The worst kind of hair day for me is meeting someone for the first time with my hair straightened. I feel like I’m misrepresenting who I am and how I really look, and I often try to find a way to work into the conversation the fact that my hair is actually curly! It may seem like an insignificant fact to some, but most folks who have navigated the roller coaster ride of managing curly hair know that it becomes part of our identity. Of course, I have not always felt this way.

Ten years ago, I was a high school freshman waking up an hour early to straighten my hair before school; I was an avid frizz-fighting solution seeker. I combed, brushed, and blow dried my 2b-3a hair straight in hopes of achieving the soft and shiny locks of a John Frieda ad.

I should also mention that the Texas heat has no compassion for anyone who is disinterested in the "Big Texas hair" look. It cannot be matched by any cream, spray, or gel that claims to create “sleek" results.

I was feeling pretty “CHIed” out.

After sacrificing sleep, time, and money on texture taming techniques, I decided to take a little break from my beloved ceramic straightening tool. I was shocked when people at school started asking if I had curled my hair and wondered what products I used. When I confessed that this was my real texture and actually took a lot less time to style, my friends asked why I bothered straightening it at all. Lucky for me, I was blessed with supportive people in my life, so all of the curl criticism was my own. I had been so busy fighting my curls that it hadn’t occurred to me that other people might actually want the kind of hair I already had!

I combed, brushed, and blow dried my 2b-3a hair straight in hopes of achieving the soft and shiny locks of a John Frieda ad.

It was not until my freshman year of college at Texas A&M that I felt that curly hair was really being accepted--and even coveted--on a larger scale. My classmates and smiling strangers alike asked if anyone had told me I looked like Taylor Swift--ok, we’re talking pre-crossover. There were plenty of days that I felt like my hair looked like I had just ended a week-long stint in the rain forest, but when people started recognizing me from afar by my big, blonde curls, I felt proud and finally started to acknowledge my hair type as part of my true identity.

As a college intern for NaturallyCurly.com, I got to see firsthand how diverse the curly haired community is.

I had no idea that having curls in common could create such a bond between people from all over. I assisted in marketing, event planning, and research for articles. Then I took photos for our first Texturing Typing chart. This led me to experiment with many styles during that time. I tried products ranging from Fekkai to Afro Sheen. I began learning the curly lingo and found a sense of pride being a part of this community.

Like most curly girls, I am always seeking the perfect hair routine

I consistently use sulfate-free shampoos, like SheaMoisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl Shine Shampoo and a heavy conditioner like SheaMoisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl Shine Conditioner a couple of times a week.

I apply SheaMoisture Raw Shea Butter Extra Moisturizing Detangler as a leave-in conditioner, SheaMoisture's Coconut & Hibiscus Curl Style Milk as a moisturizer, and scrunch a small amount of Jessicurl Spiralicious Styling Gel whenever I need extra hold.

For a more polished look, I like to use a blow dryer to smooth the top of my hair and a curling wand to define the bottom pieces. Otherwise, I'll use a sea salt spray (I often make my own) to play up my natural texture.

My favorite second day refresher is Curls Lavish Curls Moisturizer. As my hair has recovered from its straightener suffering, it has grown quite a bit, and I have had to learn the art of protective hairstyles.

Gone are the days of taming my mane in frustration.

Now it is fun and games! Whether I’m at home in Texas, in the dry mountains of New Mexico, or walking the humid streets of New Orleans, I wear my hair curly because that is part of who I am. My texture has taught me to accept and embrace what I have and not to fight what comes naturally, in locks or in life.

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