15 Lessons I've Learned About the Curly World!

It seems like a lifetime ago that NaturallyCurly was born at a brunch after multiple mimosas and a lifetime of curl frustration. Back in 1998, there were no resources for curly girls like us – few curl savvy stylists, a handful of products and virtually no curly role models (thank you Bernadette Peters for being a pioneer!) Magazines all but ignored curls and coils, even in issues dedicated to hair. We were breaking new ground with a site dedicated to all things curly, enduring cynics who couldn’t understand why we would possibly create a web site all about curls. Fifteen years later, it’s fun to reflect on some of the most memorable things I’ve learned on this curly journey.

Pictured: Co-founders Michelle Breyer and Gretchen Heber
  1. People with curly/coily hair truly have a bond

    On a recent trip, I was taking pictures of a curly mom and daughter I saw on the street. My father asked if anyone ever refuses or thinks it’s weird. I can honestly say, after 15 years and thousands of photos, only a handful of women have ever said no when I’ve asked to photograph them. In fact, we usually end up in a long conversation about our hair, the products we use, the bad haircuts we’ve had, etc. I’ve stayed in touch with a number people I’ve met on the street. That probably wouldn’t happen if a straight-haired woman walked up to random straight-haired people to take their photo. “Wow, your hair is so straight. What products do you use to make it so straight? Was it tough growing up with straight hair?” Being curly creates an instant connection. We’ve fought the same battles.

  2. Some people just don’t get it

    I still have people laugh when I tell them what I do or comment that curly hair is “in” right now. They don’t understand how much a part of our identity our curls, coils and waves are to who we are. Whether we straighten them, cut them or braid them, our hair has shapes who we are.

  3. Most stylists are afraid of curly/coily hair

    And it’s not their fault. Until I started NaturallyCurly, I never knew that beauty schools don’t teach students how to work with texture. It was true 15 years ago, and unfortunately, it’s still true today. Thankfully there are a number of stylists who go the extra mile to learn how to work with coils and curls.

  4. Products don’t have to be expensive to be good

    Over the past 15 years, it’s been wonderful to see all the amazing products that are now on the market for curly/coily hair. And some of my favorite products are now available on drugstore shelves for less than $10.

  5. Parents play a huge role in how their curly kids feel about their hair – often for generations

    They pick up on all the negative messages, whether it’s talking about about bad versus good hair or telling the hairstylist to “do something with this mess.”

  6. We’ve made great strides, but there’s still a long way to go

    There are still people in the beauty industry who see texture as a niche. They don’t truly understand that 60% of the population has curls, coils or waves, and they need a wide variety of products. As I’ve said before, curls aren’t in or out from one season to the next.

  7. Even with the best products and stylists, curly hair is still a daily adventure

    It always amuses me that I can use the same product and style my hair the exact same way every day, and when I walk into the office, I’ll have people ask me if I got my hair cut or what I did differently. It’s one of the frustrations and joys of having curly hair. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to terms with the fact that my hair is unpredictable.

  8. In searching for curl-savvy stylists, I’ve learned to identify the red flags

    For example, don’t get your hair cut by someone who doesn’t have a diffuser at their station. They may say they know how to cut curly hair, but I need to see that diffuser to give me confidence that they truly do walk the walk.

  9. How you wear your hair is a personal choice

    There are a lot of people who think that if you choose to straighten your hair or alter the texture in any way, you’re a traitor to your fellow curlies and coilies. While I never wear my hair straight, I support those who do choose to blow out their curls or flat iron them. It’s all about options.

  10. At the end of the day, I’m lost without styling product

    Even with the best cut, my curls need some kind of styling cream or gel to define them.

  11. We're growing

    I don’t know whether there are actually more curlies in the world or more women are choosing to wear their hair curly, coily and wavy. But the world seems to have more texture today than it had back in 1998.

  12. Curlies truly do have their own language

    We’ve had numerous companies tell us they have scoured CurlTalk to learn the lingo so they can talk in a way that the audience understands. We talk in sounds and verbs of their own making. We poo and pineapple and plop. We type our curls by pattern, porosity and density.

  13. Curlies are passionate about their products

    We’ve tried to explain to large companies the anguish they have inflicted by discontinuing a “Holy Grail” product. We’ve seen some sought-after discontinued styling products selling for $75 or more on eBay.

  14. Ten hairs together make a curl. Ten curls apart make frizz

  15. Passion truly can change an industry

    Over the past 15 years, I’ve watched curly entrepreneurs like myself help shout out to the world that curls are a force to be reckoned with. I’ve seen mixtresses create products in their kitchen that have become the gold standard in the texture category.  They were frustrated by a lack of products for their hair, so they created their own. It has truly been a grass-roots movement. We have helped the world understand that curls and coils are a category that must be taken seriously, not a passing trend or a political statement.