Curly Hair Movement In India

Curly Hair Movement In India

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Hashtags such as #CurlyHairDon’tCare or #NaturallyCurly have started trending frequently. With just a few clicks, you can check out Indian CG bloggers or forums and be part of the community.


It is a truth, universally acknowledged that women with straight hair would love the bouncy curls while women with curly hair want their hair sleek and straight. While straight hair is easily achievable and manageable, curls are a different ball game altogether.

straight vs curly hair

Whether it is Kavya Kulkarni (Mithila Palkar) in Little Things or Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) in Stranger Things, Supermodel Cindy Bruna who saunters proudly on every runway or Popular Indian Comic Artist – @straycurls who documents her struggles and victories due to her hairstyle, curly hair is finally getting the representation it deserves. While 60% of the world’s population has naturally curly or wavy hair, Indians had always treated straight hair as the ideal type. The obsession was fuelled by advances in technology and the ready availability of salon-quality straighteners on the high street. So much so was the obsession that curly hair was often portrayed as unruly and rebellious, and the solution was always to settle it by using a particular serum or a shampoo, as advertised!


Greece was the very first place to celebrate the beauty of curls; they created magnificent statues of gods and goddesses with perfect ringlets. The year 2000 saw the Natural Hair Movement, which encouraged women and men of African descent to keep their natural afro-textured hair instead of relaxing it (chemically straightening) to avoid facing racism. The movement aimed to redefine what beauty means in the black community. This return to natural hair in the organic era has been encouraged by the awareness of the harmful effects of relaxers on the scalp, namely itching, red patches, burns, broken hair or alopecia. 

The Natural Hair Movement awakened a sense of responsibility towards one’s body and hair and also took notice of society’s pressure to conform. After the revolutionary Curly Girl Handbook written by Lorraine Massy in 2001, there was a cultural shift towards embracing and accepting curly hair. When it was first published, straight hair was the prevailing style for women in the USA, UK, and India, and many women felt the pressure to straighten their hair with flat irons or chemical relaxers. Massey writes in her introduction about growing up in England, where she was ridiculed for having curly hair. When she moved to New York City, she had an eye-opening experience: “Jewish, Italian, Latino, and African-American people living around me had curly hair that looked like mine! I no longer looked or felt like an outsider.” 

lorraine massey

THE CURLY GIRL METHOD 

Massey introduced ‘The Curly Girl Method’ or more popularly known, The CG Method to the world. The CG method essentially tells you about several techniques and ways to nourish curly hair. The basic tenets are the use of hair products, which do not have sulphates, silicones or alcohol, conditioner washing or ‘co-washing’ (giving shampoo a miss to cleanse your hair with conditioner), and not using combs and brushes. Variations exist across the world. The CG community overseas has been thriving for over a decade now, but it’s only recently that the movement came to India. 

cg method
Before and after following CG Method.

With the Internet Age, there also came YouTube tutorials and IGTV videos on topics ranging from “How to take care of your curls” to “How to do the CG Method.” Hashtags such as #CurlyHairDon’tCare or #NaturallyCurly started trending. With just a few clicks, you can check out Indian CG bloggers or forums and be part of the community.  The first Indian blogger who started talking about taking care of curly hair was Indian Curl Pride aka Asha Barrack. The blog was started in February 2015 and it has over 20,000 members. From posts and video tutorials to a Facebook group (Indian Curl Pride), her efforts have helped many Indian women with wavy and curly hair. Now, she also has launched her curly hair line -Ashba Botanics.

Asha Barrak

Nirjari Shah, Founder and Creator of Kitsch by Nik and a member of Indian Curl Pride shares, “There are different kinds of curls and their classification. I am a type 2 and therefore I maintain it using sulphate-free shampoo and frequent Ayurvedic treatments. Chemicals are a big no for curly hair. I use a satin pillow cover rather than cotton for sleeping as cotton absorbs moisture and makes the hair frizzy. So, avoid cotton and embrace silk for that curly bounce” 

Nirjari Shah

Sargam Manjavala, Owner and Founder at Fluiditea Kombucha and a fellow Curly Hair girl, came across the CG method about two years ago and it changed her life. In her words, it was the “Holy Grail”. Apart from following the CG Method, Sargam also maintains her hair by wrapping it in a silk scarf every night.

Sargam Manjavala

Silk scarf is a must, we say. 

TYPES OF CURLY HAIR 

The first person to classify the different hair textures into different types was hairstylist Andre Walker. He divided the hair into 4 different hair types: Type 1- Straight Hair; Type 2- Wavy Hair; Type 3- Curly Hair; and Type 4- Coily Hair. Type 2,3,4 are further divided into A, B, C depending on the coils of the curl. CG groups help you identify your hair texture and category and basis on that your care routine is determined.

Since there was no representation of curly hair in pop culture during her growing up phase, Nirjari did succumb to societal pressure and tried to straighten her tresses. However, eventually she embraced her natural hair. “It wasn’t a sudden change or an epiphany, I started embracing it gradually” she adds on her entry into the CG cult. On the need for haircuts and trims, she comments, “Since there are very few hairstylists in India who understand curly hair and how to cut it, I am very cautious about where I go for a trim or cut, usually, I cut it myself.

Senior Hairstylist Vikas Barua at Move Onn, Surat’s leading salon, however is among the few hairstylists who have understood curly routine better than his counterparts. “Curly hair needs to be treated differently in terms of shampoo and brush use. We use the brushes that are specifically created to not rob off the moisture from the scalp”. He adds that there has been a recent surge in accepting naturally curly hair.  Until mid-2019, people were keen on getting keratin treatment or smoothening to make it manageable, but now the trend is changing. 

WHICH PRODUCTS TO INVEST IN 

Online communities and groups like The Curly Hair Community or Curly Hair Blogger and Consultant – The Curious Jalebi aka Pallavi Juneja offer advice on which products to invest according to your hair type. It is important to know that maintaining curls has its own cost. It is therefore wise to invest and steadily build a stash of quality products, even if they are pricey so that the quality and nourishment of hair are not compromised.

Curious Jalebi’s Amazon account is a guided experience to check out the range of hair products available for different types of curly hair. 

https://www.amazon.in/shop/thecuriousjalebi

Her blog has dedicated posts of every kind of curly hair struggle imaginable and she helps out readers via hosting Q/A rounds and taking in consulting requests. 

India also saw the rapid rise of Wow and its range of natural hair care products. Suma Ajmuri, Natural Hair Advocate and YouTube blogger recommend their Apple Cider Vinegar shampoo and conditioner for frizz-free hair and lustre. Wow’s apple cider vinegar shampoo is the highest selling product on Amazon in India and the US. Honestproducts.in is India’s first-ever curly girl webshop.

From shampoos to flexy brush, cleanser and detangling spray, the website offers a range of products for every type of curls. 

Sargam also follows Honest Liz (https://honestliz.com) also known as Elizabeth Alex who encourages newbies to embrace their natural hair by writing in detail on its care and maintenance. Currently, she uses products by Ashba Botanics

With a range of products that are created and made available for curly hair, its time to embrace the real beauty in you. 

Himanshi Saboo
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