A series of articles where you, our British Curlies members, can tell us how you keep it real with your curly hair.
Let’s meet British Curlies member Michelle.
British Curlies: Have you always worn your hair with its natural texture? Tell us about your journey to curly.
Michelle: For most of my teenage years and 20s, I wore my hair straight. I would have my hair chemically straightened because it was better to have straight hair than curly hair in South Africa when I was growing up. I have strong memories of my dad always telling me how nice I looked when my hair was straight but never when it was curly. My grandmother always told me I looked like Kelly from Santa Barbara (am I showing my age?). I was in my late 20s and had just gotten divorced after 3 years of marriage when I decided to cut off most of my hair. It was the new start that I needed because it was then that I started to always wear it curly and didn’t straighten it again after that. It was so liberating, to not have to have those worries about my hair going frizzy after a blow dry or getting crinkly just in the front.
I didn’t know about the Curly Girl way until many years later, I just used whatever worked for me at the time. There were times I’d even use baby oil or aqueous cream because it made my hair look good. I remember it was sometime in 2010, I was really frustrated with my hair because I was having too many bad hair days and I was looking for help online, when I discovered the British Curlies website and forum. Everything changed after that. I applied the CG method and I fell in love with my curls all over again. Bad hair days were few and far between. I learnt to read labels, although I still consult the forum while I’m shopping to make sure things are CG friendly.
BC: How often to you wash/cowash your hair?
M: I clarify about once a month using Avalon Organics Clarifying Lemon Shampoo. I should probably do it more often to get rid of any build up but this frequency seems to work for me. I don’t have a flaky or itchy scalp so I guess I’m doing ok. I co-wash a couple of times a week with whatever conditioner I have. My favourites are all high street ones: L’oreal Elvive Full Restore Conditioner, Inecto Pure Coconut Conditioner and Naked Care conditioner. I tend to use these products as leave-ins as well.
BC: What’s your wash day routine?
M: Before I had my baby, wash day would last for hours with the preparation I’d put into it. These days I don’t even plan wash days. If I think I can get away with some extra time in the shower the next morning (usually a weekend) then I will put coconut oil on overnight and wash it out in the morning. If I really need to wash but haven’t done a pre poo, then I will wash and hope for the best – although my hair is usually fuzzy after I do that.
BC: 2nd day hair – myth or reality?
M: Absolutely no doubt it’s a myth! Unless of course you’re using products that contain sulphates, parabens and cones – then it can be a reality. I recently went to a salon that used a styling product on me that contained these (I only read the label after) and I had amazing second day hair. I don’t think it was worth it though. Thankfully, I’m happy to style my hair everyday as I don’t think it’s that much of a hassle.
BC: Who cuts your curls?
M: After discovering and going CG, the first person to cut my hair was Carlos Flores. They don’t call him the Curl Genius for nothing. I love this guy! I cried the first time he did my hair – it looked amazing. I looked amazing. I learnt so much from him and appointments with him are fun. He’s very chatty. Because he only comes to the UK a few times a year, our schedules sometimes didn’t match and so I had to look for someone local in London. I went to someone just before my baby was born in Feb 2013 but wasn’t happy with the result and the salon is closed now anyway. I’d read on the BC forum about Tiff at 3Thirty and I went there recently because my hair hadn’t been cut in over a year and it was looking awful. I was so glad to find her and to have her cut my hair. I was pleased with the result when I walked out of the salon but once I did my hair myself I thought the cut was too slightly short for me. I suppose that’s the difference you get when cutting hair dry (Carlos) vs. cutting it wet (Tiff). I think Carlos is best (for me) but if I needed to recommend someone based in London it’ll definitely be Tiff.
BC: Top three desert island must haves (products or tools)?
M: My number one product will have to be coconut oil. I literally use it from head to toe and use it to cook as well. It’s a natural sunscreen so will be handy on that desert island. Next will be L’oreal Elvive Full Restore Conditioner. It’s my go-to product because it’s good for everything – co-wash, deep treatments, and leave in. The last one was tricky – my hair can make me really hot so I considered a hair clamp but because it’s long, I can just tie it up without any aids. So, my final pick would be shea butter. It’s all natural and a very versatile hair and body product. I have been using it as part of a deep conditioning treatment and also a little goes such a long way when I’m using it on top of my leave in as a styler.
BC: How do you protect your hair at night?
M: I tie my hair loosely in a bun on top of my head. If I tie it too tightly then I’ll wake up with a headache. If I don’t tie it then my baby girl, who crawls from her cot into the bed, will end up with a handful of it – and that’s not the kind of wake up I enjoy! We bought some silk pillowcases after I read on British Curlies that they help protect hair and I love them. I think they’re kinder to your skin as well and help prevent wrinkles – that’s a welcome bonus.
BC: Complete the sentence – “I love my curly hair because …”
M: – …it’s uniquely me.”