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After years in a close relationship with straighteners, and straightening treatments, it can be a struggle to make that transition to natural curls. That’s why I think it can be encouraging to learn how others have managed it, and what they have learnt in their personal journey to natural curls. I met Pauline recently when she came in to have her hair cut, and we had a chat about her curly journey, which Pauline has agreed to share with you.

Lindsey: You have beautiful curls. Can you tell me a bit about your relationship with your hair?
Pauline: Thank you. I had spent 30 years relaxing my Jamaican hair, and ignoring my sister who always encouraged me to go natural. That’s a long time to not accept my natural hair.

You’re not the only person who has taken years to accept their curls. Myself included. So what changed? When did you start your transition to curly? 
Back in 2012 my sister had showed me a Mahogany Curls tutorial on YouTube about how she went natural, chopping her hair off and doing a ‘wash and go’ every day. It must have been in the back of my mind, but I largely ignored it. But in mid January 2013, I woke up having been let down by my hairdresser for the third week running, and decided to chop it all off.

Your hairdresser must have been shocked by the change of plan when you finally saw her?
Actually my daughter did it for me. She cut my hair into very short, tiny afro. And for the first time in three decades, I could actually ‘wash and go’ my hair; it was bliss!

I bet it was. How have you found managing your hair now you’re keeping your curls?
The most difficult thing about having my natural hair is keeping it moisturised as it can get very dry. I love to ‘wash and go’ but it’s not possible in winter. But my hair has grown well so I can do twist outs. I can now wash my hair once or twice a month with a ‘cowash’ and deep condition every week. I’m trying new styles and routines all the time, and actually having fun with my natural curls.

What advice do you have for encouraging other people who might be nervous about transitioning to naturally curly?
My advice is that you have to do it when your ready, but educate yourself in the mean time. Seek out your friends who have their hair natural, and ask lots of questions!

I think accepting my curly hair as a part of my identity has been important to me. How is it now that you’ve made that transition?
What’s great is that many friends have also gone natural, even ones who said no way never; so I’m not alone in my hair transition. But it’s important to prepare yourself for everyone else’s opinions and advice. My reply when people ask what have I done to my hair, or why? Is simply – I was born with it, and that’s how it grows out of my scalp. I can share my story now because I’m finally becoming happy with my natural hair. I’m surprised to find a hairdresser who can work with all kinds of curls, and to be honest I haven’t done much with my hair since you cut it for me. And although there’s some shrinkage, my hair has shape and definition so I’m loving it.

My thanks to Pauline for agreeing to share her curly story with us. Do you have a curly hair journey story that you’d like to share too? Do let me know!