Toulouse. Ahhhh Toulouse! La Ville Rose! After a 7 hour delay and arriving to a bus strike, it was wonderful to find myself back in Toulouse! It was a total trip to wake up in the home where I lived as a student and eat the family’s typical breakfast of super-super-super strong coffee and baguette with nutella..just as I had seven years ago.
Because of the bus strike, I had to walk to the center of the town on foot, which gave me plenty of time to reflect and remember all of my memories from before. I ended up getting super lost amidst the winding, twisting streets of the city en route to my lunch date, but eventually found my way. I’m seriously not sure how foreigners navigated some of these places before cellphones and even high-gloss color printed maps available everywhere. I spent the afternoon wandering around the city with Cathi, a true Toulouse historian under whom I was an intern studying the history of the urban development as a city. Like the curvy streets of Toulouse, our conversation wound it’s way around discussions of medieval architecture and of course–hair.
Cathi, who is a native Toulousaine, has had three children with an African man. The kids, who are of mixed ethnicity (called “metisse” in French), have super curly hair. Her oldest daughter, Amanda who I remember fondly when she just five years old, is the only girl in the family. We picked Amanda up from school and both of us were excited to see each other! As I asked about her day, she asked me what I was doing for a living and I attempted to explain what exactly it meant to be a natural hair blogger and as I said that I specialize in writing about naturally curly hair, I saw her eyes light up. Cathi had explained that as a white woman with straight hair, she often had no idea what to do with Amanda’s multi-ethnic hair and I knew exactly what had to happen: Amanda was about to get a little lesson in how to care for her own curls! So we set off for Monoprix, the French equivalent of Target and I perused the hair care offerings.
Aside from the usual boxes of relaxers, there wasn’t much to speak to in the ethnic hair section. Then there was the expected L’Oreal array of products and some Frizz-Ease, but I was not exactly impressed by the offerings. I was looking for two things in particular: a gentle cleanser and a leave in. Finally, I found that Garnier offered a Shea Butter line of products that included a leave in conditioner—a winner! So we grabbed that and a wide tooth comb and set off back to the house.
Amanda explained that normally she used a brush on her 3b/3c curls (sometimes even when dry) and I explained to her that while I would show her how to do her hair, it was really important that she learn how to do it herself! So she shampooed in the shower and came out so I could generously apply the Garnier conditioner and detangle. The conditioner had good slip so I was able to get the comb through easily, showing her that it was important to start from the bottom and work her way up to the roots. After she rinsed, I applied the creamy leave-in in sections and topped off her curls with a little bit of gel for formation.
The result was not bad at all and her hair ended up drying with a lot of volume. While the leave in conditioner I was actually impressed with, I really think there needs to be some a curl creme on the French product market, that would both moisturize and elongate the curls. The only options that I saw with that at Monoprix were gels that could potentially be cocktailed with a leave-in as a DIY cream.
After everything was said and done, I had Amanda write down step-by-step her new hair care routine, while Cathi looked on to make sure they both understood. I’ll be checking back in with them, but it was certainly a much needed and much appreciated lesson!
All in all, Toulouse was a wonderful experience and was far too short! I’ll have to make it back there soon enough!