Kristy Ramos, Fairy Curl Mother

In 2017, I had the amazing opportunity to have Kristy Ramos, a naturally curly hair specialist and stylist, cut about six inches of my hair…curled (which translates to about 10 inches of straight hair. Real math, I swear!). Not nearly enough to be a big chop—but a chop nonetheless— this was the beginning of my promise to love my natural, curly hair and to take care of it the right way. Kristy Ramos, nicknamed the Fairy Curl Mother, does more than cut hair—she educates you on it. From A1 to 4C, Kristy has helped countless naturals transition into loving their curls and here’s the inside scoop to how she does it all.

Her Campus South Carolina: You mentioned on your website that you went to the Deva Curl Academy in New York City. Can you tell me a little about your education there?

Kristy Ramos: Yeah! I went to the DevaCurl Academy in 2013 and I did that when I was apprenticing at a salon, so I wasn’t even a full stylist at that point. I had to get that certification in order to get a chair there, so I got the opportunity to go to DevaCurl and that was cool. That helped me meld together what I was already self-taught as far as working with curls. DevaCurl helped me bring stuff together like, ‘Oh, this is why I do this, this is why this works and maybe this doesn’t.’

HCSC: What is your inspiration behind working with curly hair specifically?

KR: I grew up as a curly-haired person and a person of color that’s multi-racial. I think when I really pursued going into hair school, I would always be that person that others would come to say, ‘Hey, what do you do with your curls?’ As a 10-year-old kid, I moved from Germany to the States, and my mom took me to the salon and it was a terrible experience. This guy was telling me how ugly my hair was and how terrible it was to work with. When we left, my mom told me, ‘So this is what we’re going to do: I’m going to let you do your own hair. I don’t ever want to take you to a salon again because I don’t want to see you go through that.’ So that feeling, that is what inspired me to go to hair school. I wanted to be a curly hair stylist even though people told me I couldn’t do it. People always told me I couldn’t make a living doing curly hair, and I’m one of those people that if you tell me I can’t do something, I’ll show you.

HCSC: Why do you think people with natural hair need emphasis on self-love and why do you think there’s a natural hair movement altogether?

KR: I think the natural hair movement is one of those things that no one really got until years ago. Everyone’s like, ‘Oh, it's just hair,” but I think it goes deeper than that because when we love ourselves, that shows on the outside. It makes us feel good, especially being a curly-haired person going into a salon. The experience of having curly hair is so different from the experience of people with straight hair, and I see it still to this day. It’s so important for the natural hair movement to not only be about the hair but to also be about creating the spaces where people feel comfortable to be themselves. That’s where the empowerment piece comes from. For me, being a woman of color and an educator in the industry, it shows that the natural hair movement is not just natural hair, but it is about making people feel loved and empowered and good in your chair.

HCSC: Speaking of your own chair, what made you go independent and start your own business?

KR: It was really hard to make that decision because I was with Rock Paper Scissors since they opened and I started out my career there and they support everything that I do and because of my transitions in my own life, I think I lost focus of what I really wanted to do which was educate more, travel more, and make sure I create a peaceful space for myself so I can work my best with my clients. I went back and forth and finally I told my friend, Danielle, and she was super supportive and that made my transition a lot easier.

HCSC: What is your favorite part about owning your own business now?

KR: Oh, gosh, so much! Like today, I was decorating again. I got sunflowers and plants, and it gets me thinking about what is my vision? When I first came in here, there was nothing and I got the freedom to decorate it however I want to. I want it to be real clean and also as bright as I can keep it so I had to bring the light in.

HCSC: What do you think is the next step for you and your business?

KR: One day, if I can educate for the most part and work behind the chair a little bit, I feel like that’s becoming doable. I love working behind the chair and I definitely love to teach other stylists, too, because I’m not going to live forever and I need to pass this down. Creating a curriculum, like in a book or online stuff, that’s a big thing for me, too.

HCSC: What are some tips to maintain curls after a big chop?

KR: You have to get on a regiment of trimming your hair. Just because you want to grow it out after a big chop or a regular chop, don’t think you can’t go without cutting your ends. Call it a shaping if it makes you feel better, but you have to get your hair trimmed every 3-4 months, wavier hair like mine, maybe five but six is pushing it. You have to deep condition and clarify at least once a month, too. Using high-quality products is important as well, and there’s a lot of products out there that’s price friendlier.

HCSC: What are some hair myths you hear about frequently?

KR: Co-washing. I compare it to washing dirty dishes with cold water. If you’re going to co-wash all the time and you never shampoo your hair, a) you’re going to build it up, b) you’re going to build it up so much that water can’t get into your hair, and c) your hair is going to be extra dry. Another big one is castor oil. Oh, my gosh, it’s not scientifically proven to make the hair grow. Castor oil is going to build too much on the hair, it’s like motor oil. Between coconut oil and castor oil, those are both not best for your hair unless it's done in a very refined way in a product. One more is rice water. Is it good to do? I mean, I think it’s a personal thing. If you want to do it, do it but it will make your scalp smell funny, it smells like a sour rice smell. I think there are so many products made to help with hair growth vs someone using rice water. I’m not against it, but buying higher quality products, deep conditioning and clarifying your hair, keeping up with your regiment of trims and feeding your body good things, that to me matters more than rice water.

HCSC: Do you have any advice for any college women seeking professions in the beauty or hair industry?

KR: If you have a passion for what you’re studying in school, have a hobby. To some people, hair is a hobby but use that hobby to make money. Do people’s hair, their eyebrows, or their makeup. I think it’s something you have to have an interest in, just do it and do it well. YouTube is great for some of that stuff, make a YouTube page. Some of my clients actually do that that are in college, they have their own YouTube pages and I would do that, too, if I was young.