I am clearly a curly girl. It’s a fact that I fought most of my childhood, but I’ve come to embrace as an adult. What you may not know about having curly hair is how ostracizing it can feel. Society tells us that straight hair is sexy; sleek is better; fake big barrel curls are the only ones desirable. To be wavy is alright as long as you are going for boho chic, but if not, curls like mine need to be tamed.
I refuse to be tamed. Here are my thoughts on why…
As a child, my hair was absolutely unruly. My parents both have straight hair and weren’t sure what to do with mine. So they shampooed it like crazy and brushed it all the time, leaving me with a frizzy, dry, “afro puff” (or so the kids called me). I am fortunate for one thing though – it was the late ’80s. I fit right in at that time.
Things quickly got out of control (and by things, I mean my hair.) It was constantly tangled, frizzy, and unruly. It did it’s own thing no matter how hard I fought it (or maybe because of how hard I fought it). If you’re thinking I’m exaggerating, the mother of one of my best friends, who had known me since childhood, told me (many years later) that she spent hours straightening her daughter’s hair every day when she was little specifically so that her hair wouldn’t look as bad as mine. Though that hurt to hear, I can understand her point.
Living with curly hair has not been easy. I spent the first 12 years of my life fighting against it, crying because I wished I looked like the other girls with beautiful silky straight hair. If you remember the early 90’s at all, you’ll think bowl cuts for boys and short coifs for girls. It was a nightmare. Cutting my hair short resulted in what I’ve aptly named “triangle head.” The only way to manage my hair was to keep it long and hope for the best. No matter what, I never felt like I fit in. And those of us who remember early childhood know how desperately we all ached to fit in because of how lonely and cruel life was if we didn’t.
Of all the years, middle school was definitely the worst for me and my hair. I used to brush it back into a pony tail every day. I didn’t feel I had a choice. I looked around me and saw beautiful straight hair on everyone. There was no place for me; no place for my curls. I started watching makeover shows on TV and guaranteed if one walked in with curly hair, she walked out “transformed” into someone more beautiful with straightened hair. What kind of message does that send?
It was during this period that my mind eventually changed. Finally Hollywood had a female lead with curly hair in the form of Felicity, the name of the lead with curly hair and the show. Keri Russell, the actress who played Felicity, had beautiful, long curly hair. She was gorgeous and admired. She didn’t try to be something she wasn’t. It changed my mind about everything. I decided at that point to go against the norm. I was going to figure out my curly hair, and make it beautiful. What a process I was in for…
By my freshman year of high school I was embracing my curl, but I wasn’t sure how to get my curls defined and shiny. Every day was a battle. I was still using a brush or a pick at this point, at the advice of my hairstylist (a straight haired woman). No matter what my hair looked like, I always pulled it back because I didn’t feel confident that it looked good. It was a start though, even attempting to wear it curly.
By the end of high school, things were looking up. I had thrown away my hairbrush. Let me repeat myself for those of you with curly hair, I THREW AWAY MY HAIR BRUSH! I was only washing/conditioning my hair 2-3 times a week: an essential difference in hair care for curly haired people. I started using a leave in conditioner daily to help smooth out frizz and keep my curls defined and healthy.
It wasn’t until college, though that I truly found my groove, aka the products and practices that changed my curls forever. So here is my secret…
I shampoo my hair once a week with Diva Curl’s No-Poo. It has no astringent in it, so it keeps healthy oils in my hair.
Then, I condition 2-3 times a week with Diva Curl’s One Condition. It helps bring moisture back into my hair.
I use Bed Head’s Ego Boost daily to add moisture to my hair and to control fly aways.
Next, I use Fructis’ Curl Shaping Spray Gel after my leave in conditioner on days I wash my hair to hold my curls together.
Last, I use KMS Curl Up Curl Balm to get tighter curls.
I never brush my hair. In the shower when my hair is wet, I comb through it with my fingers while shampooing or conditioning. Then, I leave it alone. Next, I rinse out conditioner gently, then immediately apply leave in conditioner, followed by spray gel. I gently pat my hair with a towel to remove excess moisture, then apply the curling balm. Lastly, I scrunch until I’m satisfied that my curls are complete and allow my hair to air dry. Once dry. I scrunch to remove the hardened gel look, to make my curls soft and bouncy.
On days I don’t wash my hair. I wet my hands with water and add leave in conditioner. Then, I tame fly aways and redefine curls.
It’s about confidence. It’s about helping other people find how to love themselves as they are. It’s about embracing what God has given me and sharing it with others.
Can you relate to hating part of yourself because it’s not what society tells us is beautiful?