Articles By Priscilla Sodeke

Lorraine FerringoLorraine Ferringo, curly and natural at 62.

Lorraine Ferringo, a newbie to the curly hair community, is finally learning to embrace her curls at age 62! She recently posted her curly hair story on CurlTalk. Her story is one that can inspire and encourage naturally curly, coily or wavy novices and experts alike.

NaturallyCurly: What made you decide to embrace your curls and change your hair care methods?

Lorraine Ferringo: After spending my childhood trying and failing to "control" my hair with a brush, I didn't even know that there was another, better way to handle my hair.

NC: What is your current hair care routine?

LF: In this regard, I am still very much experimenting. Every few days I find new products or tools I want to try. I keep a notepad by my computer when I'm on the NaturallyCurly site and jot down products or ideas that interest me. Right now, I shampoo with a no-sulfate shampoo, condition, then rinse out the conditioner. I then use a gel to set my hair. I have been finding that leave-ins leave my hair feeling greasy, but I do note some leave-ins that I may try as things change or new ideas are tried. For second day hair, I dampen my hair by wetting my hands in the shower and running them through my hair, then applying a small amount of gel — still a work in progress.

NC: What are your hair struggles, from before or even now?

LF: Frizz was the biggest thing from before, but if I used hair gel, and when the hair was long enough, set it on rollers to dry it, I could keep this under control. I always wanted "Breck Girl" shiny hair, but I'm learning to embrace my hair's health and not to expect too much from it.

NC: You said on CurlTalk that before you had tried unsuccessfully to grow your hair out. Do you have any goals for growing your hair out now?

LF: Before, having long hair was just too much hassle. I never tried to blow dry my hair. Just saying "blow-dryer" near it caused frizz, so I always had to set it on the OJ can rollers and sit for an hour to an hour and a half under a hood dryer. For a young, working mother, there was never enough time for this. I am now excited (even at my age) to see what it will look like grown out. My husband is also looking forward to this.

NC: How has embracing your natural curls impacted your life or impacted the way you see yourself?

"After a lifetime of control, and thinking I knew what to do to make my hair do as I wished, suddenly I am faced with the prospect that I could have had a completely different relationship with this focal point of my appearance. I might have been able to like it, to learn to manage and even love my curls. This is a revolutionary idea."

LF: I can't really even answer that. When I was a child, the adults around me all told me how grateful I should be for my curly hair, but these same adults were the ones trying to control it with brushing. It was an endless battle. When I had it cut short at 13, and embarked on controlling my hair, I never looked back. My hair was like a feral child that had to be cared for, but never allowed to have its own way. So for nearly 50 years this has been my relationship with my hair.

Then, I came across "Curly Girl" on Amazon while searching for a hair care product, and suddenly this "enemy" I have battled all my life takes on a whole new aspect. Maybe I don't have to fear its nature, maybe with the proper care it can actually be allowed out to play sometimes. After a lifetime of control, and thinking I knew what to do to make my hair do as I wished, suddenly I am faced with the prospect that I could have had a completely different relationship with this focal point of my appearance. I might have been able to like it, to learn to manage and even love my curls. This is a revolutionary idea. Right now I am on the precipice of a new relationship with my hair, and I can't even begin to imagine what changes the next year or two will bring. But I do know that there will be changes.

NC: What are you most excited about with your natural hair?

LF: I am most excited to just see what it can be. A few days ago I mentioned to my son and husband that I had missed the changes puberty, pregnancy, and menopause would have made in my hair. I can never get those missed events back, but I can see what it will look like now, I can revel in what it is, and with luck, I can share this new-found knowledge with others. At least one other 13-year-old will know that there might be a glory hiding under that frizz if she just gives it a chance to show itself, and future generations will straighten or use other hairstyling methods out of choice rather than a desperation to control something they just don't understand.

NC: Even though this is all new to you, do you have any words of encouragement or advice for others who are having the same struggles with their naturally curly hair?

LF: If at 62 I'm still excited to learn all of this and embark on this new adventure, then it's truly not too late for anyone. What ever you may have done to it, it's just hair, and it will always grow back and always forgive you when you start to give it proper care.

NC: Anything else you want to share?

LF: I want to thank the NaturallyCurly community (and Gretchen) for being there after I had read "Curly Girl" and was looking for more information, and everyone who posts there for all the ideas I am still writing in my little notepad. As long as what I see in the mirror is not a bush of frizz, it will be an improvement over the "brush your hair, it's a mess" that I remember. So I guess I'm saying, "It's all good."

Learn from Lorraine

3 Tips for New and Struggling Curlies

  1. Don't give up on your curls! Be patient and let your naturally curly hair be "a work in progress."  Lorraine is still willing to give her hair a chance and take the time to embrace and enjoy her curls. You may have had expectations for your hair that are uncharacteristic of your curl texture. Stop to observe your hair texture and find out how it behaves, what it likes and doesn't like — be kind to your curls.
  2. Relearn. It's easy to get frustrated with your natural texture because you don't know how to take care of it. It's important to accept that you will need to relearn about how to take care of your naturally curly hair to get your hair to a healthy place. There's a wealth of information you can learn from other curlies who have been there, tried this and that. So grab a notepad and start relearning.
  3. Enjoy the journey. Your curls have potential. No matter how long you've been battling with your texture, you shouldn't be afraid to hope that you will get to see your curls, kinks, or waves healthy and thriving. Take your time to find your way so that you can begin to enjoy your texture. Be sure to record your journey so that you can keep track of all the progress you are making!

April showers bring may flowers, but they can also bring endless frizzy, poofy hair days for us curly, coily and wavy gals! You don't have to fear the humidity this spring. You can keep your curls and styles defined and let your curls come out to play with no-frizz instead! Take a look at these spring hair care tips for healthy beautiful curls from March to May.



Priscilla Sodeke enjoying her short, natural hair.

When I packed up my combs and hair products, I knew where I wanted to go, but I had no idea where my hair would take me. I set out with the desire for fuller, healthier, longer hair. After 16 years of relaxers, my hair was at its longest, but it was thin and listless, slouching at my shoulders without any intentions of growing longer. So after going in search of a healthier hair regimen through hours of online research, I became what you might call a hair product ingredient Nazi. Determined to purge my collection, I attacked the bathroom counters and shelves full of hair products with a vengeance. My plan was to relax less and flat iron the kinks out of any coils that dared to show up at my roots.

My quest for length didn't last very long. Just before my sister's wedding in October of 2009, I snuck off to get a haircut to get rid of my wispy, damaged ends. Now I wonder how I could have been so impetuous! But at the time, I felt sassy and brave and I rocked that pixie cut for about four months. Over those four months, I developed a curiosity about my natural hair. For the first time I didn't groan with annoyance at feeling my kinky, coily roots growing. In fact, I couldn't keep my hands out of my hair! I got online and found a community of curlies who, along with my natural-haired oldest sister, helped inspire me to go natural. I was mostly inspired by the boldness of their choice to embrace this part of themselves whether others did or not.

Priscilla Sodeke with relaxed hair.

In February of 2010, I did my first real big chop. I immediately felt bold and striking. My style changed, because the way I saw myself changed. Joan Juliet Buck described this change aptly in “Vogue” when she wrote, “short hair makes you aware of subtraction as style.”  Chopping my hair off forced me to come face to face with my face — no hiding behind my hair. I could see my eyes and I saw myself with new eyes.

When I was a baby, my sisters used to put me in my empty diaper boxes and push me around the house. We have a picture of me like that — a happy big-haired baby sitting in a diaper box. I'm unashamedly envious of the full head of kinky coils I had before getting my first relaxer. After taking a stab at caring for my own natural hair, I don't blame my mom for giving up on my kinky coils to keep me from wailing every time she touched my hair.

"The hardest thing has been the struggle to accept and enjoy my naturally kinky, coily hair the way it is and not get caught up in curl envy."

 

I grew up envying the straight, shiny, long hair of the little girls on the relaxer kit boxes. Every time I looked in the mirror after my mom had dried and curled my freshly relaxed hair, I was always disappointed and confused. Why didn't my hair look like the girls' on the box?

It's weird, but after the high of my big chop wore off and my hair was growing out, I started to feel like that again. My greatest struggle since my first big chop hasn't been retaining length or finding the right natural hair products to keep my thirsty kinks moisturized and manageable. The hardest thing has been the struggle to accept and enjoy my naturally kinky, coily hair the way it is and not get caught up in curl envy — wishing my curls were more like someone else's.

These days, I wash-n-go or wet-n-go every day. I am thrilled with the softness and moisture I get from using Shea Moisture Organic Coconut & Hibiscus Curl Enhancing Smoothie and Queen Helene Royal Curl: Curl Shaping Crème together on wet hair. Recently, I big-chopped for the third time and I'm enjoying the ease of having short hair. I embarked on this journey with different goals than I have now. Now, I'm earnestly trying to get to know and appreciate my natural texture.

What have you enjoyed or struggled with most on your natural hair journey?



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