NC: How and when did you start embracing your curls?
DP: One day, when I was little, my mom tried to ‘trim’ my hair. The more she cut, the less it laid straight! I ended up with a lopsided bowl cut. In my teens my hair became wavier and very heavy–kind of like an ‘A’ Frame. But it wasn’t until I cut my hair off in my 20s that I actually began seeing curls–suddenly, my hair just popped up! It took me a long time to figure out that my hair required some weight to in order to fall into an actual curl. Because I wasn’t born with curly hair, I never really claimed them as my own…they were more like something I could coax out of hiding, once in a blue moon. Then I began vacationing in the Caribbean and discovered my hair’s curl potential! I just didn’t know how to get those curls back over the border and into Canada. But I think I may have finally figured it out…
DP: Because my hair is very dry, I only wash it once per week, if that. Truth be told, the original reason I rarely washed my hair was because I really didn’t know what my hair would do from one wash to the next. I would also get bad knots at the sides and nape of my neck—they were like dreadlocks and I thought they were kind of cool until I had to comb them out!
Now, since tossing all my shampoos, brushes and combs, and only co-washing , I can run my fingers through my hair and it’s curlier than ever! I’m even finding lots of ringlets. My favorite conditioner is Biolage; I love the scent but it’s really not the healthiest for my hair, so I alternate with Lush American Cream.
My routine is simple:
- Following the Curly Girl’s Handbook, I wet my hair in the shower, give my scalp an invigorating massage with lots of conditioner, then rinse.
- Next, I take another blob of conditioner and slather it on the length of my hair.
- When it’s completely saturated, I finger comb it, gently coaxing the tangles out. I rinse (not too thoroughly), bend over and scrunch out the excess water.
- After giving my hair another scrunch with my microfiber towel, I use Giovanni L.A Natural Styling Gel mixed with EVA-NYC Rock-A-Wave Curl Cream on the ends and work my way up, throw in a few clips for volume and let it air dry.
- If I’m in a hurry I will use my diffuser, but I wrap a chiffon scarf around the actual diffuser.
- Before I go to bed, I put my hair up in a very loose ponytail at the top of my head with lots of coconut oil scrunched into the ends. I also follow the Curly Girl's Handbook for misting and re-scrunching between washes.
NC: From start to finish on a curly day, what's your process?
DP: I wake up, give my curls a shake, check for any sticky-outies and give them a spray of conditioner/water mixture and re-scrunch.
NC: What are your favorite hairstyles to wear with your curls?
DP: I feel free and prettiest when I liberate my curls and just wear them loose! If I need a more sophisticated look for work, I’ll scoop my hair up at the back, give it a twist and throw in a bobby pin or stick/chopstick/pencil/makeup brush/paintbrush…whatever I have on hand! If a piece shakes loose it stays loose—the less fussing, the easier my hair is!
NC: What are your must-have products and tools?
DP: A beautiful smelling conditioner, a good and ‘healthy’ gel for styling and a curl cream for softness! As far as tools go, I always have clips on hand to hold my curls in place while air drying.
NC: What do you do at nighttime for your hair?
DP: I use a soft 1-inch wide lingerie elastic to secure my hair in a loose pony tail on the top of my head–the only time I ever wear a ponytail! Then I scrunch coconut oil into the ends.
NC: What about your hair stylist?
DP: I was really hesitant asking my stylist to cut each curl individually and to cut it dry. But she totally got what I was asking and we got rid of the A-Frame. In between trips to the salon, I chop my hair here and there to shape it. You can’t go wrong when you’ve got curls–unless you’re cutting it when it’s wet!
NC: What reaction did you get when you first decided to go natural?
DP: When my husband and I first met, I was in my short and ‘popped up’ stage of hair—big loose curls, and short all over. One day as I was on my way out the door, going to work, he very kindly ask me if I planned on styling my hair before heading out! Now that I’ve grown it out, he thinks I have the sexiest hair. He’s as excited as I am about discovering new curls!
NC: Did you big chop or transition and for how long? Did you ever have any curly girl insecurities?
During my teens, I did the Annie Lennox. My hair wasn’t any easier to control when it was short; it just puffed up all over the place and was too short to form curls. My mom used to refer to my hair as my ‘Rat’s Nest.’ The irony is that growing up in the ‘80s, everyone was getting perms!As an adult, I’ve had supervisors, co-workers and bosses make comments about my hair when I wore it curly and they told me that my hair looked so much better when I wore it straight. I’m at a point in my life where I don’t really care what people think of my hair; it may not be on-trend straight, but it’s equally beautiful.
DP: In a subliminal way, curly hair tells the world a little about your personality; it tells the world that you’re carefree and confident in who you are, that you don’t take yourself too seriously, that you may be spontaneous and are most likely a lot of fun to have around. After all, you can dash out for a cup of coffee or a bite to eat on a moment’s notice, not having to worry about styling your hair!
NC: How do you think having curly hair impacts your life?
DP: No joke: I hope the character Merida (from the movie Brave) has helped encourage young girls to embrace their curls. I know she, along with Julia Roberts and SJP, has inspired me! I’m old enough and wise enough to see through trends and not succumb to them—silky straight hair being one of them! I was never a flat iron girl; I’ve always loved walking in the rain or snow—it only helps to bring out my curls. But I can still relate with ladies and young girls that feel their hair must be shiny and smooth in order to be attractive. The curly hair trend will come around again when it does, we curly girls will be ready!
NC: What would you tell others to encourage them to embrace their curls?
DP: Quit drooling over models and celebrities with long and silky hair. Find yourself a style icon with the same curl type as you and be inspired by what she does with her hair! Accepting your curls is liberating and beautiful. This is the hair you were born, so it is unquestionably what suits your face and your personality best.