Left: Deidra's curls 1989, Right: Deidra's curls 2017
What was your hair like before you started the Curly Girl Method?
Oh I had ruined my hair! When I was younger, it was my pride and joy. It was long, full and beautiful, it was healthy! But I was vain. I never saw a mirror that I didn’t like. One day I bent over to tie my daughter's shoe and my mother gasped in horror! I thought it was a Spider! She said “No, you have gray Hair!” I went out and bought a box of hair dye that day. I started coloring my hair and continued to color my hair for the next 16 years. I even went through a ‘real housewives’ phase for a minute so I would use a box perm solution to straighten my hair. As my hair got worse, I started pulling it back. All these things I was doing to my hair eventually lead to it falling out and developing bald spots right above my temples.
What lead you to your decision to pursue a healthy hair journey?
I wanted to be dye-free by the time I was 50. But I couldn’t do it in the state my hair was in, so thin and frail. A couple of years ago, I switched from permanent dye to semi-permanent thinking it was less damaging to my hair. I started experimenting with conditioner washing. I even jumped on the Wen bandwagon for a while, but couldn’t get used to the smell or the idea of conditioner washing only, so I would still use a sulfate shampoo every few washes. Nothing was getting better so I started searching Pinterest for ‘curly hair’ and ‘healthy curly hair’ and found the term, Curly Girl Method and pictures of @mycurlychronicles and @ck_frias. I was intrigued!
Deidra's hair in January 2016
How long was it until you started to see some positive results? What did you notice change about your hair?
I read, researched and watched YouTube videos for months before finally committing to the curly girl method. It was probably about the 6 month mark when I started to notice a change in my curls. I could see a lot of new growth sprouting up, I had a lot of extra volume from the new growth, the bald spots were starting to fill in and it just looked better. I was actually slow to commit to weekly deep conditioning (it took months before I decided I needed a satin pillow case) so I was slow to see real results. But, once I found a routine that suited me and my curls, things just started to change.
What was your experience switching to co-washing/no-poo? How did your scalp deal?
Ah, this is where I’ll probably get into trouble with the some curly girls. I hate cowashing! I just couldn’t let go of the lather. I need lather to know my scalp is getting properly cleansed. I had horrible breakouts along the nape of my neck when I tried to cowash only. Thank goodness there a section in the Curly Girl Handbook dedicated to what to avoid when looking for cleansers/shampoos. I currently use a sulfate/silicone free cleanser twice a week: Wednesday and Sunday. That’s part of my routine now. My curls are happy with that schedule!
Tell us about your curly hair routine now!
Sunday is my wash day, but I will pre-poo Saturday night and sleep on it. I follow the @spisha recipe (because when it comes to hair, she has the locks of a goddess!) I use a little Righteous Roots oil and Tropic Isle red pimento oil on my scalp and coat the hair with a coconut oil/conditioner mix. In the morning, I will cleanse with a sulfate free cleanser, then deep condition with heat, usually my Hot Head Thermal cap. I do this every week. Once a month I use a sulfate shampoo to clarify. Wednesday’s are my wash and go’s so I’ll only pre-poo for a couple of hours before cleansing. For styling, I prime my hair with a little Aloe Vera juice/distilled water mix and then apply a leave in, curl cream and either a gel or mousse. I prefer volume over heavy defined curl clumps. The weight of the curl clumps will pull the curl out, so once the products are fully distributed, and the curls properly scrunched, I go back in and rake my fingers through to break the curls up into smaller clumps. Then I diffuse completely, which is usually upside down. It sounds unorthodox but it really helps with the volume. I then use a little Argan oil to scrunch out any cast, shake and lift at the root with either my fingers or my pick.
What are your Holy Grail products, and how do you use them?
Holy grails? Oh that’s hard, but I’d have to say one of the things that have made the most impact in my journey would be my Thermal Hot Head. It makes deep conditioning quicker. It really helps lift the cuticle and get the product in there. Another would be my satin pillow case and satin bonnet. I don’t subscribe to the daily refresh and wouldn’t be able to get day 3 or day 4 day hair if I didn’t preserve the curls properly at night. Plus, I don’t mind the little bit of frizz that comes with not reapplying product daily. Another HG would be my diffuser! I haaaate air drying! I keep trying but I always go back to my Xtava Pro and Orchid diffuser. I love them!
What challenges have you dealt with in your curly hair journey? Have you found solutions that work for you?
In the beginning, I was plagued with frizz caused by product build up. I tried different things to combat this, but after reading about @reallifecurlygirl and how she incorporated clarifying with a sulfate shampoo it into her routine, I started clarifying too. It just made sense for me and allowed the products to work so much better for my fine hair. But, the biggest challenge for me has been learning to love my hair again! It’s hard, especially while you’re in that transition phase. Not every day is a good hair day, and I have to go to work and help clients at our shop. I’m always afraid I’m going to scare someone, but luckily people don’t see our flaws the way we do! Or being down here in the South, they are too polite to say anything. But, that’s where my Puff Cuff comes in handy! They are just the best. You can pineapple without the pull or tug of a ponytail holder. I’m guessing that would be another Holy Grail for me!
How is your hair now, 1 year into your journey?
Juicy! Haha, no but much better! I have curls, actual ringlets. I don’t think I realized how curly my hair it truly is. It’s been such a long time since I’ve seen my hair in its natural state. I’m still transitioning. There’s still a lot of damage up there that has to grow and be trimmed away. And I don’t have a Curl by Curl stylist near me. So about every couple of months I do a little dusting myself. That doesn’t always work out! LOL! But my curls are very forgiving. Before starting the CGM, when I would wear my hair curly, it would be dry, frizzy and crunchy. I thought that’s just the way my curls were. That’s been a nice little surprise!
Tell us about your transition to not dying your hair. What would you say to someone who wants to start embracing their natural color?
Seeing how well my curls responded to the CGM, I thought I could do better. So I made the decision to stop coloring in January of this year. I was afraid the gray would make me look OLD. Some friends told me not to, that I wouldn’t like it. I ordered Lorraine Massey’s Silver Handbook for some courage and inspiration and I was shook. I was in awe of all the beautiful silver haired beauties in her book. They all look so happy. I wanted to be that happy!
What would you say to someone who wants to start embracing their natural color?
To be honest, it hasn’t been bad at all! Today, I am 6 months dye-free and I haven’t been tempted to pick up a bottle of dye the first time! It’s truly liberating! I feel more comfortable in my skin (and hair) now at 48 than I did at 28! I’m loving my silver streak! It gets just as much attention as my curls do! Anytime someone reaches for my curls, I lean in and let them. So many curly girls are singing the “don’t touch my curls” anthem, but not me. I love it! It’s usually a sister curly girl looking for answers. They are definitely a conversation starter. I wish I had embraced my curls/silver sooner! If anyone is contemplating embracing their curls or their gray, I say, do it! Just do it! You won’t regret doing it but you will regret not doing it sooner!