Do you remember the day you made the decision to start your healthy hair journey?

For many curlies it was a day they made a shift in their lifestyle that affected their buying habits, regimen, and oftentimes a mental transformation as well. For Verna it was a tentative decision, "in my mind, I was going to give it a try for at least 6 months & if things didn't go well, I was going back! Well, it's one year later and I made it! My hair has totally recovered & healed itself with over 20 years of damage." The picture says it all, but I wanted to know more. Luckily Verna is very generous with her advice and the knowledge she's gathered over this transformative year.

What was the state of your hair one year ago?

If I could sum up the state of my hair one year ago using one word, it would be lifeless. And the sad thing about it is, is that it was mostly self-inflicted damage. I abused my hair with chemicals like relaxers, bleach and hair dyes, heat styling tools (I had to try all the latest craze), hair extensions, mechanical manipulation and stress, etc. for over 20 years.

What made you decide to pursue a healthy hair journey?

What made me decide to pursue my healthy hair journey is realizing that if I didn't do something about my hair, I would go bald. I became tired of the cycle of hair breakage and damage. I was tired of my dependence on clip in hair extensions or wearing my hair in a bun for weeks at a time because I couldn't do anything more with it. For years, my hair was literally crying out to me to stop the vicious cycle and I finally woke up last year. And what really was the catalyst to starting my healthy hair journey was losing my precious mother. Life is too short to keep putting off what you know you should have done a long time ago. My goal was to get my hair back into a healthy state.

What changes did you make to your regimen at that point?

The very first change I made when I began this journey was to leave all heat styling tools and chemicals alone. Then I made the decision to get a deva cut to get rid of the damage and last, to follow the Curly Girl Method, which I followed strictly the first two months of transitioning.

What do you think made the biggest difference in the way your hair felt and looked?

I would say that my Deva cut made the biggest difference in the way my hair looked because I was so used to having long hair. I was able to let go of 8 inches of hair because I was ready and determined to go all in on this journey.

What is the state of your hair now?

The state of my hair is now healthy. I got the true texture of my hair back, my hair is much stronger and thicker now. And I can hardly believe I did it under a year.

My top tips

Be consistent

Establish a regular haircare routine and be consistent with it. We all know that consistency is the key to everything. Consistently doing the right things for your hair is key to achieving healthy, defined curls/waves. Routine is really the only way to tame out of control frizz and dryness, which are probably the two most common struggles among the curly/wavy hair community.

Check the label

Pay close attention to the ingredients on the back of a product rather than what a product claims it will do on the front label, learn the function of the ingredients. Keep track of the products you use and make a note whether your hair responded positively or negatively. This is a great way to not only use it as a process of elimination when an issue arise, but to help get to the root of the issue.

Find balance

It's also really important to try to keep the protein and moisture level balanced as much as possible because too much of one can harm more easily than you think. It's also vital to learn what your hair needs in order to determine which products are best for your hair type and porosity. Unfortunately, that will come through trial and error.

Listen to your hair

Rather than being caught up on products, products, products, it's more important to listen to your own hair's need and adjust your routine accordingly because believe it or not our hair speaks to us, we just have to learn pay attention and listen. Always remember that what works for someone else's hair may not necessarily work for your hair; everyone's hair is unique and will react differently to hair products.

Get trims

Don't skip out on regular trims, it's a must.

Never give up

Damaged hair isn't the end of the world. With great hair care and consistency, anyone can gradually rebuild strength in their hair and see the curls/waves come back. It's important to become a lifetime learner by continuing the learning process throughout your hair journey. Improving your knowledge is an ongoing effort that will ultimately provide incremental improvements overtime or breakthroughs in your journey.

Thank you Verna for sharing the wisdom you've gained over the last year!

If you'd like to follow Verna for more of her tips and hair health updates, you can follow her on Instagram @vmuse919.