03/11/2014 11:37 GMT | Updated 03/01/2015 05:59 GMT

Why I Ditched the Straighteners for Faff-Free Curls

I've been obsessed with straight hair as long as I can remember. Since the age of 15, perfectly straight hair has been the unobtainable goal, with varied and unimpressive results.

A schoolmate of mine had the same type of hair as mine - a disaster of frizz in humidity and half-heartedly wavy at the bottom - and a particularly bad hair episode would be categorised as Bush Monkey Day, when it would need to be hidden from human view.

Over the years, I've had my hair chemically straightened using Yuko, a system I found worked very well for me with glossy results. The only downside is that once it's straight, it's straight, and for the first few months, your hair is probably going to look super flat.

However, I've been itching for a change. Rather than chopping my hair off again (it made me look about five, and not in a good way) I experimented with having my hair blow-dried 'naturally', so working with my hair's waviness rather than making it poker straight.

But I still wasn't convinced, and attempts to style it curly myself made me look like I'd been attacked by a hedge.

So I made an appointment with Eleven Hair, a chic little salon near Oxford Circus I've visited a couple of times before, all ready to get my annual straightening.

"Have you considered a digital perm?" asked Sebastian, one of the founding partners, who's the expert in all manner of straightening and curling.

Since the words perm conjure up terrifying images of women in Dartford with pubes attached to their heads, I vigorously shook my head.

But - I was interested in having a different look. Sebastian explained that Eleven had formulated a way of curling the hair so it sat more naturally - almost ringlet-like. A look that I had been unable to pull off due to my cackhandedness with curling irons.

"It's almost like the straightening process, but we put rollers on the end and set it," he said.

The process is equally as long - four hours - and involves applying an alkaline treatment to the hair. The solution is almost like a standard perm solution, but it's better quality and the difference is that he applies to the hair first and then rolls it.


Before - hideous, isn't it?

Sebastian can tinker with the size of the curls depending on what type of roller to use. Because I didn't want curly hair all the way through, he opted to smooth the top of my hair getting rid of the dreaded frizz, while curling the lower half.

Then an acidic solution is applied, and the hair is rolled. A machine that looks like a recharging device for androids is planted over my head to heat and speed up the process. Then it's time to wash again, this time, using a neutraliser.

hair 2

The craziest thing I have ever strapped to my hair

Once the neutraliser was applied and washed off, it was time to dry the hair into curls.

This was the moment of truth, and as I bit my nails, Sebastian said: "If you really hate it, I can make it straight. But see how you feel."

When he started drying it, the hair didn't look great. It was a rough dry and the hair was flyaway and well, a bit Bush Monkey.

But then he twisted the hair into four sections and popped them into the diffuser. 20 minutes later I had ringlets - the softest, glammest ringlets I've ever sported.

The big test, of course, was styling it myself. And - phew - it was an utter doddle. I just imitated Sebastian by twisting the hair into four sections and blow-drying them. If I wanted to, I could even let it dry naturally and it'd be frizz free.

Although I didn't get the perm to get compliments, I honestly haven't had such good feedback about my hair - possibly, ever. Everyone thinks I've had my hair 'done' when it's actually just me and my trusty hairdryer.

And although I only got my hair done because I was considering permanently sporting a paper bag, I can't think of a better hair treatment to have ahead of the festive season. After all, who has the time or money to keep getting blow-dries?

hair 3

The end result: I look like a human again