Lisa Frize’s energy is reflected in her enviable coils and curls but they weren’t always this healthy. Here she explains how she undertook a healthy hair journey as part of a vision of self-love and empowerment.

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My post-natal curls

The first time I started to take care of my curls my son was four. My inspiration was myself - my hair pre-birth. I had always had good curls. I’d just lost them during the birth years due to post-natal depletion which stressed my hair.

My experience with the Curly Girl Method

I turned to the Curly Girl Method as a routine to be more deliberate about my haircare. I already knew how to do curl care. I just thought maybe I needed extra help as I was experiencing a lot of shedding. I actually had big bald areas at the temples.

Being a mum and a yogi, I was rarely online; there wasn’t the same plethora of pages and internet sources back then either. I remember finding hif3licia.com and sunkissalba.org as visual inspiration but mostly I used blogs and articles from NaturallyCurly for example.

My budget curl regimen

I did not have a big budget so I used drugstore products to begin with. The first I remember was the Garnier range - Maple Balm. I was just searching for no silicones. Then they brought out the 3-n-1 Hair food Masks. These were a Godsend.

I used this range as a conditioner and leave-in pretty much for a year. I would also try to use some gel or mousse. But I didn’t have time to do much. I just washed it, air dried and left it.

My Big Chop

My big chop grew out of an increasing unhappiness about styling my hair to diminish frizz. I was taught to tame my hair all my life, hide the kinky texture and enhance the smooth ringlets. After cutting my hair I felt free.

I had never thought my hair was dense or thick enough to do anything but hang down. One Christmas, I combed out my hair. It was like a huge cloud of hair around my head. Every strand was standing up. I cried. I remember saying to my son “I have an Afro, I have an Afro”. This was a pivotal moment because I am a biracial black woman raised by a white man without my black mother. All my life I felt disconnected from my blackness. And this showed in the way I styled my hair. 

After that, I bought a pick comb and started to really learn about my hair texture and the science of haircare. My inspirations became women with big curly kinky hair such as @curlygallal, @naturallycharlette, and @frodayss.

I stopped looking for answers in many places and trusted my own experience and intuition. I started my Instagram page @curlszen to document this process but also because I was really lonely here in Berlin during the first lockdown. It really helped because I met the whole amazing community of beautiful curlies and I felt like it was the family I didn’t have. It sounds strange but life is like that.

Bumps Along the Way

My biggest bump was that initially I focused on hair appearance and styling but I didn’t understand my hair. My hair was long - length was never a problem - but it was thin, falling out and had lost the curl pattern. Nothing I did seemed to restore it. I also believe strongly that the ingredients of the products I used in my pre-birth days were not great for hair health and ultimately damaged my follicles 

After my big chop I focused primarily of hair health. My Aha! moment was finding Steph Mero - The Curl Ninja. She transformed my approach to routine. I switched to better quality products with high active botanical ingredients. I started shampooing when I needed to rather than trying to stretch wash days. I Included a clarifying shampoo in my routine and only deep conditioned when needed rather than weekly.

I also switched to light styling products with plant humectants like flax, aloe, linseed and started to make my own stylers from flax and oats so I could use fewer products and have less waste. I then included targeted hair serums to help with hair loss and to support hair retention. The next step was to use oils more intelligently. I used smaller amounts of lighter oils and gave myself scalp massages.

My hair grew back stronger with a curlier texture than when I was in my 20s! That’s why my motto, taken from one of my yoga teachers is: Focus on hair health and all is coming!

Future Goals

Looking to the future, my goal is not to make curly hair special but to make it visible. I’m here to level the playing field not just between straight and curly textures but to change the perception of what it means to have true inner beauty. When your hair is allowed to be natural, it is not falling under a set of patriarchal, colonial rules dictating about manageability and propriety. If one woman can wake up, brush her hair and go to work with it straight, why can’t I go to work with it tumbling in different directions and still be given the same respect? 

I want curly hair not to be some kind of fetishized novelty, or cool moment but rather our hair to be seen collectively as an expression of ourselves as interconnected but individual beings living healthier lives, free from the relentless pursuits of external beauty.

Give me the hair, just the hair and nothing but the hair!