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My Press N’ Curl

Press n Curl Hair Style @ Hair's Kay Salon in New Haven, Connecticut

Press n’ Curl is not a service that I was expecting a stylist to be offering in this day and age. So when Karaine (my new stylist) suggested a press n’ curl I was like, huh?

The back story…

At some point early in the year, my hair was either a) over processed; b) reacting to medications; c) reacting to my absent minded reluctance to hydrate properly or d) reacting to the no-lye relaxers that I was using at the time.  Well whichever one, or maybe it was a combination of all of the above, my hair was coming out in bundles.  When I realized the shedding wasn’t  going to be an easy fix with Aphogee and moisturizers, I seeked professional help from someone who was knowledgeable and skilled with black hair.  

I turned to my Facebook friend, Karaine Smith-Holness, who is the owner of Hair’s Kay Salon and Hair’s Kay Academy of Cosmetology in New Haven, Connecticut.   I was looking for a way to support her and I also figured that if anyone had an answer for my hair situation that it would be an experienced cosmetologist who owned a hair school.  So in July, I hopped into my little car and took the long route to New Haven for a consultation and relaxer.

I did all that I could to suppress the tears at the announcement of  how much of my hair was flowing down the drain.  She immediately honed in on the no-lye relaxer because my hair was hard (literally). Apparently, the active ingredient in no-lye relaxers is calcium hydroxide something another that leaves calcium deposits on our hair. Hence, hard, dry, brittle and shedding hair.

Now that we both understood the cause of the massive migration of my hair from my head she disappeared into a room, whipped up a concoction, applied it generously on my hair, saran wrapped me and placed me under a dryer.  After a rinse, roller set and flat iron, my hair had bounce and life and I figured my hair problems were behind me.  She gave me a little talk about my reluctance to drink water and then looked me directly in the eyes and told me “NO MORE RELAXERS FOR YOU… not for a while anyways.”

Present day…

Press N Curl service at Hair's Kay Salon in New Haven, Connecticut
After hair was washed, steamed and blow dryed.

That was back in July and my hair has been in need of a touch-up since the end of August.  I’ve honestly been getting by with my half permed, half new growth hair, but I had no intention of waltzing into my friend Nigel Ramsay’s fashion show with my hair in that condition.  I weighed my options: relaxing against the advice of a professional or wearing a wig.  That’s when Karaine suggested that I try a thermal texturizer (aka a press n’ curl).

Another quick flashback…

I haven’t had a press n’ curl since I was 12.  My hair was thick and according to my Mom, unmanageable so every Saturday she would ship me off to the little black girl’s shop of horror where all of the stylists had a talent for causing pain (totally got that from the “Little Shop of Horrors”). I still have very vivid memories of Gwen (my first time hairdresser) the phone books that she propped me up on in the chair, her jar of barbicide that was there for show only and cinged ears from her attempts to get my edges with the hot comb.

Present day…

But Karaine convinced me and a few Thursdays ago, I clocked out from work, jumped on 91 Sout and headed for Hair’s Kay in New Haven.

I was her only customer and I was grateful because I knew there were going to be tears. I wanted to show Karaine how good I had become with my water intake and asked for a bottle of water. She brought me two.  She washed my hair, placed me under a steamer dried it and walked me over to the station where all of her irons and things were.

I prayed silently, closed my eyes, took a deep breath, tensed my body  and gripped onto one of the water bottles for dear life.  My heart was in my throat and it felt like the world was moving in slow motion. I know it was only a few seconds later, but it felt like five hours had passed before the hot comb finally connected with my hair.  I had reserved a “Lord Jesus” at the tip of my tongue to utter in reaction for what I knew would be the first burn and then the next thing I know she was half way through my whole head. I, opened one eye, realized that it was safe, opened the other and relaxed until the end.

Press N Curl service at Hair's Kay Salon in New Haven, Connecticut
The halfway mark!

By the time I left that salon, Karaine and I were bonded by the experience and the conversation that followed.  I only winced once. The rest of the time, I honestly did not feel a thing.

Press N Curl service at Hair's Kay Salon in New Haven, Connecticut
Hair was trimmed and flatironed to perfection!

The magical press n’ curl got me through Nigel’s show, a very strenuous dance class and steamy showers. I kept it for two weeks and washed it last week before I got my hair into a more long term protective style (post forthcoming).


SIDE NOTE: Karaine is the first woman of African and Jamaican descent to open a Cosmetology school in the state of Connecticut. I am so proud of her!

Karaine Smith-Holness took these photos. The last photo (black and white) was taken by Keith Claytor of Timefrozen.com

XoXo, Natasha

About Natasha Samuels

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  3. Wow! I really liked the transformation!

  4. Thanks for sharing, I moved from Los Angeles recently, where press n curl is done frequently. I have been having difficulty finding a stylist that does press n curl without burning my hair. I’ve had stylists out here burn my hair, and not know how to handle my natural hair. Do you still get press n curl from Kays Salon? I may need to make the haul to New Haven to get my hair done.

    • Hi Cheris,
      Actually most of Kay’s clients are natural and I still recommend her highly although I ended up asking her to relax my hair. Give her a call and discuss your concerns with her.She has clients all over the world.

  5. “the little black girl’s shop of horror where all of the stylists had a talent for causing pain” >> girl – that place for me was my mama’s kitchen! oh how you brought back some memories with this one.

    the main reason i went from shoulder-length hair to a pixie cut was due to me not being able to have my hair professionally done on a regular basis. maintaining long, healthy hair has always been a challenge for me…primarily due to over processing. the press n’ curl is beautiful!
    miss donna recently posted..keep the change | $20 budget – NovemberMy Profile

    • Wow, you were brave! I would have ran away from home if my Mom ever approached me with a hot comb. Lol!!!! Apparently moisturizing your hair is also the key to maintaining growth. I know you don’t care for the brand, but the QP mango shea thing has been working for me. (-:

  6. Thanks for sharing your before and after photos. Good post.

  7. It’s good you took the matter in hand now instead of waiting around. Your hair looks Great and you should stay away from the no-lye enemy for a long time. I do remember sitting on the phone books in the back of the shop and the burnt ears. . . LOL..LOL
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  8. I need to remember to hydrate too!
    I’ve also been noting some breakage and thinning – and it likely has a lot to do with my lack of hydration, overprocessing, and age, I guess. I’m just never thirsty, so it’s hard to remember to sip some H2O.

    You look fab in all these pictures, and absolutely gorgeous in the color-block dress!

    You’d NEVER know you have hair problems – your hair always looks wonderful!
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  9. I am not surprised by this at all!!! Great job Kay as usual…..she is a true hair professional if I must say so myself!!! lolol…. I have known her more than 2 decades and the first time I met her and let her take care of my hair it was a very different experience but refreshing that she just did not just dive right in she talked to me about what she was going to do and what I MUST do for this to continue and work… by goodness it was a no brainer!!!! Remarkable woman if I must say so myself….

  10. Brought tears to my eyes too!

  11. This actually brought tears to my eyes. Will respond in length after I catch my breath! Thank you for this testimony!