Image:@thetennillelife_

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

Growing up with my curly hair was very challenging. To start, my mom had straight hair so she couldn’t really educate me on how to properly care for my curls. I also had a ton of hair which was overwhelming for me as a young girl to manage. There was no such thing as wash and go for me. My hair was always high maintenance and I always felt the need to pull my hair back in braids, pony tails, and buns to control it.

What made you decide to embrace your naturally curly hair?

To be honest, it never occurred to me to wear my hair straight. It's not that I was in love with my curly hair, I just “dealt” with it. However, it wasn’t until high school that I felt confident to really rock my curly hair without pulling it back or trying to tame it. I think that’s because I went to a high school where being different was cool and I quite enjoyed that I didn’t look like anyone else. I feel really lucky because I know that’s not always the typical high school experience.

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

I must say that Oprah Winfrey telling me she loved my curly white hair was very validating. The whole encounter was absolutely unreal but to have someone I truly admire go out of her way to introduce herself and tell me she loves my crazy white hair was not just flattering, but a truly a-ha moment. I realized that embracing my uniqueness has led me to such amazing opportunities like meeting wonderful people. This chance encounter was a reminder from that little voice in my head to always embrace being myself.

Image:@thetennillelife_

How do you protect your curls at night?

I’ve actually found that my hair doesn’t like being covered or wrapped. That actually flattens my curls and makes it more challenging to style the next day. Instead, I simply put my hair above my head when I sleep to avoid crushing my curls.

Who is your curl crush?

Imaan Hammam! I fell in love with her the moment she started wearing her natural for jobs. I love that her curls are unconventional. They are big, frizzy and full of life. I love that her hair is not the perfect Pantene commercial curl. Rather, it's wild and I find that to be absolutely beautiful.

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

An amazing gel or anti-frizz styling product is a must for me. The make it or break it moment for a good hair day for me are the styling products.

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

I wash my hair about once every 5 days to avoid drying out my hair. Not to mention, it takes me 2 hours plus to wash then style my hair which is not feasible everyday. Using a hair mask every wash is absolutely essential for my hair, both for hydration and to reduce frizz. Also, extra important for me is to avoid heat products which damage my curls.

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

When I turned 30, I started losing my hair. This was an absolutely terrifying moment. My hair loss was stress induced, so while I learned healthy ways to restore my hair, this time of my life also taught me that taking care of oneself on all levels, mentally + physically is so important for your hair.

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

My first curl by curl dry haircut was a game changer for my hair. This special cut brought out my hair’s natural curl pattern and added more consistency in my curl pattern. This helped me stop using a curling iron in my styling routine and majorly improved the health of my hair.

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

Put in some research. Try different products and learn what your hair loves. Also, find a stylist who specializes in dry haircuts. A great curly hair stylist will not only be a wealth of knowledge, but will also cheer you on along your journey. For extra support, resources, and inspiration, find a curly girl community! Learning to love your natural hair is a journey. It's a process of self-care that involves being kind to yourself, embracing your uniqueness, and building confidence in yourself.

What's your hair story? Share your story with us here to be featured in our Texture Tales series.