Being a curly hair girl is hard work. Those effortless, Felicity-esque (c’mon 00’s girls), bouncy little spirals that you may see reflecting strands of the sun and wistfully lust after are not the easy breezy ringlets those hair commercials have you thinking they are.

For those born into it, whether wavy or tight or long or short or frizzy or limp, you’ve been trying to figure out your hair since the 6th grade. I’ve actually just started my curly hair path, as two years ago I had my last chemo treatment, let me doctor rub my little bald head for good luck, said goodbye to the hospital and started on the journey of growing my hair back. Lots of Biotin and years of patiently waiting and I was finally ready for my ‘first’ haircut. The lovely and sadly defunct Ted Gibson salon had helped me through those early few months with extensions, but these strands had never been snipped.

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It’s been heartbreaking, it’s been comical, it’s been emotional and sometimes ridiculous—but more than anything, it has been confusing. I just spent 20 years figuring out how to do my hair and now it was time to learn again. A rebirth, if you will.

The silver lining of this hair loss and regrowth is that I have always envied those curly haired vixens, the Medusas of the beauty world. I would spend hours with a curling iron, trying to make my slightly pathetic waves into those nook and cranny filled strands to no avail. But as each month passed it became clearer and clearer that I was to benefit from a phenomenon dubbed ‘chemo curls’. The strands grew faster, the curls wilder, my appreciation greater, and my frustration level higher as I attempted to style it all. So after great trial and error, I found my knight in shining armor, Devachan.

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Devachan is a salon founded on a movement looking to change lives through curl love and self-acceptance. They remain at the center of the curl conversation more than two decades after its inception.

One day in 1994, founder Lorraine Massey looked around and realized there were just not any luxury high end salons or products for the curly marketplace. Outside of mousse, which is incredibly dehydrating and frizz inducing, and gel, which gives you that very undesirable crunchy wet hair look, there was nothing. The majority of hairdressers out there also weren’t all that well versed in cutting and styling the texture of curly hair, which meant so many women would leave the salon looking fantastic with their blowout, only to shower and then mourn their new day to day look.

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So Devachan was born, with a new approach to pretty much everything. The salon starts with a consultation, and then you move on to a dry haircut. The concept here, and it’s mind-blowing in its simplicity and truth, is that your hair is not supposed to be cut or styled wet, because that’s not the final style intention. Your stylist will pick up each dry curl and cut every single one so they fall as a comprehensive ‘team’ of sorts, as opposed to out of sort bundles that fight each other. Susan was my ever so talented stylist, and within minutes I felt the weight fall away and my face emerge as she kept my length but infused style, volume, and shape in my mane.

One of the most unique things about Devachan is the fact that if they see something that doesn’t work great for curly hair, they invent something new. That’s where all of their brand specific products, DevaCurl, come from. Sulfate free and revolutionary for the haircare world, they use things like ‘No-Poo’ (a no lather shampoo) and ‘Heaven in Hair’ (a deep conditioner that hydrates without leaving buildup). That concept also applies to highlights—you won’t find any tiger stripe inducing foils here. Brian was my color artiste, painting each curl with the Pintura technique to accentuate the way the curl will naturally fall and so placing a hint of honey in exactly the right place. He’s also a head scalp massage expert, so good luck getting out of that super comfy hair after a few minutes with him.

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The last step to the rather lengthy beautification process (but since when is beauty upkeep ever a quick trip?) ends with perhaps my favorite part of the Devachan experience—a lesson. Susan spent a good thirty minutes going over every single product we used, why we used it, and how to implement it all in my daily life. They want you to leave with the curl confidence to create the same look at home, to carry it through in your own routine. These guys have been around for so long that they’ve spent the time in the lab and tested all of this in day to day life.

I left the salon with a spring in my step and awe in my heart. It felt like I woke up and was ME again, albeit a different version of me. Maybe an even better version. It was time to embrace and celebrate every single strand of hair on that once bald head of mine.