It’s been reported that almost 65% of women have some type of curl pattern to their hair. After years of fighting the curls and kinks, working with your natural ringlets is easier then ever.
Fortunately, there are a multitude of sources to help guide frustrated women who dream of de-frizzing and taming their curls. One of the best curl care resources on the net is NaturallyCurly.com. Founded by Michelle Breyer and Gretchen Heber, NaturallyCurly informs, empowers and unites a community of people brought together by a common interest – curly hair. The flagship brand, NaturallyCurly.com, attracts 450,000 monthly engaged, influential consumers creating user-generated content on a daily basis. The network includes CurlyNikki.com, the leading natural hair blog with a growing community of 120,000 uniques, CurlStylist.com, a professional community especially for stylists servicing their curly clientele, and CurlMart.com, a boutique e-commerce site showcasing more than 50 brands and 500 community-vetted products. The entire network logs 1.2 million monthly visits from an average of more than 200 countries worldwide, all finding the common thread – a curl, kink or wave – that bonds them together.
A Beauty Loft caught up with Michelle to discuss the evolution of curly hair.
What were some of your struggles with your curls growing up?
Everything about my curls was a struggle. I had a straight-haired sister and mother (I get my curls from my father), so nobody what to do with my hair other than to cut it really, really short. I had a pixie until I was in 8th grade because there was nobody who knew how to cut curls (I think my mother cut my hair until I was in 8th grade! ), and there no products designed for curly hair. It was hard seeing all the cute styles – ponytails, braids, feathered hair – that my sister could have and my hair always looked puffy and frizzy. I didn’t know you weren’t supposed to brush curls. It wasn’t an appealing look. The boys in my 7th grade social studies class called me “Bozo.”
At what point did you change and begin to embrace your curls?
My curl acceptance came very slowly. There were points in high school when perms were that I felt like my hair wasn’t so horrible. But it really wasn’t until my early 30s that I discovered I actually could wear my hair curly. I had a hairdresser who told me it was time to break out of the 80s, and to lose the layered bangs, which I attempted to blow straight every day. It was amazing how much positive response I got when I started wearing it curly. My curl efforts were helped by the curl industry that was emerging, with hair products designed especially for curls and a new generation of salons who knew how to work with, rather than fight curls. At my high school reunion, people were asking why I didn’t wear my hair like that in high school. In addition to great products and salons, I realized a lot about curl love is about confidence. If you embrace your curls, others will too.
Do you think attitudes towards naturally curly hair have changed? Are more women embracing their curls?
It’s been such a dramatic change in the 12 years since we launched NaturallyCurly. At the time, few celebrities were wearing their hair curly, other than Keri Russell in Felicity (and she chopped it off) and our beloved Bernadette Peters. Few companies considered curls to be a profitable market.
Today, every major hair-care company, and many grassroots companies, have products especially for waves, curls and kinks. And a growing number of salons are getting training in working with curls. Beauty schools do not provide curl training, so many of these stylists are actively looking for programs to help them become better at working with this profitable niche. There are even a growing number of curl-specific salons, thanks to companies like Deva and Ouidad who proved it could be a viable market. Examples include Curl Ambassadors in Toronto, Spirals in Tucson, Ariz. and Curltopia in Atlanta.
Last but not least, pop culture has become all about texture. Whether it’s Shakira, Beyonce or Taylor Swift, waves, curls and kinks are now considered beautiful and sexy. While many people still can’t ditch their flat irons, it is now acceptable and encouraged to let your hair do what it’s done naturally.
How and why did you and Gretchen start naturallycurly.com?
We both grew up during the 70s/80s, and were so frustrated that there were no products for curly hair, no salons who knew how to work with curls and no tips/information/support for people with curls. I remember so many years running out to get the Hair issue of a major beauty magazine only to see straight styles. It was if curly hair didn’t exist at all, even though more than 50% of the U.S. population has wavy, curly or kinky hair. We would complain about our hair all the time, and someone overheard us at a party and suggested we start a magazine/web site for people like us.
It really started as a hobby – a way to create a place for people like us. We had no intention of it becoming a major business. We thought we might sell a few t-shirts and get a few hair products to play around with. But people flocked to us because were were the independent only place for people for curly hair. Many of the people on CurlTalk – our discussion board – are original community members from 1997.
You just revamped naturallycurly.com, what are some of the changes readers can look forward to?
One of the frustrations of our readers has been that we have almost too much information – 12 years of articles, photos, blogs videos – but it wasn’t easy to find. Our goal was to make it easy for readers to find the info that pertained to their hair. They can look for it by hair type and by care topics (frizz, straightening, etc.). We’ve also dramatically upgraded our product review and salon review sections to make it easier for people to find the reviews that help them make decisions. We have more than 20K product reviews in our database! We also upgraded our Frizz Forecast to a 5-day forecast, with specific recommendations for each hair type based on that day’s forecast.
What advice would you give to a woman that doesn’t like her naturally curly hair?
You have more options than you’ve ever had! If you want to work with your curls, there are salons and products that can help you make them look their best. If you want a looser look, there are permanent and temporary options such as keratin treatments and a new generation of flat irons.
I think it helps to know they are not alone in their frustrations. That there are millions of curlies out there who can relate to their daily battles, and a growing number of them have learned how to embrace their curls.
Any tips for making curls look their best?
First and foremost, find a stylist who knows how to work with curly hair. Check out NaturallyCurly Salon Finder to find reviews of stylists around the world. Then experiment with products. Many curlies on our site have concocted cocktails of products that work for them, depending on the humidity and look they want. We recommend people look at our product review section to find what people with their Hair Type are liking. It’s how many people have found their Holy Grail products.
For more great tips, products review, curl talk, and much more, check out NaturallyCurly.com!