Curly Essence: In the world we live, is it easy be true to yourself?
Ciomara: We are educated to show others what they want to see and not what we are. I think this ends up becoming conditioned throughout our adult life, because most people don’t know where to fit a person. It’s like a game to keep our identity without getting lost.
As we grow, we go through several phases. Two of them are shame and self-acceptance. I started with the shame of being different, but I ended up accepting the difference and realize that today it is thanks to it that I have been growing and achieving my goals. Herd syndrome is not for me. But, I had many inner struggles before I reached this point.
In the morning when you look in the mirror, and your hair screams “I woke up like this?” how do you prepare it for the bustle of everyday life?
Normally, I put it in two or three braids and sleep with a cap on, and that’s supposed to protect my hair at night. What I do when I wake up depends on the work I have that day. If I’m on a production where my hairdresser, Bruno Vicente, will be present, I do nothing. If I’m on my own, I use Revlon’s Equave line, shake and let it dry naturally so the curls are more defined. I also wear many turbans and scarves. I started to use them on lazy days, and came to realize it’s a beautiful look that goes well with most of my outfits. I have two drawers full of them. From the moment I realized all the possibilities of my hair, I’ve never been content with one hairstyle.
Are you always worried about having your curls in perfect shape, or are you more of the “let it be” philosophy?
I love letting it be, but it tangles a lot, and that’s the reason I use oil and the Equave line. But, on the beach, I don’t care. I let it do what it wants.
Have you found the perfect product or does the search continue?
I’ve found several. For years, I used the brand “Gota Dourada.” I use the shampoo, mask (I never use rinse-out conditioners because they never actually soften my hair), and tonic for growth. There are variations on the strength and it smells great. I also use several brands that are only sold in stores for African hair.
Compared to the U.S. market, the European — and especially the Portuguese market — are greatly lacking in products for our hair types. How and where can you get the products that are part of your routine?
For more serious treatments, I have my own hair stylist. Having a reliable person that knows your hair helps a lot. Once a week (when possible) I spend about three hours under his hands and still I don’t know what he does, but the results are terrific.
Are there any other daily product secrets you can share with us?
My hair has no volume, only length. But, because I really love volume, I sometimes add tic-tac hair bands to achieve the volume that I want. And, I feel beautiful!
How do you feel when people approach you on the street and ask questions about your hair?
When I’m approached by people with kinky hair, I am very happy because I know I’ll learn something. Otherwise I don’t like it, because there is always a tendency to touch to feel my hair’s texture and see whether it’s all mine. This annoys me a lot. You can look, but you can’t touch!
What are the worst hair mistakes you’ve made? What advice would you give to anyone about to try to get rid of their curls?
Maybe when I stretched my hair. I did it because straightened hair takes much less work than curls. To the ladies who want to keep their natural hair, you must have patience. Sometimes it seems it won’t grow, and there are days when you just feel like running to the nearest store and buy any chemical to smooth your hair. When this happens to me, I like to use a similar wig with my afro hair type and take a deep breath. I even started using it for work, because most fashion and television hairdressers in Portugal don’t know how to deal with kinky or curly hair. So, I continue to wear my hair type; however, a wig has no personality and is always perfect. Natural, kinky hair depends on the humidity, the sun — even your state of mind. Also, a rule, the straight look never lasts more than two weeks. After that, nostalgia hits.
Ciomara Morais photographed by Simon Frederick