Let me set you straight about frizz

Before you fork out for a perm, heed Monique Roffey's warning about the pitfalls of dreadlocks and hairballs

So frizzy hair is in again, huh? According to which fashion editors, one wonders. Ones with spaghetti for hair, that's for sure.

I have frizzy hair and it sucks. On a good day I look like a member of Aswad. On a bad day I look like a coconut. In fact, I'm not sure if I ever have a planned good hair day. Sometimes, when the chemicals in my conditioner mix with the chemicals in the atmosphere, something happens and the frizz softens to a curl. But this is always an accident. I can never get my frizzy hair to do anything I want. It's got a mind of its own.

Living with it means dreadlocks after four days if it hasn't been combed. And then wiry tundra hairballs rolling around the flat when I do comb it. It means slimey great chains of hair that clog up the bath plughole. And long threads of blonde frizz stuck to every jumper I own. Because we frizzles don't just shed hair like normal people. We moult. Flatmates constantly complain about finding long frizzy tendrils clinging to kitchen taps or wound round ketchup bottles - or running through the butter dish.And as for boyfriends running their hands through it, forget it. They're likely to lose a finger trying. For objects tend to become snared in my frizz. It's not an uncommon sight to see me wondering round with my reading glasses, a coupl e of biros, theodd teaspoon and a leaf stuck to my head. For the frizz is firm. But these are just the regular pitfalls of living with frizzy hair as an adult.

As a child my hair was a hateful and embarrassing beauty problem. While all the other girls in class could wear plaits, pony tails and a variety of pretty slides, kirby grips and Alice bands, I was stuck with two choices: pompoms or an afro. Neither of which a six-year-old can carry off. In fact, I remember trying to squeeze my afro behind an Alice band and adopt a kind of double-bubble look. That was nice.

Yet to this day, once a week someone still comes up to me and says, "Is that natural? ... Ooh, people pay a fortune for what you've got." And this is actually true. People pay a lot of money for fake frizz. It's called a perm, and it had its heyday in the Seventies. And now, like all bad fashion fads of the era, it's back.

In the Seventies, perms (short for permanents - didn't that sound suspicious?) involved neat hydrogen peroxide being mixed with some other kind of acid that you just poured on your head. You simply burnt your hair to make it look frizzy. You frazzled it to achieve the frizz. The art was in the size of the rollers you used. Teeny ones meant a tight afro. Big curlers usually meant the perm wouldn't work; people would always talk about their perm "falling out". Occasionally, women would get just the right size and end up with hair similar to mine (ie clumpy, tangled, unmanageable curls), and be really pleased. But, mostly the perm was a short-lived beauty disaster.

This didn't stop women from wanting frizz. They moved from chemicals to actual torture equipment.

There was a clamp-on device that waffled your hair into a crinkle-cut frizz. This was especially popular with the long-haired Legs and Co dancers on Top of the Pops. Then there were crimping tongs and curling tongs, which you heated up and wrapped round strands of hair to make it curl. In the Eighties came Molton Brown and various copycat brands of spongey toggles you could also wrap hair in and fry. Then came root perms (just making the roots frizzy?) and today we have come full circle, right bac k to the basic perm again. The perm is back, or so we're told. Frizzles have been spotted on catwalks and the hippest cocktail parties across town.

But victims beware. Before you jump on the bandwagon, don't be fooled by salon babes and their spiel about the supposed leaps in chemical technology. About how different a permanent is today compared to the Seventies. While they may have jojoba and aloe vera in them, my bet is that the old HP (hydrogen peroxide) sauce is still the main ingredient.

Whatever's used, it's unpredictable to try to recreate or imitate unpredictability. Too many women find this out too late. Any recent permees reading this take heed. If you hate the way your perm makes odd shapes or sticks out at strange angles, if it didn't quite come out as you'd planned, you've got what you've paid for. Frizzy hair.

Voices
voices
News
general electionThis quiz matches undecided voters with the best party for them
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen starred in the big screen adaptation of Austen's novel in 2005
tvStar says studios are forcing actors to get buff for period roles
News
Prince William and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge show their newly-born daughter, their second child, to the media outside the Lindo Wing at St Mary's Hospital in central London, on 2 May 2015.
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

    £22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

    Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

    £22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

    Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

    £40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

    Ashdown Group: Part-time Payroll Officer - Yorkshire - Professional Services

    £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful professional services firm is lo...

    Day In a Page

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before