This week, we sat down with Brazil-based model — and champion of natural hair — Paula Almeida.
Curly Essence: Tell us a little about the history of your curly hair.
Paula Almeida: "When I was a teenager I didn't like my hair. I always put it in these hairstyles to hide it. So, I eventually decided to straighten it, that was the worst decision. At first I loved it, but the chemicals destroyed my hair. After a few years of chemical straightening I decided I wanted my hair back. I waited more than two years to grow my hair out; it was hard but now I'm incredibly happy to have it back.
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"Not exactly, but people knew me with straight hair and then saw me with my afro and always asked why I changed my African hair, made jokes, and when they talked to me, they didn't look at my face, but rather, to my hair. I didn't feel comfortable."
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Explain to us how you care for your curly hair.
"I try not to wash it every day, because I try to keep the natural oils since afros are drier than straight hair. I always comb in the shower and try to not break the strands.
"I don’t care if a person (that asks first!) gently touches my hair. But, some people do not ask and come directly up to me and start touching my hair. I don’t like that, I think it’s a bit disrespectful."
NEXT: What Exactly Is Natural Hair?
Ana Rita D' Almeida and Denise Sonnemberg — two Lisbon-based twenty-somethings behind the blog Curly Essence — know that you are not your hair. Still, there's no reason not to celebrate the natural hair movement, and now, the ladies are bringing their expertise in everything from the best leave-in conditioners to the top travel spots straight to R29.