The Secret Behind This Beauty's Amazing Curly Hair

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2Photo: Courtesy of Malek Naz/Curly Essence.
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.

This week, we caught up with 30-year-old Mel Burgos from Arlington, Virginia.

"I was born and raised in the Bronx, NY. I served 10 years in the U.S. Navy and am currently management analyst for the Department of Health and Human Services U.S. I am also a new blogger! I'm super excited about this new journey because my ultimate goal is to inspire Latinas and women of other nationalities."

Tell us a little history of your curly hair.
"I had a long and challenging history with my curls. Growing up with huge, curly hair in my neighborhood wasn't considered "cool," and I did everything to hide them. I did the designated French braid, I straightened it, and eventually did the unthinkable and relaxed my hair at 13. I loved my straight hair until my curly roots grew in."

How long did you find yourself in the transition to natural hair, and why did you make this decision?
"Well, my transition lasted a year and a half. I cut off 9cm of hair in 2010 due to a horrible experience. I made the decision to go into this natural journey because I was tired of fighting against my hair."

What is the hardest part of your transition?
"The hardest part of my transition was accepting that my hair does not define me. I'll be honest, I get tons of compliments on my hair and I appreciate every one of them, but I am more than my hair."

Explain to us how you care for your curly hair.
"I try to wash my hair at least every five days. Also, I use steam every two weeks using my Huetiful steamer. I use the products from the brnad Dark and Lovely Au Naturale. For the styling, I use a combination of Sebastian Potion 9 and Ecostyler gel, and I end up using the diffuser for no more than 15 minutes and finish with argan, jojoba, or grapeseed oil."
1Photo: Courtesy of Malek Naz/Curly Essence.
Is there a secret that you can share regarding your curly hair?
"A secret? Hmmmm, well I do scalp massages daily with a little grapeseed oil on my fingers, and I take two biotin vitamins daily, as opposed to the recommended dose of 1!"

Are there rules that your friends must know about your fro? (example: NEVER, IN ANY WAY PUT YOUR HANDS ON MY HAIR!)
"Please just ask to touch my hair!"

How do you see this new movement back to our roots?
"I think back to our roots is necessarily new, but it is now definitely concluded. It gives me a sense of pride in using my natural hair as well as a platform to show my nieces that curly hair is absolutely gorgeous."
3Photo: Courtesy of Malek Naz/Curly Essence.
If you had to envy, who's curly hair do you admire?
"I would not say jealous, but I really admire Diana Ross. I must admit that I really love her daughter Tracee Ellis Ross, who talks about embracing who you are, fashion and beauty secrets — I'm a big fan of her site and her videos on YouTube."

What do you think of this movement? Do you think #GoNatural is a fad?
"I love that the natural movement of the hair allows us to embrace our natural beauty without any changes. I feel fortunate to have the best of both worlds, I can use my curly hair one day and the other straight. I do not believe that being natural is a fad, because there is a certain feeling of confidence that you win when you just embrace yourself."

What products do you recommend and what can you not live without?
"I recommend it and can not live without Dark & Lovely Au Naturale (shampoo and conditioner), Sebastian Potion 9, and Ecostyler line clear gel."

What is the best thing about having your hair in form of S? "Well, for me, the best thing about having curly hair...my friends can identify me in the crowd LOL."

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.