Growing up, I hated my curly hair. I was so envious of all of my friends with sleek, straight hair that was easy to maintain. They would braid each other’s hair at sleepovers and keep hair brushes in their middle school lockers. I stewed in jealously.
My hair was frizzy and unmanageable - I didn’t yet understand that I’d need to comb my hair every day in the shower with conditioner to ensure it didn’t grow into huge knots that needed to be cut out of my head.
When I say that I had the longest awkward stage in the history of the universe... I am not kidding. I tried to find a photo of my hair during this time, but I couldn’t - I must’ve burned them all.
And back then, there weren’t the curly hair products that exist now. Every celebrity had straight hair - curls weren’t cool.
As most teenage girls in the 2000s did, of course I went through a “hair straightening” phase; I had a few of them, actually. It would take 6 hours to straighten my hair from start to finish. I even tried a couple of different permanent straightening and keratin treatments over the years. But, as I grew older, I realized something - I didn’t feel like myself with straight hair. My curls were part of my identity.
I love my curly hair now, but it took a long time to get here. If you’re just starting your curly hair journey, here’s my advice:
I was (and continue to be!) very lucky that my Mom has curly hair too, but here’s one thing we didn’t have back then - information. Over the past decade, online communities for curly hair have grown significantly, and they are a wealth of knowledge.
Here are a few to get you started:
From these resources (and many others) you can learn about your curl type, favorite products, and different methods for applying product (including the very popular Curly Girl Method, which I have actually never tried!)
This is the thing that is the most frustrating about having curly hair - it’s all trial and error. Everyone’s hair is different, so while you can learn a ton from others, eventually you’ll need to try things yourself and figure out what works best for you.
Over the years, I’ve wasted a lot of money on products that I tried once or twice before deciding they weren’t for me. Instead, I’d recommend trying to get samples (I’ve heard Sephora is great for this) or travel-sized products before committing to a full bottle. Not only will it save you a lot of money, it’s also better for the environment.
Based on the information you’ve learned (and the products you’ve tried) over time you’ll build a curly hair daily routine that feels second nature.
Everyone’s routine is different, so this is another area that is heavy on trial and error. I recommend using the communities listed earlier as a starting point. Curly hair routine YouTube videos can also be extremely helpful, as you’ll be able to see how these creators apply product, style, and dry their curls.
This is my number one tip for those new to their curly hair journey - get a dry haircut that is meant for curly hair.
What is a dry cut, you may be wondering? Instead of washing your hair first, you show up to your hair appointment with your hair dry and down, in your usual style. This allows your stylist to cut your hair following your natural curl patterns.
Your hair looks different when it’s wet, so it makes a lot of sense to cut it dry. Once you try a dry cut once, there’s no going back.
So, how do you find a hair stylist that does dry cuts? (It’s a lot easier than it used to be!) NaturallyCurly.com has a salon finder, but you can also use Google or Instagram to find trained stylists and curly hair salons near you. Look for stylists who have been trained by Ouidad or Devacurl (two of the biggest brand named in curly hair products - they even have their own salons).
If I’m still not sure from their website or Instagram profile, I’ll call the salon directly and ask if they cut wet or dry.
As a fellow curly girl, I’m always interested in hearing from others about their curly hair journeys - did you have a hair straightening phase? Send us a DM on Instagram!