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What was it like for you growing up with textured hair?
Well, puberty hit me like a freight train! That's when I started to get reddish curly hair mixed in with the stick-straight blonde hair I had as a kid. As an adolescent, curly hair wasn’t considered "cool" where I grew up, so I was very unsettled with my evolving hair texture and color. Unfortunately, I didn’t see my hair as something unique and special (where is the time machine when you need it?!). I just wanted to fit in, to look like everyone else. Not knowing what else to do, I tried to blow dry my hair straight, but it would come out frizzy, eliciting comments like “witch hair” and “pube head” from my classmates. The following 18 years were devoted to blow-frying and straightening my hair - perfecting the blowout.
What made you decide to embrace your naturally curly hair?
I have always liked curly hair when I would see others with it. I knew my hair was curly too, but I thought mine was ugly. A few times a year, I would try to style it curly, but was always underwhelmed with my results and would go back to straightening immediately. On Instagram, I started to encounter curly hair accounts like @hif3licia, @indiabatson, and @mzbiancarenee who exposed me to the IG curly community and the Curly Girl Method. I would see “transition” posts showing how it takes months to transition hair that had been damaged from years of straightening. Of course! Why hadn’t it occurred to me that hair that had been straightened for years wouldn’t turn into moisturized healthy curls overnight?! I realized that if I wanted to see my full curly potential, I needed to give it time, adjust my expectations, and research the Curly Girl Method.
What has been the most empowering moment of your natural hair journey so far?
Being a control freak doesn't pair well with curly hair that’s different every day. I was very motivated to research and experiment with different products/techniques in order to perfect curly hair as quickly as possible. However, along the journey, I started to gain a whole new appreciation for my hair and for myself. With this new found self love, I started to appreciate my curls in any form. I used to be so self conscious to go out in public with curly hair that might frizz up or get wind blown - we can be so critical of ourselves! When I started rocking my curls just the way they are (even naked curls) - that was empowering! I still experiment often, but that’s because I enjoy it. And I share my varying results with others hoping to spread messages of self love and appreciation for curls in any form.
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How do you protect your curls at night?
After trying a variety of techniques, I settled on a satin scarf and silk pillowcase combo to protect my curls overnight. I prefer the satin scarf over a pineapple because it keeps my curls in tact and protected without stretching out the back and sides of my hair. With the scarf on my head, I sleep on a silk pillowcase so my scarf can slip easily across the pillow when I move throughout the night.
Who is your curl crush?
Oh that’s a hard one, I have many! Felicia (@hif3licia), India (@indiabatson), Bianca Renee (@mzbiancarenee) and Sarah Angius (@sarahangius) were my first curl crushes and the people who inspired me to start my journey. But there are amazing women with a wealth of knowledge who have kept me motivated along my journey - these are the people I count on for advice, inspiration and continued support: Verna (@themestizamuse), Dominique (@powerdomi), Megan (@wavycurlychronicles), Alyson (@reallifecurlygirl), Jannelle (@jannelleoshaughnessy), Merian (@mismmo) and others, and I wouldn’t be where I am without them!
What's your curly girl essential you can't live without?
Without a doubt, conditioner. If I was stranded on a desert island, or if the zombies came and took all of my hair products, I’d save the conditioner!
What is your current hair regimen? Any favorite products you’d like to share?
Currently, I wash my hair about twice a week. One of those washes is with a clarifying shampoo (I recommend the Bounce Curl Clarifying Shampoo or DevaCurl Buildup Buster), followed by a deep conditioner for moisture and/or protein. For the washes in between, I use a low or no poo cleanser. The rest of my wash day routine is the same: I apply conditioner (Bounce Curl Cream Conditioner is my fave!) for detangling and squish to condish, then leave-in conditioner and styling products on wet hair, using a pulse/scrunch technique. When using a curl cream, I may use that in addition to or instead of leave-in conditioner depending on how much moisture I need. Gel is always applied last. I usually diffuse my hair until dry, air-drying for a bit whenever possible, but I don’t like to walk around with wet hair. When my hair is completely dry, I will scrunch out any crunch and fluff my roots and curls using a pick.
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What has been the most challenging moment of your natural hair journey so far?
The curly journey isn’t for the faint of heart! Hygral fatigue, protein overload, itchy scalp, undiagnosable frizz and the never-ending list of curly terminology; there are many points in the journey where it’s natural to feel overwhelmed and frustrated. I don’t think I can pick one moment (although hygral fatigue is NO JOKE), but I will say that every curly encounters challenging moments. KEEP GOING, don’t give up! And reach out to others for help. I may have quit long ago if not for the support and motivation I found in the IG curly community. You’re not alone, we’re all in this together.
Are there any techniques or methods that have made a huge impact on your hair health?
Squish to condish was a game-changer for me! Nothing gives me happy curl clumps (I sound like Bob Ross over here) like this technique because the act of physically squishing handfuls of water and conditioner into my hair helps me to achieve major moisture! Also, micro-plopping with a microfiber towel, which is essentially scooping my curls up and pressing gently against my head, helps to remove water without disturbing the curls. This means cutting down on diffusing time without creating a lot of frizz.
What's your advice to women who are still struggling with loving their natural texture?
Keep trying different techniques, do your research, and be patient. There’s not an overnight solution to reversing years of damage, and no one can tell you exactly what you need to do, so give yourself time to learn and to transition.
Everyone’s hair and journey are different, so stop comparing yourself to others.
Document your journey so you can remind yourself how far you’ve come.