Natural Hair Journeys: Stories From Our Favorite Charities

Every woman has a hair story. A story of happiness, discovery and mixed emotions.

We invited our favorite charities within the curly community to give us a glimpse inside of their personal hair stories—from their favorite products, to what it means to fully embrace their curls. The stories are raw and empowering. Take a look and feel free to share your hair journey in the comment section below.

The following responses have been edited for length and clarity.

Naïka Charles D’Haiti for Project St. Anne

“The journey to wearing my natural hair has been an emotional rollercoaster because of my culture and background as a Haitian born and raised woman.

I thought that I would be judged by wearing my curls and not be accepted, especially by my mother. The first time that I saw my mother with my newly natural hair, she was harsh and said that I was becoming a follower.

That was two years ago, and the story still haunts me today. But, with the support of a strong Deva team, two years ago I was able to embrace the transformation from straight hair to my natural curls.

Now, I absolutely love my curls! In fact, when I straightened my hair a year ago, all of my Haitian family members and friends said that I needed to go back to being curly because it’s so me.

These days, even my mother has come around, and I think she’s even a bit jealous! Also, coming from Haiti where the majority of women have curly hair it is only fitting and empowering that I remind girls and women like me that it is okay to love the authentic woman that we are born to be.

If it wasn’t for DevaCurl and their handbook and products I wouldn’t even know how to wash my hair properly. Devacurl help me get the confidence I need to wear my natural curls.”

Victoria Inez Martinez for Girls Inc. of Greater Madison WI

“My whole family has curly hair, but my hair is very fine, straight and it doesn’t hold any curl. The grass is greener on the other side, but I’m still on a journey discovering my hair.

I always look for products that give me lift and volume. But, I don’t mind having that rolled out of bed hair because it gives me texture.

If I don’t have my funky colors, I don’t feel like myself. I use hair color to express myself. Sometimes I’ll start off purple, then switch to blue, then green. And then come back through the spectrum. I love my funky hair colors.”

Eden Marley for Garden of Eden Foundation

“I just love talking about curls! In the winter I find that Heaven in Hair in particular, defines my curls so much. And so, I will actually leave that overnight, I’ll go to school with it and then I rinse it out that evening. Also in the winter, I’ll apply a leave-in conditioner then I diffuse my hair and that will last me three days. On the third day, I’ll do a half up, half down style and then I’ll do a ponytail and then it will go into a bun and then I will repeat that process all season long.

In terms of hair tips, I apply products in the shower because that’s when I find that it absorbs the most and it doesn’t allow my hair to get frizzy. Also, I think it’s extremely crucial to apply products to every strand of your hair. I also like to trim my hair every three months because it grows healthier and with curly hair, you don’t realize your split ends and how dry your ends can be.”

Ilianna Ayala for Children’s Aid Society

“Growing up I never saw my curls because I always straightened my hair. My hair was so damaged from the constant heat and wear and tear.

Once in college, I finally decided to wear my curls and Instagram was a big part of my journey. Seeing girls with big curls made me want to wear my curls, too. Influencers like SunKissAlba really helped me—whatever she did, I did.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned in my hair journey is that my hair is one of a kind. Just because something works for one girl, doesn’t mean it will work for you. Also, wearing my natural curls helped me accept who I am as a person and plus-sized model. My journey has opened my eyes to so many things; I have a new perspective on a lot.

The journey was tough but worth it.”

Michelle Jimenez for Libro Laya Foundation

“Growing up I hated having wavy hair. I used to straighten it with an iron. Then I realized I didn’t have time to do my hair in the morning. It was always frizzy, and I didn’t know how to style my hair. I was frustrated.

One hot summer day I came to the Devachan salon and they told me how to use No Poo cleanser and conditioner and my hair transformed.

When I finally embraced my texture and learned how to work with it, I felt so free. I loved that I didn’t have to be ashamed anymore. And I was happy to finally do my hair myself.

If you’re struggling to embrace your natural waves, just own it. You’re beautiful the way you are. Find what works for your hair type and work with what you have!

My hair is crazy, sexy and fun!”