If you haven’t read Part I – check it out so you can understand my why and the process that led me to: How?
Now that I’ve dealt with my straight natural journey, it’s time to talk about how I got these curls together and the process I follow to maintain them.
I picked up the phone and made an appointment (Robin had a cancellation that week so it was clearly meant to be! I’m so glad I didn’t have enough time to talk myself out of it) and when I met Robin I immediately felt at ease. The appointment started with a conversation about my hair, how I had been caring for it, my goals/inspirational pictures and how far I was willing to go. She was so excited about curly hair and that I was finally ready to make the leap! She warned me that I had to change my technique (turns out that Denman Brush I loved so much was thinning my hair out in certain areas), my products (I opted for the service that included a product review. I was tired of wasting money testing the wrong products!) and that I had to be consistent (the time had finally come for me to choose my team: curly or straight). I told her I was ready and that she should cut as much as she needed because “it’s only hair, it will grow back.”
Last Time Straight – April 2017
She cut my hair . . . precise snip by precise snip by precise snip . . . curl by curl by curl (well most not so curly due to years of heat) . . . each strand dropped to the ground . . . the weight lifted with each snip . . . the societal beauty standard pressure . . . the fear of going against the professional norm . . . the anxiety of the unknown (I mean really, I hadn’t seen the real me since childhood and even then there was Blue Magic, so there’s that)!!! I can still recall my first special occasion hair press – the sizzle and pop of the red Marcel Wax and the intense heat and burns from the hot comb or the wax on my scalp, ears and neck – I was convinced from a young age that beauty required sacrifice! I can remember the perms after I scratched my scalp beforehand, even though I knew I shouldn’t! I can remember enduring the mild burning sensation because I wanted that “Hawaiian silky” look; convincing myself the scabs that formed afterward were normal and worth it! Yikes, what torture I inflicted on myself, I am beyond grateful that products have evolved beyond those days (most importantly, I have evolved thanks to the courage of all the natural hair beauties that blazed the trail)! I’ve learned these lessons for the sake of my daughters! Their stories will be different!. The more she cut, the more the me I was intended to be emerged.
The result exceeded anything I could have imagined. It felt good to live fully in my skin the way God intended (I was so foolish to believe that I could craft an image of beauty that exceeded his). So what divine goodness did Robin put in my hair?? What magic did she contain in those masterful hands to yield this result?
Before and After – May 2017
It is important to note that this is what works for me. I took my daughter and she has a completely different process/product list so I highly recommend that you consult an expert to save the time, money and patience that trial and error requires.
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Hair Repair Treatment: Olaplex Hair Perfector No 3 (this is MAGIC in a bottle!!!!)
Conditioner: Innersense Color Radiance (this is worth it’s weight in GOLD and I product that I will absolutely NOT live without)
Leave-in Conditioner: Innersense Sweet Spirit Leave-In Conditioner
Sealant: Innersense I Create Volume
Hair Treatment: Apply product to damp hair from scalp to ends and cover hair with a plastic shower cap. For best results leave-in overnight (frequency of application will vary based on hair health – I had 2 treatments over the last year)
Shampoo: Fully wet hair, apply product to scalp and then work it into the hair. Be sure to rub your scalp with the pads of your fingers and NOT your nails.
Condition: 1 pump per section (this can be excessive depending on the thickness of your hair as well as if you hair is easy to detangle, start with less and add water first – see additional details in the Detangle section) – I divide my hair into 4 sections
Deep Condition or Steam: Sit under the dryer for 20 minutes with a shower cap on or use a hair steamer (I use the Huetiful Hair Steamer)
Detangle: Detangle in small sections (I use my FINGERS ONLY!! I know, I know it’s more work but it is WORTH IT to achieve the desired results) and ensure that hair is fully saturated with water. You should be able to pull your fingers through 3-4 times when your hair is fully detangled. The product is concentrated so the water will activate it when you scrunch it (you should hear the sound in the video clip). Always add more water before you add more product. I love using a hair mister spray bottle to rewet my hair throughout the process
Rinse: Rinse out the conditioner and leave a little product in the hair – should still slightly hear the sound from earlier when scrunched
Style/Set: Ensure that your hair is fully detangled, at which point this step becomes really easy. Section hair with clips (I prefer to work in 4 sections). Wet hair, if needed, it should be saturated but not dripping wet. Combine leave in and styling cream (I use 3 pumps of leave in and 1 pump of styling cream). Smooth product into 1 section, separate that section into smaller sections and smooth product in. Add a pea size amount of your gel/sealant (gel may dry white if too much product is used. If it looks white, no worries, lightly spritz your hair with water to balance things out). Continue this process for all remaining sections (you can also wait to apply your gel/sealant at the end. I prefer to apply it as I go so I can control the distribution of the product since it is very thin)
Dry: Allow you hair to FULLY DRY before you touch it (pro tip: you can use clips in the front to create height/volume or on the ends to elongate the curl)
Polish and Shine: Once your hair is fully dry, apply a little oil throughout the hair to break up the slight crunchiness of the gel and to add shine! Your can pump up the volume by stretching your hair from the root (always the root, never the ends!).
And there you have it, because of my small tight coils, this process takes me 6-8 hours to complete. It led to stretching out my washes way too far (I washed my hair every 4-6 weeks last year, CRAZY!). This year, I opted to outsource (after being coached/counseled by my crew to stop spending so much time doing something that I HATED) so you can typically find me being pampered at Southern Curl Atlanta! It’s totally worth the time and mental and physical health I’ve regained (it’s easy on my back since I’m laying on plush leather seating most of the time vs. my adjustable Costco stool on an at home wash day). Ironically enough, when I do wash my own hair now, I don’t loathe it because it is the exception and NOT THE RULE!
- Sleep Maintenance: cotton dries out my hair type so I sleep with a slap. It does result in my hair looking a hot mess (see Exhibit F) in the morning but it’s still moisturized (I am looking into a satin pillow case because my slap is currently MIA. I think my kids probably have it)!!!
- Replenish Your Curls: I shower in the morning and allow the mist and steam to do most of the work – you will notice the post shower difference in the image below. Most of the time this is enough to replenish. Other times, I use Innersense Sweet Spirit Leave In Conditioner – don’t overdue it, else your wasting product and creating build-up on your curls and/or a conditioner (a pump of Daily Radiance from my conditioner routine goes a VERY LONG WAY)/ water mixture
- Dry: I normally walk out with my hair damp in the morning so the remaining steps hardly ever happen but this should only take about 5 mins under the dryer because your hair should still be mostly dry, if it is dripping wet you’ve gone to far
- Polish/Shine/Fluff: Use a little oil and fluff your hair out from the roots for volume
Leave-in & Mist Spray Bottle Refresh
The Maintenance – As Needed
If my hair is really dry or if I’ve lost my curl pattern due to too much fluffing, I fully saturate my hair, in sections, with the conditioner/water mixture and detangle my hair to reinvigorate my curls. I then reseal my hair with my I Create Volume gel and typically allow my hair to air dry (primarily because I typically have some where to go and I wait until the last-minute to complete my refresh). This extends the time on my wash and only takes about 30 mins versus my full wash routine.
The Next Phase
Now that I am approaching the end of my year, I’m trying to decide what’s next. I am leaning toward protective styling for a year, it was effective in the past and I’m bored since I’ve had ZERO variety over the last year. Here’s what I’m currently thinking:
- Braids: Box, Cornrows, Halo, and anything new trends I can find (my husband is not a fan, I am sure he will love them once they are attached to me LOL)
- Wig: This will be a great change-up option to achieve straight hair without the heat, or really just whatever hair I want at the time! (I’m seriously concerned my scalp will itch the ENTIRE TIME – wig experts, help me out here!)
- Goddess Locs: This is so outside of the norm for me but they look so beautiful, why not?
- Twists, Buns and Braids, Oh My: any and everything that I think to do with just my hair, bobby pins and a puff cuff (I really want to add a scarf to my look, I have not tried one yet)
I’d love to hear from you! What’s your curl story? What products can you not live without? What is your wash routine? How do you maintain your curls while you’re sleeping? How do you refresh your curls? What are your favorite protective styles? If you have a protective hair stylist that specializes in healthy hair that you love in Atlanta please share! – Z’Marie