My hair and I have always had a strained relationship. As a child, I would constantly find ways to avoid getting my hair done because it was always such a long, painful process. And though the experience of having my mother rake a comb through my stubborn, tangled curls every few days was painful, nothing could compare to the agony of watching television while she did it and seeing commercials filled with women flaunting their shiny, silky, and—what seemed to be—pain-free hair. It wasn’t until my mother started taking me to the hair salon to get my hair blown out that I realized that I, too, could have silky and soft hair just like the girls I saw. I watched with wide, excited eyes as the hairdresser ran the blow dryer and hair straightener through my hair. It was then and there that I decided that the price of heat damage was one I was more than willing to pay to feel beautiful.
Eventually, I fell into a vicious hair cycle of using and abusing hot tools until my hair became brittle and broken. My curly hair used to almost touch my waist, but by the time I was 15, I had chop it all off from straightening it every single day. Straightening my hair became less enjoyable and more like a sad, coping method to deal with my drastic hair change. I believed for a long time that there was no way out of the cycle until I got to my junior year in college and became friends with girls who had made the natural hair plunge and helped support me as I weaned myself off of using heat. I slowly began to embrace my natural hair and eventually began to get some of my old curl pattern back. During that time, I hid behind updos, ponytails, and tight, slicked-back buns to avoid being caught with frizzy, half-curly hair in public. I secretly yearned to be like the girls I saw on Instagram or in my dorm hall, confident and glowing with their fluffy, bouncy curls. I wanted to finally stop hiding. So I enlisted the help of some experts to help me along the way.
“One thing that customers tell me is that they see these girls when they’ve gone through this journey, and they’re like, ‘Yeah, but that’s not my hair, my hair is frizzy. Well, that’s not my curl,’” DevaCurl Curl specialist Jessica Fitzpatrick tells me as she styles my hair at their flagship salon in SoHo. “And it’s like, it might not be your exact curl pattern, but you can definitely have damn good hair... like, damn good curly hair. And it becomes so second nature. And a lot of girls are like, ‘Well, this takes a lot of time,’ and I’m like, ‘Well, how much time do you spend in the salon getting it blown out?’ Or, ’How much time do you spend in the morning blowing it out or smoothing it out? Or, ‘How much time are you frustrated with it?’”
With the help of Fitzpatrick, Sebastian Professional international stylist Anthony Cole, and celebrity stylist and SheaMoisture brand ambassador Diane C. Bailey, I was not only able to figure out how to style my own hair, but also help funnel their tips into a four-step, easy-to-follow guide that anyone looking to begin their transition can use. See what they had to say, below.