NaturallyCurly: Please introduce yourself!Ekta Bhardwaj: Hi! My name is Ekta. I am twenty-six and newly married. I am not currently working, but I hope to join a media firm soon.
NC: How and when did you start embracing your curls?
EB: I sported a crew cut until high school. Eleventh grade was my moment with my hair—I decided to grow out my curls. Everyone was surprised by my beautiful, tight, springy curls.I was taken by surprise one day when my school principal slapped me for wearing my hair curly. Indian schools are very strict about uniforms and they prohibit the use of makeup and any kind of hair accessories…I guess the slap came as naturally to her as my curly hair came to me. At that point, I was not embarrassed. I prayed that my curls grow out sooner so she would realize her mistake. And she did!
NC: What's your current routine?
EB: There is no specific routine that I follow, but I do make sure that I treat my hair to a warm olive oil mask, once a week. Sadly, there is a dearth of curly hair shampoos in India, and because I keep experimenting with products in the hope of finding one that will perfectly suit my curls, oiling my curls is a necessity.
NC: From start to finish, on a curly day, what's your process?
EB: I start by detangling my dripping wet hair and follow with shampoo. After lathering it and massaging my ends, I rinse the shampoo out and apply conditioner. My most recent purchase, L’Oreal Smoothing Shampoo and Smoothing Conditioner has done a good job, thanks to the Argan Oil in it. I leave the conditioner in for a couple of minutes and then rinse it out. One last sweep of a wide tooth comb and I am done. I usually scrunch my hair up in a bun using a clutcher and let my curls air dry. After a few hours, I let my hair fall in perfect, springy curls and let any remaining moisture dry out, au natural!
NC: What are your favorite hairstyles to wear?
EB: I call my hair my biggest accessory. A t-shirt-jeans look turns stylish and glamorous once I let down my hair. They look so beautiful all the time! Of course, given Indian weather, it is mostly hot, so I tend to pull them up in a high pony during the hot day and leave them down in the evenings. On special occasions? Free-fall or a side-pony. I also recently tried a low side bun with lots of texture, it looks amazing.
NC: What are your must-have products and tools?
EB: Olive oil, olive oil, olive oil! I can’t think of any product that can replace olive oil. Of course, a wide-toothed comb is also a necessity.
NC: What about your hair stylist?
EB: I do not have many options when it comes to hair stylists. I have been to the best of salons and to the average ones. Mostly, hair stylist do not know what to do with my kind of hair, so they end up just giving me a cut with layers. When it comes to styling my hair, I rely on NaturallyCurly and YouTube for tips and videos.
NC: What do you do at nighttime for your hair?EB: I usually leave my curls down or tie them up in a high bun.
NC: What reaction did you get when you first decided to go natural?EB: A slap! It took some time for people to appreciate my curls. Some would make fun of me by calling names that meant a bird’s nest, a bee-hive, a thick dense-forest, etc. My mother always said that I am unique with my curly hair and not just another face in the crowd. Her words were and shall always be my savior.
NC: What is the best thing about being curly?EB: You are not a regular girl. My curls are a part of my personality and I am glad that I am known by my curls. They're part of my identity.
NC: How do you think having curly hair has impacted your everyday life?
EB: My husband also has curly hair and my curly hair is what first attracted him to me. He said that he would love to play with my springy curls all his life. We are now hoping that our babies would also have curly hair like us, but there's time for that. And of course, curls are so easy! You love them, and they'll make you look like a million bucks.
NC: What would you tell others to encourage them to embrace their curls?
EB: Dear Curly Women,You are unique and you are blessed with the opportunity to stay so for your life. You have curly hair and that is the best part of you…embrace them and care for them. There are many with straight silky hair, but it’s you who will always be remembered for your curls.
NC: Tell us about your current and upcoming projects.
EB: I am currently writing a book and looking for a freelance writing job. Before my marriage, I worked as a Beauty Features Writer with a fashion magazine.