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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Rowan chapter.

One of my favorite self-care activities to partake in is hair care. I have naturally curly hair and my curl patterns have always varied. As a child, I always rocked either a mini fro, bangs, or a high bun to elementary school. I have had a rough hair journey and never appreciated my hair until I was in high school. I remember in middle school I would use all types of heat on my hair whether it was a blow dryer, a straightener, or a curler just to make it look decent and put together. From this, you can infer that I had felt ashamed of my natural hair back then. I was ashamed to the point that it negatively impacted my self-confidence because bad hair days outweighed my luscious hair days.

Over the years I have come to realize that a mix of curl patterns is super common. Freshman year of college my hair was around type 3a & 3b hair. Now it is between 2c and 3a hair. My change in curl pattern has definitely been due to my combing style, products, haircuts, trims, and all else. I have been stalling since last summer and have not figured out my hair porosity just yet, which I think would be so helpful once I do. Summer is usually a very frustrating season for me because of the climate change and humidity. Humidity tends to result in me having to put my hair up when that’s already an issue because of my heavy shedding. Although my hair looks super fleeky in a high bun or ponytail, my scalp hates those styles because of the tight hair pulling from the root. Even if I leave the scrunchy a bit loose, my hair doesn’t stay how I want it to. If I let my hair be, I wouldn’t have to worry about tension headaches from tight head wear. Another con about putting my hair up is that there is no going back unless I find a way to style it, but even then I don’t want my hair to go too far unwashed. Then when wash day arrives, it is also an issue for me because my hair is usually flat from the roots after combing it outward. Although my hair tends to look the best on wash day since it is freshly cleansed, I refuse to wash or do my hair every single day because that’s extremely unhealthy and I’d be striping away the natural oils and moisture. I absolutely love air-drying, but it’s another issue within itself because of how time-consuming it is.

I haven’t worn my hair in a completely natural state outside of my home, otherwise, I would literally look like a lion who just groomed itself. I still currently only use products for natural hair that work to style, reduce frizz, restore moisture, strengthen, define and treat my hair with lasting nourishment. The products that I use are vegan formulated with no animal testing, parabens, phthalates, mineral oils, petrolatum, sulfates, silicones, gluten, paraffin, propylene, and artificial colorants. I’m using fewer products now and sticking to the ones that work best for my hair. I used to do protective hairstyles on my hair all the time, but I just got so lazy over quarantine with my unmanageable hair and it honestly felt like a second job. I’ve decided to be patient and let it grow at its own pace by purchasing satin hair ties, pillowcases and bonnets. My hair is completely natural and I have never done anything professionally with it. The only coloring that I’ve put in my hair before was hair wax, which is always fun to use as an alternative for hair dyes that have harsh chemical substances in them. I went from a golden bright brown to a light purple. One of these days, I hope and plan on going to a hairstylist to do something different with my hair (no promises though because I look up to naturalistas).

Just recently I turned into a natural hair master class and learned that oil is not good for the hair. Oil is actually the #1 mistake when it comes to hair care. I found that to be crazy because it’s what I would mostly put on my hair for hair care days just so it could potentially grow quicker. Oils make it impossible to get curl definition which honestly makes sense as to why my experiences with them frustrated me. Oils have been preventing me from achieving moisturized curls because they do not hydrate, whereas water does hydrate the hair. This is true because every single time that I apply oil to my hair, it weighs it down and makes it flatter because my hair strands clump together. Oil creates a barrier on the hair and does not allow for water to get through the hair cuticles. Due to the fact that oil just sits on the hair, it causes products to build up as well. I have come to the realization that even when it comes to hair, both water and oil repel one another just like when cooking. The whole idea that oil moisturizes hair is a myth.

In addition, the #1 mistake on wash day that us curlfriends make costing us our curl definition is over-conditioning. Over-conditioning dries the hair out and makes curls lackluster. Knowing prior, such things as deep conditioners, hair masks, and oil treatments are not meant to be kept on longer than suggested. This means that keeping the products on overnight or using them twice a week for months at a time, can do more harm to our hair than good. Moreover, a deep conditioner should not be used as a leave-in conditioner or styled product since the agents in the ingredients are meant to be washed out at a certain point. My hair definitely struggles with moisture, so on some days it is dry and frizzy and has almost little to no curl definition. From the master class, I was also able to learn the new 4-Step System that makes caring for my natural hair easy! It is as follows:

  1. fully cleansing
  2. condition
  3. detangle
  4. style & protect

The old way used to be as follows:

  1. pre-poo
  2. cleanse
  3. deep condition
  4. condition
  5. detangle
  6. leave-in
  7. oil
  8. styling cream
  9. gel
  10. style & protect

This was way more extra and expensive to go through with the entire process. I’m definitely going to do more of this 4-step system routine from here on!

Currently, I am following through with my New Year’s resolution of growing my hair out in hopes of getting some real length with little to no trims. I don’t expect the results of this goal to look super ravishing because the longer I grow my hair out, the looser the curls from the middle are. This is mainly because the strands are being pulled down with bouncier curls appearing on the ends, whereas the shorter I maintain my hair, the more coily ringlets there are all around. Even with all of this, I would say that my best feature has to be my hair because people usually recognize me by my hair from a distance (now sure how though)! I personally wouldn’t say my hair is too breathtaking unless I try, but others would say otherwise and I appreciate that! To anyone who’s ever given me a compliment on my hair, thank you because I almost gave up on my hair journey a while ago! Even though I struggle with my hair to this day, I have shown my hair more love and appreciation than ever before! Don’t give up on your hair journey curlfriends!

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Rowan '22

Destiny is currently enrolled in Columbia University's MFA Writing program. She is a national writer at Her Campus and the former editor-in-chief of Her Campus Rowan. She likes thrifting, romance novels, cooking shows, and can often be found binging documentaries.