Although there’s nothing unnatural about curly hair, due to generational social stigmas, many women feel that restoring their curl pattern could be problematic. Society has been “brainwashed into thinking European features are the epitome of beauty,” so when it comes to curlies, they are often seen as deranged, unprofessional, and messy.
In recent years, curly-haired females and femmes have begun taking a stand against hair discrimination and are proudly transitioning and rocking their natural, bouncy manes.
We can all agree that every transition, whether it is a hair texture or a move to a new home, is a process that requires a lot of commitment and patience. The journey might have its ups and downs but once we arrive at the destination the satisfaction is priceless.
Carolina Contreras, the Dominican founder of Miss Rizos Salon — the only hair salon in Washington Heights, New York dedicated specifically to curly hair care without the application of chemicals or heat — debunked to BELatina News the myth of the natural-haired woman spending hundreds of dollars in hair products and countless hours applying them.
“It is a myth! I brush my hair once a week,” revealed Contreras explaining her weekly routine. “I wash and section my hair. I apply the product and style my hair and then I don’t refresh, touch or brush. People think we need to be on top of the hair all the time, but it is not a fact.”
“I also want to clarify that just because a product is expensive doesn’t mean it works,” she added, recommending Suave Professional for natural hair, a line that includes nutrient-rich formulations tested in a community of over 5,000 natural haired women, guaranteeing nourished curls, coils, and waves.
According to Contreras, her transition was a “liberating process” that helped her to enjoy every chapter of her hair journey. “I started my transition with Suave Coconut,” she said. “It was my favorite conditioner because it was inexpensive and I could easily detangle my hair.”
“I know people think that having curly hair in corporate America is unprofessional, but this is far from reality,” she insisted. “Curly hair is totally formal and perfectly fits in any event, whether it is a wedding or a job interview. We demonstrate our professionalism with our talent and the way we act, not how a curl pattern comes out from our scalp,” she continued.
The expert also revealed that opening her hair salon in Washington Heights, one of the northernmost reaches of Manhattan where the community of Afro-Latinas is predominantly high, was a way to share with her community “information, resources, and options of services and products” dedicated to unprocessed or natural hair.
The curly-haired community rejoiced when Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the bill issued by The New York City Human Rights Law (“NYCHRL”) that protects New Yorkers of African, African-American, Afro-Caribbean, or Afro-Latin-x/a/o descent (or otherwise having African or Black ancestry) from discrimination on the basis of their “natural hair or hairstyles that are closely associated with their racial, ethnic, or cultural identities.” But Contreras believes that to become an inclusive and tolerant society, we need more than legislation. “How we and other communities react to curly hair is how we are going to start changing the perception of it,” she said.
Contreras wants to continue her mission “one curl at a time” and is willing to collaborate with Dominican hair salons and educate hairdressers on how to treat curly hair and how to encourage females to start their big transition. “I think it is problematic that Miss Rizos is the only hair salon for curlies in Washington Heights and Inwood; I consider this as an opportunity to open the doors and give females other options,” she continued, adding that she doesn’t consider them as enemies or rivals.
The entrepreneur also shared with BELatina News steps to start your transition and recover your natural curl pattern.
Step 1: Courage!
“The first step is a job that is done internally,” said Contreras. “Look yourself in the mirror and discover who you are and how you feel. This is going to help you especially during those days when your hair pattern is not looking the way you imagined.”
Step 2: Diet
“Your hair needs a diet from heat and chemicals,” advised the expert. “If you want curly hair you need to stop using flat irons, blowers, curling wands, and relaxers.”
Step 3: Choose an Option
“Decide if you are going to do the long transition or the big chop,” said Contreras. “Many females let their hair grow a little and cut off all of their relaxed hair.” Others prefer to let their hair grow long and never use hot tools and relaxers.
Step 4: Conditioning
“Make sure you are deeply moisturizing your hair every week, so the new hair and the chemically treated one stay strong and healthy and you can avoid hair breakage,” advised Contreras.
Step 5: Find a Routine
“You need to stick to a routine that doesn’t bore you or get you tired,” she said. “I recommend Suave Professionals Nourish & Strength Leave-In Conditioner, formulated to deeply moisturize dry/damaged hair.” Based on how voluminous you want your hair, the expert suggests using the Moisturizing Curl Conditioner or the Gel Oil. “After applying you can braid or twist your hair to help the hair to find its pattern,” she added.
Step 6: Sleep in Silk or Satin
“Make sure you go to bed wearing a silk or satin-lined cap or use a silk pillowcase,” she said, adding that this will protect your hair and will make it look shiny and beautiful the whole time.
“This is a very personal decision and sometimes we don’t make the first step because we are afraid of other people’s opinions,” Contreras said. “It is important to have confidence and remember that your hair belongs to you, it is part of your body and you have the absolute right to make any decision with your own body. I really want to encourage you to love yourself the way you are.”
Contreras concluded our talk by adding that you can definitely use a diffuser and a hood dryer to make your curls dry faster. According to her, this is a safer way to streamline the drying process since both tools don’t use high heat.