By: Claire Nenninger
Photos by: Kathleen Guan
My hair is probably the physical characteristic that defines me the most. It’s big, long, frizzy, curly, crazy, and a million other adjectives all wrapped up into one. It’s probably one of the first things people notice about me, and I am totally okay with that.
To all of my twisted haired sisters out there, we know the struggle all too well. We all have our stories. We all have had countless experiences of getting things caught in our hair, intentionally or otherwise. My friends once stuck 23 pens in my hair (which will sound way less impressive by the end of this article). Sometimes I’ll even purposefully store hair clips or bobby pins under my hair in case I need them later.
We all know the endless questions people ask us: How often do you wash it? Can you even brush it? What does it feel like? Do you ever straighten it? Can I touch it? And so on… Actually, the times people ask to touch it are far less common than the times people just go for it without permission. Personally, I don’t really mind, but a word for the wise, you really should ask first.
We also all have stories that seem just too ridiculous to be true. For example, I once had a TSA agent pull me aside to pat down my hair. Seriously. And don’t even get me started on the dreaded feeling of seeing someone coming my way with an umbrella on a narrow sidewalk. Some people just do not understand how wide of a berth me and my mane require.
But I’m not the only student at Georgetown who knows the curly-haired struggle. So I decided to shine the light on some other students and their gorgeous locks.
First though, I have to establish some background. In the spirit of full disclosure, I only recently discovered the Andre Walker hair types, and it has made everything infinitely clearer. Basically, it is just a system that classifies your hair type from straight to curly, and accounting for things like thickness, shape and size of the curl, and texture. It’s extremely helpful when trying to describe your hair and learn what products or techniques are best for your specific type.
There aren’t really any great comprehensive charts of the Walker system, because written descriptions are necessary if you’re trying to really narrow it down. I’ve included the best chart that I’ve found (I mainly just love how it’s titled “our language”), but for anyone out there who desperately wants to learn about their own hair type, allow me to direct you to the world wide web…
Also, I want to establish that I have primarily used the word “curly” to refer to both categories 3 and 4. Technically I am referring to curly, kinky, or coil-y. These three different types are very unique, but I think we share a lot of comparable experiences. That being said though, I do want to add that I have extra special admiration for anyone who goes natural, and all of the additional factors that go into making that decision and maintaining natural hair in all its beauty.
I classify my own luscious locks as 3b hair. That’s when I take care of them properly though, which I often don’t. Some days my hair is less curl and more just weird wavy frizz (a proper reflection of my overall laziness). From what I’ve read though, my hair is too thick to be 3a and the curls are more Sharpie size in circumference, which is a characteristic of 3b. So I’m sticking with that.
Now finally, without further ado, let me introduce you to some Hoyas and their kinks, curls, or coils.
Tori (MSB ’19)
Hair type: 4A
Fun fact about my hair: One day when I was in 4th grade my friends and I tried to see how many pencils we could put in my hair without them falling out. We got to 60. (now do you see why my 23 isn’t so impressive?)
What I love about my hair:
Shield: Protects head from flying objects
Built-In Soft Pillow: Ideal for sleeping on flights or train rides
Lucrative Asset: I can make a living charging people to touch my hair if the economy ever gets tough
Asserts Dominance: Having the biggest hair in the room allows you to mark your territory
What I hate about my hair:
Literally nothing, my hair is freaking awesome and if I straightened it I’d have to buy pillows
Hair care tips, essentials, and go-to products:
1.Never comb your hair dry! This spells disaster for all involved.
2.Follow my simple routine for healthy and bouncy curls:
In shower, shampoo and rinse as normal (I use Organix Tsubaki Blossom Shampoo)
Apply conditioner and comb through with a Denman or Denman-style brush (I use Organix Tsubaki Blossom Conditioner)
Do not wash out the conditioner
Emerge from shower, and dry body but not hair. Apply essential oil to hair (I use Urban Outfitters Petal Multi-Use Oil)
Comb a second time, this time with a wide, toothed comb, to define and expand the curls. This is the most important step.
Apply gel to lock in the shape and style as desired.
Disclaimer: Upon typing this, I realized it’s actually not that simple. Be sure to rest your arm once in awhile.
Anything else to mention: Loving your hair is a conscious decision. If you’re not happy with your texture, whether it’s pin straight or kinkier than 50 Shades, today is a new day and it’s never too late to embrace your natural beauty! You won’t regret it.
Symone (COL ’19)
Hair type: 3B & 4A (kinky, curly and coil-y)
Embarrassing story about my hair: Because my hair has so much volume, every time I go in for a hug with a girl it’s almost guaranteed that my hair will get caught on their earrings. Untangling my hair from their earrings always makes for an interesting time.
What I love about my hair: I love the volume, I’m all about the big hair movement.
Pet peeves about my hair: It takes HOURS to straighten, it’s awful. I have dedicated hair days because it takes so long to do.
Go to product: Jojoba oil, or any kind of natural oil product (coconut, olive, etc.) is your friend. Especially if you have hair that requires a lot of moisture to stay healthy.
Anything else to let your readers know: To not be ashamed of their natural hair. It’s a difficult journey, and it’s not always easy to love, but I’ve found that I’ve become more confident embracing and becoming comfortable with what I was born with.
Marcela (MSB ’18)
Hair type: 3A
Embarrassing story: Once my hairdresser decided to experiment and cut my hair short above my shoulder. Terrible idea. Since my hair is really thin and I have a lot of it, my hair gained a lot of volume and took the shape of a triangle. When I went back to school every one started calling me “hair with 1000 volts” because it looked like I had been electrocuted. I changed hairdressers after that.
What you love about your hair: It is part of who I am! People come out of their way to compliment my hair and it always makes my day!
Do you hate anything or have any pet peeves regarding your hair?: It gets stuck to literally anything: hangers, buttons, other people’s clothes… It is pretty awkward to stop in the middle of party to untangle your hair from another girl’s sequined dress!
Any hair care tips, essentials, or go-to products?: “Pantene cachos definidos leave-in conditioner” is the love of my life. They only sell it in Brazil so every time I go home I bring at least 5 bottles with me. I apply it after the shower to add weight to my hair, scrunch it up and just let it dry naturally!
Any advice for readers?: If you have curly hair, don’t ever straighten it permanently! Embrace the curly 🙂
Alexia (COL ’16)
Hair type: 3b (I think)
Embarrassing story about my hair: One time during recess in elementary school my teacher dropped a bug in my hair! It was stuck for about a solid 60 seconds, and I was totally panicking the entire time she was trying to get it out. Now, every time I see a bug that gets even slightly close to my hair I freak out. I had to learn the hard way that my curly fro and bugs just don’t mix.
What I love about my hair: I haven’t always liked my hair, and I’ve found that learning to love my curls has been a process. It’s a natural feeling, but sometimes I get envious of other curly-haired girls and I want my hair to look like theirs. What I’ve learned to love about my curly hair is how unique it is. I think it’s super cool how versatile my hair is — I can wear it curly, straight, or even with Solange braids! There’s something very special about knowing that there isn’t anyone else in the world with the same exact hair as you. Do you hate anything or have any pet peeves regarding your hair?: I'm super picky about my hair, it can’t be too small and it can’t be too big. After my curls dry I always spend an ample amount of time teasing it, trying to get it the right shape.
Hair-care tips, essentials, go-to products: ALWAYS moisturize your hair. It’s really important to be careful what you put on it! I actually make my own flaxseed gel to style my hair. It’s super easy, and a healthy alternative to other hair care products that have sulfates and alcohol that can dry and damage your locks.
Now that the girls behind the curls have spoken, I just have a few last words. If you have curly hair, hang in there. Especially if like me, you don’t have anyone else in my family to learn about your hair from (the curls are from my dad’s side and all his sisters cut their hair short). I only recently decided to start taking proper care of my hair, so I’m just now getting the hang of leave-in conditioner and deep conditioning treatments and all that jazz. I still have so much to learn, from these girls and many others out there. And if you don’t have curly hair, just try to be understanding of those of us that do. Play with our hair and ask questions all you want, as long as you have our permission. Oh, and please please let us know if we have anything stuck in it!