Coco + Creme caught up with one of our many hair idols, Elaine Welteroth, Beauty and Style Editor at Ebony Magazine. The natural hair maven dished about her hair journey, favorite products and more.
Elaine Welteroth: My whole entire life. I’ve always been a hardcore curly girl. My mother was adamant about never using chemicals on my hair when I was young.
However, I actually didn’t realize I had curly hair until around 5th grade because my mom kept it braided for most of my childhood. I was only allowed to wear it out for “fancy” occasions like yearbook picture day at school. Because I was convinced that it had to be dripping wet to maintain the curl, I would drench it with water at recess and numerous bathroom breaks.
In junior high, once I started wearing my hair out, I swapped water for hardcore gels and mousse to ensure the curls were uber controlled and well, downright crispy. I NEVER let anyone touch them – God forbid my curls get frizzy (back in the day the word for the enemy was “poufy”).
C+C: Describe the process you underwent to love and embrace your natural hair texture.
EW: I used to rely on flat irons for glamorous moments. From proms to graduation to first dates…I HAD to have my hair straight to feel special. Then I realized straightening my hair, even just with heat, was damaging it so badly that my curl pattern became altered permanently. I went from “Scary Spice” curls to “Chilli from TLC” waves. Once I lost the big, thick, bouncy, spirals I complained about for years, I wanted them back desperately. Reviving them required giving up my straight look for good until my natural curls were back full force. Now, I hardly recognize myself with straight hair – and neither does anyone else. Curly hair has become my signature. It’s an essential part of my look and my personality – and I love it!
C+C: How would you describe your hair journey?
EW: My curly hair story has been a journey of self-discovery, self-expression and self-love. There were several aha moments along the way but the overarching lesson was embracing the idea that what works best for me is just being me. That concept extends from my hair style to my wardrobe to the way I speak.
EW: 1. Miss Jessie’s Quick Curls
2. DevaCurl No Poo and One Condition
3. Devachan Diffuser (CHANGED THE GAME!)
4. Microfiber hair towel wrap…had to mention this!
C+C: Describe your hair regimen.
EW: I wash and deep condition once a week with #2 above. I always leave in some conditioner before leaving the shower. I saturate four sections of hair with #1 above. Let air dry (if in a hurry, wrapping it in a microfiber towel will help absorb excess water without drying out strands. NEVER use a towel – it creates friction, which results in frizz). Flip upside down and diffuse away with #3 above. This green plastic hand-shaped blow dryer attachment ensures 360 degree airflow and it does the “scrunching” job for you, which is nice so both hands don’t have to be in the mix. Always start drying at the root first to create great volume on the crown. Hang in there until the hair is as dry as possible. Then hands OFF for the whole day. By day 2, hair will be a tad bigger (= better). Separate springy curls to give more volume. Re-wet any frizz that has formed overnight to re-activate the product. Repeat daily. When frizz outnumbers springy curls – it’s time for a co-wash (rinse curls in the shower and condition but skip the no-poo).
C+C: What do you love about your natural hair?
EW: It sets me apart from the crowd and it’s so easy to maintain. Once you go wash and wear, you can never go back to hot tools and weekly salon appointments.
C+C: What was the most frustrating part of your hair journey and how did you overcome it?
EW: Dealing with straight pieces and uneven textures resulting from heat damage. It took a lot of time to get my curls back. Now that I have them, I won’t let them go! (Laughs)
C+C: What advice do you have for women considering the big chop or that are transitioning?
EW: Just do it! It’s liberating. Worst-case scenario: it doesn’t work for you – you can always go back to the creamy crack. But give your natural texture a try.
-Jessica C. Andrews