Certain drugstore products are like starter kits for budding beauty girls. In high school, I hoarded Maybelline's Great Lash, Burt's Bees Lip Balm, and L'Oréal Paris True Match Blush. As I got older and made (ever-so-slightly) more money, I branched out into trying the big kahuna prestige products. Since then, I've left many of my favorite affordable go-tos behind, to be discovered by a new generation of makeup addicts.
But there's one that I will not give up for anything. Seriously, if you want to take my Conair Instant Heat ($10) away from me, you'll have to kill me first. And even then, I'll probably come back to haunt you for it.
If you want to take my Conair away from me, you'll have to kill me first. And even then, I'll probably come back to haunt you for it.
I went from college straight into the workforce, which is a time when many women decide to inject some maturity into their style routines. Some girls buy an investment purse or leather jacket; as a beauty writer, I decided to ramp up my makeup game. I bought a $50 lipstick, switched out my $2 sponge for an oval brush that cost more than my electric bill, and picked up a few fancy serums from French brands I didn't feel comfortable pronouncing out loud. Then, much like Andy did with Woody before he left for college, I bid an emotional farewell to my Conair and commanded it to the depths of my storage unit. I'd received a few big-girl curling wands (each with big-girl price tags) and would from here on out exclusively use those. But my hair had other plans.
The new wands, while elegant, would always leave my hair falling flat by midday. My hair is pretty healthy and naturally is often too silky to hold a curl (rough life, I know). The high heat of those tools would manhandle my strands into looking excessively styled and left me looking sort of like how I picture an eighth-grade girl at the mall does her hair.
"After purchasing a fancy pink flatiron from a high-end brand and having it crash within one month, I've learned the hard way that a hefty price tag doesn't always mean sexier hair."
After less than a week, I couldn't take it anymore. I ran across town to get to my storage unit before the facility closed, sort of like at the end of The Graduate when Dustin Hoffman's hustling to the church to break up the wedding in time. I was reunited with my iron, and as with any good love story, the time apart only made our bond stronger.
As fate would have it, the first day I used my Conair again, POPSUGAR Senior Beauty Editor Lauren Levinson would not stop talking about how good it looked. The waves looked soft, not forced, and although the lived-in style looked so delicate and pretty, it lasted all day long. In fact, I just had an out-of-town friend stay over, and she uses a prestige wand. Girlfriend always needs to touch up after work, but I can go from the office to happy hour and all the way to 4 a.m. empanadas with my curls intact (got to look good for those late-night munchies).
As it turns out, the feeling is mutual. I've had many discussions with other beauty editors about why this wand is so good. POPSUGAR Social Media Strategist Aimee Simeon has a similar story of switching back to Conair after ditching it for a pricier wand. "After purchasing a fancy pink flatiron from a high-end brand and having it crash within one month, I've learned the hard way that a hefty price tag doesn't always mean sexier hair," Aimee told me. "[Now] every week I flatiron and curl my hair with a one-inch ceramic flatiron and curling wand, and I'm never disappointed with my results. My hair is always sleek and shiny, and people are often impressed that I style my strands at home."
"My hair is always sleek and shiny, and people are often impressed that I style my strands at home."
Beauty Editor Kristina Rodulfo agreed. "It heats up in just 30 seconds, gives the perfect spiral curl, and comes with 25 heat settings. (Why! I don't know! But it's impressive.) Fun fact: one of my hair idols, Caila Quinn, once told me she, too, had used the same Conair barrel for 10 years when I asked about her otherworldly waves. Look her up. Stare at her hair. That's all the proof you need." It's true — the writing of this post was delayed for longer than I care to admit due to my falling into the beautiful black hole of Caila's hairstagrams.
At this point, I truly consider my Conair an extension of my being. After all, I've gotten ready for some of the best days of my life with that sucker. I went on my first date (to Twilight, never forget) wearing Conair curls. I defended my college thesis with them. Heck, the Instant Heat even styled me for my interview at POPSUGAR — and held up surprisingly well while I commuted in a scary NYC torrential downpour. Wherever I am, it's always kept me feeling like my most confident self. That's something worth hair-flipping for.