NaturallyCurly: Please introduce yourself!
Ashley Witherspoon: Hey! My name is Ashley. I just turned 22 and I'm a student at The City College of New York. I'm a girly tomboy who loves sports and video games, but who also loves being pampered! I'm half-Trini but I love Spanish and Asian culture...I'm taking Japanese at the moment and I'm semi-fluent in Spanish. I'm also a small group leader in an awesome club called Intervarsity Christian Fellowship.
NC: How and when did you start embracing your curls?
AW: I first went "natural" when I was seven, but I didn't start the process of "being natural" until my sophomore year in college. I had no idea that my hair was this curly! I started trying out different products, watching YouTube gurus and reading forums which helped me take care of my hair in a way that worked for me (and for my wallet).
NC: What is your current routine?AW: On a wash day, I start off with SheaMoisture Organic Coconut & Hibiscus Shampoo and then follow up with SheaMoisture Deep Treatment Masque, which I leave on for 1-2 hours (or sometimes overnight). Then I rinse and detangle with a Denman D3 brush. Then I use the SheaMoisture Curl & Style Milk and make sure my hair is completely detangled. I finger comb with SheaMoisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie, making sure to stretch and scrunch it in. Finally I smooth on my oil concoction (EVOO, almond and grapeseed with 2 MSM capsules) and finish with SheaMoisture Curling Soufflé. I flip my hair over and put on a satin cap to define my curls (10 minutes) and then let it air dry. It sounds complicated, but after a while it comes naturally!
NC: So from start to finish, on a curly day, what's your process?
AW: When I wake up, I spritz my hair with a conditioner+water mix and decide, based on the weather, what to do with my hair. If it's really cold or really hot, I'll put my hair in a protective style. If I'm leaving my curls out, I put on my oil immediately after spritzing my hair, followed by the SheaMoisture Curl Defining Pudding and Curling Soufflé. I really like the clump and scrunch method.
NC: What are your must-have products and tools?
AW: I'm in love with the SheaMoisture Coconut & Hibiscus line. I've tried other brands and products, but nothing works as well for me as this line of products! It's also completely natural, which is a great bonus.
I also can't live without my modified Denman brush! The definition is ridiculous and it is immensely helpful in the detangling process. My satin bonnet, pillowcase and scarf have also become staples that I can't live without.
Raw shea butter, EVOO, and water are also some of the best basics for my hair. When I'm in between products and don't have the time (or money) to stock up, they're definitely clutch!
NC: What are your favorite hairstyles to wear with your curls?
AW: I usually leave my curls loose or put my hair in a bun, which keeps my hair out of the way while stretching. It's a functional hairstyle!
NC: What do you do at nighttime for your hair?
AW: I spritz my hair with conditioner+water and use a little bit of oil, focused at my ends. I either pineapple my hair, put it in cornrows, or pull it into a bun. Then I put on my satin bonnet and secure it with a satin scarf.
NC: What about your hair stylists?
AW: Pily is the best! I love her and the ladies that work in her shop. Dominican salons sometimes get a bad rap, but she actually takes the time to make sure my hair is getting what it needs and works with me so that I'm happy (and my hair is too). She has a genuine passion for hair, curly or straight!
NC: What is the best thing about being curly?
AW: The freedom and versatility! I can do so much with my hair…I can straighten it, leave it out, braid it, pull it back, whatever! Another cool thing is that I don’t really have to worry about the weather. If it’s raining, so what? Snowing? Don’t care. Beach days? Heck yeah! I don’t have to worry about spending a whole lot on my hair for a little water to ruin it. I love that fact that my hair is unique and flexible.
NC: How do you thing having curly hair impacts your life?
AW: It definitely takes more time, but it’s worth it. It also shows me how to be more appreciative of other textures. I get stopped or asked about my hair a few times a week and it boosts my confidence like you wouldn’t believe. It’s great to know that there are people who embrace themselves just as much as you embrace yourself. I feel more confident now than three years ago when I felt like I had to straighten my hair to feel pretty. Not anymore! I love curls!
NC: What would you tell others to encourage them to embrace their curls?
AW: No amount of flexi rods and flat irons can make you any more beautiful than you already are! Be creative. Learn what works for you, tweak other people’s methods and read labels!! Nothing sucks more than spending a fortune on products that don’t work for you. Your curls are more than just a hairstyle. People recognize you for them, so love them! Don’t let any one discourage you towards or away from being natural. I was born with straight hair so I have just as much right to straighten it! I know there are some hair haters out there who try to school other naturals and curlies about the process, but it is a personal and beautiful thing. Natural doesn’t necessarily mean sticking to your curl pattern, it means stick to natural products. If you want to straighten or braid or even use weave, go for it! If you want to stick with what God gave you, that’s awesome too. This is YOUR journey so lead it the way that’s best for YOU!
NC: Tell us about your current and upcoming projects!
AW: I’m a part of an awesome movement called the Price of Life which is fighting to end sex trafficking and human/labor slavery. This year, the focus is on NYC…my chapter of Intervarsity Christian Fellowship is launching a week-long campaign in October and I am part of the leadership team! I can’t wait! I’m also starting to take my hobby of photography more seriously and plan on doing so photography/short films and videos starting this summer. Last but definitely not least, I’m going to work on getting my hair back to waist length, bouncy and full of life! It’s definitely going to be a long road but an exciting one.