You're not alone with this hair struggle.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times... That pretty much sums up what it feels like to be blessed with both straight and curly hair.
Interestingly, largely due to genetics, many women experience the board-like strands on top of their head and the twisted ones below. Environmental and styling issues exacerbate this difference.
"The hair up top has more exposure to the sun and heating tools and is being pulled and touched more than the hair at the bottom," says New York dermatologist Dendy Engelman, M.D.
This breaks down the cortex of hair, which—like the core of your body—gives structure and shape. As a result, those top pieces unfurl and lose curl. Unruly hormones (a result of pregnancy or stress) are also a key culprit in textural changes. Estrogen and testosterone levels affect the diameter, texture, and strength of any given strand.
The right cut can be a great peacemaker. Ask your hairstylist for face-framing, graduated layers (we know what you're thinking and no, we're not talking about the Rachel; we're talking subtle). By removing weight, strands around the front and top of your head will spring to life. It gives them the much-needed bend they are lacking to better resemble your curls underneath, says hairstylist Elisabeth Lovell of Brooklyn's Whiteroom Salon.
To align the textures, consider getting a partial straightening or wave treatment at the salon, which lasts for about three months, says Dallas hairstylist Kimberly Crawford; or at home, style only the outlier. Want to make your curly-straight combo more straight? Apply a smoothing cream on curls and flatiron them, working in small, one-inch sections of hair so you don't miss any layers. Want your curly-straight combo more curly? Curl only the straight section.
Waves—not quite coils, not quite rails—help belligerent textures meet in the middle. From roots to tips of damp hair, work through a golf ball-size amount of a soft-hold mousse, like R+Co Aircraft Pomade Mousse. Then, starting by the face, grab one-inch-wide sections of hair and "twist them so they mimic the curls on bottom," says Lovell. "Use a diffuser on the top, which enhances curls, and let the curly bottom air-dry to relax that section."