I was brought up in a community where sleek, straight hair was the norm. I was also born with (what seemed to be) frizzy, unmanageable curls.
Don’t get me wrong, straight silky hair is beautiful. However, growing up with hair that didn’t fit the standard was always incredibly frustrating for me. In fifth grade, this magical thing called a hair straightener was introduced to me, as was the idea that in order to be more well liked, I needed to alter my appearance. I began to hate my hair more and more as I grew up, since it only seemed to get messier, frizzier, and less manageable.
I was always given the same few reasons why straight hair looked better on me than curly hair- it looked neater, it framed my face better, and, as a teen with serious acne issues from time to time, curly hair “only accentuated” the imperfections on my face. Until now, I’d believed all of these things, and the fear of judgment from showing the world my natural hair caused me to straighten it religiously almost every other day. My coarse Italian hair was no match for the hot iron, even with the “miracle” heat protectant products that were constantly being marketed to me. I had dead ends constantly, and I began having to blow out my hair before straightening it in an attempt to put less heat on the ends. By the time I had my routine figured out, it took me 1.5-2 hours at night 3-4 times a week. But throughout it all, it was worth it to have smooth straight hair, that wouldn’t frizz everywhere and wouldn’t stick up in all the wrong places. With straight hair, I genuinely believed that people would like me more for it. Little did I know, that was not at all the case!
Once I got to high school, my circle of friends expanded drastically, and as they saw my curls from time to time they’d ask why I never left them natural in public. Suddenly, trying to explain to them that it was such a large insecurity of mine sounded silly. However, it wasn’t- in fact, many of them told me that they’d gone through similar insecurities with their hair as well. It was really during my Junior year of high school that I realized- what is actually wrong with my curls? Is there a factual, genuine problem? No, there is not. There never was, and there never will be. My curls are beautiful, especially when I take the time to properly style and care for them. My whole life I’d catered to products that would keep my hair smooth and straight, so I had no idea where to go in the realm of curl care. Once I found the products and routine that worked for me, my confidence with my natural hair shone through, and people noticed. Confidence is the key to pulling off one’s natural hair, and absolutely anyone and everyone can do it. Some love the way their hair looks completely left alone, and if that’s you, that’s amazing! Do what makes you feel best! However, if you’re looking to make changes, here’s my guide to learning more about your hair and taking care of it!
*Remember: there is absolutely nothing wrong with changing your hair if that’s how you feel best! This is just a guide for those looking to experiment with their natural hair.
Step 1: Identify Your Hair Type
Chances are, if you’re reading this article, you have curly or wavy hair. There are a variety of hair types, and a variety of needs for each one. Finding the type of hair you have and what it needs to achieve its maximum beauty should always be the first step, so you can be sure to properly care for your hair. Most likely, your ethnicity has more to do with your hair type than anything else, so try talking to your family! One thing to definitely do is to strip all product out of your hair and see how it looks with no special washing routine/products. This will most likely show you the most natural state of your hair.
Step 2: Explore Your Hair Type
Now that you know what type of hair you have, dig deeper! Does it do well with dry air or humidity? Is it frizzy? Flat? Once you’ve identified its characteristics, look into what it needs, or what you want for it. Do you want to tame that frizz and have smooth curls? Do you want more volume? Tighter or looser curls?
Step 3: Find Your Routine, Find Your Products
Once you’ve figured out what your hair naturally is and what you’d like it to be, find out how to achieve this. Should you be using a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner? Should you be deep conditioning on a regular basis? Also, determine any products to help your hair health/styling (here’s an article by Buzzfeed on top curly hair products). Figure out the problems you know you have with your hair and what kind of products you’d like to fix them. For example, my hair is dry and frizzy, so I use deep conditioners on a regular basis and natural oils to keep my hair smooth. To prevent curls from flattening, sleeping on a satin pillowcase is a common method, as well as others in this article. Also, consider how you’d like to dry your hair. Will you let it air dry, or perhaps blow dry your curly hair? (Click here for a blow drying method). One of the most important things in styling curly hair is finding a good hairdresser! Find one that specializes in your hair type, they’ll not only be able to take care of it properly, but they can help you understand more about your hair and suggest products and steps to help you style it yourself.
Step 4: Get Out There!
Building confidence is an incredibly difficult task, especially when doing so involves making a daily lifestyle change. When the popular hairstyle is the opposite of what you’re naturally given, it can be daunting to purposefully go against that for many. But when you’re confident about how your hair looks, others notice and love it to. Like I stated previously, plenty of people have curls that they love just by washing and air drying their hair, and if your hair routine is nice and simple, there is no pressure to do more than is needed. However, some hair types can be complex to take care of and quite frustrating, but they don’t have to be! If you’re bored with your hair/routine, try experimenting a bit. Find safe ways to dye your hair, get an edgy haircut, or even just accessorize differently! The most important step in loving your hair is realizing that it is YOURS, and you can do whatever you want with it. You’re in control, 100%.