What was it like for you growing up with textured hair?
Growing up in the Dominican Republic, I probably got my first blowout when I was three years old. The natural hair on the island is seen as "bad hair." Curls, fros, and kinks are all a "no-no" in my country. My sister had thicker hair and tighter curls than me so she always used to get her hair relaxed and I was always happy because I was the one with "good hair" because my hair was easier to manage. Seeing and experiencing different responses and growing up listening to the terms "bad hair" and "good hair" taught me at the time that my curly hair wasn't beautiful enough, so I hated it.
What made you decide to embrace your naturally curly hair?
To be honest, it was easier for me and more affordable. Moving from the Dominican Republic to NYC made me realize how expensive going to the beauty salon could be, plus it's no reason to get a blowout in the hot and humid streets of NYC. When I started transitioning, I fell in love with the process. I realized it wasn't only about having beautiful curls, it was about embracing my roots, my history, the history that many Dominicans deny on a daily basis, and my ancestors who are forgotten. When the truth hit, that's when I started to embrace my curls with pride.
How have your family, friends, and co-workers reacted? What was your response to them?
"¿Muchacha tu ta loca?" which means "girl, are you crazy?" in Spanish. My mom went nuts when I stopped straightening my hair. I would always receive comments like "Why is your hair so messy?", "When are you going to brush your hair?", and "You look better with straight hair." I got less support from my family, especially my mom who praised straight hair so much that she would straighten my hair every weekend, so finding out I was going natural really shocked her. I chose to embrace the process and educate those who are ignorant about natural hair along the way.
How did you transition to wearing your natural texture?
I used to cut my dead ends every 2-3 weeks and religiously deep conditioned 1-2 times a week with homemade masks with 100% natural products.
What is your current hair regimen?
I still deep condition every week, get trims every 3-4 months and clarify my hair every 2-3 weeks.
Are there any techniques or methods that have made a big impact on the way your hair looks?
Three-strand twists and the Denman brush are definitely a go to. When I was transitioning, twist outs were my best friend to help define my damaged curls. Now, I use the Denman brush for everything — it definitely helps a lot by defining my curls and detangling them.
Any advice you’d like to give other women who may be in the transition phase or need some encouragement in their hair journey?
Patience is the No. 1 thing you need when transitioning. No hair product or haircut will help your natural hair as much as having a lot of patience. Also, if you experienced heat damaged like me, you have to let go of the damaged hair and just cut it off. Lastly, deep conditioning every week is a must!