When I was 12 years old I started straightening my hair. I absolutely hated my misshapen, frizzy mane of hair, so the minute I could get my hands on a flat iron, I burned my curls away. After a few years, I couldn’t do anything else to my hair even if I wanted to. If I didn’t straighten it, I would have to braid it or just pull it back because my natural hair was fried and limp, and not even remotely curly—just large.
After high school I’d had enough of straightening. I never had time to do it, and it started to feel silly to me. But that didn’t change the fact that my hair was just gross. So I started researching ways to get my hair to curl again and found a wealth of information about naturally curly hair and how to make it behave, and more important, look beautiful.
I found the website, among others, NaturallyCurly.com. The first thing I learned was that “sulfates,” the detergent present in most shampoos, was very, very bad for curly hair (and all hair). It’s an incredibly harsh chemical that strips your hair and scalp of sebum, that oil that makes your hair sleek and shiny. Stripping away the sebum not only makes your hair dry and frizzy, but it also makes your scalp overproduce sebum, which is why your hair gets greasy the day after you wash it. So I stopped using sulfates.
My hair slowly started to improve. I could let it curl but it still wasn’t behaving and it definitely was frizzy. I tried DevaCurl products, but these also made my hair greasy and weighed down with product, not to mention the fact that three bottles of that stuff set me back $75! After a couple years of trial-and-error (yes, years) I found two products that work for me (most of the time!):
I love Shea Moisture products. I really like the African Black Soap shampoo, but I’ve also recently tried the Coconut and love it, too. This bottle is $10 and lasts a couple months. I only use a tiny bit of moisturizer on my many tangles, but I can pretty much use any moisturizer now. My hair has become so healthy that I don’t have to use any curling product on it after washing: no gel, no mousse, no leave-in, no frizz-ease. An important tip is to never towel-dry it: just scrunch your dripping wet hair with a t-shirt after washing. Towels absorb all the water too quickly, which makes your hair frizz.
So here’s my super-simple nighttime haircare routine (I always shower at night): shampoo/condition my hair, scrunch my hair with a t-shirt and then clip it up halfway. Go to sleep. (Get used to sleeping with dripping-wet hair). I wake up, unpin my hair, shake it out, and just arrange it a bit. Here’s what my hair looks like when I wake up:
It’s a little nuts but I love it. According to the Naturally Curly guide, I have “2B Wavy Curvy hair,” which means my curls form S-waves and sort of stick to my head. After years of learning to train my hair, I finally have the curve and curl I want. And I never have to straighten it again.