Lesley Buckle is best known for her blog FreshLenghts.co and for being the Asos Insider! We have been following Lesley’s natural hair journey for ages through her social media and today, please grab a cup of tea and get to know from her curly hair tips to style secrets.
Curly Essence: Tell us a bit about the history of your curly hair….
Lesley Buckle: I had chemically-treated hair from about the age of 5, so until the past year, my natural curls were non-existent. I’ve had my hair permed (wavy), relaxed and I dabbled in ‘texlaxing’ too (using a relaxer to loosen curls rather than straightening them completely). When I first relaxed my hair I was pretty much-doing everything possible wrong – my hair was overprocessed and limp and I’d run a flat iron over it sometimes as many as 3 times a day so it was stick straight! I did eventually start taking better care of it and managed to grow it out to my waist but I started to tire of having roots to touch up.
Curly Essence: How long did you find yourself in the transition process – Transitioning to Natural – and why you made this decision?
Lesley Buckle: It was an unintentional transition at first. I just decided I wasn’t going to use a relaxer for at least a year (I used to wait 5-6 months between touch-ups) and a year came and went. It was then that I thought transitioning and abandoning the relaxer entirely might actually be a possibility. I think my transition was roughly 18 months in total. I had mid back length hair whilst I was transitioning so I chopped it off gradually – about a few inches every few months. The last of my chemically-treated ends were chopped off in May 2016 and I haven’t looked back since.
Curly Essence: What is the hardest part of your transition?
Lesley Buckle: I think the hardest part was just accepting my hair for what it was. My roots were so thick, easily tangled and drier than my straighter ends. I felt like I was fighting against it and initially, I tried to make the roots match the ends with frustrating results. When I started making the ends curly to match the roots instead that took the struggle of managing different textures out of it.
Curly Essence: Are you always worried about in having your curls in perfect shape, or are you more of an apologist of the “let it be”?
Lesley Buckle: At first I fell into the category of wanting my curls to be perfect as my hair never looked defined – just bushy – and I wasn’t sure what I was doing with it. Now I know how to style it but the biggest joy of having curly hair is it that it can be wild and there’s something freeing about that so most of the time I let it do what it wants.
“I think the hardest part was just accepting my hair for what it was.”
Curly Essence: Is there a secret that you can share concerning your curly hair?
Lesley Buckle: I guess my ‘secret’ is styling my hair wet whilst I’m in the shower – it’s not as messy and I use less product. I also regularly use a deep conditioner to keep my curls hydrated as I can be really lazy with moisturizing between washes.
Curly Essence: How do you see this new “back to our roots” movement?
Lesley Buckle: I think it’s beautiful when we can unapologetically be ourselves and make our own choices about how we wear our hair – whether it’s straight or curly. I think the “back to our roots” movement is growing bigger and social media is a huge driving force. When I was younger I was surrounded by people that didn’t look like me. Most of my friends and family had straight hair and no one in the media (like magazines and on TV) looked like me either. Knowledge on how to care for curly hair was sparse too. For years I felt like I had to have straighter hair to ‘fit in’, so I did. Now there’s several blogs, websites and pages on social media platforms dedicated to curly haircare and celebrating the afro and I love that.
Curly Essence: What products do you recommend and can’t live without?
Lesley Buckle: I really love brands like Shea Moisture, KeraCare and As I Am so they’re what I always end up recommending people try! I can’t live without conditioners and if there’s only one product I could have that’s it.
Curly Essence: What were the worst mistakes you made? And what advice would you give to anyone who wants to venture out and embrace their curls?
Lesley Buckle: My mistakes were mostly neglecting my hair and still expecting it to look good. Hair needs to be nurtured to flourish and keeping curls hydrated is key. Moisturise regularly if you can, use a deep conditioner, avoid using stripping shampoos often and try not to overuse heat.
Curly Essence: What’s the best thing about being curly?
Lesley Buckle: The best thing has been feeling freer and accepting of myself as I am. I used to have a very polished look when I had relaxed hair but with curly hair, I feel less of a need to present perfection.
Photos from: Mike Burchardt – @burchardtlens