A Curly Girl Dishes On Why She'll Always Stay Natural

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3Photo: Courtesy of Curly Essence.
UPDATE: This post was originally published on April 29.

Tell us a little about the history of your curly hair.
Well, I was natural my whole life. I had huge, soft-but-kinky-hair which I always kept braided. I didn’t know how else to wear it because of the lack of styles for natural women in the media. My mother never relaxed my hair, but as I grew up, I felt pressure from high school and the media to straighten it. I relaxed it for about a year and a half until I got tired of it. I’d lost my curls and my hair was weak and breaking because of the heat and the chemicals. I couldn’t put up with the maintenance; it just wasn’t worth it. So, I cut it off and now I’m nearing two years of being natural again!

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How would you describe your texture?
I have soft, fluffy hair. I believe it’s the 4A type, but I don’t think hair charts are accurate. I feel like my hair is just a jumble of textures and I can’t really categorize it, but for now I’ll go with 4A.
1Photo: Courtesy of Curly Essence.
How do you care for your curly hair?
I don’t like it when my hair takes up too much of my time, so I wash it once a week, condition it, and apply olive oil. I do twist-outs and braid-outs at night to stop my hair from tangling and to achieve the afro look.

My favorite part of my routine is when I have an old twist-out and want to revamp the look. On dry hair, I apply some conditioner, then some coconut or olive oil, and then I twist out the hair. The result is usually a humungous fluffy fro like the one I have in the pictures.

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What products do you recommend and what can you not live without?
I absolutely am in love with Burt’s Bees' new line of shampoo and conditioners. The "baobab" scent is my favorite. I also love the pomegranate scent. Beside that, the conditioner is very thick and creamy, so I use it as a leave-in conditioner on my hair. It’s 99% natural and it doesn’t contain any sulphates or parabens. It’s really great for my twist-outs and braid-outs.

I use any oil that I happen to have. I usually use coconut oil, grapeseed oil, or almond oil, but right now I’m just using olive oil from the grocery store. I’m not a product junkie; I minimize my product use.
2Photo: Courtesy of Curly Essence.
How do you see this new “back to our roots” movement?
I absolutely love it! Women, especially women of color, are embracing their natural hair. A lot of women these days refuse to let society dictate how we wear our hair anymore. It’s great seeing everyone love themselves without conforming to society’s standards of beauty.

I believe it’s not just a movement, but it’s also a realization that we are beautiful without any alterations. I would love to see this more in my country, Zimbabwe, because I feel like a lot of women still believe that straight hair is better than curly hair. But, I know we’ll get there.

You can find Cheryl here.

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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.