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Curl power: Author sets record straight: Curls are wave of the future

At last. No more need to iron, straighten and relax your hair. No more coveting Gwyneth's or Jennifer's limp locks. No more crying in the mirror as you attempt to corral your chaotic tresses. After more than a decade of hibernation, curls...

At last.

No more need to iron, straighten and relax your hair. No more coveting Gwyneth's or Jennifer's limp locks. No more crying in the mirror as you attempt to corral your chaotic tresses.

After more than a decade of hibernation, curls have bounced back. We're seeing them tumble down the chic shoulders of Minnie Driver, Sarah Jessica Parker and Nicole Kidman. We're glimpsing ringlets in fashion layouts and on television.

Once again, curls are making waves.

Simply ask Lorraine Massey, whose "Curly Girl: The Handbook" (Workman Publishing, 2002, $9.95) is a combination curl-care manual/tongue-in-cheek manifesto on the tribulations of growing up curly in a sleek-haired world.

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"Curly hair is the wave of the future," Massey predicts. "For too long, we curly girls have been at a loss about how to care for our hair properly, or, worse, have gone through life pretending we are straight and mistreating our natural curls. I'm hoping that this book will revolutionize the way we look at curly hair."

Massey should understand the curly girl's plight. Not only did she grow up loathing her own Shirley Temple spirals, she eventually became a hairdresser.

Determined to understand the mysterious waves atop her head, she studied anything she could find on curly hair. Massey now co-owns a SoHo salon called Devachan, which has become a Mecca for the curly-haired set.

Softer, 'bigger' looks

Whether they're looking for gentle waves or something zestier, more clients are turning to local hair stylists for curl power.

"We're seeing more curl but it's different," says Stacy Holzheimer of Everyday Elegance, Moorhead. "It's big, loose waves, the soft curls. People even want those types of perms."

Yes, some clients are still opting for the ultra-straight, parted-down-the-center look, Holzheimer says, but it's not for everyone. Others want a softer effect -- shoulder-length curls cut in soft layers.

Carmen Krueger of Hair Success, Fargo, is also seeing more diversity in styles. "We're doing more perms than we were doing in the '90s. Some of the '80s influence is back -- the bigger hair. Hopefully, we won't get the mall bangs."

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The new call for curls is a relief for many, who have grown up believing those undulating locks were horrid.

"When I was in school, nobody had curly hair, and if you did, you were not cool," recalls Kathy Morken of Fargo. "I slept sitting up with my soup cans in my hair. We used to iron it. Then you would go outside and if there was any humidity at all, it just went, 'boing.' Oh, it was terrible."

Nowadays, Morken has learned to live with her spirals. Not only that, she admires the curls she's passed on to daughter Stephanie, 18.

Stephanie's hair is more wavy than curly, so she often wears it straight. "When I wear my hair curly, I get more compliments on my hair," the Fargo North senior admits.

Adds Mom: "So many people have straight hair that when someone has curly, they notice it."

More than we think

Then again, curls may be more common than we think. Massey says 65 percent of women have curly or wavy hair -- even if they wear it straight every day.

And the intensity of one's curl power can vary greatly. Massey divides curly heads into three main types:

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-Corkscrew. Very tight curls. Think Keri Russell, Gloria Reuben, Julianna Margulies.

-Botticelli. Looser curls that vary in size. Think Julie Roberts and Nicole Kidman.

-Wavy. Hair that could almost pass for straight, but has a slight curl. Think Michelle Pfeiffer and Meg Ryan.

But whether someone sports mermaid ringlets, poodle-tight curls or stick-straight locks, Holzheimer has noticed one theme: "Everyone wants what they don't have."

Her advice: "Be thankful for what you have and find the best style for it."

Readers can reach Forum Features Editor Tammy Swift at (701) 241-5524

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