Please introduce yourself!

My name is Leah Thompson. I'm a singer-songwriter and mom from the Greater St. Louis area. I have Type 3, S-pattern curls and my hair-itage African American, Native American, and Caucasian.

How and when did you start embracing your curls?

I have always embraced my curls! While I have experimented with a flat iron and sometimes use a curling iron to lengthen and loosen my curls, I've never used chemical relaxers on my hair. Growing up, people were often baffled by the fact that I didn't want to relax or straighten my curls. Now, going natural is more of a trend.

What's your current routine?

I wash my hair with sulfate-free shampoo every 3-4 days and comb conditioner through my hair almost every day.

From start to finish, on a curly day, what's your process?

I use a wide tooth comb and detangle my hair in the shower with conditioner, scrunch excess water out with a t-shirt (helps prevent the frizz that a towel can create), scrunch gel through my curls while they're still damp, and go! I usually let my hair air dry unless I’m pressed for time or it’s cold outside, in which case I use a diffuser. I don’t touch my hair until it’s completely dry. Then I will flip my head over and scrunch to release the gel cast and get some volume and bounce!

What are your must-have products and tools?

My must-haves include DevaCurl Light Defining Gel (formerly known as DevaCurl AnGEL), DevaCurl Set It Free, Silk Elements Olive Conditioner, and a sulfate-free shampoo. And I have to have a diffuser!

What are your favorite hairstyles to wear with your curls?

I usually wear my hair down or down with one side pinned back, half up/half down, in a bun, in a high ponytail, or braided.

What about your hair stylists?

I have my hair trimmed by a Curl Expert trained in Lorraine Massey’s technique at Devachan in NYC. She cuts my hair, curl by curl, while it is dry. If you cut your hair while it’s straight or wet and pulled straight, there’s no telling what kind of shape you’re going to get when it dries and the curls bounce back up at all different lengths! Cutting dry is the way to go since curly hair has a mind of its own. You’ve got to let the curls lay the way they do naturally and cut each one accordingly.

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If you've always been natural, did you ever have any curly girl insecurities?

I’m fortunate to have always been proud of my unique look! My mother was a huge part of instilling that confidence in me. Growing up, I enjoyed having spirals that no one else could replicate. I can also straighten my hair and achieve the straight look, if I want something different!

What do you do at nighttime for your hair? 

I pull it up on top of my head in a loose ponytail. In the morning, I can let it down and spray with Set It Free or, if it has been a couple of days, I go through the rinse/comb routine again.

What is the best thing about being curly?

It’s so versatile! You certainly don’t need one of those silly foam bun makers to get a perfect bun, and it’s easy to create “dressy” updos. In the summertime, you can jet out the door with wet waves, while everyone else is still fussing with flat irons, blow dryers, curling irons, and hairspray. You can quickly throw your hair up into a French twist with something like a pencil and it will stay put! Curly hair has amazing body and volume that you don’t have to work to get. And it has personality – it’s bold, quirky, and free.

How do you think having curly hair impacts your life?

You can’t blend in and go unnoticed with really curly hair! As long as you’re a law-abiding citizen, this shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

What would you tell others to encourage them to embrace their curls?

Your curls make you unique! You save a bundle on salon trips, and you can get more beauty sleep as you don’t have to wake up at the crack of dawn to iron and style your hair. Curls are also environmentally friendly: you don’t have to wash your hair every day (and shouldn’t, as curls require more moisture) and you don’t have to use heat styling tools. Be free and go with the flow!

Want to hear more about Leah? You can listen to her original music at http://leahtmusic.bandcamp.com!