These curls have a story and life of their own. While this post is unrelated to my typical food content, I have been wanting to share my journey with curly hair because I know so many people are navigating this experience, too. I have spent almost 25 years trying to figure out to how detangle, style, tame, cut, color and de-frizz this mane of mine. It only took half a century and I’m still always learning, but I’m so excited to share my curly hair story with you.
The question I get asked most often: “What are you?” What people usually mean with this is, “What the heck is your ethnicity? Why are you so white but have super curly hair?” My dad is 100% Cuban and my mom’s side of the family is a mix of Irish, German and Norwegian. My dad keeps his black hair pretty short and my mom had thick wavy hair. Somehow the combo resulted in these blonde ringlets!
When I was born, I had bleach blonde hair with some wave and curl to it, and as I got older, my hair got progressively curlier with more kinks and ringlets. So many of my baby and toddler pictures show this crazy blonde hair going in a million directions. My poor mom had no idea what on earth to do with my curls. I remember as I got older I tried stylist after stylist trying to find someone who knew what they were doing.
You name the trend – I’ve tried it. From getting my hair “thinned” to someone cutting layers underneath the top half of my hair, to using mousse, gel, hairspray, hot rollers…anything for the sake of taming the curls. During fifth grade I rocked the “triangle” look; I had no layers and my hair would dry flat at the top and pointing out at the bottom. Right around the exceptionally awkward years of middle school, I was just convinced that if I slicked it back with enough gel it would just STAY. My cousin, Gretchen, gave me blonde highlights and I will never forget my cousin walking in and saying, “Gabs, your hair looks like ramen noodles!”
“Gabs, your hair looks like ramen noodles!”
In high school I began to embrace my brand of curly hair. I even gave my freshman student council speech about how my hair makes me qualified! While I was hesitant to break out of my safety zone, I agreed to give Ouidad products and hair cutting a try. Ouidad has a system of cutting and carving curls, plus their products locks out humidity for frizz-free curls. I had to lose some serious inches, but the cut totally transformed the way I thought about my curly hair. I learned how to wash, comb, section, apply product and diffuse my curls to make them defined. Their Climate Control gel changed my life! Finally for the first time, I felt actually confident about controlling and understanding my curls.
When I moved to Indiana two years ago, I decided to give Deva Curl a try since the Ouidad salons were limited. I found an awesome Deva Curl certified-stylist and she also colors my hair gorgeously for the curl pattern. Deva Curl’s products are more budget friendly and also give my curls softer definition. I use their shampoo and conditioner, along with their Ultra Defining Gel. I firmly believe color is so important for curly hair and I love the color I have now. Highlights give the curls dimension and give life to the overall shape.
There are a few little things that have played a big part in life with curly hair. I have been sleeping on silk pillow cases since I was about three years ago. They help keep frizz away from your curls, plus they’re amazing for your skin! I always keep a wide pick comb in the shower. I do not own a brush or use hairspray. Shower caps get me through the week since I only wash my hair every five or so days! A diffuser is an absolute must for your blowdryer. I travel with a collapsable one like this. I’ll say it once and I’ll say it again, but a good product that works for your hair is everything. My friends know that I have a cycle for my curls and even wrote an article about it here. (Day two hair is the best. Find out why!)
The biggest thing I have learned about curly hair is that you HAVE to embrace it! When I was growing up, I felt like I never saw anyone in my family, on TV, in books or magazine who had my hair. Now, you can scroll through Instagram and the bigger the curls, the better! I love and believe in the community of curly girls. It’s truly a sisterhood.
I love and believe in the community of curly girls. It’s truly a sisterhood.
Everyone has had an opinion about my hair at some point. Why is it so big? It looks really frizzy. It should be blonder. You should go natural. Do you ever straighten it? It looks unprofessional. Good luck getting a job on television.
Curly hair can be a source of insecurity or I think it can help you stand out. The truth is that all that matters is that I feel confident with your hair. My big curls match my personality and are completely a part of my identity. Yes, it’s big. Yes, it is sometimes frizzy. I wouldn’t change a thing.
If you’re feeling hesitant about your natural hair or haven’t quite figured out what to do with it, I relate to you! Comment below or message me on Instagram (@gourmet_gab) and let’s talk.
Love food. Love self. Love life.