frisee-7

What was it like for you growing up with textured hair?

Growing up with curly hair was difficult, I have a lot of hair and it was very hard to detangle because it was so dry and not very well taken care of.

I was using products not meant for my hair and it was damaged from heat styling. I was constantly being told to "just brush it" when I would wear it natural, and whenever I would straighten it people would gush on how much better my hair looked. So, I created negative associations with my natural hair, and positive ones with my straight hair.

Also, back in 2009 when I first started transitioning, we had VERY limited options for curly hair education and products, I was kind of winging it and experimenting constantly. Now I think it's incredible how many resources and product options are available, making wearing your hair natural so much more accessible.

What made you decide to embrace your naturally curly hair?

I started growing my hair out and at the time and my curls looked more like waves from all the heat damage from straightening - but I was starting to really like the way my waves were looking, I was dabbling more in the natural hair section at Target, and would get compliments on the waves. It inspired me to stop straightening and look into how to take care of my hair.

I started growing my hair out and at the time and my curls looked more like waves from all the heat damage from straightening - but I was starting to really like the way my waves were looking

What has been the most empowering moment of your natural hair journey so far?

The most amazing thing is getting messages and comments on instagram from people saying that they've been inspired to start their curly hair journey and wearing their hair natural, I think that's just the coolest thing. It's an amazing feeling to see progress after all the hard work you put into getting your hair healthy again.

What is your curl pattern?

Type 3a

How do you protect your curls at night?

Satin Pillow Case, "Pineapple" and sometimes a bonnet

Who is your curl crush?

Ayesha Malik and Penny Tovar raised me. Recently, I've been obsessed with Mell from Manes by Mell, and Merian the founder of Bounce Curl.

What's your curly girl essential you can't live without?

Gel and a really good detangling brush (Tangle Teezer or biggie brush from Crave Naturals)

What is your current hair regimen? Any favorite products you'd like to share?

Cleansing:

I wash my hair 2-3x per week.

Conditioning:

I try to do a deep conditioner at least weekly - my favorites are the Bread Beauty Supply Deep Conditioner and the Miche Beauty Indugle Deep Conditioner.

I also try to do detox treatment to remove build up about 2-3x per month my favorite is the Bounce Curl Tumeric Detox Mask.

Styling:

I start with a hydrating product either a leave in or styling cream, I love the Kinky Curly Leave in Conditioner, and the Bounce Curl Avocado and Rose Oil Defining Cream.

Then, I always usually use TWO gels - one being a softer hold usually protein free, and the second being a stronger hold protein rich gel. My favorite protein free gels are the Kinky Curly Curling Custard and the Jessicurl Spiralicious gel, and for the stronger hold gel my holy grail is the Not Your Mothers Curl Talk Gel - it's so good if your hair likes protein!

What has been the most challenging moment of your natural hair journey so far?

Learning what products to use! Now especially it can be overwhelming because there's so many options, and it's important to remember that someone else's routine might not work for you, and that's ok.

Are there any techniques or methods that have made a huge impact on your hair health?

I am pretty religious about deep conditioning/masking at LEAST once a week, sometimes more, and making sure I do a detox treatment at least once a month. I feel like it really helps with the quality of my hair and scalp.

What's your advice to women who are still struggling with loving their natural texture?

If you're in the middle of transitioning it can difficult because there's definitely an awkward stage were your hair might not be looking so hot - don't give up! It takes time, for me it took several years to get it right, but once you do it's so worth it!

You can follow along with Ashley's journey at @fris.ee on Instagram.