By Katelyn Joyce, Class of 2018
Class was in session and all was well until random students decided to throw their hurtful words towards her. She was used to them picking on her and when they tugged on her curly hair, it hurt her feelings and made her feel insecure. It wasn’t until college that she started to embrace her differences and her natural hair pattern.
“It’s very difficult to self love when you aren’t satisfied with yourself naturally…I went from only ever wanting my hair straight to never wanting it straight,” says 23-year-old Samantha Joseph from Bayonne, New Jersey.
According to a study conducted by Mintel, natural hair has become more popular and sales on relaxers have dropped 26% since 2008. Less women are purchasing straightening products and taking the more natural route when it comes to their hair. The leading cause for this movement – self love and acceptance.
In an email interview, 27- year- old YouTube icon Bianca Renee from Los Angeles, California explains how she finds it interesting when people ask her how long she has been going natural. Since relaxing curly hair has become normal in today’s society, that question is now normal to ask as well.
“ It has become expected that if you have curly hair, that you once didn’t like it, that you once tried to hide it, and that alone is kind of sad when you think about it. I am one of the few people that have always been natural and that often is shocking to most people. But should it be shocking to always have loved your hair? Is it shocking that I’ve always rocked the hair that has grown out of my head? This way of thinking really says a lot about the natural hair culture and this is why I think it’s so great to see so many girls “going natural” because girls are finally appreciating what they we’re born with,” says Bianca Renee.
Bianca Renee started her Youtube channel BiancaReneeToday because she found curly hair products that changed her life forever and she couldn’t keep it a secret. Bianca wanted to use her own curl knowledge to help other curly girls and that lead to the success of her channel. She now has over one hundred thousand followers.
So what started this sudden but fierce new natural hair trend? For 21-year-old Saint Peter’s University student Alana Rodriguez, a spiritual journey that she underwent the summer before starting college, encouraged her, she said to be all that she is and who she is suppose to be.
“Aside from it being a trend now, many people never knew how to take care of their hair or what it really meant to be natural,” says Alana. “ Never give up. Don’t aspire to look like someone else. Instead groom yourself to be the best and most true “you”…embrace the puff!” she adds.
According to many in the curly haired community, there are few hair salons that specialize in curly hair and since the natural route has become such a trend, salons are now striving to become Devacurl certified.
Devacurl headquarters stated on their website that Devacurl began in 1994 when the first Devachan salon opened in New York City. Devachan stylists are stylist that are curl experts. Today, there are four flagship locations and more people are deciding to go to devacurl certified stylist as opposed to regular stylist.
Devachan salons are also known for only using Devacurl hair products that are sulfate, silicone, and paraben free, which are compounds that are harmful to all kinds of hair especially curly hair. According to a study conducted by Dr. Joseph Mercola, laundry detergents contain sodium lauryl sulfate which coincidently, is also one of the main ingredient in most shampoos.
Dr. Mercola states in his article entitled Are You Poisoning Your Household With this Chore? “The detergent you’re using may contain a cocktail of potent cancer-causing chemicals, some of which the manufacturer doesn’t even have to list on the label…One of the worst offenders are Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS)/sodium laureth sulfate (SLES).”
These harmful ingredients are not only found in laundry detergent but also in many shampoos like Pantene, L’oreal, and Head and Shoulders. This is also one of the leading causes for more women taking the natural route. They want to eliminate all harmful chemicals that are found in hair products and relaxers.
Iris Campechano, 24, is a Devacurl certified hairstylist who works at Jersey Curl Salon in Cliffside, New Jersey. She also has curly hair herself. Iris tells her clients about her own personal hair journey and encourages them to accept their curls for who they truly are.
“I had my hair relaxed for ten years before I even knew I had curly hair. When I did transition to my natural curls, it was a constant battle over what’s right, if it looks good, or if I should have stuck with my relaxer I was a stylist doing straight hair while growing out her natural curls. I found myself at a salon specializing in natural curly hair in New York City (Devachan). I knew I wanted to be a part of it.” says Iris.
Iris has now been a hairstylist for curly girls for about a year and a half.
This natural hair trend has impacted people of all ages from pre-teens, to grown adults with families of their own as well as people of all races not just African Americans. When asked how she feels about her curly/ wavy hair 13 year old Krystal Zaragoza responded,
“ My mom taught me to just be who you are and don’t try to fit in. I love my curls because it is a part of who I am. “ I don’t care if people don’t like my hair. As long as I like it that’s all that matters. Waves are part of my Puertorican genes. It’s who I am.”
Helen Kerin, age 38, from Dominican Republic says, “ I think it’s liberating and ‘in’ to be different. Natural hair is beautiful and there are many support systems out there to help one transition and still feel confident.”