It’s taken me years to embrace my curly hairhere are six hair rules I live by

FIDGETING with nerves in the salon chair, I knew the time had come for “the big chop”.

I was 18 and ­visualising my new bouncy, short bob as the hairdresser sliced off my drying dead ends.

Keshia says: 'Growing up, it took me a while to embrace my hair. I am mixed race, born to a white British father and a black African mother'

Keshia says: ‘Growing up, it took me a while to embrace my hair. I am mixed race, born to a white British father and a black African mother信用: catherine harbour
Keshia at her graduation in 2013 with her popstar sister Fleur

Keshia at her graduation in 2013 with her popstar sister Fleur

But a couple of days later, when I washed and reset it to its ­natural state, I realised how terrible it looked.

My tight curls sprang back into action and took the length with it, my hair sitting at the top of my ears.

It was awful.

But after the initial shock, my new healthy hair thanked me for it — and this was the beginning of a new journey.

A journey that now many others are joining.

Lockdown welcomed a curly hair movement, as breaks from hot tools saw many rediscover their natural texture, resulting in the hashtag #Quarantine Curls going viral.

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Celebrities began freeing their waves, 和 科洛·卡戴珊(Khloe Kardashian) the latest to reveal she too has put a bounce back into her hair.

And actress Gabrielle Union, who starred in 2000 film Bring It On, revealed how she has gone from “hating” her natural hair to embracing it with “strength” and “diversity”.

因此, business for curly care brands has soared.

London-based Only Curls reported a 300 per cent year-on-year growth and in the first ten days of 2022 it has taken TRIPLE the number of orders, compared to this time last year.

Founder Lizzie Carter started Only Curls to encourage people to refrain from using straighteners every day.

成长, it took me a while to embrace my hair. I am mixed race, born to a white British father and a black African mother.

Both of my parents were totally out of their element when it came to looking after my hair.

It would either be super-frizzy with no product when my dad did it, or overly saturated with products and put in plaits when my mum stepped in.

It was rare that I wore the curls I was born with.

Eventually my mum decided to relax my hair when I was seven — my hair was given a chemical treatment that permanently straightened it.

By the age of 13, I took over the reins. I stopped relaxing it but kept straightening it.

I would use the most bizarre things, from attempting to give myself a bouncy blow dry (this never worked) to using an iron to straighten it — yes, an iron.

My sister – X Factor singer 东芙蓉 – tried this too.

We would put a bed sheet or towel on the floor then we would iron each other’s hair in sections.

We would put a bed sheet or towel on the floor then we would iron each other’s hair in sections.

Keshia East

I never disliked my naturally curly hair, but people have made comments about it.

When 伊蒙·福尔摩斯(Eamonn Holmes) said he would like to “pet” Dr Zoe Williams’ hair on ITV’s This Morning and referred to it as very “alpaca-ish”, it reminded me of the amount of times complete strangers have wanted to touch mine.

Once, someone went as far as asking me: “Where did you buy your hair?”

I replied: ”My mother’s womb.” What was I supposed to say to that?

Many other people have also assumed my naturally curly hair was a wig.

Eamonn’s fellow presenter Dermot O’Leary also made a blunder on on This Morning when he asked his co-host Alison Hammond how she “got her curls like that”.

Alison responded: ‘It’s fake hair. This is a protective style.

“When I want to protect my hair for a while, I braid my hair underneath and then I attach these to it. It’s not even real hair, it’s synthetic.”

But we should not have to tell people whether our hair is natural or not, should we?

While we have had to learn how to treat our hair, we have also had to educate others, 也.

谢天谢地, things are changing.

Fifteen years ago there were not any curly hair sections in mainstream retail stores and there was not much information online about how to look after it.

So it was extremely hard to know what to do — and mine got neglected a bit.

Having products tailored to my hair readily available in high streets stores such as Boots and Superdrug totally changed my relationship with my hair.

Looking after my naturally curly hair is no longer a chore, it’s a ritual of self-care and I have never loved it more than I do now.

Keshia East

My go-to product for years has been Boots Essentials Curl Cream (£1.99).

现在, I spend a lot of time nurturing it.

I wash it every two weeks on average.

This doesn’t seem like a lot but it’s a full process. Any more and I find it too drying.

第一的, I will pre-treat my hair using oils or a pre-shampoo, which is a treatment you do beforehand for extra moisture.

I wash and condition before detangling in sections, as curly hair is more prone to serious knots.

If I have time I will steam with a hair mask then rinse it out and style with products.

I then refresh my hair every two to three days by re-wetting and applying more products to keep the curls fresh and the hair healthy.

Now I absolutely love my curls and wouldn’t wear them any other way.

My story proves that inclusivity in the retail space is so important.

My experiences also led me to create my own hair tools company, No Knot Co, which offers special brushes designed for curls.

Looking after my naturally curly hair is no longer a chore, it’s a ritual of self-care and I have never loved it more than I do now.

The curly hair rules

UNDERSTANDING different hair textures means also understanding the language around it, says Keshia.

There are many things that communicate hidden, and often offensive, 讯息. Here are her rules . . . 

  1. DO compliment me on my hair. It feels good when people appreciate and praise it.
  2. DO ask questions if you are genuinely curious about my hair texture. 例如, how do you style it? What are your favourite products? A lot of people ask on behalf of their friends or kids. I love sharing my hair tips and tricks.
  3. DON’T touch my hair without asking permission. You wouldn’t want a stranger touching your face or your body – it’s the same with hair.
  4. DON’T ask if my hair is real or fake. If my hair is natural, you will be assuming my hair looks fake. If my hair is fake, I won’t necessarily want to tell you this in front of loads of people. This can be offensive both ways.
  5. DON’T compare my hair to an animal or negative things. 例如, a Brillo pad, mop head, toilet brush, poodle, alpaca or lion. This is my natural hair texture, so don’t be offensive.
  6. DON’T tell me how much better my hair looks straight. Sometimes I like my hair straight, but please don’t tell me it suits me much better than when it’s natural.

curly tips

AVOID SULPHATES: These are found in many shampoos and can remove natural oils from your hair, making it frizzier.

这个, in turn, can also cause tangles and knots.

There are great sulphate-free options – try Creme Of Nature argan oil moisture & shine shampoo (£4.99, Superdrug).

HYDRATING SHAMPOOS: Most curly hair types can be prone to dryness, therefore it’s important to have moisture in your shampoo.

Aveeno almond oil blend shampoo (£8.99, 靴子) is hydrating to the hair and scalp.

You can replace your shampoo altogether with a co-wash – a combined shampoo and conditioner – if it’s particularly dry.

Or use it in between fortnightly washes.

My favourite is As I Am Dry & Itchy Co wash (£10.99, cchairandbeauty.com).

PRE-SHAMPOO: If you suffer from an extremely dry scalp or dry hair generally, try a pre-’poo oil or butter before your shampoo.

I recommend Flora & Curl African citrus superfruit hair oil (£21.99, Superdrug).

PROTEIN: If you find your hair is prone to breakage, chemically damaged or feels mushy, then a protein shampoo once a month may help.

It can reduce breakage, prevent split ends and make your hair generally stronger.

Try Vichy Dercos nutri protein shampoo (£11, lookfantastic.com).

DETANGLE WHEN WET: Because curly hair has a lot of volume, it can also be harder to see when knots have formed.

Protect curls by only detangling when it’s wet.

Use Lilac detangler (£15, noknot.co).

SATIN ACCESSORIES: Always sleep with a silk/satin pillowcase or hair bonnet to prevent knots and to lock in moisture.

Try satin bonnet (£16, onlycurls.com).

Keshia looking happy again with her locks

Keshia looking happy again with her locks
Keshia aged three

Keshia aged three

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