Curly Essence: Tell us a little about the history of your curly hair…
Emma: I grew up with a white mum and with no contact with my black side of the family, and was left with this crazy, thick curly hair that neither my mum nor I knew what to do with. I grew up watching Disney movies fawning over the princesses long, straight, flowing hair, that looked nothing like mine. So after years of not feeling beautiful, when I just entered secondary school I relaxed my hair. I enjoyed my straight hair for a while, but the damage was done and my curls had not come back. I’ve spent the last 10+ after that realization, trying to bring my curls back, look after them and truly love my hair. (Spoiler: I achieved it all!)
Curly Essence: How long did you find yourself in the transition process – Transitioning to Natural – and why you made this decision?
Emma: It took me a good 4 years to transition to natural hair. It’s really funny because I can never pinpoint the moment or reason I made the decision to transition back. I just started to notice my hair was so damaged and thin, and I loved my hair so I didn’t want to damage it any further. I remember coming across the Curly Girl Method and being so intrigued that there was this community online with a wealth of information on how to really treat your curls. And since then I’ve loved trying so many different products!
Curly Essence: What is the hardest part of your transition?
Emma: The hardest part was the waiting. I didn’t do a big chop, so I had these limp curls with dead ends for ages, all the while I was so inspired by these curly girls online! And because I didn’t have my curls straight away I often felt the urge just to straighten my hair, so I had to really put it to the back of my mind and focus on the end results! Patience is key.
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”?
Emma: I am very much a perfectionist, I can be so picky but that is my Virgo side! I used to stress about frizzy hair but now that I am more comfortable in myself I don’t dwell on those frizzy bits and instead embrace them. My curls come out looking different every day, so being a perfectionist with curly hair is a nightmare.
“…we have always been taught to ‘fix’ or ‘cover-up’ what is not the Western standard of beauty..”
Curly Essence: Is there a secret that you can share concerning your curly hair?
Emma: My secret is that there is no secret. If you follow the Curly Girl Method, your hair will be healthy in no time. Experiment with products to find out what works best for you and your curls!
Curly Essence: How do you see this new “back to our roots” movement?
Emma: I love the natural hair movement! In a way it’s very feminist, it’s teaching women of all ages to love their natural selves when we have always been taught to ‘fix’ or ‘cover-up’ what is not the Western standard of beauty. It’s a girl power move that has also created a big gap in the market which women, especially of color, have seized and are really killing it out there.
Curly Essence: What products do you recommend and can’t live without?
Emma: Cantu Define & Shine Custard, has been a constant for me in my ever-changing hair routine, I review a lot of products so I’ve always got a new leave-in conditioner etc in my hair. Oldies but goodies have to be the Kinky Curly Knot Today, and Tresemme Naturals Conditioner and newbies Trepadora Curl Primer & Curly Ellie Conditioner.
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?
Cláudia: Probably the worst mistake I’ve ever made was relaxing my hair and coloring it a few days later. I was asking for a disaster and that’s exactly what I got. My advice would be ‘take advantage of the fact that we live in the social media era’. Right now there’s more information out there than ever, so take your time, do your research and start giving your hair some much needed tender, loving care.
Curly Essence: What’s the best thing about being curly?
Emma: Relaxing my hair was my worst mistake and straightening my hair every day without using hair protection spray! To really take care of your hair invest in a weekly hair mask, you don’t need to break the bank there are loads of DIY recipes that are also fun to do.
Photos by: @Emma_curls