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

I did not necessarily grow up with naturally textured hair. I got my hair relaxed at age 12. Prior to a relaxer, my hair was straightened using a pressing comb, so I never really experienced curly hair as a child.

What made you decide to embrace your naturally curly hair?

Over 10 years ago, I noticed that my hair started to get thinner and thinner, although it was super long, it was thin. I didn't wear weave. I didn't use permanent color. I washed my hair weekly. I gave my hair moisturizing and protein treatments. So the only thing I could contribute it to was the relaxer. So, I sat in my stylist’s chair and told her to cut it all off'.

As a cosmetologist, I am no stranger to switching up my look! But that time, it was different. That time, it felt like I saw my true self for the first time at age 33. And I have never looked back!

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

The most empowering moment of my natural hair journey was surprisingly not the moment I went natural, but the day I decided to embrace my GREY natural hair.

The most empowering moment of my natural hair journey was surprisingly not the moment I went natural, but the day I decided to embrace my GREY natural hair.

I am an artist. I love color - both in my fashion choices and my hair. I have worn my hair pink, red, burgundy, purple and everything in between.

About 5 years ago, I noticed the crown of my hair started to grey more and more. As opposed to covering the grey, I decided I would rock it! Grey is 'colorful' as well.

What was most empowering was the realization that my hair is still fabulous (and so am I) even with grey. I think I get just as many compliments with my grey hair as I did without it. It doesn't age me. It just makes me more authentically me.

How do you protect your curls at night?

I hate bonnets! I sleep with a silk pillowcase. I typically wear my hair in a twist out so a few times per week I put it in about 5 big chunky twists, and lay on my silk pillowcase.

If I wear my hair in a wash n go, or curl definition style, I just sleep on the silk pillowcase.

Now on rare occasions when I actually get my hair styled in a twisted up, I will wrap it up with a satin scarf for bed.

Who is your curl crush?

Believe it or not -- I DON'T HAVE ONE! Lol! I guess because my hands have been in thousands of textures and curl patterns, I have a true appreciation for all curls. Even though we have a curl typing system, I have never seen a curly girl’s hair that was exactly like someone elses. So my curl crushes would be all of the thousands of women who have sat in my chair and allowed me to treat and style the many curls, textures, types, and patterns! I love them all!

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

My curly girl essential is GLYCERIN (in water). My hair loves moisturizers and styling products with vegetable glycerin. I will even mix glycerin in my water bottle and just give it a spray.

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

My hair regimen involves regular cleansing of my hair AND scalp. We forget about the importance of proper scalp care. I think that infrequent shampooing, particularly for those with kinky curly hair, result in poor scalp hygiene and compromised hair growth.

I use the entire Curl House Hair Restoration Collection. The entire product line is designed with the health of your scalp in mind. My favorite product in the collection is the Curl House Follicle Stimulating Growth Drops which are a blend of botanicals that hydrate and stimulate the hair follicles to promote growth. The drops are water based, as opposed to oil. I think so many women run to oils or 'grease their scalp’ but what they really need is moisture, which is only attained through water.

I also love the Hair Nourishing Leave-In Conditioner, and use it daily.

I cut all of my hair off in May 2020, used the Hair Restoration Collection, and my hair grew like wildfire.

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

The most challenging moment of my natural hair journey was when my hair started to fall out in 2018. The hair fall out was triggered by excessive stress, but the underlying condition was genetic hair loss - also called female pattern hair loss. I am a certified Trichologist (hair loss and scalp specialist) so I know why women lose their hair. And I have treated and helped hundreds of women to restore their hair. However, I didn't think that I would have to be my own patient. Initially, it was very discouraging, but as a result, I could better relate to and empathize with my clients.

And, I also had to make the very lifestyle changes that I encourage my clients to make. Exercise more. Drink water. Manage your stress. Incorporate more whole fruits and veggies. Take vitamins. Let my lifestyle become my medicine. After about 6 months of treatment and changes, my hair started to flourish again.

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

Some people say my hair "grows like weeds." Maybe that was the case in my 20s or even my 30s, but now that I’m in my 40s (with hot flashes and the other hormonal changes that come with age), it requires a little more work to maintain the health of my hair.

I have adopted a healthier lifestyle (mentioned above) that has made the biggest difference in the health of my hair. For example, I exercise regularly, which increases blood circulation to the scalp for maximum growth.

To keep this hair growing strong, the other major change I made was to start caring for the health of my scalp!

To keep this hair growing strong, the other major change I made was to start caring for the health of my scalp! Healthy hair grows from a healthy scalp. I cleanse my hair and scalp about once per week. I use the Follicle Stimulating Growth Drops and apply to my scalp 2-3 times per week. The quality of my hair is so much stronger as a result.

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

I would encourage any woman who is struggling with loving their natural texture to give it time. In a relationship, love at first sight is unrealistic for most people. It takes TIME to get to know and fall in love with your partner. You have to get to know them, understand their unique qualities, accept the things you may not like about them, and eventually choose to love them.

The very same principles apply to your hair. You can't love something you do not know. I encourage you to take the time to get to know your hair. Learn your texture and curl pattern; how to style and maintain the style, and what styles work best; what products are best, etc. Over time, you will grow to understand the unique characteristics of your hair, and eventually, love the texture God gave you. You are one of a kind – and so is your hair.

You can follow Karen's hair journey on her YouTube channel