Living in quarantine has by no means been an easy feat.
At the close of 2019, many of us had high anticipations for the new decade. In reality, we ended up surviving back-to-back, unprecedented, tragic events that have trickled into 2021. And as Black women, we felt the full weight of everything.
But even in our most dire moments, we somehow still always find ways to slow down, reflect, and adapt in order take care of ourselves, which includes tending to our glorious curls and coils. It's simply a part of our magic.
Here, I spoke with six experts in the beauty space to discover what they learned about their natural hair in quarantine, how they showed love to their strands, and what they're doing differently with their curls in 2021.
Dana Oliver, Former Beauty Director at Yahoo!
"I've learned that simplicity is key! Whether that's sticking with shampoos and conditioners that are formulated with no-fuss ingredients, letting my 4C curls shrink into a teeny weeny Afro or celebrating each new gray hair that pops up at my crown — I've stripped myself of feeling the need to conform to what society believes I should do with my natural hair. And, it's been absolutely freeing!
"As I continue to get reacquainted with my kinks and coils, I am committed to talking to and about my hair with love and respect. There's so much in this world to stress out over, I rather not transfer negative energy to my strands. And that's on Mary had a little lamb!"
Blake Newby, Freelance Beauty Writer
"I'm notorious for never leaving my hair alone. I'm always thinking of a new hairstyle or color to try, and I'm a known fixture in a hair salon chair. In quarantine, however, especially in the beginning, I was forced to let my hair rest. It not only showed me just how fast my hair can grow when going unmanipulated, but it also allowed me to develop a deeper relationship and knowledge of my own hair.
"And while yes, I've returned to my monthly hair weave appointments — because frankly, it's easier for me to leave it to the pros — I feel much more confident in knowing that if there is a full shutdown again, I'm more than well-equipped to handle it."
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Jihan Forbes, Digital Hair Editor at Allure
"I've realized that my hair routine does not need as many steps as I previously thought it did. I don't have to put a curl cream to define my texture every time. Not because my hair is naturally super defined, but because I'm realizing that I actually like a little frizz. I don't need to lay my edges — it's fine if they're a little fluffy. It's been very freeing. And while I do still use curl creams, it's not as often as it used to be.
"I do and will always continue to give my hair a good deep condition every week, though!"
Diarrha N’Diaye-Mbaye, Founder of Ami Colé
"Prior to the quarantine, I felt like I 'never had time' for my hair. I was constantly on the go and in a never-ending cycle of failed twists-outs. My hair and I weren’t getting along. Eco-styled slick backs were my only solution. At one point I thought I just couldn’t get on the 'fro out' band wagon. I was so wrong!
"Time at home not only helped me realize that my hair needed patience, but that patience was an act of self-care and true love. Finding the perfect conditioner-shampoo-oil ratio literally allowed me see all of me. Now, thankfully, I am obsessed with touching, twisting, and loving on my 4C, low porosity hair."
Faith Cummings, Freelance Beauty Writer
"During the pandemic, I've fallen back in love with protective styles. Since going natural, I've become quite adept with my hair and love the process of caring for it. But amidst political chaos, a racial uprising, global illness, a climate crisis, worrying about loved ones, and working from home throughout it all, doing my hair has honestly been the last thing I've been thinking about.
"Box braids have allowed me to maintain healthy hair and look good without having to worry about what my natural coils are doing. They're easily top five creations of all time and shout out to my ancestors for creating such a wonderful innovation! I plan on continuing to wear them once the pandemic is over and trying twists as well."
Akili King, Beauty Writer at Vogue
"I learned that less is more. I've come into a more intuitive relationship with my hair. What I was doing before was weighing my hair down! The most product I use happens on wash day (castor oil treatments, shampoo, conditioner, deep conditioner, leave-in, ) which happens every other week or every week, if needed. Between washes, a curl refresher spray does the trick or a light oil in dry areas.
"Something else I've always known, but have had more time to put into practice during quarantine, is how meditative it is to do protective styles. And meditative moments are something so very needed for our mind, body and spirits in these times. As Black women our options are endless in this realm — be it braids or twist. I recently did faux locs on myself for the first time. Regardless of the style, it's been a relaxing way to reflect on my week, breathe deeply and slowly, meditate on my goals and just care for both my inner and outer self."
This is All Natural. From the kinkiest coils to loose waves, we're celebrating natural hair in its many forms by sharing expert tips for styling, maintenance, and haircare.
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