Why Porosity Focused Hair Care is the Future, with Holy Curls Founder Badria Ahmed

Holy Curls is a London-born haircare brand looking to innovate, inspire, and change the direction of curly conversation with its Curls 2.0 Campaign. Founder Badria Ahmed used her experience growing up in Sweden as the motivation to break myths and misconceptions about hair type and texture with products that will have big results. As a multi-award winning brand, Holy Curls is clean, vegan, and made with ingredients that will nourish and moisturize the curls like coconut oil, baobab oil, and yucca plant.

We sat down to chat with Badria about her ‘Curls 2.0’ campaign which was born out of the realization that “the way we currently speak to our customers about curl care simply isn’t good enough.” Instead of focusing on curl patterns and using the classic curl typing system to inform how customers should use products, Holy Curls decided to pivot “to bring education to the forefront so that curlies understand their hair holistically – without complicating it or getting too science-y.” The team developed a Curl Routine Finder questionnaire, which will identify a person’s curls by their behavior using different hair products, porosity, density, and thickness. The team is also working with experts to create a new, holistic hair typing system that makes it easy for consumers to learn and understand their curl DNA.  

How did living in Sweden impact your haircare education/routine?

That’s really where it all started for me because there was nothing when I grew up in Sweden. I mean, there was not much in general in the market at that time. But in Sweden, there was nothing because there were very few black people with the exception of my own and also Muslims. I covered my hair as well, so it was a complex relationship that I had with my hair but the one who styled it was my mom and she’s Somali. She would put everything in my hair but she didn’t have the education on what would care so. She was just really struggling and I remember when I was 7 I was begging her to chemically perm my hair. her my hair. We bought the perm and it was just for me and I was just so excited that I wouldn’t have to worry about it. 

Where did you find the resources to help you care for your hair as you grew up?

I moved to Australia when I was 21 and perms did not exist at all and I was searching for this product so I was like, you know, at that point you’re an addict like you don’t know what to do. Australia was hot and humid and I didn’t know what to do with it. I started researching and I just knew that natural was the way to go and no one needed to tell me that.

I knew that oils would work on my hair because we used to use oils on our bodies. Yeah, we didn’t do it in our hair. It just made sense for me to go that route and I didn’t need to go and buy products because I could put together the ingredients myself. I used aloe vera, coconut, and olive oil, and I started researching on the composition and the structure of my hair type. 

The information was more kind of a scientific education because back then we didn’t have YouTube.That’s how I discovered and fell in love with the whole natural movement just going away from the synthetic and that’s carried over into the vision I had for Holy Curls. 

What was missing from your haircare products that inspired you to create your brand?

No one cared about branding and making the packaging look nice. You know, if it was for black people you’d see big letters or all these colors. I was working as a copywriter with creative teams, and understood the importance of aesthetics for example skincare brands were much further ahead in obtaining the eye of the customer. It felt like no one was looking at the full picture of, you know, high-performing products that you want to put in your space. When I came to London we had these big beauty stores with only wigs and weaves everywhere and haircare products on some shelves. There and just like, oh, my God, what is this? It just didn’t feel right or sustainable to me. You know things have changed today, but when I was researching and developing the idea for the brand I didn’t have much to work with.

Do you feel hair typing limits or expands our understanding of natural hair?

I think in the beginning it expanded because it created a conversation and before that, there wasn’t any real way to discuss our different hair types. There wasn’t a wider conversation or a mainstream conversation, so it did help to create that understanding and health education along in ways but today it’s very limiting. You know, it’s just not good enough today because we know that hair typing isn’t the most important aspect of hair care. 

Why do you think porosity isn’t discussed with the same weight as hair type/texture?

I think about who started the whole prototyping conversation and he was linked to Oprah Winfrey and was named Andre Walker. He was a celebrity and he started the conversation and it took off because of the platform he had. If someone with the same influence as Oprah Winfrey started talking about porosity it could curb the conversation in mainstream media. Overall,  I think it’s just a lack of education and laziness from brands that just go along with what’s already out there. 

What products do you recommend for first-time users?

Holy Curls is a brand built on simplicity and we have six to seven across the brand so it’s not like all these products that will overwhelm the customer. Everybody in my opinion should wash their hair so the shampoo would be a great start. The cream is a bestseller because it’s super moisturizing that can be used across the board with fine and wavy hair all the way to coily types. It’s very slippery as well and for me, this has been missing from creams because you know they’re moisturizing but I want slip, not just in my conditioner, but also in my cream

The Curls 2.0 Finder on the website shows people a quiz they can take and it asks you a few questions about your hair, about how it behaves, and all of that, and then builds a profile. You also get a step-by-step routine about how to use the products and that’s personalized for that particular texture type. I’ve seen a lot of quizzes online and a lot of a lot of them recommend products that they will tell you how to use I think the most important part is understanding how to use the product for your hair type. It’s just like taking it that one step further and just putting a bit more effort into actually educating people and that it has been missing on the paths that we want to change. 

What is the hero ingredient of your brand and why did you choose it?

The baobab oil. I was traveling in Africa when I was working on Holy Curls and just understood the creation of so many ingredients. It was amazing to see ingredients for skin, hair, and build up and oil was one of them. I was traveling in Madagascar and you see these big beautiful baobab trees and the communities that all live in these areas get so much from the ingredients. Every part of this tree can be used for something and the oil that they create they extract the the food is incredible. It’s called the Tree of Life and that’s the one ingredient we’ve got across all the products.

Did you have entrepreneurial mentors or guides that supported you?

I would love to say that I did, but that wasn’t the case. When I grew up, my family owned a restaurant, so running a business was always something that I had experience with in addition to when I was working for other companies. I felt I knew that I wanted to create something for myself, but I didn’t know what that was. When I started working on all the components to create a brand and a product all the little things had to come together right? It was just learning the industry as a whole and the lingo, like a minimum order quantity, and with the Curls 2.0 movement, this is an entirely new initiative. We just launched it a couple of months ago and we’re trying to move away from the one-size-fits-all approach to the paths and we must educate ourselves because there are just very basic things that will just help us. 

You know, you don’t have to go to the specialist you can, it’s great, but you can you know you don’t have to because you can do it yourself and it’s not that hard if you do your research. What we’re trying to do as a brand is make that research part easier for people and to give that value to people that they don’t have to, you know, look somewhere else to to figure out how to do this with our products. We’re moving away from the old curl charts that box us into narrow spaces and put an emphasis on valuing education. 

Read next: How To Condition High Porosity Hair – And KEEP It Moisturized

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