Written by Mariem ELTagoury 

My natural hair shining – photo taken by the talented Mostafa Nagy

Hello, everyone! Let me start by introducing my hair. That coarse, thick, wild thing sitting on the top of my head that I’d hated for most of my childhood and teen life. I now know it as my healthy, natural, 3B curly, highly porous hair [I’ll be clarifying this lingo later].

Like many Egyptian girls, I’d started straightening it as soon as I got into high school because, like most African girls, my family passed down to me the colonial belief that straight hair is an equivalent to normal, beautiful hair! That was till the dawn of curly haired beauties like Beyonce & Miriam Fares…

So, in college, I toyed around with the idea of going ‘curly’, but couldn’t figure out how. I experimented and failed several times, but in 2013, I took it seriously and started reading more into it. Living abroad without access to affordable hairdressers helped push me further into the world of ‘natural hair’. I experimented, failed and won many hairy battles. My world has changed so much ever since I embraced ‘natural hair’ and I want to share what I know with you and answer all your FAQs about curls.

And while we are on the topic of FAQs, let’s start with a couple of facts that I promise are crucial to your hair’s health, and points I’d like to move out of the way.

What is that term ‘natural hair’ that I keep using?

It’s basically the hair you were born with, be it whatever type it is! Funny enough, most of us do not know what our ‘natural hair’ actually is like because we’ve been straightening it for ages. More importantly, due to all the horrid chemicals that were marketed to our parents, and us, to use as straighteners, detanglers, nourishers, you name it [I’m glaring at you Palmers]! This includes shampoo!

Why does it matter that I call it ‘natural’ not ‘curly’ hair?

You’ll find I often refer to my hair as natural more often than curly. That’s because I’ve embraced my natural hair whether its curly or brushed through. Not having ‘defined curls’ is not my bad hair day, having ‘unhealthy hair’ is! In the past couple of years, I’ve learnt to embrace my natural beauty, and as cheesy as it sounds, you truly do achieve a different kind of self-acceptance when you find that you can look at your natural hair in the mirror, smile, and feel beautiful and blessed for the way you were born. It’s like your soul was left in a dark place inside of you, and someone turned on the lights!

How do I get perfect curls like the ones in the movies?

There is no such thing as perfect curls! Everything is unnaturally perfect in the movies and unachievable in reality, why do you expect curls to be any different?! Alas, I cannot help you achieve screen perfect curls, but you can allow yourself to love your natural hair type and embrace it.

I’ve learnt that embracing my natural hair and being keen on having ‘healthy, natural’ hair rather than ‘perfect curls’ has helped me actually achieve the beautiful curls that I’m often asked about today.

When your co-workers sneak up on you at work because of your hair!

How can I get my hair to be curly when it isn’t naturally so?

The answer is you can’t do so ‘naturally’. You could use a curling iron or have a hairdresser style it for you, but it won’t come naturally. If we could “naturally” change our hair type from straight to curly or vice versa, then half my childhood would have been saved from bullies who called my natural hair ugly!  If you’re disappointed by this answer, welcome to the female majority’s childhood!

However, the good news is you can join the tribe by embracing your natural beauty, too! You could start by cutting out harmful chemicals, and using less heat. I’ll be mentioning how to modify different natural methods to cater for different hair types.

So…what are the different ‘natural hair’ types?

Well, if you have straight hair, you’re a type 1. If you don’t, then try to compare your natural strands to the models in the photo below. Some people have a mix of two types, so don’t be surprised if you relate to two types.

Just know that you can’t fully judge what type of natural hair you have before at least 6 months [if you’re extremely lucky] of not using shampoo or other harmful chemicals on your hair. It took my hair a year to fully regain its natural composure, which I found out was a 3B. Before that, I’d always found my hair limp with no permanent curls!

The various natural hair types

Ok, so if you’ve digested all the facts from up there and are ready to take up the challenge and transition to embrace your beautiful natural hair, then check back for more 😉

I’ll be sharing with you what I’ve learned about ‘natural hair’ care, my favourite products, homemade recipes, hairdos, and protective hairstyles. I’ll also be answering the most frequent questions I’ve received, while debunking a few curly myths along the way!

Share your thoughts!

What other hair care questions do you have? What other natural hair topics would you like us to discuss? Where do you find natural hair products in Cairo? Are you an all-natural products girl or do you prefer big brand products? Let us know  in the comments!