What was it like for you growing up with textured hair?
Growing up in a Dominican household my thick curly hair was considered a "Pajon", which means wild, untamed afro, and that was not a good thing to have. My grandmother would keep my hair in two braided pigtails at all times because she did not want to deal with my "Pajon". Every other week I would go over my aunt's house and she would blow dry my hair pin straight. In our culture straight hair meant beautiful hair, so when I turned 10 I was allowed to relax my hair and I was so excited because I was finally going to look pretty.
What made you decide to embrace your naturally curly hair?
To be honest I was tired of relaxing my hair every time. If my hair wasn't straight I didn't like how I looked, and I know that stemmed from always hearing that having a "Pajon isn't pretty". Also I grew up with women who also relaxed their hair religiously. So around the same time I was trying to figure out what to do with my hair, my cousin Yanil had transitioned from relaxed to natural and I fell in love with her curls. I remember her telling me "Steph you have beautiful curls underneath all those chemicals, you should really embrace them". Her words resonated with me for several weeks and then I came across a picture of me at the beach (I believe I was 8/9 years old) I saw how pretty my natural curls were and at that moment was when I said to myself "No more relaxers!"
What has been the most empowering moment of your natural hair journey so far?
When I received a message from a complete stranger saying "You inspired me to embrace my curls'', I literally burst into tears. Throughout my journey I've helped several family members and friends on their natural hair journey and I do it because I just want everyone to love their natural hair. But knowing that because I share my journey on my platform I've inspired people I've never met. It's just an amazing feeling and I wish I can hug each and every one of them :)
How do you protect your curls at night?
Hair up in a high ponytail (pineapple) wrapped up in a satin scarf. I also sleep on a satin pillowcase because I sleep pretty wild so if my scarf comes off (which it has) my curls are protected.
Who is your curl crush?
OMG I have so many! But since I have to choose, my hair crush is @brandirell. She was one of the first naturals I followed to help me through my journey. Her curls are just amazing to me and I just love her.
What's your curly girl essential you can't live without?
My hair pick! Volume to me is essential and I use my pick to achieve the perfect volume. I have a pick in every bag I own, there's a pick in my bathroom, by my bed, on my vanity, pretty much everywhere around my house and car.
What is your current hair regimen? Any favorite products you’d like to share?
I wash my hair once a week, and I ALWAYS deep condition. I cannot stress enough the importance of deep conditioning. I style my curls with a cream or light butter styler, and sometimes I'll add a gel. As of recently I've started using mousse after the cream/butter and I am loving my results.
I air dry my hair till about 70% dry then I diffuse. Once my hair is completely dry I pick at my roots and fluff with my hands for volume.
A few of my favorite products are:
- Papaya Castor Scalp Cleanser by Eden Bodyworks
- Honey Miracle Mask by TGIN
- As I Am Leave-In Conditioner
- Natural Curl Defining Creme by Eden Bodyworks
What has been the most challenging moment of your natural hair journey so far?
I would have to say staying consistent. I struggled with washing my hair weekly and going through my entire wash day routine. I use to be very impatient and wanted my hair to grow over night lol. But thankfully I overcame that when I saw what being consistent was doing to my hair.
Are there any techniques or methods that have made a huge impact on your hair health?
Scalp massages!! They're amazing and promote hair growth & thickness. Every night before bed I mix a few drops of my two favorite essential oils (Jojoba and Black Jamaican Castor Oil) I warm them up in my hands and massage the oils into my scalp for about 4 minutes. I began doing this about 3 years ago because I suffer from itchy/flaky scalp and since then the health of my scalp has improved so much, and if your scalp is healthy your hair is healthy.
What's your advice to women who are still struggling with loving their natural texture?
Be patient. Take your time with learning your hair, what it likes and doesn't like. Consistency is very in achieving healthy hair, but most importantly love and embrace YOUR texture.