NaturallyCurly: Please introduce yourself!

Ana Iris Santos Batista: My name is Ana Iris Santos Batista. I'm 18 years old and I'm Dominican.

NC: How and when did you start embracing your curls?

Ana: Being Dominican means going to the salon every weekend to get your hair straightened and relaxing your hair as a pre-teen or even as a child. Needless to say, Dominicans do not embrace curls and do not particularly like them. I always wanted straight hair because it was what I was told was pretty and manageable. It wasn't until a few years ago that I realized I loved my curls. 

NC: What's your current routine?

Ana: I don't have a routine. I'd like to have one, but I just haven't found something that I'd like to do every day or a product that I'd like to use on a regular basis. On top of that, I'm extremely lazy when it comes to my hair. I know for a fact that I wouldn't have the energy or motivation to do the necessary for my hair...Every. Single. Day. 

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

Ana: On wash day, I shampoo and condition my hair. I use my fingers to detangle before coming my hair with a regular comb. After I wash the conditioner out, I use a leave-in to make sure that my hair stays moisturized. Sometimes I also add an oil to seal the moisture in, and then I plop my hair. If my hair has already been washed and styled, I just refresh my curls with water or a mixture of water and leave-in conditioner. 

NC: What are your favorite hairstyles to wear with your curls?

Ana: My favorite hair styles to wear are the fro, the halo updo or just leaving my hair down with its natural curl pattern.

NC: What are your must-have products and tools?

Ana: My must-have products are Herbal Essences Hello Hydration Shampoo and Conditioner and Garnier Fructis Leave-In Conditioner. My must-have tools include bobby pins and a blow dryer; I don't use the blow dryer often but I still need it from time to time. 

NC: What do you do at nighttime for your hair?

Ana: At night, I usually dampen my hair with water or a mixture of water and leave-in conditioner. I either wrap it in my keffiyeh or leave it down.

NC: What reaction did you get when you first decided to go natural?

Ana:  I received mixed reactions. Some people loved my big curly hair and others were simply not impressed.

NC: Did you big chop or transition and for how long? Did you ever have any curly girl insecurities?

Ana: I transitioned for 1-2 years and honestly, cutting my hair to get my curls back didn't even cross my mind. My hair grows very slowly and I was—and still am—far too attached to it. I know that if I would have been made to cut most of my hair off, it would have left me in a very vulnerable place. 

NC: What is the best thing about being curly?

Ana: I think the best thing about curly hair is the versatility. There are very few times when you get bored with your hair. The length of the hair determines what styles you can and cannot do (unless you choose to use artificial hair), but there is a style for just about everyone out there with curly hair. 

NC: How do you think having curly hair impacts your life?

Ana:  During recent months, being a curly girl has impacted my life quite a lot. I can't go outside without someone stopping me while walking or even driving! They always have questions and comments…sometimes I'm not ready for them. There is also a lot of criticism. I have received comments such as "Why are you trying to make yourself look black?" or "You should relax your hair. It will be so pretty that way. You're far too light skinned to look like that," and last but not least, "Don't go out looking like that!"

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

Ana: If you like your curls, don't care about what other people may think! It brings such freedom knowing that you look the way you want to look. 

NC: Tell us about your life and what you're up to!

Ana: I recently started a YouTube channel called "Dominican Merida." In a few days/weeks, I'll start to upload videos. It will be a channel for naturals starting out or naturals who need new ideas on what to do with their hair. I also started a Facebook page called "Girl's Manual." This page is more about everything that girls like, need, or want to know about. 

If you would like to know more about Ana, you can find her on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, or Instagram.