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How would you best describe your hair?

Naturally Curly

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

Growing up with curly hair felt like a curse. My siblings had straight hair and since my parents didn't know about caring for curly hair, they would brush my hair out leaving me with frizzy short hair. It was so dry that up until middle school, boys followed me on my walk home yelling out hurtful names like, "afro puff, Cotton candy, and curly headed [email protected]%!". The hair shaming didn't end there, from ex boyfriends wanting me to wear my hair other girls (straight haired women), and employers telling me my curls were unprofessional and distracting, I eventually committed to flat irons until my late 20's.

What made you decide to embrace your naturally curly hair?

I flat ironed my hair from middle school to just about 2 years ago. While running late to work one day, I didn't have time to flat iron my hair and I wore my hair in a pony tale displaying my frazzled damaged hair with a hint of curl. My team mate was in awe with my hair and insisted I stop flat ironing. She described healthy beautiful curls that I could have, and explained the relief of wearing your hair in a way that only I could wear it. I thought she was crazy because my curls have never been beautiful. I thought my curls were frizzy, distracting , unattractive, and could never be beautiful. I agreed to try allowing my hair to return to its natural state. I had no idea that the transition would require so much patience, self acceptance, and release of old emotional baggage.

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

When I stopped straightening my hair, my friends and family thought I was having a mental break down. My hair wasn't sleek and shiny and I no longer spent hours trying to keep every hair in place. In the beginning of my curl journey, I struggled with the opinions about how I let my appearance go and couldn't believe that the world thought I was depressed because I threw out the flat irons and hot tools. Over time my skin thickened and how I felt about myself began to originate from how I felt about myself, not from how others made me feel about myself. The confidence boost bled into many other areas of my life. I felt silly thinking that my hair started my self improvement movement, but shortly after changing my hair, I dropped my unfulfilling job, dropped many toxic people, and began embracing myself holistically.

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How did you transition to wearing your natural texture?

I had no clue what to do at first. So I did what many people do and pulled up Pinterest. I tried DIY hair masks made from eggs, mayo, oils, butters, ACV, but nothing helped. After a while I knew I needed to chop off a bunch of my hair. I cried a little during the big chop process, remembering the names bullies harassed me with made me question why the hell am I doing this. The final cut from a Deva Curl Specialist came out beautiful. We didn't take off as much as needed the first time, but the stylist spent 3 hours talking and teaching me about washing, styling, and sleeping in my curls. There was so much I never even thought about. I was educated on products and ingredients to stay away from, it was a lot to digest at first.

What is your current hair regimen?

Currently I use the Deva Curl Decadence No Poo and Conditioner, along with the Super cream and Ultra gel. Once a week I apply castor oil to my scalp (which has really helped my psoriasis) and coconut oil to the ends, and wash out the oil with Tropic Isle Living Red Pimento Oil Shampoo. After I finish, I use the SheaMoisture leave in, I'm heading over to try the new Deva Curl Decadence leave in. I sleep with a satin pillow case with my hair in a loose pineapple. I live in Phoenix, everything is dry here, so a leave in conditioner is important.

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

My biggest struggles are styling and caring for my hair and keeping my hands off of it. With years of flat ironing, I grew use to running combs, brushes, and my fingers through my hair all the time. If I leave my curls alone when they air dry and through out the day then I don't unravel the curls so much. Also I found it very important to stop comparing my curls with other people. Our patterns are different, out textures are different, and I allowed myself early on to become discouraged by comparing my curls to other women. Big no-no, their beauty does not mean there is an absence of my own.

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

Have patience and compassion for yourself. I am very hard on myself (as I am sure we all are) and it is easy for me to zone in on the destination and hate the journey, but that is where the education is. When we go through the trial and errors of products, styles, methods, and salons for our hair, this is when we learn what works for us.

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