The longest relationship I've ever had lasted seven years, and it was with my loyal Conair flat iron.
I was obsessed with straightening my hair when I was younger. I used to hate my hair so much, no matter how many bobby pins I threw on my head to pin down my frizzy baby hairs. I wished to have long, silky hair like my classmates—which I fixated in my head as the "perfect" type of hair texture. It took some time to come to terms with my natural curls and even though the trend of talking about self-love can often feel cliche and pushy, I've found refuge in it. I learned to embrace my curly hair not to be part of a trend or for anybody else, but for myself.
I honestly grew tired of picking up a straightener every morning to fulfill a standard of perfection that was pushed onto me by society.
Changing My Perception
From a young age, I remember my dad struggling to style my hair for school and finally resorting to a ponytail. It all changed for me when my mom bought me my first straightener in sixth grade. I kissed my curly hair goodbye and kept my hair straight for most of junior high and high school.
Frankly, from a young age, we're programmed to believe that you won't receive validation unless your hair is straight (thank you Barbie and Bratz) and it's f**ked up. It may be 2019 but euro-centric beauty standards are still alive—and it was defining my hair routine for many years.
It took some time to come to terms that the epitome of beauty and style isn't just euro-centric. Once I began to see other women with my hair texture - representation matters - I started to cut my hair shorter and my curls began to thrive. I fell in love with my curls and learned that a shorter hairstyle ensures natural curls are less weighed down. Now that my hair is low-maintenance I have more free time and I am not spending hours blow-drying my hair and straightening it —ain't nobody got time for that.
For the first time in my life, I feel much more confident with my curly hair.
Patience Is Key
My journey to loving my hair is one transition that takes time. It took me a long time before I could really wear my hair natural without throwing it up in a bun.
The only thing that could finally get me to toss the iron was my wilting dead ends, girls with gorgeous curls, and a busy college schedule that no longer gave me time for my three-hour-long hair routine.
That's not to say it was an easy process to readapt to. Many days of frustration with flyways, uneven curls and waves, and the dreaded commentary. I don't like using a lot of product in my hair. In fact, I find products leave my hair oily and weighted down after the first day. With much trial and error, you will eventually find the right product for your curls.
After months of gaining the confidence to wear my hair naturally curly, I needed to learn how to style it. What better way to learn how to style your hair than to turn to Youtube?
I found an abundance of Youtube videos dedicated to understanding your texture and how to best care for frizz and kinks. I learned how to brush my hair—goodbye paddle brush, hello wide-tooth comb. Social media ended up being the tool I never knew I needed to solve all my hair sorrows.
Finding Your Product
One of the hardest parts about embracing the transition is selecting a curly hair product that works best with your hair texture.
Rather than purchasing full-size products, try travel-size versions — this will help make the process less stressful.
By doing this, you are both saving money and able to rule out the products that leave your hair feeling oily or dried out. Once I nailed down the products, I was able to nail down a styling routine. Learning what works for your kinks and curls gives you permission to have bad hair days and accept defeat. It's no easy task to find a curly hair routine, and I promise eventually, you'll find what products and styling tricks work for you. Two products that I definitely recommend are Carol's Daughter Almond Milk Leave-In Conditioner ($10.99 from Target) and Bumble and bumble Bb.Curl Pre-Style/Re-Style Primer ($28.00 from Amazon).
Sh*t doesn't happen overnight, sis.
It took me over a year to begin to see any form of hair growth. Throughout that time, I've had many days where my hair felt drier than the Arizona heat.
I'm happy to say that it's been over three years since I've picked up a straightener.
Embracing my natural hair helped me to feel more like myself and I have grown to appreciate and love my hair. There's beauty in every curl, and I now love the compliments I get about my hair—even the shocked expressions, "is that your natural hair?!"
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