9 Women Open Up About Their Natural Hair Experiences

The journey toward self-acceptance can be a long, torturous one. It's made especially hard when society supports the idea that having stick-straight hair is superior to your curly, Afro-like mane. But with the natural hair movement in full force — and an emphasis on loving yourself at the forefront — that journey is becoming a little easier for some.

Ahead, we asked a handful of bloggers, editors, and other influencers to share with us their paths — along with their favorite products, when they started loving their hair, and the best advice they've received regarding it.

Whether you're thinking about going down the natural road, are struggling with accepting your own texture, or just want to hear about some life-affirming #BlackGirlMagic, go ahead and click through. Like delicate snowflakes, no story is the same, but they all end similarly: with self-love and some bomb-ass hair, to boot.
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1 of 19
Michaela Angela Davis, Writer & Image Activist

Tell us a little history of your journey with your hair.
"I was born a blonde Black girl. Thick, shoulder-length, blond, nappy hair. You see, common knowledge was blond hair was straight and kinky hair was dark — my hair was confusing [and] confronting, mostly to other people.

"From the start, I knew my hair was special. My great-uncle had a song about it... My grandmother spent hours trying to tame it, make it lay down, and behave. I discovered early my hair was Teflon and it could shape-shift. It could be pressed, cornrowed, curled, colored, sprayed, waved, and laid…whatever. It could hold shapes and create unique silhouettes; it was indestructible. So as a teen and young adult in the '80s, I rocked every style I could. I discovered pretty early Black hair was magic, and mine had superpowers."

Was there a defining moment when you started to love your hair?
"When I was about 7 years old, a bunch of big girls had some scissors and wanted to cut off my braids. I learned then that my hair could be threatening and worth protecting; you only protect what you love. So the moment someone wanted to take it, I began to love it."

More and more women are starting to embrace their natural coils. How do you feel about this newfound movement? How do you see it evolving?
"If you’re lucky to live long enough, you can see...several revolutions. I grew up obsessed with Soul Train (and Style with Elsa Klensch on CNN) more for the fashion and hair than for the amazing music. You look at the '60s and '70s Black youth culture; it was all about natural, healthy hair and radiant skin. Natural didn’t just mean Afros, though that was the most powerful silhouette and symbol, but braids, mushrooms, towering topknots, and combo styles were achieved without chemical manipulations. Afro Sheen, [which] advertised on Soul Train, brilliantly had a message of pride in their marketing — commercials with Frederick Douglass teaching a college kid how to properly pick out his 'fro. Genius.

"So this latest 21st-century movement — activated by the digital explosion of DIY culture, YouTube tutorials (a.k.a. hair porn), and organic meet-up groups — has made mainstream take notice. Black folks will always keep rediscovering their beauty. I think the industry will continue to evolve to give women of color options without risking their hair health. Unregulated chemicals and subpar weave techniques have caused a lot of damage. The products and tools just keep getting better, because the women are leading and demanding."
2 of 19
What’s your favorite part about being natural, and what’s the hardest part?
"My favorite part of being natural is that my hair is dynamic and alive, and as such responds to nature and weather and my body chemistry... I never get bored with my hair. The hardest part? My hair is dynamic and alive, and as such responds to nature and weather and my body chemistry... I never know exactly what to expect."

What are your go-to products?
"I’m obsessed with products and try new stuff all the time. There is no product substitute for a healthy diet and plenty of water, but always in rotation [I have]: Hair Rules Cleansing Cream and Hydrating Finishing Cream; SheaMoisture Yucca & Plantain Anti-Breakage Frizz-Free Shine and Black Castor Oil Strengthen, Grow & Restore Leave-In Conditioner; and Carol’s Daughter Monoi Repairing Hair Mask."

How, if at all, is your natural hair an expression of your personal style?
"I often describe my hair as #HappyHair and Freedom Hair, so yes, the core of my personal style and position in the world is about freedom and happiness."

What’s some of the best hair advice you’ve ever received?
"Don’t fight it. If you can afford it, seek out professionals for all major treatments (cuts, chemicals, weaves)."

What advice would you give to women struggling to accept their hair and wanting to embark on their own journeys?
"Sisterhood is the solution to all our beauty challenges. When I first saw my daughter's gorgeous 'unmolested' hair when she was born, it inspired me to let my hair be free. Whenever I go to a natural hair meet-up and see all the amazing young sisters and the creativity in their styling, I get inspired. When I go to Afropunk Festival and see the incredible range of expression with hair, my mind is blown. Or just check out groups on YouTube and Instagram. There’s a powerful community of sisters ready to share tips, practices, and support."
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3 of 19
Saada Ahmed, Cofounder Of Everyday People NYC

Tell us a little history of your journey with your hair.
"Growing up, I had a love/hate relationship with my hair. I wanted my hair to look like [that of] the young girls on the relaxer boxes, but my mom wouldn't allow me to get a relaxer until I was a little older. I started to get my hair pressed when I was about 8 years old. I really didn't like my hair curly, mainly because I wanted to fit in and...there weren't many examples or role models with natural hair at the time. In recent years, I straightened my hair too much and lost my curl pattern, and had to chop it off and start all over. I finally now know how to take care of my hair."

Was there a defining moment when you started to love your hair?
"College was a defining time in my hair journey. I hadn't relaxed my hair since freshman year of high school, so it was natural. I decided not to get blowouts anymore, and wear my hair curly. I got so much positive feedback, and [that] was when I finally began to embrace my curls."

More and more women are starting to embrace their natural coils. How do you feel about this newfound movement? How do you see it evolving?
"I am so happy to see people embrace their natural hair. It's really about accepting who you are! I think that we will be seeing more and more natural hair in the mainstream media."
4 of 19
What’s your favorite part about being natural, and what’s the hardest part?
"I don't have to worry about the weather. When my hair is straight, I have to worry about the rain [and] humidity. It's a lot of work keeping your hair healthy when it's natural."

What are your go-to products?
"I like Au Naturale, Carol's Daughter, coconut oil."

How, if at all, is your natural hair an expression of your personal style?
"[It] definitely [is]. I have different outfits for different hairstyles. I have certain items I can only wear when my hair is straight or curly."

What’s some of the best hair advice you’ve ever received?
"Do not use too much heat!"

What advice would you give to women struggling to accept their hair and wanting to embark on their own journeys?
"I would say, seek advice from a natural hair salon or go online and explore more information on making the transition — you are not alone! Also it takes time, so don't stress."
5 of 19
Lisa Price, Founder Of Carol's Daughter

Tell us a little history of your journey with your hair.
"The only time that I 'wanted something different' was when I was very young — about 11 years old. My mother gave me an Ultra Sheen relaxer because I was going away for a long trip that summer, and she was concerned that I may be challenged trying to do my own hair. When the relaxer was first done, my hair was long and shiny and silky and I loved it. But, over time, it was discovered that it had been too harsh and I had a lot of breakage. Going through hair breakage at 11 and 12 really made me appreciate what I had on my head and to treat it better... The health of my hair just wasn't worth that sacrifice for 'beauty.'"

Was there a defining moment when you started to love your hair?
"I really began to 'love' my hair when I was about 16 or 17, and I wore it braided and was different from everyone else. I loved being a bit of a rebel. I always experimented with braids, twists, cornrows, beads, even locs. I have done it all."

More and more women are starting to embrace their natural coils. How do you feel about this newfound movement? How do you see it evolving?
"No matter what we do with our hair, we have to love it as it is. I may like my face better with concealer, because I don't like my dark circles, but I have to love my face as it is when I wake up in the morning. I feel the same way about hair.

"I think it is perfectly fine to want to try different looks, lengths, styles, and colors, but you have to understand, accept, and love what is currently growing out of your head and then change it in a way that is healthy for it. The acceptance of our textures is so key to things becoming about choice and not 'have to.'"
6 of 19
What’s your favorite part about being natural, and what’s the hardest part?
"I honestly don't have a hardest part about being natural — I truly don't. I have been like this for so long, and I have found ways to express myself and my style in my hair. I love knowing what it will look like every day, and I love not being beholden to a stylist every time I have to take a picture. For me, it is all the easiest part."

How has the natural hair market changed since you started out?
"The biggest change is that there are so many options. Products are actually being developed with multiple textures in mind. The experimentation that goes on is so much fun. On the one hand, as a person who makes product, I can get a bit frustrated every time there is a new brand out there. But as a die-hard beauty junkie and an advocate for this space, it is exciting to see."

What’s some of the best hair advice you’ve ever received?
"To be patient; it grows back. It isn't the end of the world. You have a beautiful face. All those things you don't want to hear when something goes wrong, but are truly the truth. I have survived bad processes, bad cuts, and bad styles, and I am still here and still smiling, and I am not bald."

What advice would you give to women struggling to accept their hair and wanting to embark on their own journeys?

"Don't look for it to be an overnight change. Embark upon it as a discovery, and have fun with it. Don't be afraid to experiment."
7 of 19
Mahisha Dellinger, Founder Of Curls

Tell us a little history of your journey with your hair.
"I was natural from birth, until eighth grade. Once I started doing my own hair, I started to chemically alter it. I decided I wanted to look like the girls at school — straight, dyed hair. My hair was extremely damaged, and didn't recover until I did the big chop and started all over. My new texture was healthy, thick, and luxurious. I decided I would never compromise the integrity of my hair again."

Was there a defining moment when you started to love your hair?

"I began to love my natural hair the moment I discovered I was going to be a mother. Chemically altering my hair was no longer an option; I didn't want to jeopardize the health of my unborn baby. I decided to rock what God blessed me with. Once I discovered my natural texture, I fell in love with it."

More and more women are starting to embrace their natural coils. How do you feel about this newfound movement? How do you see it evolving?

"The 'natural movement' isn't a new one. Remember, the '70s was an era of big Afros...the bigger the better. The '70s natural movement was politically charged. This movement is emotionally charged: 'I am beautiful just as I am. I don't have to conform to society's standard of beauty.' I love it!"
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8 of 19
What’s your favorite part about being natural, and what’s the hardest part?
"My favorite part of being natural is having the flexibility and versatility of hairstyles and textures. I can wear my hair in an amazing updo, a pretty wash-and-go head of curls, or flat-iron it...perfectly straight... My hair can transform into anything I want it to be. The hardest part is battling frizz...but I have created the best frizz-fighting products to combat this problem."

How has the natural hair market changed since you started out?
"Wow, well, there are so many more product lines available now. When I launched Curls, there was literally a handful of natural hair brands; now Target's natural hair space is full of amazing lines. There are a host of natural bloggers and vloggers educating women and girls embracing their natural textures. The landscape is constantly evolving."

What advice would you give to women struggling to accept their hair and wanting to embark on their own journeys?

"Don't expect your waves, curls, or kinks to look like your favorite blogger's waves, curls, or kinks. Embrace your natural texture, and love it."
9 of 19
Nikisha Brunson, Cofounder Of Urban Bush Babes

Tell us a little history of your journey with your hair.
"I haven't always liked my hair and embraced it. Growing up in Brooklyn in the '80s and '90s, my hair type wasn't seen often, so I didn't fit in. Unfortunately, the kids and teens I grew up around made sure I knew I didn't fit in and I was severely bullied. Part of the bullying included making fun of my hair all the time. So, by the time I reached high school, I made sure to straighten my hair using flat irons, hot combs, relaxer, etc., so I could fit in with everyone else's standard of beauty and to make everyone else comfortable."

Was there a defining moment when you started to love your hair?
"I started to love my hair during my later years in university, when I was acting and auditioning for roles. I was exposed to beautiful people from around the world who accepted me for who I was and [who] thought my hair was beautiful. I began to see that what God gave me was beautiful, and in order for me to be comfortable in my own skin I had to love my hair and embrace it."

More and more women are starting to embrace their natural coils. How do you feel about this newfound movement? How do you see it evolving?
"I love the movement of women embracing their natural hair! It's so beautiful to see women accepting every part of themselves just as God designed them, no matter what negative experiences they've had or just lack of knowledge on how to care for their hair in its natural state.

"I think it's evolved, and will continue to evolve, into how we can live healthy from the inside out. A lot of naturals stay away from relaxers and other hair products full of chemicals that aren't healthy for the body because of health concerns. A lot of us also pay attention to nutritional health and exercising, which comes with the benefit of growing and keeping your hair at its healthiest."

How do you think both natural hair blogs and bloggers/vloggers like yourself have influenced this movement?
"I think we've been — and continue to be — huge influences in this movement. We are public advocates for embracing natural hair. We are teachers who take our time to research the best ways to take care of our hair and then share it with others. We give a platform for all women with natural hair from around the world to be seen in a beautiful and positive light."
10 of 19
What’s your favorite part about being natural, and what’s the hardest part?
"I love that I can be an advocate for a person at any age to embrace a part of themselves in a positive way. I love the versatility of natural hair.

"The hardest part would be the stereotypes that go along with being natural. For example, some people think if you're natural it means you're more real and not insecure and you've fully accepted yourself. Also, the divide between the natural hair community and relaxed-hair community with all the negative opinions on how women who relax their hair don't love themselves. That is not cute."

What are your go-to products?

"Elucence Volume Clarifying Shampoo, Folie Honey + Marshmallow Root Shampoo Bar from my own apothecary line, Giovanni Tea Tree Triple Treat Invigorating Conditioner, SheaMoisture Manuka Honey & Mafura Oil Intensive Hydration Masque, and Folie Prickly Pear Hair Oil again, from my own apothecary line."

How, if at all, is your natural hair an expression of your personal style?
"My hair is definitely an expression of my personal style. Depending on how I choose to style it, my hair can say different things. It can say I'm comfortable with how I look, I've embraced it; it can say I'm bold. And my favorite, it can say I'm a creative or an artist."

What’s some of the best hair advice you’ve ever received?
"Wear your hair the way you want to wear it. Don't be concerned with what anyone else has to say."

What advice would you give to women struggling to accept their hair and wanting to embark on their own journeys?
"Take it one day at a time. Follow other women on their natural hair journeys, and women who are advocates and teachers. Become a part of the beautiful communities that have been created, so you can get encouragement and gain knowledge while on your journey."
11 of 19
Whitney White, Natural Hair Vlogger

Tell us a little history of your journey with your hair.
"In 2008, during my senior year in college, I wanted to experiment with my look. I had relaxed hair, but I liked it better curly, so I decided — with the encouragement of my husband — to transition to natural hair. I embraced my transitioning hair from the start, however, once I did the big chop, it took me a while to get used to my new look. I had never seen myself with such short, voluminous hair, and so I was self-conscious for a few months. But after the initial hesitation, I quickly rebuilt my confidence, and began loving my hair and my new look!"

Was there a defining moment when you started to love your hair?
"Yes, the day I wore my small Afro to the office. An African-American male coworker, whom I considered a friend, looked at my hair, snickered, and told me that the Afro look wasn't cool anymore. I was embarrassed and shocked that he would say that to me. But once the initial embarrassment wore down, I became angry. I was upset with myself, that I let him dictate how I felt about my hair. I knew in that moment that I would never let anyone affect my opinion of my hair ever again, and that I would be proud of my hair no matter what anyone thought of it. I was the only one who could restore and maintain my own confidence, and so I never let judgments regarding my hair get me down again."

More and more women are starting to embrace their natural coils. How do you feel about this newfound movement? How do you see it evolving?
"I love seeing the increasing numbers of women every day embracing their coils, curls, and kinks! It makes me happy, but it's also a '#finally!!' type of moment, because, really...what took us so long?! Our hair is so beautiful naturally that it shouldn't have to be a movement, it should just...be. In the future, I see natural hair not being something that is surprising, or in need of encouragement to maintain. It will be the norm, and something that isn't second-guessed, questioned, or taboo."

What’s your favorite part about being natural, and what’s the hardest part?
"My favorite part about being natural is the pride I feel from wearing my hair out completely and freely. The hardest part about being natural is trying new styles! That's always a hit-or-miss process!"
12 of 19
What are your go-to products?
"My staple products that I use every single week without fail are my DIY Homemade Shea Butter Cream, coconut oil, and my favorite inexpensive conditioner, the Trader Joe's Tea Tree Tingle Conditioner. Of course, I use an array of other products as well, but if I was stranded on an island and I only had these three items, I'd be okay! (Well, my hair would be okay, at least...)"

How, if at all, is your natural hair an expression of your personal style?
"My natural hair is definitely an expression of my personal style...and also my mindset. I'm a little bit of a hippie, and my personal style definitely reflects that. I love lounging in loose-fitting clothing, distressed and earthy everything — and the same goes for my hair.

"When I'm not filming, it's usually all-loose-everything, from buns to wearing my hair free, no matter if it's perfectly defined or a frizzy, three-textured jumble. However, I'm currently in a life transition, and my style is starting to reflect that as well, with a more polished look for my hair and my clothing. I think no matter what texture you have...your hair will always be a reflection of your personal style and mindset."

What’s some of the best hair advice you’ve ever received?
"I can't think of any specific advice, but my mom taught me all of the basics surrounding hair care. Growing up, we didn't have a lot, and so my mom was always crafting away, figuring out solutions to get our hair looking right. She was the one who taught me how to DIY, and so my best advice was in...lessons in how to make due with what you have, and that you don't need a lot to have an effective hair-care routine."

What advice would you give to women struggling to accept their hair and wanting to embark on their own journeys?
"You have to just do it. Just do it, seriously! At the end of the day, it's hair and no matter what happens, it will grow back (assuming you don't have a condition halting growth). It will be confusing, frustrating, and sometimes even embarrassing, but it will also be exciting, and with every struggle comes a learning experience. The worst thing that could happen is if you don't do it, and spend the rest of your life wondering, What if? You can always go back to a relaxer if you don't like the outcome, but the first step is to take the first step. And then mentally commit, because they don't call it a journey for no reason."
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13 of 19
Felicia Leatherwood, Celebrity Hairstylist

Tell us a little history of your journey with your hair.
"I have always embraced my hair because I didn't have a choice. I learned early on that your hair is your hair, so learn to love it!"

Was there a defining moment when you started to love your hair?
"The defining moment came at the age of 14, when I realized that my hair was different from some of the other girls' I went to school with and that you can never compare yourself to someone else. We are all uniquely made and slightly different from each other."

More and more women are starting to embrace their natural coils. How do you feel about this newfound movement? How do you see it evolving?
"I think it is fabulous, and I love all of the creativity that has come from the natural hair community. I believe that it's here to stay once again!"

What’s your favorite part about being natural, and what’s the hardest part?
"I love the versatility of natural hair and the way the texture feels when I touch it. The hardest part is figuring out which hairstyle to do next!"

14 of 19
How has the natural hair market changed since you started out?
"There are way more choices in natural hair care, and now products are also being paired with the different textures of hair to make it a cinch to find just the right [one]."

What’s some of the best hair advice you’ve ever received?
"To always rock my hair with confidence!"

What advice would you give to women struggling to accept their hair and wanting to embark on their own journeys?
"To be patient, have fun with your hair, and be sure to keep a great support group of other naturals around you to help keep you inspired!"
15 of 19
Kai Avent-deLeon, Owner Of Sincerely, Tommy

Tell us a little history of your journey with your hair.
"My hair has pretty much remained the same. Growing up, I was never allowed to straighten it or wear extensions [or a] weave — it's always been in its natural state. My parents raised me in a really healthy, holistic environment, so natural hair was important. It wasn't easy growing up with this big, curly hair when my peers all had straight hair — I begged to be able to blow my hair out. In the end, it helped me grow into appreciating the value of natural beauty."

Was there a defining moment when you started to love your hair?
"I think when I was in high school and started to experiment more. I dyed it a honey-blond color. I still kind of stood out because it was big and curly, but I liked that I looked different."

More and more women are starting to embrace their natural coils. How do you feel about this newfound movement? How do you see it evolving?
"I think it's cool. I feel like women should wear their hair however they feel most comfortable and confident, though. I am not against 'the movement,' but I find it a bit silly that it has to be defined as such. Why can't women just wear their hair how they want?"
16 of 19
What’s your favorite part about being natural, and what’s the hardest part?
"I like that I don't have to go to the hair salon often, and I can just wake up and go most days. The hardest part would be learning the texture of my hair and what products will and won't work. Every now and then, I try a new product, but it's rare that I notice something making an actual difference."

What are your go-to products?

"Giovanni is the only conditioner I use, and Oyin Handmade is my moisturizer. One of my best girlfriends also put me onto using apple-cider vinegar, so I've been using that as an alternative to shampooing."

How, if at all, is your natural hair an expression of your personal style?
"My hair has definitely taken on its identity, but not intentionally. It's different from the norm, so that combined with my style of dress makes for a very unique look."

What’s some of the best hair advice you’ve ever received?
"Do what makes you feel comfortable — don't let your hair define you."

What advice would you give to women struggling to accept their hair and wanting to embark on their own journeys?

"Learn what works for you and be patient."
17 of 19
Julee Wilson, Senior Fashion Editor At The Huffington Post

Tell us a little history of your journey with your hair. Have you always embraced your hair type, or did it take time?
"The relationship with my hair has always been quite complicated. Growing up in predominately white neighborhoods and schools, I was constantly in pursuit of silky, shiny, blows-in-the-wind, 'white-girl' hair. Eek! I cringe to think about my ignorance in retrospect. However, I understand now that I wasn’t hating on my own hair — I was simply trying to fit in.

"I spent a few years — between the ages of 12 to 14 — chemically straightening my hair, but that only damaged it. So I started to heat-straighten or wear braided extensions to protect my natural hair. After graduating college, I moved to New York City and made sure my hair was heat-straightened at all times so I could get a job. Yup, it’s that serious. As a Black woman, I learned that even my hairstyle could keep me from getting a job. Once I landed my first full-time gig, I still wasn't fully comfortable unleashing my curls, so I kept them sleek and straight."

Was there a defining moment when you started to love your hair?
"My 'aha' moment was four and half years ago, when I started working at The Huffington Post. I think it was a combination of simply growing up and working in such a liberal and creative work environment that helped me embrace my curls. And when I first started at the company, I was the style and beauty editor for the Black Voices section, so working with other Black people played a huge role in giving me the confidence and comfort of wearing my hair in its naturally curly state. I still occasionally straighten my hair or wear braids — but that is what’s so dope about Black hair...the versatility."

More and more women are starting to embrace their natural coils. How do you feel about this newfound movement? How do you see it evolving?
"I think it’s beautiful. Our hair is magical. One moment it can be as smooth and straight as a board, and in the blink of an eye it can transform into a glorious halo of curls. The natural hair movement is a reflection of that beauty — and it’s not only brought Black women together around celebrating our hair, but it’s also an uplifting of our sisterhood. It goes far beyond vanity. Sure, loving the way we look is part of it, but I believe that this act of self-acceptance will only continue to encourage more fellowship and support amongst Black women in general."
18 of 19
What’s your favorite part about being natural, and what’s the hardest part?
"The best part is truly believing that I’m beautiful, despite what the world’s beauty standards may dictate. Plus, my husband thinks it's hot! Oh, and not having to worry about sweating out my press or scheduling my workouts around straight hairstyles. Amen!

"I think the hardest part is deciding which fun looks I want to try. There are so many awesome natural-hairstyle video tutorials that inspire me."

What are your go-to products?
"I’m obsessed with Hair Rules products (Cleansing Cream, Quench Conditioner, Curly Whip, etc.) and the man behind them, Anthony Dickey. I consider Dickey my hair whisperer, and make sure to get a cut and some much-needed mane TLC from him at the Hair Rules salon every three months. Beyond Hair Rules, my hair also loves Oyin Handmade’s Hair Dew, as well as anything in the Monoi collection from Carol’s Daughter."

How, if at all, is your natural hair an expression of your personal style?
"My hair is an amazing accessory to my personal style. It’s a piece of the puzzle — of the overall look. I love manipulating it into different shapes based on what I’m wearing."

What’s some of the best hair advice you’ve ever received?
"Don’t covet other people’s hair. Love your own tresses. Our hair is one of the most unique aspects of ourselves. Obsessing over someone else’s curl pattern or texture is wasted energy. Put that effort towards loving yourself."

What advice would you give to women struggling to accept their hair and wanting to embark on their own journeys?
"Have fun! Hair is a hoot. Don’t take yourself or your hair journey so seriously. Enjoy the process of getting to know how your hair naturally grows out of your head, and know that there are so many others doing the same. I’ve had a blast falling in love with my hair, and you can too!"
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