What was it like for you growing up with textured hair?
Both of my parents have very thick, coarse, curly hair so at least I wasn’t the only curly in my family! But my curls are very different than theirs so they could only offer me so much help. On top of not knowing how best to care for my curls, I grew up in a predominately white community and never felt like I fit in. I couldn't change my coloring or my bone structure. But I could control my hair. So that’s what I did. By 14 years old I had become a slave to the flat iron and wouldn’t be caught dead outside without straightened hair. Then I met my first serious boyfriend when I was 16 and he preferred my hair straight, too, which just reinforced my insecurities about my natural texture. I maintained my flat iron addiction for 10 years.
What made you decide to embrace your naturally curly hair?
It really all came down to self-love and living authentically. I wanted to love my genuine, authentic self more. Deep down I knew that letting myself be influenced by the pressure to conform to society’s beauty standards was unhealthy. When I broke it down and asked myself the tough questions, I realized that in order to love myself fully, I needed to let go of Western European standards of beauty and embrace my own ethnic background, which was to thank for my crown of curls. I had to stop denying who I am. And who I am is a beautifully mixed-race, curly-haired mutt!
What has been the most empowering moment of your natural hair journey so far?
Starting my curly hair blog on Instagram has been a very empowering part of this journey. It’s helped me engage with the wonderfully supportive curly community there. It’s a safe space where I can share my “wins” and my “fails” with others who understand the struggle and don’t just think I’m being silly or vain! Everyone knows it’s about SO much more than hair. It’s helped me in so many ways to not lose hope and stay motivated on this journey. And as I’ve progressed, I’ve realized that little old me could actually be a source of inspiration to other curlies, which was an amazing feeling! Embracing my curly hair on a social media platform has helped me become comfortable being unapologetically me in all aspects of my life.
How do you protect your curls at night?
To protect my curls, I sleep in a satin bonnet on a satin pillowcase. This has been the silver bullet to extending my time between wash days!
Who is your curl crush?
I have SO many curl crushes! Truly too many to list here. So if I had to pick just one… Sanne (@curlsandblondies) has absolutely stunning curls and gives really helpful hair tips. But I also really connect with and am inspired by how she encourages self-love.
What's your curly girl essential you can't live without?
I don’t think I could live without my hairdryer and diffuser. My hair takes a lifetime to air dry and I can’t get a fraction of the volume or tightness in my curls without diffusing!
What is your current hair regimen? Any favorite products you’d like to share?
I deep condition, wash, and style twice a week. I prefer to deep condition as a pre-poo so that my low-porosity, fine hair doesn’t get weighed down. My favorite deep conditioner right now is the Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen & Restore Treatment Masque. It provides an amazing balance of protein and moisture that my hair just loves. Then I wash and condition. Recently, I’ve been loving the Not Your Mother’s Naturals Curl Defining shampoo and conditioner. Then I style with CURLS Crème Brûlée Whipped Curl Cream and Pantene Curl Defining Mousse. This mousse gives amazing shine, volume, and definition with a lightweight, soft hold that still maintains for several days with minimal refreshing. To finish, I diffuse dry. Recently, I’ve become a huge fan of the Curly Co. Collapsible Diffuser, but I also really like the Xtava Black Orchid.
What has been the most challenging moment of your natural hair journey so far?
The most challenging part has been being patient through the transition when it feels like every day is a bad hair day. It’s easy to get frustrated and throw in the towel. It’s hard enough just going to work or school with your transitioning hair, but when a special event or trip rolls around it’s like your commitment is being tested all over again for the first time! You think, “This trip/event would be so much easier if I straightened my hair.” Or, “I don’t want to be in pictures with my hair looking like this. Maybe I should just straighten it.” So to overcome that urge, you really have to recommit to your long-term hair health goals. You have to stop being your own worst critic and you have to not let what anyone what else thinks to bother you either. And that’s so much easier said than done!
Are there any techniques or methods that have made a huge impact on your hair health?
Deep conditioning twice a week has really made a difference in my hair health. Also, the “squish to condish” technique and “pulsing” a.k.a. “scrunch + pump” technique when styling have both been game changers for me. And, of course, good sleep protection truly is vital to preserving your curls for multiple days!
What's your advice to women who are still struggling with loving their natural texture?
“When you feel like quitting, remember why you started.” You can see this through. You can reach your healthy hair goals. It might be tough now, but it WILL be worth it. You didn’t damage your hair overnight, right? So you can’t expect it to recover quickly either. Give yourself time. Be patient. You deserve to love yourself exactly as you were made. So stay strong and don’t give in to the pressure to conform to society’s beauty standards, or your friends’, or your boyfriends’. If you want to embrace your naturally beautiful self then keep going!