najal 1

Image:@najaljudd

Share 3 words to describe your hair

Natural

Luscious

Transformable

What was it like for you growing up with naturally curly hair?

My overarching experience growing up with naturally curly hair was my lack of knowledge about how to properly care for and style it. Neither of my parents were much help in this category so I really did have to figure it out on my own. I would leave my hair out any time I swam, I would not wear a silk scarf at night, I used the wrong detangling comb, I did not give my hair enough moisture, and I never deep conditioned or used any other strengthening treatments. I was an only child for a long time so I did not have anybody to look to for guidance.

I remember envying my friends who had loose curls or straight hair because I felt that mine always looked worse and was much less manageable. I could never just take down my hair from a ponytail and have it easily fall over my shoulders, or get out of the shower without it shrinking up. There were moments where I absolutely hated my hair for those reasons; I would ask my mom all the time if I could straighten it but she never let me use heat. Now I thank her for that. I was also always frustrated with my length. All I ever wanted was my hair to fall below my shoulders or at least stay put after the shower, but it never did. I remember crying to my mom about how ugly and insecure I felt about my tight curls and how I never knew how to style them in a way that I liked. I almost never wore it out; it was always in a bun. I also almost never saw my hair type in mainstream media and TV. This only intensified my feelings of frustration. Overall, I grew up not very happy with my tight curls, but this changed.

Image:@najaljudd

What made you decide to embrace your natural hair?

Honestly, I think I am still on the journey of embracing my natural hair but I think the primary reason I began to appreciate it and love it is because I became more knowledgeable on how to care for my tight curls. It felt good giving it the proper attention it always needed. I began to trim regularly, apply moisturizing treatments weekly, lessen manipulation, and seal in products with oil to ensure moisture. Additionally, I have tried different hairstyles that I never had before that catered toward my hair type. I found many of these tips, tricks, and styles online and on YouTube. Seeing other naturals online embrace their curls and share their knowledge was very helpful in embracing my own hair. I actually began to find joy in trying new products, styles, and treatments. My relationship with my hair became positive and nurturing. I gained tons of support and confidence from family and other naturals/friends who I met along my journey.

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

I was always hesitant to wear my hair out; I was horrified by my shrinkage and felt my hair never “looked good.” It did not fall below my shoulders and never stayed in one place. The most empowering moment of my natural hair journey so far was the first time I wore my hair out in an afro. Many of my friends and family have always encouraged me to do this but I had never felt comfortable. I wanted to do something different and decided to finally try it. Once it was picked out and loose, I looked at myself in the mirror and actually smiled. Obviously, I was not initially completely comfortable, but I knew this was an important step toward embracing my natural self.

What are your favorite natural hairstyles to express yourself?

My favorite natural hairstyles are out and loose and up in a pineapple. Now that I have gained confidence I always want my hair as big as possible, not to mention these styles are super easy!

Image:@najaljudd

Who is your curl crush?

My curl crush is Amandla Stenberg. I really appreciate seeing her on the big screen with her tight curls, they are so beautiful!

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

My hair regimen tends to change quite often but my go-to products are Briogeo’s Curl Charisma Chia+Flax Seed Coily Custard, DevaCurl’s Wash Day Wonder and their Super Stretch Coconut Curl Elongator. Before washing my hair I apply the Wash Day Wonder and leave it in for about 30 min. I detangle in the shower with a wide-toothed comb; this product makes the process much more manageable as my hair feels softer and smoother. I use the Curl Elongator as a leave-in conditioner, and I seal that in with Castor Oil. To refresh my hair, I apply the Curl Custard with water when I feel my hair is in need of a pick me up.

Image:@najaljudd

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

The most challenging moments of my natural hair journey so far tend to revolve around my shrinkage. I cannot stress enough how frustrating it was to have styled my hair only for it to shrink up once I stepped outside. I have spent a significant amount of time in public bathrooms attempting to pull my hair back down. I spent so long trying to find products that would prevent this from happening, but I never had much luck. I constantly checked the humidity and was discouraged each time it happened to be above 50%. As I learned more about my shrinkage through trial and error it became much easier to manage, and my days of shrinkage frustration lessened. My go-to styles for rainy humid days are cornrows and buns, which are still super cute!

What advice do you have for someone who is struggling to embrace their natural hair?

My biggest piece of advice for someone who is struggling with embracing their natural hair is to be patient and try not to compare yourself to others. Personally, I got very caught up in other individuals who I thought had “better” hair than me and it had a large impact on my self-esteem. Learning to truly embrace my natural curls was a process and I am still on the journey.