Straighten your hair. Why don’t you brush your hair? You can’t go to work with your hair looking like that: words girls with curly hair know all too well. As an Egyptian, you’d think that having curly hair shouldn’t come as a surprise or a disappointment to anyone, since about 95% of our population has naturally curly hair. So, what is this problem we have with curls?
Let me start at the beginning. Like many other girls with curly hair out there, I’ve never known how to tame my mane of hair. As a child, my hair was styled most of its days in a high ponytail, bun or pigtails. Those days flew by and middle school came all too quickly. I became an awkward, self-conscious teenager and my hair became my nemesis. We fought and tore at each other, but on all occasions, it won. What was my obvious answer to looking presentable and pretty? Dragging my mother to as many salons as possible to find a treatment strong enough to straighten my hair.
Let’s bear in mind that I was born into a family that either everyone had straight hair or religiously straightened it. For them, the media and pretty much everyone around me, I was an odd creature with odd hair. Ding, ding, ding… Solution? Do a perm. I did and I was thrilled! I lost my curls and I finally, fit in. I belonged. I was loved… but not for myself.
Still, I was told I was so much prettier with straight hair and I believed it. I think a small part of me still believes it until this day, but here’s what I’ve done about it. I started obsessively reading up on how to maintain curly hair and followed as many curly bloggers as possible. I started with four main steps. Firstly, I began mainly using sulphate, silicone and paraben free products. Since the market is a little tight in Egypt, I usually buy whatever is available, such as the OGX line (sulphate and paraben free), TRESemmé Naturals (the shampoo is a low sulfate and silicone line; the conditioner has no sulfates or silicones), and L’Oreal’s sulphate-free line. Even with these healthier products, my second step to recovering my curls was only shampooing my hair once a week, and doing an Apple Cider Vinegar rinse. Believe it or not, washing your hair too many times a week, especially with shampoo, strips your hair of its natural oils and nutrients. My third step was deep conditioning my hair, at least once a week. I do this with my favorite combination of Vatika and castor oil. I found that this mixture strengthens, moisturizes and repairs my hair.
More than a year ago, I had the BIG CHOP (I cut off all my heat-damaged hair) and finally, only nine months ago, I made the decision to say no to heat and go all natural. This was the most difficult decision for me to make, but with so many weddings to attend it was totally worth it. My hair is looking healthier and shinier, and my curls are coming in beautifully at the roots. I am carrying on my journey because I want my curls to shine; to be as wild as a lioness’s mane; as spectacular as the night sky, and speak for me before I ever have to. My curls are close to being back to their natural state, and are as soft as ever.
I would like to encourage every curly-haired girl out there to try this out. Go natural. Be yourself. You are beautiful.
Dina is making it her mission to encourage every girl with curly hair to embrace her natural beauty through her blog @curlytalks. Share with us your empowering story on firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to get featured like Dina.