Embracing Naturally Curly Hair, Gaining Confidence, Self-Acceptance

Learning to love, understand curly hair patterns

Sage Marmet, Co-Editor-in-Chief

When growing up, I was always told that the beauty standard was to have perfectly straight, shiny, and frizz-free hair. In my case, this standard is both unattainable and not sustainable. 

For years I struggled to manage my thick and increasingly curly hair, not understanding or wanting to understand how to properly care for it. For years I would brush my curls into a poofy mess and chop it super short. Eventually, I grew tired of managing it and began to straighten it every day, completely frying my hair into a crisp and destroying its natural curl form. I was told countless times that it was a good thing that I straightened my hair every day because my natural hair was ugly and unmanageable. Over time, I began to accept it as being true: that my natural self was something that needed to be “tamed.” 

A few summers ago, I grew sick and tired of spending hours brushing, straightening, defrizzing, and flattening my hair, and I grew sick and tired of trying to be somebody that I am not. I decided that I would give my natural hair a try. I started by using DevaCurl products, only later learning how big of a mistake that was. At first, it worked well; however, after using those products for a little over six months, I noticed that my hair was falling out and thinning. After looking into it deeper, I learned that DevaCurl, the brand that revolutionized and practically invented the “curly girl method,” was undergoing a class-action lawsuit for ruining hundreds, if not thousands of people’s hair with formaldehyde when they used DevaCurl products. I learned that most products in the beauty market are not made for my hair type: most conventional products are made for straight, fine hair. Even worse, many products that are marketed as being for curls and curly hair contain many dangerous chemicals and ingredients that are bad for curly hair. After this discovery, I was stuck and just wanted an easy fix, returning to daily straightening. 

When lockdown started, I decided to quit straightening my hair and learn how to embrace and love my natural hair. When I had previously researched the curly girl method I learned that the best way to resuscitate curls was to completely abandon any form of heat products (straighteners, blow dryers, curling irons) altogether. However, at that point in time, I was not ready for a step that big. Leaving my house only to take a walk in my neighborhood incentivized me to give my curls a try. I learned to test the porosity of my hair (this tells you how much moisture your hair needs) to find products that will help restore and revitalize it, instead of completely drying it out or dowsing unneeded oils all over it.

I found that the best brands for my hair are Shea Moisture and Innersense Organic Beauty. These two are my favorite brands because they are both clean, toxic-free brands and have the right ingredient balance for my hair. I learned many different curl styling tips and tricks from TikTok, which was super helpful in my journey of accepting and loving my natural hair. I have found that the two best and most consistent methods/tools are the Denman Brush Seven Row Styler, which helps to get a very consistent, bouncy, and reliable curl pattern, and the “plopping” which involves using a 100% cotton t-shirt to scrunch my curls (helping them to form a tighter spiral and hold their shape) and then wrapping my hair in it for 15+ minutes (I usually just wear it overnight). These new techniques are so quick and easy, I cannot even imagine how or why I wasted hours every day or night straightening my hair.

Learning to love and embrace my natural hair took a lot of time, research, and effort. While it was not easy, I do not regret a single minute of it. I learned that I do not need to “tame” or “manage” my natural hair because society expects me to look different than the way I am. I love my naturally curly hair, and no beauty standard can or ever will change that.