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Image:@tiffanylaibhen

What is your hair type?

3c / 4a

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

As a Puerto Rican, Haitian and African American mixed girl growing up, I often envied the fine, easily washed and styled hair that the hispanic side of my family had. During the summers, my mother and cousins would easily be able to put their hair in ponytails to get in the pool and I would have to sit for hours to get braids, or what we now know as protective styles. When I would get my hair straightened, I prayed that it would miraculously just remain that way. It took hours to wash, detangle, blow dry then style my hair. Both I and my mother dreaded it.

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What made you decide to embrace your naturally curly hair?

I always felt that there had to be an easier way! It made no sense to me that some people could embrace and love their natural hair texture, and others couldn't. I became obsessed with the idea of loving myself the way that I was created. In 2014, I began leaving my hair in its natural state after washing every once in a while. Then in 2015, I fully committed to embracing my natural curl pattern and finding products that worked best for me! It was the best decision I'd ever made!

How have your family, friends and co-workers reacted? What was your response to them?

In the beginning, everyone made so many comments about me looking like a lion, commenting on my "afro", asking me if I was a "natural chick" now, all comments which were underlined with sarcasm and ridicule. Being as though I was just starting the journey, I was still very vulnerable, so it hurt my feelings. But I was determined to get to the other side and truly see what my hair could become.

How did you transition to wearing your natural texture?

I did not do a big chop. Instead, I slowly cut all of the damaged hair off over a period of 2 years (2015-2017). During those years, I did braid outs, rod sets, and wore weaves until my healthy hair grew to a length that I was comfortable with. But if I could do it all again, I would do a big chop because once the damage was gone, my grew unbelievably fast!

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What is your current hair regimen?

I have weekly or twice weekly wash days. I've just learned that my hair is low porosity and protein sensitive, so I try to stay away from products with protein. I detangle & prepoo, shampoo, deep condition (DC) with heat, then I style using a leave in and cream or gel. I usually wear my hair in a wash and go!

Are there any techniques or methods that have made a big impact on the way your hair looks?

Staying away from protein has made a HUGE difference in how soft and moisturized my hair is! I've also been using warm/hot water to open my hair shaft before deep conditioning (DC) and them cold water to rinse the DC out and seal in the moisture. When I am refreshing, I use warm water to open the shaft and apply the products. I use a cotton t-shirt to dry my hair rather than a towel. Lastly, I have been shingling to reduce frizz, encourage definition and also help my hair to look more shiny.

Any advice you’d like to give other women who may be in the transition phase or need some encouragement in their hair journey?

To any women in the transitioning phase, please document your journey EVERY STEP OF THE WAY!! This is soo important! We stare at our hair all day every day, and are often unable to see the difference. But when you document, you can look back a month or 2, or even a year, and see just how much you've actually evolved! Being able to compare photos is what gave me hope to continue my journey in some of the hardest moments. Also, have PATIENCE with yourself. It will not be easy to get your hair back to health. But follow other women who have been there and stay encouraged by their success. If we can make it to the other side, then so can you! We are welcoming you with OPEN ARMS GIRL!!!!

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