In my curly hair journey I've learned that the shorter my hair is, the easier it is to style my curls. My curls are more defined, they feel healthier, and they just pop more when they're shorter. As they grow long I find frizz to be increasingly more challenging, washing and conditioning more tiring, and my wash and go loses its shape after a couple of days. All this to say, when I saw Ayesha while scrolling through StyleNook I was amazed by the definition she manages to achieve with such long hair, and what her secret to healthy, long curls is.
Are there any tricks or tips that you've figured out along the way that have made a big difference in the way your hair looks?
Water quality is important. I’ve been blessed with the tap water out in Anchorage, Alaska. I’ve been washing my hair with pristine glacier water from the Chugach Mountains since I was a kid. When I moved out to Spokane, Washington for college, my hair went into shock. The hard water was so harsh that I had to do “the big chop.” It was a very emotional day for me. My hair went from my hips to my shoulders. I started buying gallons of filtered water jugs and bringing them to the shower with me. That was tough. I couldn’t deal with the hour long washing process, so I invested in a water filtration system in my home. It cost a lot of money, but it made a difference.
What are your Holy Grail products?
I’ve been solely using DevaCurl products since 2014. It has helped tremendously, but I cannot live without coconut oil and castor oil. The reason why my hair looks so shiny is because of the moisture in coconut oil. And the reason why my hair is thick and long is because of castor oil. I apply castor oil on my roots and drench my ends with coconut oil twice a week. These natural products are essentially food. If your curls are dry, it means they are hungry! Go feed them!
What's your styling routine?
- Pre-Poo - Always pre-poo with coconut & castor oil. I usually sleep with my curls saturated in the oils. Then I wrap my hair in a old t-shirt and place a towel on my pillow.
- Cleanse - Wash with DevaCurl No-Poo (Zero Lather Conditioning Cleanser) and Bounce Curl Clarifying Shampoo. I also use the DevaCurl Buildup Buster, on my scalp. Got to get that heavy, greasy castor oil out, but I don’t want to take out all the coconut oil on my ends.
- Condition - Condition with DevaCurl One Condition (Original Daily Cream Conditioner) and Not your mother’s Tahitian Gardenia Flower & Mango Butter Conditioner. Apply only on the ends. You want volume? Don’t apply conditioner on your roots.
- Leave-in - Because my hair is healthy from all the oil treatments, I only apply a dimesize amount of DevaCurl B’Leave-In or the SheaMoisture Manuka Honey & Mafura Oil Intensive Hydration Leave In Milk.
- Styler - Coat your curls in DevaCurl Ultra Defining Gel and the SheaMoisture Manuka Honey & Mafura Oil Max Hold Gel. Now this is when you use a lot of product. I usually use 4 pumps. Scrunch away until ringlets appear.
- Diffuse - Time to diffuse. Waterfall your curls onto a microfiber towel. Use DevaCurl’s DevaFuser on your scalp until it’s about 80% dry. Do not diffuse your ends. Let them air dry to keep them healthy. If I didn’t need volume at my roots, I wouldn’t let a hair dryer touch them either.
- Refresh - Your curls won’t look soft until the second day. I believe it is because the gel cast breaks. I have been using DevaCurl’s Mist-er Right Refresher Spray to revive my second day curls, but I recently replaced it with DevaCurl’s Beautiful Mess Pomade. I thought pomade was a product guys with straight, short hair would use! Hence, why I stayed away from it all these years. But after using it, I believe it’s better than the spray when it comes to reshaping curls that went frizzy overnight.
Do you have any special advice for caring or styling for long hair?
The longer your hair gets, the less volume you get at the roots. My heavy hair weighs down the little natural volume I have, so my special trick has been to diffuse my hair upside down. Every close friend and family member that has witnessed my drying technique has always given me weird looks. Some are even concerned about future back problems. It’s hard to explain, but what I do is I waterfall my hair onto a microfiber towel. I then take DevaCurl’s hand diffuser and hug my scalp. I’m in this awkward position for 20-30 minutes. It may hurt your back, but no pain, no gain! Beauty always comes with a price.
What made you decide to start your healthy hair journey?
Unapologetically bold black women who embraced their natural hair. I cannot thank them enough. I do not know many Pakistani or South Asian women who embrace their waves/curls. Many girls from my community straighten their hair. So I would go online and see these empowering photos of African American women on Instagram and think wow, I want to embrace my inner goddess too!
What piece of advice would you give to a wavy who's just starting out in their curly hair journey and feels frustrated?
PATIENCE. My hair did not look like this overnight. It took almost a decade to reach this length and bounce. I’ve had friends who would go out and buy DevaCurl’s entire line, get excited, and then give up after a month of trying. It doesn’t work like that. It’s like fitness - you don’t expect to reach your body goals after one session at the gym. It takes time and dedication.
This article was updated in 2018 to reflect Ayesha's current Holy Grail products. She told us "my curls have transitioned into more 3a now but those tips and styling methods still apply!"