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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!
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