I was not a part of. This somewhat anecdotic experience stopped my research for Le perfume. Then I discovered, can’t remember how which is silly, Ambre Fétiche by Annick Goutal, an emblematic perfumery french house.

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And, head over heels, fell in love. I got a little sample, and finally got the full size bottle for christmas a couple of years ago. Basically from october until april, I use it almost every single day. At first when I got the bottle, I’d spray it and it would smell a bit like cold rocks, you know like when you go visit a church in the winter. Then, with time, when the bottle is not brand new so I’d say a few days into it, it develops quickly into a warm amber enveloped in vanilla and smoke.

The Annick Goutal description is way better than mine if you want to check it out. It wraps itself around you in the best possible comforting way. I get compliments all the time which is nice, but what I absolutely adore is to re-wear a jumper on which I’d already sprayed perfume on : the smell is softer and becomes part of the fabric.

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I kind of wanted to find a new perfume this winter, because I’ve used two bottles of this one, but to be honest, when the owner of the shop I get it from told me that the “jus” (juice) of this perfume was fabulous, I felt so glad and, well, flattered…

I just got a new one again, because after all, it is my perfume.

A story about cleansing

When I was 17, (not a very good year despite what Sinatra says), I just would not do anything skincare-wise to my face. Then in my twenties, I’d wash it with a Dove Soap, the classic one – which to this day I find is the best smelling soap on earth – and tadam, that was moi done. 

We had body lotions, hair products, and skincare but to me it all looked the same.

For about 2 years, my step dad who’s a journalist, received tones of beauty products from pharmacy french skincare brands, aka the dream.

He’d come home and give it all to my mum and I, and we’d go through everything and share. It was fun, but I was not obsessed. Well, now that I think about it, I was intrigued and lost. It was nice to have free products, but I did not understand the purpose of that many creams. We had body stuff, hair products, and skincare but to me it all looked the same.

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Skincare magic

I did try everything though… because I’d always been fascinated by the fact that, in a pot could be (or so I thought) a special formula that would change something on your face or body. It is kind of magical. But I’d use one product for one day, maybe two, and give up.

One day, my step dad contacted the PR company and told them to stop send all this free stuff. In fact, he first thought it was a one-shot PR delivery, it turned out it wasn’t, and he was not going to review it as it was not his journalism specialty at all, so it actually was useless for the PR company to keep sending all these goodies.

And to be honest, I just forgot about all these lovely products.

I’d never really talked about beauty with my mum or any of my friends. I even thought it was shallow and I was proud not to care about such superficial matter.

fullsizeoutput_1c86Garance Doré, Dove Soap & the rest is history

Then blogging came along. I discovered Garance Doré and with her, brands I’d never heard of like Kiehl’s.

I was completely obsessed with Garance, her clothes, the stories she would tell us… It felt like a new world was opening to me. 

In 2010, I was 21 at the time, had graduated from a Journalism Master, was freelancing a bit, but mainly was bored and scared about my career’s future, when I saw this article on Garance’s website.

“I had this secret that would make my skin feel clean and it was cheap and so freaking cool”, I thought.

She had done an interview with the french ELLE about her beauty routine. And the first product she mentioned was… the dove soap. She’d wash her face with it morning and evening to mattify her combination skin. OK. The Dove Soap. The one I could easily get my hands on at Monoprix or anywhere for that matter.

Needless to say I got it, and started to wash my face with it morning and night, and it just felt amazing you know. I was the closest I would ever be to being the most famous french blogger in NYC. “I had this secret that would make my skin feel clean and it was cheap and so freaking cool”, I thought.

Now when I think about it (I read Caroline Hirons religiously and double cleanse, and exfoliate and use serum and basically spend all my pocket money on beauty products), I’m horrified because I would NEVER use a soap to wash my face.

Still. My skin felt tight. But Beauty started to make me dream…