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Sophie-Marie’s curls have undergone quite the transition. Here, she explains what motivated her journey and how she kept going through any bumps along the way.

Why I straightened my hair

Pre 2004, my hair was brushed as a child as my parents didn’t know how to look after it. I would constantly compare my hair to others at school because they were my only reference points available. I would have done anything for straight hair! 

Between 2004 and 2019, I was convinced I needed to have smooth, straight hair to look professional or put together. The media whilst I was at school demonised frizzy hair, especially TV adverts where they convince you that you need a solution to frizz and that solution was to straighten it. In reality, in my case as in most, behind the frizz there were curls waiting to flourish – they just needed some TLC.

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I remember walking through a shopping centre as a teenager in my hometown and I would constantly get stopped by those straightening/blow out stands asking if they could straighten my frizzy hair and sell me a straightener. I would take them up on it every-time praying it wasn’t going to rain. My parents and my hair dresser at the time begged me to wear it curly but I just wasn’t equipped with the knowledge at that time and wanted it straight as a board.

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My Inspirations

From late 2019 onwards, I would see other people in the street with curly hair and think “wow so beautiful” including my best friend from uni. I realised this was actually what my hair was like as a child. This inspired and challenged me to see if it was possible to reverse the damage from heat and bleach and get my hair to curl up again. At this time, I had begun to get frustrated with how my hair would break at the bottom and would never grow as long as my friends with naturally straight hair. At this stage in November 2019, I started to realise the importance of hair health being correlated with length and stopped straightening my hair to see what would happen. I was going to the gym in the mornings so after washing my hair before work I’d have to lather on Moroccan oil to tame the frizz, I didn’t realise what “weighing down” hair was or that curl creams existed.

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During lockdown, I was freed up from the need to keep up the image of straightening my hair to fit in because, obviously nobody would see me. This therefore seemed like the perfect time for trial and error to see if I could fully get my curls back. I wanted to be happy with myself. I felt like I had been trying to be somebody I wasn’t over the last 10 years. Just like many people, lockdown forced me to sit with myself, with no distractions, and reflect. 

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My Curly Transformation Phases

Phase 1 – March 2020:

The first thing I did was type into Google how to get my curls back. I saw so much information on Instagram and Youtube about the Curly Girl Method. It seemed convincing so I started following the guidelines straight away. I threw out all silicones and sulphate products I had and stopped straightening. When washing my hair, I’d apply these extremely thick conditioning treatments from Shea moisture and simply let my hair dry. This alone did help me to progress to what I’d call phase one. I started to see some defined waves, but still nothing like what I once knew to be my hair. This slight progress got me so excited. It helped that my partner was cheering me along the whole time; he was always positive about me embracing my curls.

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Phase 2 – July 28th 2020:

It was at this time that I decided to start my Instagram page. This was to simply keep myself accountable for my hair progress, and to maybe connect with others doing the same thing. I was yet to discover how many people were also doing the same thing over lockdown and the amazing curly community.

I quickly started connecting with others online and was using drugstore brands like Shea Moisture, Umberto Giannini and Cake Beauty. My routine for so long was a Shea Moisture leave-in conditioner, the Umberto Giannini Curl Jelly, the Cake Beauty mousse, and a weekly deep conditioning treatment from Shea Moisture. I washed my hair strictly once a week, and I really started to see some progress. 

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Phase 3 Sept/Nov 2020:

My curls were becoming quite defined and I saw massive progress already, but I started to notice the difference between the curls at my root and the straighter more damaged parts at the end. I desperately wanted a haircut but due to lockdown, I couldn’t get to a hairdresser. That’s when I decided to cut it myself with some sharp kitchen scissors! I had no idea what I was doing but this seemed to help the overall appearance and consistency of curl pattern throughout. It was however, very uneven! I even got brave enough to cut a fringe. I put a poll up on Instagram to 1,000 people saying should I do it and one person voted “do it” which was Emma aka @curly.robbo so I did it!

I desperately wanted a haircut but due to lockdown, I couldn’t get to a hairdresser. That’s when I decided to cut it myself with some sharp kitchen scissors!

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Around this time, I started to notice my hair was thinning at my scalp. I also had extreme build-up and my head was itchy. I was confused about why my scalp wasn’t feeling clean anymore. I started to research and educated myself on how to effectively cleanse my scalp. I had realised that whilst my hair might have progressed, my scalp wasn’t benefiting from CGM “low-poo washing”. Because I was desperate and concerned about hair loss, I decided to go straight back to sulphates. Now I realise that there are cleansing shampoos out there without sulphates but I personally prefer a very strong cleanser once in a while. Since implementing cleansing shampoos back once every two weeks, my scalp has thanked me. I also started researching the benefits of silicones and realised the purpose of them in my routine. I didn’t notice build up re-introducing them; I only noticed the benefits of sealing my strands for protection and shine.

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Phase 4 and Beyond: 

One day Only Curls reached out to me on Instagram to gift me a box of their mini sized products. I was over the moon that a brand was reaching out to me and this was the first time I noticed an insane spring up in my curls. My hair really enjoyed the light weight consistency of the products and I began realising that curl type didn’t have a specific correlation with density. Someone could have very curly hair that was fine. I realised my hair was medium-density but truly loved the light weight products. 

I saw Manes by Mell on YouTube talking about this detox kit for your scalp by Curlsmith and since I was very wary of scalp care from previous build-up experience I invested in the kit. I was immediately obsessed, and went down a rabbit hole looking at all the Curlsmith products. I went on to purchase their strength protein line and this was a very big turning point for my curls. I realised my hair LOVES protein. My curls went from around a curly wave, to a full-on curl. I became truly obsessed with Curlsmith. This was before I ever worked with them.

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Whilst I rate a lot of brands and have staple products from many, Curlsmith and Only Curls changed the game for me. I am blessed to be able to work with them now and create content for brands I truly adored from day one. I love making videos and hair reels to share what I’ve learned so far. My account has always been about trial and error; I never claim to be an expert. I am not qualified in hair or product formulation but I truly love what looking after my curls has taught me about self-love and identityI am not here for the “rules” there is not a one size fits all approach and what works for me might not work for others. We are all unique all with different heads of curls and what’s so cool and special about the curly community. I hope I can continue to inspire others to embrace their curls and have fun with it along the way.