Tuesday, 10 September 2013

The eternal quest for curls: product review 'Stay Set' setting lotion

I've just launched my etsy shop (blatant plug: look here! http://www.etsy.com/shop/VintageSallyBoutique ), so really I should be promoting all the lovely things on there, but instead I'm going to complain about my hair.

My perfectly-in-fashion-in-2013 poker straight hair. Because, of course, I want anything BUT straight hair.

Ever since I was a child it's been a pain - fine, thin, tangles easily, won't take a curl (my Mum was desperate for me to have curls!), resists any styling and naturally a little unruly.

Modern styles, including layering, which it seems impossible NOT to get a hairdresser to do to it, plus the wonder of straightening mean I can get a pretty good modern straight, sleek look when I want. However, that is of course not what I want. I want vintage hair. And, in most eras, vintage hair means curls.

My hair won't take a curl - it drops out after about an hour, if it takes at all. My Mum even home permed my hair once, when I was due to be a bridesmaid, and it didn't take at all. I did have curly hair at one point in my teens, from a professional perm, but it was one of those horrific nineties corkscrew perms. Lets try not to dwell on that one too much...

So for years I've been searching for an effective way to curl my hair, and I've tried almost everything in the book - ceramic curlers, a wide variety of different products and rollers and so forth. Results have been hit and miss, sometimes it's worked out (with a ton of hairspray!) but if atmospheric conditions are even slightly moist, it all disappears in the blink of an eye.

The one thing I hadn't tried was old fashioned setting lotion. I had of course read about it when reading up on vintage hair styles, and from tips from other vintage fanatics (this post by Retrochick is particularly helpful: http://www.retrochick.co.uk/2013/05/29/hair-curling/ ). Now I'm prepping for a 1930s themed event (of which more lately), and so I decided to finally take the plunge and try out setting lotion - well it was either that or get my hair all cut off into a shingle!

I used Stay Set Extra Firm Hold setting lotion, available at Boots and Superdrug (http://www.superdrug.com/hair-styling/stayset-setting-lotion-extra-firm-100ml/invt/206505&bklist= Weirdly Boots sell it in their stores but don't list it online), and at £2.19 a bottle, it's fairly cheap compared to other hair styling products - however I did get through a lot of it in just one use!

I didn't do anything sophisticated with this as I just wanted to see whether it worked. I used Boots sleep in rollers as I knew a good 12 hours setting time would increase the chances of it working. The hubby had been out with his mates that evening and had a bit of a shock when he came home to fid me in rollers 'like a fifties housewife' as he put it!I just wetted by hair, towel dried, applied lots of lotion, and rolled it up in a pretty basic set. I did buzz it with the hairdryer on a gentle worm setting a few times to make sure it wasn't overly damp before bed.

The rollers, whilst soft, were a bit weird to sleep in, but I did still get a good night's sleep.

The next morning, I applied some hairspray for good luck then took the rollers out.

My first comment would be that the combination of lotion and sleep in velcro rollers isn't great. Most of the curls rolled out OK, but some got hopelessly tangled, causing me pain taking them out and leaving very little curl after struggling with them. I think this is mainly the fault of the velcro, and could be avoided by doing more traditional pin curls, which I will try next time.

The overall result was pretty nice and curly though. A bit crispy initially, but they softened up with a bit of brushing with a bristle brush:

After brushing

I tried the look out with a few of the hats I'm planning on wearing:

It had turned out to be a pretty damp day - the ultimate test for curls in my hair! So I took some images on my phone through the day (with apologies for the poor phone quality selfies!):

after two hours

All in all I was pretty pleased. By the end of the day, they were unsurprisingly falling out, and I didn't get the several days of curls others manage with setting lotion. But on my hair, for curls to last that long is probably the best I've managed so far!

After about five hours: still a hint of curl left!
However, there are down sides. Most obviously the smell - it's not a great smell, very chemically, and it stays with you. The feel of it on your hair isn't great either. I came to the conclusion it's really good for those occasions when I really need that curly hair, but I wouldn't use it regularly. There are now a range of setting lotions by more expensive brands, and these might be worth trying out just to see if they've found a way round the smell problem!

But, if you have trouble getting a curl, and want an authentic vintage style, it turns out the old school way, using setting lotion, really is the best!

Next, I shall be trying out finger curls using the lotion. These have never worked for me, ever. Wish me luck!

No comments:

Post a Comment