By Jasmine Wallace
More than half a year ago, I came to an important realization in my living room while visiting with my sister. Her hair. Why did this strike me? My sister and I both have completely curly hair, but hers is unusually long, tightly curled, miraculously shiny, and voluminous. I couldn't help but wonder, “How did it get that long? Why doesn't my hair look like that?”
Let me give you some background about my curls. My hair type is typically 3B, which means I normally have spiral curls. I come from a multicultural background—as a child, I grew up around many people with straight hair. I always wanted what I couldn't naturally have. My mother (who was born with straight hair) did not know how to properly care for curly hair.
I performed constant hair torture for years such as straightening and dyeing but I soon realized my hair type had gone from 3B to 3A, meaning I was losing my curls. Ends? Broken. And a patch of hair on the top of my head was significantly shorter due to bleach breakage. My hair was sending a message: it was done with my abuse. I got the message loud and clear after staring at my sister’s beautiful curls—it was time for me to change. I had to finally embrace my curls in order to save my hair. Here’s what I did:
The Big Chop
After researching online, I came to the unfortunate understanding that I was going to have to cut my hair. You have to get rid of split ends or they eventually split all the way up the hair shaft, and the hair strand breaks off. I chose a cute semi-long bob hair style and chopped off a reasonable amount of my hair. Sure, it was sad. But I knew it was for the best.
Bye-Bye Heat and Dye
I was still a flat iron addict, but I noticed that my hair's condition wasn't improving. I got really depressed because I felt the most secure with straight hair. But I got over it, and was determined to ween myself off of the straightener. I stopped using the heated tool every day and for a while I only used it once a month as a treat. Now I only straighten my hair on special occasions.
I also realized that my continuous hair dyeing was a big contribution to my problems. I immediately went to a hair and beauty store and purchased brown hair dye to start completely over. I was going to be dedicated to my hair completely, so I needed a color that I wouldn't have to touch up for a very long time. I applied the dye and resolved to say goodbye to my favorite vivid colors for a very long while. To this day, I have not re-dyed my hair. I have a really big itch to do so but I pride myself for keeping it up for this long.
In The Shower
I came across a celebrated method called “The Curly Girl Method”. To summarize-- stop using shampoo. Shampooing strips hair of the oils so desperately needed. Instead, you co-wash (which means use a conditioner as shampoo) and follow up with products that don't contain sulfates or silicons. I only shampoo my hair every 4-7 days, and co-wash in the meantime. I use conditioner every day of course; my hair is thirsty as heck!
I had to give up rinsing my hair with hot water. If you rinse your hair with cold water, it better retains moisture and shine. Lord knows I love hot water showers, but every time I get my hair wet I brace myself and quickly change it to cold. The method worked. My hair feels and looks SO much better and doesn't get dried out so quickly.
An Arsenal Of Weapons and a Great Routine
Curly hair needs oils, gels, and creams to successfully stay moisturized and beautiful. Through trial and error (and a ridiculous amount of money), I found good line up of products that works best for my hair. My hair must-haves include:
I use these products every day and in that order too! Follow the LCO method: leave In, cream, and oil.
When my hair is in need of a little more TLC, I use a couple of hair masks. I absolutely love Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen and Grow Treatment Masque. It smells EXTREMELY yummy and makes my hair feel stronger. Another good mask is Pure Oils by Silk Elements Intense Conditioning and Hydration Masque. This mask makes my hair feel extraordinarily soft and smells like an apple filled paradise.
Currently, my hair has regained most of its 3B curl. I do micro-trim my hair every three months to stop any split ends. My hair is longer, stronger, and on its way to being healthier than ever.
This whole process has taught me patience, and helped me feel more comfortable to be myself: natural curls and all. I now love my curly hair and I regret rejecting it for so long. If you are interested in learning more about curls and waves, visit NaturallyCurly.com.
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