Island Hair

For thirty-five years I pretended my hair was straight. I tried every different product to fight against what nature gave me. Anti-frizz serums, straightening lotions, humidity resistance sprays… you name it. If it claimed to create fake straight, I bought it. I also had to have a professional hair dryer (don’t get me started about the day the fuse blew in my Super Solano), the perfect flat iron, and even multiple curling irons in tow when I traveled. And I am talking about trips to the Caribbean. The tropics! It was madness. Shaun would ask that I leave them behind, reminding me that I used them maybe once each time we stayed on an island. But without fail, I would load them up hoping to stay under my fifty pound carry on limit. Professional styling tools are not light, by the way.

straight hair

This is how I would love for my hair to look every day. I really think I look better with it styled like this but I’m learning not to care.

A couple of weeks ago we moved to St John USVI to live out a dream of ours. I’d love to say that I just gave away my tools and products, threw caution to the wind (and the humidity) and came without any of it. Unfortunately, it really takes getting to your island and becoming a resident to come to terms with the fact that you can’t fight nature. And it’s so incredibly hot right now. The thought of a heated tool is too much to bear. But I would be lying if I said I didn’t get a plan before we came. Hey, I may have given up a great job, our home, and our life as we knew it, but I am a planner at the end of the day.

wavy hair

This was originally my dream island hair. Unfortunately, this look requires a blow dryer, flat iron and curler. Too much effort!

About a month before we moved I ventured in to Sephora to get my attack plan. My friend Nicole told me about the DevaCurl line, so I started there. As it turns out, I didn’t have to look any further. I bought the three basic products to get started- No Poo Zero Lather Conditioning Cleanser, One Condition Creamy Conditioner, and Light Defining Gel. Since Shaun was having LASIK surgery that Friday and we were stuck at home, I spent some time watching YouTube videos with tutorials on proper techniques.


I started with these three products.

Before long, I was back at Sephora. I needed the special DevaCurl microfiber towel. Apparently the cotton in regular bath towels creates frizz (much like the lather in regular shampoos). Also I needed the clips to give me some lift at the root.  Next, I went on a search for a satin pillowcase, because normal sheets create frizz too. Who knew!? I couldn’t locate satin pillowcases anywhere I shopped, so Shaun was nice enough to assist in the hunt. He found one at Walmart- I do not go in there- and it was $4. Perfect. Well, almost perfect. It was red. I hate red. I gave it a shot though. It ended up bleeding a little unto our cream colored fabric headboard and ruining our sheets. Oh well. At least my hair didn’t frizz. Ultimately I found the satin pillowcase of my dreams at Sally Beauty Supply. It was just a little more but it doesn’t look like a murder scene on our bed.

island hair

Learning to embrace my natural waves!

Between the new products I’m using and the fact that I live on an island where people don’t care, I am in business! Today I went to the laudromat with the clips in my hair, since you can’t remove them until your hair is dry. No one seemed to care (or notice) at all. Since there’s no real time commitment involved and really no styling at all, I feel free to jump right in and get my hair wet in the ocean, whereas before I would try to avoid getting it wet because of the effort I had put into making it look good. And guess what? Most people are telling me they really like my hair and some ladies with straight hair say they wish they had wild curls!

beach hair

Beach hair! Ready to swim, sweat, and sunbathe!

So, the fact that I always wanted straight hair has me thinking. We always seem to want what we don’t have. It’s a sad part of being human. Something changed in me when I moved to St John though. And it was so much bigger than the texture of my hair. I immediately appreciated all I have while at the same time realizing that things don’t matter. Not even a little bit. Our health and happiness are what give me pause each and every day. I’m appreciating more of what life has to offer.

bvi boat trip

If someone invites us to come out on their boat, I’m ready in no time!

I’m attending church outside with the waves gently crashing as we sing hymns acoustically to the music of two soft guitars. I’m swimming with the fish and the turtles and all of God’s creatures who live in this beautiful turquoise water that surrounds me. And while I swim and workout and meet new friends I am consistently reminded of what really matters. It’s not my clothes, my car, my house, or my job. And it most certainly isn’t my hair.

snorkeling on st john usvi

You would miss out on a lot if you were worried about your hair on this island!

Ashley Cates, St. John USVI blogger.

  • Cheri
    May 19, 2015

    I found your blog through a friend’s post on facebook. He and his wife also made the move to St. John and posted your most recent post from this site. I found this particular post as I was looking through the blog. I, too, have the natural wave and curl that for so many years I attempted to tame. I gave up the fight for the most part quite a while ago.But like you I have bought every potion that lays claim to magic! I found your description of your experiences with products and other items quite helpful. I just recently also discovered DevaCurl at sephora, but have not purchased it yet. I had to do some more research first about gluten. It appears that it may be gluten free so I am hoping to try it soon. Hopefully, I will have the same results that you have had. I think your hair looks fantastic in its natural state. Best wishes for continued stress free living in paradise for you and your husband!

    • Ashley
      May 19, 2015

      Hi Cheri,
      That’s interesting that you were looking into the gluten component. I really want to go gluten-free completely, but I never thought about my hair products. Do you think that makes a big difference? I guess your skin on your head is just as porous as the rest of your body so it absorbs whatever chemicals you apply, right? So interesting! I’m struggling with my hair right now because I felt like it was getting dry. So I started putting coconut oil on it but now it is a greasy mess… Live and learn I guess lol :) Thanks for reading and let me know if you have plans to travel to St John!

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