My journey towards embracing my natural curly hair has not been an easy one. For me, it was not just that I had absolutely no idea when it came to my hair and my curl type, it also came down to what images I was surrounded by; what I grew up with.
If you’re a child of the 90s, you know exactly what I am talking about!
It was the year 1997; my obsession with the Spice Girls was at its all time peak. For my 7th birthday, I decided to have a Spice Girls themed party and all my friends were to dress up like their favorite Spice Girl.
It was to be assumed that given my natural curls I would of course be Scary Spice, all my friends said it. But at the end of the day, who would want to be Scary Spice!? I certainly didn’t. So mum instead helped me by turning me into a little miniature Posh Spice by placing a tea towel over my hair, laying my hair on the ironing board and ironing my hair for a good one and a half hours before guests arrived.
The late 90s, early Noughties meant only one thing for natural curly haired pre-adolescent young girls like myself – no apparent curly headed role models to look up to. By the time I reached the end of high school I had made the active decision to do what I could to maintain a straight, sleek, hairdo and so I did.
I woke up earlier than everybody else to tackle my hair with a GHD for 45 minutes before leaving home; I blow waved my own hair with maximum heat; and to make matters worse, I fell for the balayage trend and happily handed over hundreds of dollars to a hairdresser who bleached and damaged my beautiful hair.
And just when you thought I had subjected to hair to enough abuse, 3 years ago I decided to try out this new “treatment” called Keratin. I did Keratin twice: first in early 2014 and again in early 2015. I saw my beautiful heat, bleach-damaged curls become a frizzy, limp mess.
So, I know you must be thinking, what made me change? What happened for me to wake up one day and realise that what I was subjecting my hair to was not for me? Well, it’s quite simple. After years of abuse, my hair could only take so much.
Before my last keratin “treatment” I decided to touch up my balayage and go even blonder and lighter. After this last dye job, I noticed a significant change. Firstly, my hair was thin and weak and secondly, snapped, broken bits of my hair were forming part of my outfit.
Yes, that’s right. My hair was snapping in half and landing itself on the shoulders of my black blazer that I wore to work each day.
It was time to do something and so I did, below are the fundamental steps, which I applied and still apply them today. If you are at the stage I was or are just thinking about transitioning to your natural curls here are some tips on how to get started:
- No Heat
I cannot place enough emphasis this point. If you are ready to start your journey this is the fundamental step for you. To resist temptation I suggest packing up your hair straightener so you cannot see it.
If you are unable to air dry, please invest in a good hairdryer with a diffuser and make sure you are diffusing with the cool setting on! You can use your hairdryer as long as it is not on maximum heat.
- Throw out your non CG products
When I realised that my hair products were in fact making things worse I literally put them all in a big rubbish bag and threw them out!
Admittedly I did try not to think about how much money I had wasted but it was a necessary step.
- Replace the towel with a t-shirt/tea towel
Curly hair is naturally drier than other hair types and is susceptible to breakage. Unfortunately, ordinary bathroom towels can promote breakage, as they are rough in texture.
I currently use either an old t-shirt or a tea towel to dry my hair to minimise breakage.
- Sleep on silk
Not only is this great for your hair and also minimises breakage and split ends, sleeping on silk is known for its anti-ageing benefits! I cannot recommend enough.
I currently sleep on a silk pillowcase I purchased from Slip, however, these pillowcases are available almost everywhere.
- Limit shampoo to maximum once a week
As curly hair is naturally dry, shampoo (even shampoo not containing sulphates) can dry your hair. Try Co-washing (using a cream based cleanser or Conditioner) instead and limit the number of times you shampoo your hair.
- Deep condition
If you are transitioning and have damaged hair like I did, I cannot recommend this step enough. It is so important to try and incorporate deep conditioning at least once a week in your routine.
If you have bleached damaged hair, I highly recommend getting your hands on step 3 Olaplex and using it regularly as well, I personally noticed a significant change when I started use this product on my bleach damaged hair.
The most important step of all. Unfortunately, the transitioning phase is not necessarily pretty.
Your hair may be heat damaged to the point where it does not curl properly, you may have different textures on your head or it just may be that you’re so used to wearing it straight and sleek the natural look is a big adjustment for you.
I can guarantee though, that if you are patient, your hair will improve month by month and you will be able to reclaim your natural curls.
Stephanie is based in Melbourne and has been following the Curly girl method since October 2015. @stephaniemarys
This post was kindly contributed by a #curldisciple. If you would like to share your own stories, knowledge, tutorials, or photos, please email saint curl at firstname.lastname@example.org