ashley-1

Ashley, @acragga

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

Growing up I didn’t know I had curly hair. My hair stylist always called it “impossible wave.” People didn’t know the things we know now about curly hair. I brushed it out every day. It was dry and frizzy. Kids would throw things in my hair and see how long it would take for me to notice. I hated everything about my hair. When I was 17 I got my first hair straightener and I didn’t look back. I straightened it daily. I accepted the fact that I just had ugly hair and I thought it would never look good unless I flat ironed it.

What made you decide to embrace your naturally curly hair?

A few years ago after a year of gradual lightening it was time for the last bleaching to get to the platinum blonde I had been working towards. I was working with my long-time hair stylist and I trusted him. Unfortunately it did not end well and my hair was fried. I couldn’t brush it without it coming out in clumps. It felt like straw. I didn’t leave the house for months. People laugh but I always say hair depression is real. It’s such a part of who we are. Finally I decided I had to get it fixed. And I had my first appointment with a Devacurl stylist. I’ve been wearing my hair curly ever since and it changed my life. It took a long time and a lot of patience to get it healthy again. But I’m so happy I did.

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

The most powerful part of embracing my natural hair was accepting myself for who I am. I realized I had been literally burning and damaging my hair every day just to look like someone else, when the natural way it grew out of my head was beautiful just the way it was. It changed my life. It changed who I was. It gave me a newfound confidence that I had gone my entire life without. At 30 years old I finally loved the way I looked and was comfortable just being me.

How do you protect your curls at night?

I protect my curls at night with a loose and high ponytail covered with a silk lined cap or buff. I also use a silk pillowcase. It’s great because in the morning I just have to take it out and fluff it and go. Instead of spending two hours straightening it. People always think my curly hair takes me more time and effort than just flat ironing it but a wash lasts me five days and I just wake up and go.

Who is your curl crush?

I have so many curl crushes! My very first was HiFelicia. I found her on Instagram and was so inspired. Toni_macaroni is another one with stunning curls. Outside of Instagram I've always loved Shakira’s hair and of course Sarah Jessica Parker.

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

I absolutely cannot live without my Denman brush. Brushing my hair when styling it was a huge game changer for me. Second place would have to be Kinky-Curly Knot Today leave in. It is hands down my favourite product. Nothing else compares to it.

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

I wash my hair with a low poo every 3-5 days. I deep condition once a week and do a protein treatment every six weeks. For styling I always use a leave-in and cream or activator. My favourite combination is Kinky-Curly Knot Today and Devacurl B’leave In mixed with a little Devacurl Styling Cream. But I also like As I Am Leave In and AG Re:Coil. Then I section and brush with my Denman and scrunch in a gel. Devacurl Ultra Defining, Bounce Curl, or Jessicurl Spiralicious are my top gels. Then I diffuse with my Orchid diffuser.

Editor's Note: The Xtava Orchid diffuser is popular in the curly community but it was recalled back in 2018

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

I think the most challenging part of curly hair is the moisture protein balance. I recently over-moisturized my hair and it actually took a few months to correct it. I had no idea that too much protein or moisture could have such an effect and take so long to reverse. Even after all of these years I often have a hard time figuring out which one my hair needs.

What is your hair type?

3a

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

Definitely using a brush to define my curls. When I started the Curly Girl Method I wasn’t using a brush at all. And it was not going well. I was not happy with how it looked. Brushing it after applying my leave-in dramatically changed my results. But also following the basics of Curly Girl Method when it comes to ingredients. I know what I’m putting in my hair now and giving it what it needs. Healthy hair is beautiful and the goal should always be for the hair to be healthy and the rest will fall into place.

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

Just do it. Why spend all that time and money trying to be someone you’re not? Your hair is beautiful just the way it is. Curly hair is unique and amazing and is a part of what makes you special.