Embracing the Beauty of Curly Hair: A Personal Journey

Embracing the Beauty of Curly Hair: A Personal Journey - curlylife

The Challenges of Curly Hair Management by Erica Vanhorn

For years, when I tried to do my hair, it would end up in tears, sitting in front of the mirror with countless products surrounding me and hair everywhere. Curly hair is truly a journey of self-discovery, self-love, and accepting the traits that make you different.

Now a young adult I have found so much love inside me for my curly hair and fully embrace my naturally curly hair year-round. I want to share my journey- the mistakes, the holy grails, and other tips and tricks to help my fellow curly-haired sisters learn to manage.

To make their hair care routine simpler and more efficient for their lives, but also to help them learn how to love their uniquely curly hair and embrace the curls. I cannot promise I will have all the answers and that my tips and tricks are one-size-fits-all.

The curly hair community is vast and with ever-changing trends and information; what works for one might not work for all. It’s all about trying new things and experimenting with your hair until you find your groove.

 Erica Vanhorn in Pink Sweater and hand on chin

Early Life and Societal Standards

As a child growing up in my community, the standards for hair and what was acceptable hair for the outside world were based on general societal standards of the time.

My hair was always slicked back into the tightest ponytail and gel-flat to my head to ensure it was straight and did not have any lumps or bumps. My mother did my hair daily. My knots were her daily arm workout and I hated getting my hair done because of all the pulling and tugging.

As a child, my mother would often cut my hair for me. She did my hair often in her bedroom, and it was a bonding time for us. We often watch reality TV together.

My mother is and always will be my best friend. She’s my hero. My mother often straightened my hair because I expressed that I wanted her to. She always did a fantastic job straightening my hair and with the praise I got when my hair was straight, I believed it was better; that is how I connected the dots.


Erica Vanhorn and her daugther on her back

Instilling Confidence in Young Girls with Curly Hair

Instilling confidence in young girls with curly hair is crucial because we often feel shame for having difficult hair.


The Transition to Embracing Natural Curls

By adolescence, I was straightening my hair daily like most curly-haired women. I had so much heat damage that my hair wouldn’t even curl when wet; it was dead, dry, and damaged.

My curl pattern was gone, and I fell into the vicious cycle of straightening my hair due to the long-term damage.

Many of my peers didn’t believe I had curly hair. I had a best friend, and she didn’t believe I had curly hair until I showered at her place one day, and I came out of the shower with my curly roots and dead ends. She blurted out, “Your hair is curly?” I often envied other girls in my class with straight, long hair. As a young girl, I had not learned yet about shrinkage.

Shrinkage is inches you may lose on your overall hair length due to your curl pattern. In my freshmen year of high school, I decided to go cold turkey and begin my natural curl journey.

 Erica Vanhorn sharing her story on growing up curly - Erica and a friend getting ready for an event

Discovering Curly Hair Care and Community Support

My hair was so damaged that I would wear it up only as it was the only way I knew how to manage it. I felt like my hair wasn’t versatile; I could only wear it up or down, whereas my straight-haired peers had long straight hair that could be braided and styled infinitely.

In my junior year, I stumbled on YouTube. I began to research my hair and how I could embrace it. My first curly hair tip that changed my life was sleeping with it up.

Known as the pineapple or plopping, it is the concept of sleeping with your hair up to avoid frizz and knots. This was a game-changer. It was the first time I didn’t wake up and have to spend thirty minutes detangling my hair.

Then, I learned to use a wide tooth comb, and that was another life-changing event. I used a regular brush and sometimes a paddle brush to detangle my hair while it was dry. Oh my, thinking of brushing my hair dry with a paddle brush, now as a grown adult, makes my skin crawl.

Soon, it quickly became a renaissance sparked by YouTube on how to manage my curly hair. The internet gave me so much knowledge about my hair. I began joining forums online that were specifically for curly-haired women, and the knowledge flew through me like a river.

My advice for young girls with curly hair is to find your curly hair community, whether it be online or in person. Having peers and knowledgeable others who can provide advice and tips can really change your perspective on your hair.

 Erica Vanhorn pictures of her as a girl growing up

The Evolution of Hair Care from Childhood to Adulthood

Hair care is something that often evolves as you grow. As an infant, hair care is very minimal due to the natural quality of baby hair.

It is soft and bouncy naturally and thus doesn’t need much help. However, as your hair matures, it needs more maintenance and TLC. As a teenager, I used mostly drugstore products.

These drug store products work for my teenage hair, but I had to switch things up as an adult. Around twenty, my hair switched up on me like curly hair tends to do, and I had to get a new routine. I used a co-wash paired with a moisture-promoting conditioner and an intense leave-in conditioner.

For the longest time, I used conditioner as a hair styling product but soon learned that was not good for the health of my scalp and began to venture into curly hair styling products.

I started by first trying to make my own but soon learned I wasn’t a chemist and should probably return to my curly hair research to find the correct styling product.

This is when I learned about the different types of hair density, porosity, and curly types. I learned my specific curl pattern and the unique characteristics that made my hair unique.

 Erica Vanhorn family photo with husband and daugther

The Significance of Embracing Your Natural Curly Hair

Embracing one’s curly hair is more than just a hairstyle. It reinforces the concept that it’s okay to be different.

For decades, there has been a specific beauty standard that women are held to, and this consists of straight and neat hair that doesn’t defy gravity. Daring to go against the status quo is a fearless assertion against these unrealistic beauty standards put upon women by society.

Curly hair cannot be tamed and doesn’t need to be. Embracing my curly hair was the best thing I have ever accomplished. It changed my life and turned me into a bright  light of self-love that drew positivity into my life.

I felt my identity become more solidified and more unique. I began defining who I was with my curly hair instead of trying to deny it. As the world propels towards a more diverse and unique population, we are beginning to see all hair types appreciated and loved.

Curly hair is no longer deemed unprofessional but as a crown of a person’s unique heritage and genetic makeup.


Key Lessons and Tips for Curly Hair Care

Overall, growing up with curly hair taught me many valuable lessons.

Firstly, I learned how the power of community can grow love and appreciation for oneself and that community is the very fabric of what makes us human.

Second, I learned to embrace my uniqueness and to not give my time to anyone who didn’t like me. People who put you down do so because they are truly hurting on the inside. Misery truly loves company, and you must always hold your head high so your crown does not fall.

And lastly, but most importantly, that curly hair is gorgeous. Curly hair is unique. No two strands are alike, similar to a snowflake.

I can tell you that curly hair is a gift, not a curse. Or at least that is what I would tell my younger self if I could go back in time. It’s an invitation to be fearless, regal, and extraordinary.

It’s an invitation to go against the status quo and have a little fun. My curls bounce when I walk and provide a shield of confidence in my hair and in my self-identity. Loving your curly hair will unlock an unmatched power within you, and it will fill you with love for yourself and those around you.


1. Only brush/detangle your hair when its wet
2. Only use a wide tooth comb when brushing curly hair
3. Brush your hair like it’s made of silk. Brush with patience and be gentle
4. Never sleep with your hair down and free. Always tie up and secure while you sleep.

To connect with Erica Vanhorn you can reach our to her on her social pages.  TIKTOK,  Instrgram


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