I think we can all agree that in the last decade, we’ve seen more people embracing their natural hair — and society embracing it, too! There are more commercials, magazines, movies and tv shows that include people wearing their crowns proudly.
I am a licensed cosmetologist who works with all textures. However, I specialize in naturally curly hair of all types. I started my own natural hair journey in the early 2000s, when I decided to put the blow “fryer” and flat iron down.
It was a tough decision that took some major introspection and self-acceptance. “Why was I so scared to wear my hair how it grows out of my head? Why did I think that my hair made me ugly? Was this a form a self-rejection of my ethnic background?” I had so many questions for myself and one day, was finally able to answer.
I knew I wasn’t ashamed of my ethnicity or culture. Rather, it was because people in my life, (including my own mother) didn’t wear their hair natural. We were all acquiesced to the Ultra Sheen, Blue Magic and the hot comb.
Beyond this, I was determined to cut down the time it took to straighten my hair and truly embrace my whole self. I started researching curly hair products on Tumblr and managed to find a starting point on what I could use to make my natural hair look healthy and defined.
Here I am almost 13 years later. Within that span of time, I put myself through Cosmetology school and made it my goal to guide anyone else struggling with their curly hair care (and the psychological issues surrounding it) through it.
Helping people transition into wearing the naturally curly hair is not an easy thing. It’s almost like we become addicted to the sleek hair that can camouflage into a crowd so easily; the hair you can leave smooth for days, even weeks at a time without even having to really refresh it.
The unfortunate reality about wearing your natural hair is that is can lead to discrimination and discomfort. A lot of people feel the need to try to touch someone’s hair (do not) or ask if their hair is real (also, not okay).
It’s hard to get used to saying to people “No you can’t touch my hair”, wearing the uncomfortable caps and bonnets at night to protect our curls, and the quest of finding that one miracle product that will keep our frizz at bay and make our style last as long as possible.
The one thing I always emphasize to my clients is that wearing our natural hair is freeing.
There’s the psychological part that has to be conquered first. I think what helps the most is that when my clients come in, they see that I too, am embracing my natural curl. I go about a week between my cleansing and styling so I end up with quite a bit of frizz, but I actually like it and embrace it. That’s the first step: Seeing someone else out and about wearing their hair the way you are wanting to. Another thing that helps to transition clients to wearing their hair natural is to actually show them how to style their hair!
Every time I have a new client or an existing one who wants to freshen up on a styling lesson, I give them a mirror while we are at the shampoo bowl and I walk them through every step of the process. A lot of people remember things better when they see it, so I feel like this is the most helpful. I also encourage them to get mirrors for their shower to help guide them through getting used to this new way of styling their hair in the shower rather than hopping out and grabbing that blow dryer right away like you would for a sleek style.
Now, if you are helping someone to transition away from Relaxers or using the flat iron, you will want to make the tools you are using available so your client can keep up their look at home! I always make sure to keep the products on hand for purchase that way I know for sure my client can leave the salon then and there with what they need to replicate what I did.
Another thing that helps with clients transitioning from straight to curly is taking a Before and After photo. I tell my clients that wearing your hair curly after straightening for so many years is like wearing lipstick. At first it seems strange and you don’t really look like what you’re used to, but once you keep wearing it, you get used to it. Be proud of this hair you have. This is what you were born with and you have the power to wear it curly or wear it straight. You get to choose, but don’t let someone else’s opinion choose for you.
Therefore, if you are hesitant about embracing your natural hair, don’t be. Be proud! Do your research to find a routine that works for you — plus a stylist to help you along the way. We can pave the way for future natural-haired people to continue this Curly Hair Revolution. We need to allow ourselves — and our hair — to take up space.