How would you best describe your hair?
What is your hair type?
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What was it like for you growing up with textured hair?
Growing up, my hair confused me. I remember seeing girls in the bathroom of my elementary school sprinkling water on their heads to calm their post-recess frizz, to make their hair look straight again. At home, in secret, I tried to copy them. I stood in front of the mirror and raked wet hands through the baby hairs that escaped the braids my mother re-did each morning. I found myself with curls and coils springing up in every direction, and it just didn't make sense.
I was only 5 then, but the frustration lasted for 10 more years. By middle school, I outgrew my braided pigtails and went straight. Thankfully, my mother never let me chemically relax my hair, as many times as I asked her to. But I did manage to get her to help me blow dry and flat-iron after every single wash day.
What made you decide to embrace your naturally curly hair?
After four years of heat styling, I could no longer deny how fried, dry, and damaged my hair had gotten. So when school let out after my freshman year of high school, I promised myself I'd stay natural all summer to combat the damage before returning to my beloved hot tools. It was incredibly uncomfortable at first; I felt like I was taking up way much more space than used to. But by accident, I started developing a little crush on my curls.
My original intention had never been to go natural, but each week I got a little happier with the coils in the mirror. I was bashful about my excitement-- and then I realized how silly that was. I wouldn't have been born with curly hair if I wasn't supposed to have curly hair, so I gave myself permission to be in love with it.
How have your family, friends and co-workers reacted? What was your response to them?
Honestly, most of my friends and family were more excited about my texture than I was. It felt strange accepting compliments that I didn't truly believe yet. I also had to answer a lot of questions about curly hair that I didn't feel qualified enough to answer yet, but I had to pretend I felt sure of myself in order to respond to everyone. Eventually, all that faking taught me how to speak more kindly to myself and develop a healthier self-image.
How did you transition to wearing your natural texture?
Since I never used any chemicals on my hair, I didn't have to big chop to go natural. I stopped using heat tools, started trimming my ends super often to get rid of the damage, and added a ton of moisture to my routine. Over time, I grew out the damage and got back to my natural texture. Now, after 4 years natural, I have healthy mix of 3c, 4a, and 4b curls and coils.
What is your current hair regimen?
I wash my hair about every 10 days. I always use a cleansing conditioner, and I shampoo every other wash to avoid drying out my hair. I use a ton of leave-in conditioner plus a bit of styling cream and/or gel, and since I usually wash my hair at night I gravitate towards braid outs, sleeping in the damp braids and then letting my hair air dry in the morning.
I always play an empowering album, podcast, or audiobook over a speaker throughout my entire wash day process. After a childhood of covering up my coils, I do everything I can to associate hair with love!
Are there any techniques or methods that have made a big impact on the way your hair looks?
Even after going natural, I still straightened my hair 2-3 times a year whenever I needed a trim. But I just got my hair cut by a stylist who specializes in curly hair for the very first time, and it's completely changed how healthy and happy my coils look. Shout out to April at Honeycomb Hair Boutique in Austin!
Any advice you’d like to give other women who may be in the transition phase or need some encouragement in their hair journey?
Transitioning is awkward. I felt like I didn't have enough time to get used to my own face before all of the comments started rolling in. But you don't have to explain what you were born with! Forgive yourself for looking bold; or rather; revel in it. Allow yourself to take up space.
I know that that's hard. It took a couple of years to fully understand that I had become a walking statement. My hair does not let me hide. But would I want to anyway?