I am so excited for this blog post and to share this news with you! A few months ago, I decided I wanted to diversify Curly Cailín. I didn’t want it to be just another “white-girl blog.” I wanted Curly Cailín to represent different skin tones, hair types, patterns and textures on this platform. To reflect the diversity of wavy, curly and kinky coily hair. So who better to bring on board and invite to as a new content creator for Curly Cailín, than the person who has the best ‘fro on the gram?! Introducing Lal…
I’ve been following and gushing over Lal’s hair since I started Curly Cailín over two years and 4.5 million hits ago! We’ve chatted, exchanged tips and advice, and grown a friendship over so much more than our curls. Her hair transformation and curl journey will take your breath away, just wait until you see the pictures! So here’s her story, I’ll let Lal introduce herself. And you can look forward to more content from her over the coming months. Let us know in the comments any questions you have, or anything you’d like her to cover.
Hey! I’m Lal, and I’m the natural hair, interiors, plants and coffee-obsessed blogger behind @CurlyGalLal on Instagram, where you can take a virtual trip through our home and jungle garden in Bristol UK. I live with my fiancé Jamie, our dogs, Molly and Willow. Bash the cat and two bunnies, Alice and Cecil – it’s quite the menagerie! My mantra has always been to make curl care easy, because realistically, we all have lives to get on with. Before I went natural, I lost so many hours to straightening the life (quite literally) out of my hair! I ditched the heat styling tools back in 2016, and now I’m a fully-converted naturalista!
My Curl Type
I have low porosity, type 3C-4A curls, and lots of it – so high density. My goal is to help encourage as many people to embrace, care for and love their natural texture as possible. Whether you’ve got waves, curls or coily-kinks, your hair is unique, beautiful and what makes you special. I want to help you navigate all things curly hair – I’ve got lots planned, but let me know in the comments what you’d like to see from me on Curly Cailín.
My Natural Hair Journey
I’d like to start by sharing my natural hair journey with you. I know it has helped inspire so many others to keep going on their own journey. As well as encouraging others to start theirs, so I hope it might inspire you too! So grab a cuppa and get comfortable!
In April 2016, debuting my new bleach blond ombre, I decided to go natural. I was 21 years old and had just left university after a really difficult, never-ending year. At the time, it felt like an act of defiance for just deciding to wear my hair natural! It had been ingrained in me for so long that my natural hair wasn’t going to be seen as ‘beautiful.’ Despite my concerns that I may receive negative feedback about ‘frizz’ or ‘unruly hair.’ Or that it wouldn’t be considered ‘professional’ at job interviews. I still chose to embrace this unique part of me that I had, until then, felt compelled to hide my whole life.
My Relaxed Hair
This whole ‘natural’ thing was new to me. My hair had been relaxed since I was 12 years old. And before then, who knows what looks my mum had given me?! I remember begging my mum to let me get the relaxer! I believed this was how to ‘deal’ with my hair texture. In our household, it was common for someone to come to your house and do your hair. I remember getting my very first relaxer and explicitly being told not to itch when it burns. And boy did it burn! And I was told not to worry about the intensely fishy odour, because that was normal too.
School Yard Compliments
I remember the next day at school so vividly! The influx of compliments from my peers, the people I looked up to. Little did I know that every single compliment that day, and from then on, stomped on any hopes of me ever feeling confident enough to love and embrace my natural hair in public. I feared that because it wasn’t smooth but frizzy, not straight but kinky, that it meant I wouldn’t be considered beautiful.
Of course this wasn’t the case. But I was a young, Black girl with a lot going on and desperate to fit in. “It’s so smooth” they would say and “wow so shiny!” I was showered with praise and all that my little brain interpreted was “wow, people think I’m really pretty when I straighten my hair”.
For the next nine years, I kept this up. Repeatedly straightening my hair into conformity, through tears of frustration, became my new normal. This is what everyone with my texture does, I reasoned. At the time, I truly believed that all that mattered was blending in with white people. That hiding my Blackness, as much as possible, would gain me acceptance. I grew up in Bath, a quaint historic, English town with a mostly white middle class population. So it wasn’t uncommon for me to be the only Black girl in most of my classes at school.
When I went natural, I thought a lot about my mum and how I wished she had taught me how to love my curls as a young girl. But my mum didn’t know any better. No one did back then, knowing what she knew about afro hair at the time, she did her best. Every day she sat me between her legs and brushed out my kinks, struggling to fit it all into an elastic without it snapping. Then for a final flourish, she would saturate my hair in Pink sheen spray as I shielded my eyes from the shower of grease.
If I could go back and do one thing, it would be to teach little Lal how to care for her curls. To explain to my mum that its okay to leave some conditioner in. Put the brush down, allow it to dry naturally. I know it would have saved a lot of headaches all round. Up until this year, my mum was still straightening her hair! She grew up in the seventies and used to straighten her hair with an actual clothes iron!!! Now though, I get to teach my mum about her hair, how to care for, love and embrace her hair. Every time I see her, she’s so excited to show me her progress, it’s really special.
Let’s fast forward to 21 year old me, ready to embark on this natural hair journey. So committed to the cause that I binned my new GHD’s (aka flat irons or hair straighteners). Which at the time, was huge for me! The following day, I did the ‘final wash’ – which I’d learned about from YouTube and blogs. I watched in awe as curls began to form around my head! It was the first time I saw myself, and I mean really saw myself.
Sure, it wasn’t quite the full revert-back-to-natural experience I had hoped for. As expected, a decade of mistreating my hair came back to bite me. But I don’t give up easily, and I wanted to finish what I started. My early transition curls resembled 3a/3b, because of the damage, they were looser than they are now. As my hair grew and the damage was removed, my true 3c-4a texture revealed itself.
Discovering the Curly Girl Method
Up until the time of my natural hair transition, my only reference point for ‘curls’ was Sarah Jessica Parker’s character Carrie from Sex and The City. Her hair blew my fricking mind! But I thought even her hair had been heat-tonged. So it’s no surprise that I didn’t even know I had curls. And the more I think about it, I didn’t have any idea that specific products existed for curl care, except those that claimed to ‘tame’ or ‘smooth’ them. It wasn’t until my sister-in-law said I’d look so cool with my natural hair that I began to dip my toes in the world of natural hair care. Then I came across the Curly Girl Method and a book by the creator, Lorraine Massey.
Beginning of April 2016, armed with bundles of enthusiasm, I went and purchased my first set of Shea Moisture products. The only visible and accessible brand to me at the time, that were stocked in one of the biggest beauty retailers in the UK. Though I eventually realised that these products didn’t serve me as well as others, they were my stepping stone into the curly girl method. And were a huge part of my experimental phase of finding myself.
When I got home I sat myself in front of my laptop, YouTube tutorial at the ready, looking in the mirror. For the next month, I experimented with my hair. I really got to know my hair and what it felt like. And that’s such an important step for anyone learning to embrace their natural hair. Because it’s your hair, unique to you. After two years of experimenting, trial, error and trimming away the damage, my hair had transitioned – or rather, transformed!
It wasn’t as smooth sailing as it sounds, there was a lot more to it that I’ll cover in future posts. Suffice to say, after transitioning I had a whole new texture and curl pattern to deal with! The hair I’d just spent the last two years getting to know, was now in the bin. The damage was gone, and my now healthy, fully transitioned hair was a whole new curl pattern and texture to learn how to embrace and care for! This was the next chapter of my journey, and one I’ll share with you on Curly Cailín, and over on my Instagram, @CurlyGalLal.
My Simple Tips for Starting
There’s a lot of information to take in when you go natural. So lets start with this: put in the time, don’t give up and take lots of pictures. Because it feels like such a slow, gradual process, the chances are you’ll miss the changes when they occur. Only noticing them when you look back. You won’t wake up after a couple days of ditching the heat with perfectly formed curls.
As Gabriella says, you didn’t damage your hair overnight, you’re not going to repair it overnight either. If you do ‘the big chop’ early on, sure – the transition is much faster, but that decision is up to you. I wasn’t bold enough because I knew I’d need to remove all of my hair in one go, so I opted for a long-term transition.
April 2020 marked my four year curl anniversary. You won’t believe me when I say it went pretty fast ! Though I’ll admit that it didn’t feel like that at the time. I won’t lie to you, it will be different to what you’ve been used to. But different doesn’t necessarily mean bad. And on the other side is beautiful, healthy curls! Going natural is more of a battle of will than anything else, because you have to want to do it for yourself.
Find Your Reason Why
What is your ‘why?’ Think about why you want to go natural, and hold onto that. Because it’s that reason that will keep you coming back, inspire you to keep going and not to give up. For me, I think in a rebellious way, I became exhausted with the constant effort to be my authentic self. To no longer hide behind hair that I felt was society’s way of telling me I could only beautiful in THAT way.
I also had this obsession with forever wanting to wear my hair down and swish it around like my friends. I never wore it down when it was straight because I was so scared of the humidity reverting my hair back to it’s natural state. Hair that I’d struggled so hard to straighten and relax into submission. Now I wear my hair down all the time and it feels so freeing to be authentically and unapologetically me, and my hair IS beautiful! Not to mention, I actually get to feel the wind in my hair now, which is something I’d never experienced before.
Thank you for listening to my story. I hope it’s given you some inspiration to embrace your natural waves, curls, kinks and coils. To become your own naturalista! Perhaps you’re thinking of starting out on your curl journey and don’t know where to begin – if so, check this post out.
Maybe you recently started the curly girl method and feel stuck in a rutt – check out Gabriella’s post on Following the Curly Girl Method, One Year On which tracks all the ups and downs of the first year embracing her natural waves and curls. Confused by all the different terminology and techniques? Check out this post if that’s you.
Or if you’ve reached the end of your transition, and the results aren’t what you had expected or hoped for, or now you’ve got a whole new texture and curl pattern to learn how to love, embrace and care for. I hope I can be a helpful resource and example on how you can achieve the most happy, healthy head of curls and leave the damage in the past, for good! Don’t forget to let me know in the comments what you’d like to see from me here on Curly Cailín. Don’t forget to subscribe! And in the mean time, you can check me out on Instagram, @CurlyGalLal
Until next time, Lal x