All About My Hair

Dark hair balayage

My hair has been the topic of conversation since starting this blog. I’ve recorded several tutorials, but I hate the way I look and talk on camera, so I never got around to posting them (sorry!). Today is the day I finally reveal all my secrets!!! I’ve been curling my hair for what seems like a good 20 years now. I’ve mastered my curls with a $10 curling iron and I don’t use any hair spray. I’ve gone through my struggles and failures (more on this below), but I will say, I’m the most confident with styling my hair today and even love doing other people’s hair. I always tell them, I’ll give you Victoria Secret model curls, lol.

medium length hair ideas

long brown hair with soft wave


Long hair light curls

soft waves

soft curls

The Journey of My Hair

My hair has been on quite a journey. In high school I wanted some waves and highlights and ended up getting a perm and orange hair all over. It was a complete fail, but at the time I didn’t know what I was doing, so I never got it fixed. I just let it grow out. Lets just say my high school pictures are awful. In college I wanted something different, so I went bold and did a pixie a-line cut. I met Mike with that haircut and we laugh about it all the time. Every time I go in to get my haircut now and I say I’m going short (as in what I have now), he always tells me, just don’t do that pixie cut, lol.

After highschool I let the orange color grow out and left my hair my natural color up until 2015. That’s 12 years of my natural hair color (the first few photos above). At the time I really loved the dark brown color, but after getting a soft balayage (documented the process here), I realized how much more dimension it gave me and how it softened everything up, for the better! I don’t know if I can ever have no color again. My hair was really silky, straight, and soft, so over the last couple years the color treatment has actually given it texture and some roughness, which helps with my curls staying in my hair longer. I’m not telling you to go damage your hair, but it has helped a ton for my styling process.

Over the last couple of years I’ve played with short and long hair. Just last fall, I was all about short/medium length. Then I was all about growing it out at the beginning of this year. And now I just recently cut it again… I’m all over the place. The good news is, while I’m particular on how I style my hair, I’m pretty flexible when it comes to the length. I always tell myself, it’s hair, it will grow back. My hair has always grown fast, so I don’t have to worry about a screwed up haircut (I’m lucky in that way. I know many of you struggle with growing your hair). As far as color, that’s been a bit of a struggle. I got my best color in San Francisco at Population Salon (see this post). I asked for something really subtle. They really captured the soft balayage with a ton of dimension. I haven’t found my perfect place yet in Oregon. I’ve tried 2 people so far and it’s still a work in progress. Last year it was way too orange and right not it’s still not where I want it. I really like the gal I go to right now at Dosha at Bridgeport, so I’m hoping we can work on getting the perfect color.

While I love my hair, it’s not perfect. There’s a bunch of frizz on the top (I think from blow drying) and my grays are out of control. My hair is also heavy, so it goes flat a lot. Getting volume is huge for me (I’ll share a couple tricks I do to get volume below). I’m also not that girl who goes days without washing my hair. I hate dry shampoo, so I wash my hair either every other day or every 3rd day. If it’s the 3rd day, it’s in a ponytail or I’m wearing a hat.

Long hair with soft balayage

Soft balayage with long hair

Medium length hair with soft curls

Medium length balayage hair

How I Style and Curl My Hair

I’ve been mastering my styling process for years. I think I’ve finally found my groove and I’m so excited to share my tips with you. I’m going to take you through the process of blow drying my hair and curling it, although I rarely do both in the same day. After I shower, I always use Aveda’s Smooth Infusion prep and then spray Aveda’s Volumizing Tonic at the roots. After doing that, I flip upside down and blow dry my hair. This really helps with volume. I then take a round brush (but it can be any kind of brush) and comb my hair the opposite way to try and get even more volume. Once all my hair is dry, I  part my hair down the middle (well sort of because I have a cowlick) and take my round brush and comb my front pieces away from my face (fanning it out like the whole Farrah Fawcett thing). Since I’m curling, I don’t care what the ends look like, I’m just trying to get my bangs/front pieces perfect.

From there, I section off my hair into 3 parts and begin curling with my Conair 1” curling iron. Some things I’ve learned over the years about curling your hair – Alternating curling toward you and away from you is the best thing you can do, the amount of hair you curl at a time matters, and the way you curl and release your hair makes a difference. I’ve never understood the straight iron or wand technique. I’ve tried both and hated the results. Plus, holding the ends of your hair with the wand freaks me out. I’ve been able to get the same loose waves with a curling and to me, it’s a lot easier.

Here’s the gist:

If you have long hair, there’s a little more flexibility. The way you curl and release your hair matters less and if you hate the idea of alternating between curling toward and away from you face, it doesn’t matter as much with longer hair. Also, with long hair I would recommend using a 1” to 1 ¼” curling iron. Photos of my long hair curled all one way here.

If you want more of a wave and less of a curl, alternating between curling away and toward your face is key. This breaks up your curls, so all your hair doesn’t mesh into one curl. Essentially, it creates more of a messy wave. Photos of my short hair with barrel curls and curled one way here. You can see in the photos how all the curls blend.

If you have short hair, alternating between curling away and toward your face is key, but so is the amount of hair you curl at one time. Take smaller pieces. Also, when you release your hair, twist all the way down with the curling iron, but at the same time come straight down and leave your ends straight. Essentially, this technique helps you to NOT create barrel curls. Photos of my short hair with barrel curls, alternating curling toward and away from face here. Clearly, with short hair, it’s better to do less of a barrel curl and more of a wave like this photo.

When alternating between curling away and toward your face, make sure you keep the curls toward your face small. Don’t take a huge chunk of hair, or it will all start to look weird. Also make sure you don’t curl the pieces at your roots toward your face. I like to take root pieces, the ones you see on the top of your head, and curl away from my face. I pick those up and right under, grab some hair and curl toward my face. That way you’re still getting that alternating effect.

I finish my hair by scrunching in Paul Mitchell Wax Works. I use about a finger tip size, rub it in my hands, and scrunch away. I pull apart pieces and pull on my ends. I can’t stand product in my hair and this has been the only thing that doesn’t leave my hair feeling sticky all day, while also keeping my curls/waves in place. Hands down, one of my secret weapons!

That was a lot and may sound a little confusing. Hopefully, one of these days I can get around to doing a quick tutorial on Instagram Stories or something…

Soft waves with medium length hair

Soft balayage with messy waves

Dark hair balayage

My Tip to Make the Process Easier

One of the things you may not know about me, I hate getting ready. Putting on makeup and doing my hair is such a chore and I’ve dreaded it even more so now that I’m pregnant. I don’t know what it is about the whole process, I’m just like, ugh! Over the years, I’ve found ways to cut down on the time it takes to get ready by washing my hair the night before. If I have to take photos for the blog or go somewhere, I always wash my hair the night before. I flip upside down and blow dry the roots and bangs/front pieces. That way to my part and bangs don’t do anything funky while I sleep. Sleeping on damp hair also helps with volume. It’s one of my secrets to getting voluminous roots. Also, the texture of my hair feels so much softer the next day. I hate, I mean hate, when I have to wash my hair, blow dry it, and then curl it all in one setting. It takes too much time and my hair feels so dry and rough.

Fun Facts To Know

  • I don’t use hair spray, ever! Even those light hair sprays leave your hair and hands feeling sticky.
  • I use the least amount of product – I’m so sensitive to anything sticky.
  • My curling iron is $10 – my old one broke and that was over 20 years ago. I was desperate and went to Target. Bought this one and haven’t looked back. You don’t need an expensive curling iron to get good curls.
  • I don’t let the girl who cuts my hair, style it – For some reason salons teach their stylist to blow dry your hair stick straight and curl the ends under with no volume. I swear I always come out looking like I’m from the 80’s. I ask them to blow dry my hair and that’s it.
  • I never get my hair styled – I’ve had terrible experiences getting my hair done. They use too much product and it doesn’t ever look good. I’m 1000 % more confident in my hair skills over someone random doing my hair.
  • My trick to volume – blow dry upside down and sleep on your hair a little damp.
  • I’m not like every other girl who can go weeks without washing their hair – I hate dry shampoo. All of them make my hair even more greasy. My hair functions better when it’s washed. I wash my hair every other day or every 3rd day.
What Hair Products I Use
Hair Questions
  1. What kind of curling iron do you use? Conair 1” curling iron
  2. Do you have a favorite hair spray or texturizer? Paul Mitchell Wax Works – my best kept secret!
  3. How do you get volume in your hair? I use Aveda Volumizing Tonic, I flip upside down while blow drying, and/or I sleep on it damp.
  4. Any go-to tricks and products for air drying/styling your hair? Take a shower at night, blow dry your roots and front pieces, and then sleep on it. Your hair feels softer and you have a ton of volume. Air drying during the day always turns out a little funky.
  5. My hair won’t part down the middle because I have a cowlick. Any tips or tricks for managing or styling a middle part? I would go with your natural part. I used to force a side part back in the day. I realized, my hair naturally part down the middle and I’ve been running with it ever since. My part is a center part, but it’s actually not directly in the middle because I have a cowlick. It’s a little off-centered.
  6. What color do you ask for when you go to the salon? I ask for a subtle balayage. Light brown and then I try to show them pictures. My hair gets super brassy right away, which is why I use Aveda Blue Malva conditioner, but it still gets very orange. I always tell them I want more ashy brown/ blonde and less brassy orange brown.
  7. What’s the cut you get? The cut differs every time. This last time I went in, I asked for top of the boob length. I always get some long layers because my hair is really thick. I also ask for the ends to be less blunt, so she texturizes them a little bit. When my hair is longer, I ask them to frame the front of my face with soft layers.
  8. Who does your hair? I go to Dosha Salon at Bridgeport and I see Aleisa.