CURLS THAT LAST FOR DAYS

CONAIR hot Sticks

Conair Hot Sticks in th Box

Pros: Easy to set hair with great results

Cons: The thinner hot sticks can get undone and pop off (read my review for a painless fix)

Having had a love-hate relationship with my hair for as long as I can remember, it isn’t easy for me to deal with styling products. My expectations are too high, and the results have often been disappointing. The only thing more tied up in my emotional baggage than food is my hair. Multiple Sclerosis makes it hard to keep my hands over my head when I braid my hair. I came up with a system of French braiding my hair in my adjustable bed. I raise the head to a half-sitting level, a height that isn’t so painful for my shoulders. Time marches on. I’m 60 now, and my coping inventions don’t work as well for me as they used to.

Adding to my hair complex is thinning hair, which I noticed 25 or 30 years ago. By now, everyone can see my scalp shimmering between the strands on the top of my head. This was the same thing that happened to my mother, whose solution was a hair-piece that she wove into her long hair in an upsweep that looked like a French knot with a muffin top. It was a great look in the early ‘60s, but I don’t want to go down that road. I used to buy shampoos and conditioners that promised thicker hair, but they didn’t enough to warrant their price tags.

Because I still care about styling, I’m always on the lookout for anything that will bring a bounce of curls or waves – especially if it’s easy to use. Last November, I found something that works while looking for something else. I was looking for one of the latest, greatest ceramic “clam shell” curler sets advertised to be easy on damaged hair (nothing could be more damaged than hair doing a disappearing act). The set I was looking for wasn’t there, so I decided to investigate the sets that were there. Conair Hot Sticks caught my eye. For $20, you have 14 rubbery stick curlers in two sizes and a simple heating device for them. No switches or buttons. Plug it in to heat up, and when the red dot turns white, they’re ready to use.

Conair hot sticks shown in pink and blue
Hot Sticks out of the box

The curlers are long, flexible, skinny cylinders with little nubs to keep the hair from slipping (see photo to the right). There is a ring on one end that you poke the other end through to make a locked circle. The nubs also keep the circle intact until you’re ready to take the curlers out. They get pretty hot in the middle, but it’s still easy to roll up – even for someone like me who can’t keep my hands up too long.

My gray/brown, long-but-thinning hair will not easily cooperate with curlers, rollers, or curling irons, so I decided to test it after washing my hair. I let it air dry because it’s too much effort to blow dry it when it gets dry enough on its own in about 20 minutes – the same amount of time it takes to dry the rest of me and coat it with baby powder and body lotion (like dipping chicken in beaten eggs and breadcrumbs before frying it).

The test worked pretty well. It was easy to roll my hair up, let it sit for as long as possible, and then pull the curlers out and gently style the curls. I didn’t have any mousse when I tested, so the curls only held for a day or so. The next time, I put mousse in my hair while it was still wet and had much better results. I also decided to keep them in overnight – my choice because I have to sleep semi-sitting and I didn’t want to add hair-curling to my dressing routine. I don’t need any help to be late for doctor’s appointments. The curls lasted till my next shampoo a week later.

Over the last few months, I’ve discovered a glitch with the curlers but have managed a solution for it. The smaller curlers lost their ability to stay locked until I chose to take them out. At first, I woke up to find one of them undone. The curl was already set, so it wasn’t the end of the world. The next time, it popped off like a well-flung rubber band and nearly hit me in the eye! The honeymoon was over! However, I came up with a prevention tactic. I wrapped a pony-tail band around the curler end as close to the ring as possible. It stayed until I was ready to undo it. True, this isn’t the best situation, but the fix is easy enough – for now. There will be a time when I throw a fit and start shopping around again.

The bottom line for me is that I can get enough curl to camouflage my scalp without going for the Donald Trump comb-over. I can now put off wig shopping for at least a year or two. Best of all, I get compliments! A few thought I cut my hair and had a perm (curled hair looks shorter). Everyone who complimented me thought it was amazing to get a crop of dependable curls from this simple $20 set. Even with the drawback of loosening grips on the thinner hot sticks, this is still a good deal.

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