NaturallyCurly: Please introduce yourself!Kristen Gluch: My name is Kristen Gluch. I am 24 and I have been married for the past two years. I received my bachelor's in Elementary Education and I'm currently working as a nanny. I'm not sure if teaching is in the cards yet, but we'll see. I'm also very big on the social media front and I spend a lot of my free time online, sharing my hair journey and encouraging other curly girls to embrace their natural selves.
NC: How and when did you start embracing your curls?
KG: The first time I went out in public with my natural hair, I was 22 years old. From the time I hit puberty and for the decade following, I straightened my hair religiously. That meant one hour of quality time with my blow dryer and flat iron every day, no exceptions. My friends had no idea that my hair was naturally curly, and I even kept it from my husband for the first year of our relationship.
Letting my hair be curly was simply not an option until I stumbled upon NaturallyCurly.com. Because I was constantly frying my hair with heat and dyes, I had only ever seen my natural hair as a nest of brittle, frizzy straw. The before and after photos of women who did the CG routine made me think, "What if my natural hair only looks terrible because I don't take care of it? What if I put down my brush, flat iron and shampoo and completely change the way I treat my hair?" I began my natural journey in December 2011 and I refuse to look back!
NC: What is your current routine?KG: I am notorious for my two-day, three-day and sometimes even four-day curls! I only condition my hair a couple of times a week and I cleanse it about once a week (only on the scalp). On those days, after allowing the conditioner to sit in my hair for a few minutes, I gently comb my hair with a wide tooth comb or with my fingers, working my way from the bottom up. I also use a cotton t-shirt to lightly dry my hair instead of wringing it out with a terrycloth towel. I gently scrunch generous amounts of my favorite products into my hair, section by section. Then I use the plopping method if I have time or I will diffuse my hair—I try to keep away from heat unless it's absolutely necessary.
NC: So from start to finish, on a curly day, what's your process?KG: Every day is a curly day! On the days that I don't wash or condition my hair, I wake up, spritz my hair with a homemade lavender spray (I found it in Curly Girl: The Handbook, and I love it), and run out the door. That's it!
Sometimes, if my hair is extra frizzy, I'll dilute some gel with water and gently pat down any flyaways and frizzies. My hair is super low maintenance on days that I don't get it wet.
NC: What are your must-have products and tools?
KG: I'm currently working my way through a gallon of Jessicurl Too Shea! Extra Moisturizing Conditioner. I literally use handfuls each time I shower, so buying in bulk makes the most sense. I love this conditioner because it's thick, smells amazing, and moisturizes my hair like crazy!
I also swear by Ouidad Climate Control Heat & Humidity Gel. It leaves my curls defined, frizz-free, and soft. And as far as cleansers go, I'm okay with anything that doesn't have sulfates. Since I only cleanse my scalp with it, I just look for a moisturizing cleanser like Devacurl Low-Poo. Sometimes I skip the shampoo altogether and cleanse my scalp with a combination of grapeseed oil and tea tree oil.
The only "tools" I need are a wide tooth comb and an old cotton t-shirt to dry my hair.
NC: What are your favorite hairstyles to wear with your curls?KG: Nothing beats wearing my hair loose, wild and crazy! The bigger, the better! But I do have to braid my hair when I workout or run and on days when my hair is especially uncooperative, I'll throw it up in a messy bun on top of my head.
NC: What do you do at nighttime for your hair?KG: I just loosely throw my hair up in a bun on top of my head (or pineappling, as some of you may know it) using a soft scrunchie and I sleep on a satin pillowcase. Super simple, yet effective.
NC: What about your hair stylist?
KG: I absolutely adore my stylist. She is trained to cut curls using the Devacut method—she cuts my hair while it is dry, paying careful attention to how my curls fall.
NC: What reaction did you get when you first decided to go natural?
KG: Shock. Most of my friends had no idea that my hair was curly. But everybody was supportive and the change was definitely welcomed. My hair looked awful for the first couple of months, so their encouragement really helped me embrace the change, especially when I desperately wanted to straighten out my frizzy and unruly hair. I know some people who would have my head on a platter if I ever went back to flat ironing my hair. My curls are a part of who I am now, and I’m so glad to have such a supportive group of friends and family to remind me of that!
NC: What was the transition like? Did you have any curly girl insecurities?
KG: I’d say my hair looked like a soggy rat nest for the first two months or so. I constantly wanted to give up and felt hopeless. I felt really insecure and had my hair up in a bun every day. I hated it and yearned to straighten it again. But I’m so glad I stuck with it. This has been one of the best changes of my life!
NC: What is the best thing about being curly?
KG: Despite popular belief, I love how low maintenance my hair is! Sure, I spend fifteen minutes on it in the shower and applying products, but when you compare that to the hour I used to spend on it every day, I’d say that my hair is super easy to manage. I also enjoy how I stand out in a crowd, and people are constantly complimenting my hair (I would have never in a million years believed this could be the case) and asking for curly hair advice. I just finally feel like I’m “me” fully, and I love it.
NC: How do you think having curly hair has impacted your life?KG: I have so much more time on my hands now! I can now do pool parties and impromptu beach trips, and I’m no longer afraid of a little rain. It’s amazing how much more spontaneous and fun my life is now!
NC: What would you tell others to encourage them to embrace their curls?
KG: Sick with it. Even when you feel like ripping your hair out, work through it. Braid it, wear it up, or do whatever you need to do through the transition period. I have seen the other side and it is glorious! I had no idea that I could love and embrace my hair, and I am still overwhelmed by how much going natural has changed my life. I feel unique, beautiful and like I am finally myself. I hope others can be encouraged by my story and find peace with their natural selves the way I have.
NC: Tell us about your current and upcoming projects!
KG: I’d like to tackle a Master’s Degree in American media and pop culture sometime soon. More specifically, I’m really into analyzing gender roles in the magazines, films, television and video games. I’d also love to pursue a career that helps me encourage and empower women. That career is a big question mark right now, but I do know that all women deserve to feel special, unique and beautiful, with or without curls, and it is my mission to reach as many of them as possible to tell them that.