A few months ago, I was asked by a colleague to speak with an intern about her pursuits in the communications field. I gladly obliged and had lunch with this budding professional. I already knew that she was leading several college organizations, acing her grades, and working at a restaurant in addition to her studies and internship. What I didn’t know was that … she’s a curly girl! Spotted! Izzy, our super smart and savvy curlie, agreed to share with us the secrets to her long, luscious mane.
Nay: What is your routine? Spill the beans!
Izzy: My routine is low and high maintenance at the same time! I wash it every 4-5 days. On the first day, it’s flatter, and on the second day it picks up volume.
Nay (staring at Izzy’s cascading curls): What products do you use?
Izzy (graciously whips out her products and lines them up): For shampoos, I don’t see any miracle products. They’re all the same to me. I’ve yet to find one that makes a difference, but I do choose them by scent, as long as it smells good! I use Suave Humectant Moisture Shampoo. As a regular conditioner, I sometimes I use Silicon Mix Pearl, but my favorite is Silicon Mix Bambu Treatment because it smells amazing! (haha). It’s the best!
Nay: Ahhh, Silicon Mix. I used to swear by their leave-in conditioner. Have you ever used it?
Izzy: No, I haven’t. I actually don’t use a leave-in.
Nay (rubs ears to check if all is clear): What? What’s that you say?
Izzy (laughs): No, I don’t use a leave-in conditioner. It makes my curls frizz in combination with the gel. My conditioner, the treatment, is like miracle whip! I also use a paddle brush to detangle my hair in the shower. I detangle everything except the last, bottom two inches of hair. I work that with my hands. It’s a lot faster.
Nay (continues drooling over her curls and waves): That sounds similar to my routine, except I work my way up my hair. You have a lot of hair! How long does this take you to do it?
Izzy: It takes me about 20 minutes in the shower. That was unheard of when I was younger. I used to be in the bathroom for long time, trying to detangle my hair. It was painful. Now, after I detangle, I use Eco Styler Krystal Gel.
Nay: Ah, the infamous Eco! That gel changed my life when I first began wearing my hair naturally curly. How’d you discover it?
Izzy: I’ve been using it for 6 years now. Before that, I couldn’t find anything that worked with my hair. It wasn’t until high school that I learned how to do my hair from a friend. She had curly hair and used Jheri Redding Hair Gel (it was pink in color and created by the inventor of the Jheri curl! He also co-founded Redken and Nexxus). That was a great product … but got discontinued. I had to keep looking for a gel that gives me a soft hold. I tried L.A. Looks, but that flaked. Garnier Citre Shine—No! My hair hated it. I had to try a couple of things before I found the right products, before I found Eco – best thing ever. I also learned from my friend how to apply products in sections, which I had no idea about before.
Nay (hungry for more information): Aside from applying products in sections, how else do you style your hair? When I use Eco, I apply oil over it and use heat to stretch my hair.
Izzy: I haven’t tried oils or heat. Just Eco. I sleep on my hair (loose) to help soften my hair. It frizzes a little, but it looks good. I leave it down the 1st 3 days. The next few days, I use a little Frizz-Ease Dream Curls to define my curls when they get frizzy, or I use a mixture of water and gel and spritz it. On the fourth day, I apply the spritz and pull it back. For my job as a server, I have to have my hair above my shoulders, so I wear it up in a big, loose bun. I keep it loose, so my curls stay in normal shape when I take it down.
Nay (envious that this curly can still get great 2nd day hair without pineappling overnight): So far my hair shrugs at spritzes, but you’re one of those curlies who seem to have it down. Let’s take it back a bit. What were your experiences like as a kid curlie?
Izzy (Cuing Gaga. Just kidding!): I was born this way, but I hated it back then. My parents are from the Dominican Republic. My mom has thick, curly, dense hair, but she always relaxes it. She never wears it curly and out. My dad has thick, wavy hair. I have a mixture of their textures, so they didn’t know what to do with my hair. My mom did a lot of ponytails and braids to my hair. When I got older, I would always wear it in a bun. It was easier and hid my hair. I wore it like that so much that I got really big knots … which created more problems. People always told me that my hair wasn’t good, and I should straighten it.
Nay (sighs): That’s always the worst—to have other people tell you that you need to change the very same things that are a part of you. With all this hair pressure, did you ever straighten or perm your hair?
Izzy (spurring a discussion about relaxers and perms and the mixed usage of these terms): I relaxed my hair once, and I loved it. People told me I looked better with my hair straight, but my mom was furious. She didn’t want me to have chemicals, so I grew it out. My worst experience was when I went to a hair academy to get my hair straightened through a roller set and flat iron.
Nay (reminiscing on my own, fortunately positive experience at a hair academy): Uh, oh. What went wrong?
Izzy (rattling off the salon’s errors): It hurt when they detangled my hair. The store was closing, so they didn’t have time to finish fixing it. Plus, they didn’t really know how to get it straight. It was like a battle they weren’t winning. I walked out with my hair unfinished and frizzy. It was in that in-between stage where it wasn’t curly, and I didn’t know how to make it straight. I only paid $12, but I felt depressed. I thought; is my hair that bad?
Nay: These types of experiences will cause you to blame your hair, when really it’s the lack of curly hair knowledge that’s the problem. I can’t imagine that things are still the same. You’ve had to have some good experiences now.
Izzy: Now, yes. I remember one experience that made me think twice about my hair. I was working as a cashier at a children’s retail store. A lady came up and asked me where I bought my hair. I showed her that it’s real, and she actually said that I was lucky. She would pay for it!
Nay (knowing full and well that I’d throw down for her curly mane): And we all come full circle. I’m convinced that once you accept your hair and decode its mystery, you’re able to look and feel your best. What do you think of other curlies embracing their manes?
Izzy: I think it’s awesome that they’re embracing their natural hair. Not many do because of the conditioning they get as a child. On my 21st birthday, I wore my hair naturally curly, but my cousin asked me why I wasn’t going to get it straightened for this special event. It wasn’t said in a bad way; it’s just the mentality.
Nay: Do you have any additional tips for naturally curly girls out there?
Izzy: You’ll embrace your curls when they look good, when it’s healthy. You just have to find the right products. I use Eco and a good conditioner. You don’t need that many products! You also have to have a little patience. You will find the right products and routine.
We’re lucky. We can wear our hair straight or curly. Like my boyfriend said to me, we look unique because you don’t really see that many people with our hair. I never thought about it that way. Curly hair is our signature. Why take it away?
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