Beauty Life

Ask Shalittle #2

July 27, 2015
Advice column

Dear Shalittle,

No matter how many youtube tutorials I watch and how many times I try I cannot get my straighter curls to look like curls, they always come out a blocky, crimped looking disaster. What am I doing wrong?

Yeesh, I know exactly what you’re talking about. As someone who has very long hair I totally get the appeal of wanting to use a straightener instead of a curler. I find that the longer my hair is, the harder it is to curl with a wand or a traditional curling iron. I wrap it around the barrel so much that the pieces that wrap last have so much hair underneath that they don’t get hot and curl. To solve that, I use a straightener instead. The straightener gives me really tight, ringlet curls that I can either keep tight, or loosen out by running my fingers through my hair once they’ve cooled. Here are a couple tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way:

  1. Don’t linger. Your hand needs to constantly be pulling the hair. Crimping comes from uneven heat application so don’t let the iron sit in one spot for two long.
  2. Go slow. Even though you’re using a straightener you’re asking for your hair to bend (and hold) in a way that is substantially more complicated than just laying straight. Because of that, you want to apply slow constant heat. I go about twice as slow with my straightener when I’m curling than when I’m straightening. That also allows me to get the perfect curl in one pass.
  3. Use at most a 1.5 inch straightener. I personally like to use my one inch one but you could go as far as 1.5 and still get nice curls. The bigger you go, the more square your curls will look. Using a smaller straightener will not only give you more defined ringlets, but you’ll also be able to hide any crimpling a lot better since the curls are tighter.
  4. Leave room. Leave about an inch of hair between your scalp and where you’ll begin the curl. This prevents your hair from having too much volume at the roots. Since these are already going to be pretty tight curls you want to make sure that the end result looks closer to something Gisele Bundchen would rock and not Shirley Temple.


Dear Shalittle,

I was getting my hair done last week and my hairdresser made a huge deal about using paraben free shampoo. I don’t even know what paraben is. Was she just trying to push some product on me? Can you explain what parabens are? How do I know if they’re in my shampoo?

– Confused

Dear Confused,

It’s always hard to know when someone is really looking out for you or if they’re just trying to get you to buy something, but in this case, your hairdresser is right. Parabens are chemicals used in tons of cosmetics that prevent the growth of bacteria and fungi (ew!) in products. As a chemical, the preservative works great to prevent nasty growths in your products but has the added side effect of mimicking estrogen. When it’s absorbed in your body through your skin your body doesn’t register the parabens as preservatives, but as added hormones. Because of this, parabens sometimes lead to early puberty in girls. Studies are now also being conducted on if parabens have a direct relationship with the development of cancer, but as of right now no link can be officially noted. Either way, the negative aspects and potential negative aspects are enough to justify switching shampoos. Cosmetics companies are well aware of this backlash against parabens, and so many have started including “paraben free” on their bottles. If you’re in love with your products and aren’t sure if they contain any parabens, read the list of ingredients and note if any of the following are part of the product:

  • methylparaben
  • ethylparaben
  • propylparaben
  • butylparaben
  • heptylparaben

Basically if it’s a word that includes a prefix and then the word paraben, you know it’s something you probably don’t want on your skin. At the end of the day though, unless you’re washing your hair four times a day every day, using a shampoo with parabens won’t really cause much harm.


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