NaturallyCurly: Please introduce yourself!

Yani Gallagher: My name is Yani Gallagher. I am twenty years old and I live in Tacoma, WA.

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

YG:  I started embracing my curls about two years ago. I began my journey in September of 2011 when I began transitioning from years of over-processing my hair with relaxers, dyes, and just not taking proper care of my hair. I still wore my hair straight most of the time until I big chopped.

NC: What's your current routine?

YG:  My current regimen is pretty simple. I usually section my hair and co-wash it every week. I shampoo about twice a month. I almost always finger detangle to prevent breakage. Then I dry my hair with a t-shirt and apply a moisturizer and an oil to seal the moisture in. I let my hair air dry and never use any heat on my hair. I also use a henna treatment every couple months which helps protect my hair & retain length. At night, I use a satin pillowcase to reduce frizz and breakage. 

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

YG:  I'm not very "hairstyle savvy" (or maybe I'm just a little lazy) but my go-to style is the poof! It's fun and easy, and I get a lot of compliments—people say it matches my personality.

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

YG:  The products I use vary on my budget at the time, what's available, etc, but I try using as many natural products as possible. I use Organix Thick & Full Biotin & Collagen Conditioner to co-wash my hair, Cantu Shea Butter Coconut Curling Cream or anything from their natural line gives me amazing definition and a mix of oils that I put together…usually it consists of vegetable glycerin, jojoba oil, grapeseed oil, avocado oil and a little bit of rosemary essential oil. The only "tools" I use on my hair are my fingers!  

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

YG:  When I was first going natural, I kept it to myself because it was personal to me. I wasn't too worried about what other people thought because it's MY hair. When people started to ask questions, they were nothing but curious and supportive. It was never a big deal to anyone, but I was asked a few times how my hair got so thick and healthy! For the most part I have gotten nothing but compliments and support.

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

YG:  I transitioned for almost two years. During the time I was cutting off the damaged hair and perm little by little while protective styling. About seven months into my transition, I got my hair cut into a short bob but still had relaxed ends. I continued the transition up until this past July when I went ahead and big chopped the last three inches off and became a full-fledged natural! 

NC: What is the best thing about being curly?

YG:  The best thing about having curly hair is that I stand out in my own way that is still subtle. It feels good that anyone can straighten their hair or wear a weave but not everyone can have hair like mine. My hair is un-apologetically ME.

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

YG:  My hair has impacted my life because before I was natural, I had little knowledge about my type of hair or how to care for it. I was adopted and my parents are Caucasian, so although they weren't to blame, I just never had the knowledge or background of how to keep my type of hair healthy. It was always dry and breaking off. Growing up, I was self conscious because I didn't fit into the "norm" of the black culture. I started my natural hair journey as a way to come into myself and become more comfortable with who I am as a person. It was a huge learning process that taught me a lot about self- acceptance and being proud of who I am. It also made me turn to a more natural diet and lifestyle in general.

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

YG:  For anyone who is having problems embracing their curls, I would tell them not to worry about what anyone thinks. It's YOUR hair and it's growing from YOUR head for a reason. Own it and feel beautiful. It's okay to be different and to march to the beat of your own drum. No one has the right to say anything about your hair…you should never feel bad about being yourself. Even though your hair is just that, hair, it's still part of you and you should always be confident in who you are!

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

YG:  Currently, I am in the process of finding a good loctician. Yes, I'm locking and can't wait! I LOVE my curls I have always admired dreadlocks and my next journey will be just another lesson and experience for me. Another new start! Aside from my hair, I am working as a Licensed Massage Therapist and I'm in the process of becoming a Reiki Practitioner. My whole transition was actually while I was studying in school and the alternative approach in the bodywork profession also helped me accept the change I was going through. I plan to also start working towards becoming a certified doula in the near future as well.

You can find Yani on Instagram.