Loving your curls is about loving who you are…or is it the other way around? Whichever way it was for you, embracing your natural hair is about staying true to your identity and no-one knows that better than my next admission into the Curly Kella Hall of Fame. Meet 25-year old Mishelle Wanniarachchi; an Australian-born Sri Lankan working as a radiographer in Melbourne. We’ve been Instagram buds for a good part of a year, but our friendship goes beyond the world wide web. We are curl comrades in arms. Despite being both beset with hormonal issues that have affected our curls, and relatives who weren’t exactly exalting over our frizz, we’re proud Sri Lankan kellas with a love for our desi DNA. She’s been curl-ready for little over a year and wants you all to know that championing curls was all about reclaiming her South-Asian roots- hair and all!
P ics by Gretchen Oris-Chong @Eightcorners
How far would you travel for a good curly-hair cut? Answer: 17000 km. That is the distance I covered from London to Melbourne where Australia’s king of curls, Neel Morley, is sovereign. Since a chance meeting in 2013, I have followed him religiously on social media, not only because he rules over curl cuts but because he truly loves them! The Aussie press can’t get enough of him either; some want to big up his reputation as a curly-hair stylist, others focus on his entrepreneurial talent and then there are those who are hyped up about his quirky fashion sense when he turns up at the Melbourne Cup. So upon going Down Under, I had to book myself in for a signature cut at his funky salon, aptly named, Neels Loves Curls and grab a word with the mane monarch himself.
Long before I flirted with the frizz, there was one kella who had nailed her curly look; Anjali Tandon- my sister’s best friend’s sister. Compared to the long silky locks of my Indian peers (the archetypal look of an Asian babe), her look was completely the opposite; short, choppy, wild, streaked with coppers and reds. In truth before the hype, celebrity role models, magazine beauty spreads, and natural hair blogs, Anjali was my original inspiration and thanks to her I was able to roll with my own unruly curls.
But little did I know how much her curl style allowed her to overcome a lack of confidence and eventually empower her to resist the cultural stereotype. In her own words, Anjali tells me all about her journey; from an unsure, timid girl blindly wrestling with a wild head of frizz, to a young woman revelling in curl confidence.
Ever notice that no matter how rigidly you keep to your styling routine, your curls never come out the same? It’s the mane reason women hate curls. But we shouldn’t blame ourselves, because a hair disaster might have something to do with our hormones. I got talking to trichologist and hair afficionada, Nicola Smart, about what exactly is going on with our curls at different stages of our lives and how best to tailor our regime to get the best out of them.
Ever wondered just what makes our hair curly? Why our hair springs out in twists while others’ flow in waves or straightness? Yes, genes are a big part of our hair-story, but I often questioned just what is in its biochemical make-up to make it act the way it does. Now that I’m in the natural-hair world, I decided that to better take care of my curls I need to get to the root of its structure. So time for me to geek out, don a lab coat and delve beneath the surface of our kinks and curls.
Curls are the constant dread of girls. For Asians there is a pressure to nuke the hell out of our hair to achieve that glossy mane so tossed about onscreen. It is rarely talked about…that is until BBC Radio London asked me to guest on a panel discussion about hair. I jumped at the chance, wanting to address the Asian prejudices against curls. Joining me on the show were natural hair blogger Valley Fontaine and the winner of BBC2 Hair Phil Hunt.
I previously posted “Feel the Fear and Go Curly Anyway”, a five-step guide to help you embrace your naturally God-given hair. Following on from that, I appreciate it’s not so easy as 1,2,3 (4 and 5), and in doing so I wanted to share the twists and turns of my own journey to curls. It wasn’t easy and often riven with bad-hair days, chopping and changing my products and digs from my relatives back in Sri Lanka as well as here. But as you will read, once my attitude changed it became so much easier and fun! Anyway time to rewind back to circa 1983…
My five-step survival guide to transitioning and most importanly loving your natural hair
Coming out of the curl closet is a daunting task. I should know. To reclaim my curls meant doing a complete one eighty on my hair routine. It was hard at first. My curls just wouldn’t play ball. One day they would look amazing, then the day after, the frizz took hold and I looked like I’d had a few thousand volts sent through me! Put together with the constant jibes I got from fellow Sri Lankans (heavens forbid an Asian girl having curls!) – I had to stomach a lot of ‘straight’ talk!
But I remained steadfast. It wasn’t always easy and I had many disastrous moments. But in truth what hair type doesn’t have an off- day? Five years on and I am confidently curly! Don’t get me wrong I don’t have the fail-proof key and I still struggle at times. But every time a girl compliments my hair it’s all worth it. If you are one of those girls wishing to embrace your twisted tresses, here are 5 rules to keep you on track:
Finding a good hairdresser is tough. FACT. But as a curly kella it’s virtually impossible. It took me 5 years to find my curl maestro, Michael Price, owner of Unruly Curls in Ladbroke Grove. I’m sharing him with you, because he’s great and I think every struggling curly kella should see him. I recently went to see him to get a much-needed haircut ( 6 months after my last one!) and asked him to share his curls of wisdom!