Tips That Helped Me Fully Embrace My Curly Hair

It seems like all my life, my friends with curly hair wanted straight hair and my friends with straight hair wanted curly hair. And while applying heat to curly hair is known to be damaging, the allure to tame your tresses was one of media's biggest messages when it came to hair while I was growing up in the late '90s through early 2000s. Volume is great, but frizz is bad... and I am just left scratching my head.

As a kid born into a 100 percent Italian-American family, I never understood why I was born with straight blonde hair and blue eyes when everyone else in my family had dark, thick curly hair and brown eyes. My sister teased me about being adopted and I kinda wondered if she was right. As I got older, my hair got darker, but it was still stick straight. My mom got it cut into a bowl cut which didn't help matters. I longed for the big curly hair that everyone else in my family had. When I hit puberty, it seemed like overnight my hair turned from super straight to a tangled curly mess. My curly hair dream came true — and all I wanted was the ease of straight hair back.

The cliche "you always want what you don't have" has rang true for me when it comes to my hair. But these days, embracing my hair is just as much a part of my self love journey as learning to love my body. I still have days where I wake up and wish I had the patience/time/tools to straighten my hair but other days, I wake up happy to have my curly locks. There's been a few products, tips, and tricks that I've learned to help me have more days than not when I love my curly hair.

1. Free Of The Bad Stuff

When it comes to picking a shampoo and conditioner, I feel like I always went in blind to what was actually good for my hair and just picked what was most in budget. And while I've found some great budget shampoos and conditioners to use just when I travel, my current obsession is a little more indulgent for a bunch of reasons. DevaCurl products contain no sulfates, parabens, silicones, paraffin, mineral oil, and phthalates. I use their famous No Poo Cleanser, though it took me a while to get used to because it doesn't lather like a traditional shampoo. I follow up with the One Condition. Both products smell so good and leave my hair feeling hydrated too.

2. Brush It Out

My number one frustration with my hair is tangles. I have struggled with unmanageable matted bits, knots, and tangles since my hair first became curly. I gauge when I need a haircut not based on a certain amount of time passing since my last cut but rather based on when I am just too frustrated to comb out my own curls and paying someone else to do it feels like the only option. Whenever I would tell people about my the tangles or would someone would point them out, their response would always just be to brush it. But brushes and curly hair typically don't mix. Combs just didn't always have the power to get the tangles out when it was wet. But then I discovered the Wet Brush designed specifically to tackle tangled wet hair. I didn't have to break comb teeth trying to battle my tangles anymore.

3. Skip The Towel Dry

I take a very minimal amount of time when it comes to my beauty routine. Towel drying was always my preference over diffusing my hair with a blow dryer, but I had no idea that towel drying damages hair. My stylist once recommended using an old t-shirt to dry my hair instead of a towel. She said that the cotton fibers are much more gentle on your hair than the towel. Switching for the towel to the tee may seem like a hard habit to stick to but, since it requires no additional time, it's one that's been worth making for me.

4. Twist It Up

When I first heard about the Turbie Twist, I thought it was just another TV infomercial gimmick. But after I saw a bunch of my fellow curly haired plus size babes recommending it, I figured it was worth trying. I have long struggled with knotting any towel on my head. I often wake up with my hair still wet if I have showered the night before even with the t-shirt dry trick. The Turbie Twist solved both problems. Putting it on is a simple three-step process and since it's designed to be super absorbent, my hair is actually fully dry the next day.

5. Style It

I am forever battling my dry hair being too frizzy or overly greasy and finding the perfect balance is still a challenge. There are two styling products that are helping me learn to love my curls. The first is another DevaCurl product called Set It Free which you can use on wet or dry hair to lock in moisture and eliminate frizz. One thing I always did with products in spray bottles with mist it right onto my hair but I learned that it's better to spray it on your hand and work it through your hair with your hands.

I hate when styling products leave your curly looking crunchy, and one of the products I've discovered that never does that is Oribe Curl Shaping Mousse. Styling has always been a part of the process that I dreaded, but these two products make it a little more stress-free.

Having naturally hair can sometimes be unpredictable. It used to feel like a burden to me but I am learning to love whatever my hair throws my way. It's mine, and you gotta learn to love what makes you uniquely you.

Images: readytostare/Instagram; Alysse Dalessandro