Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
My name is Elsa, I was born in Ethiopia and grew up in Ottawa most of my life. I have an Environmental Studies background and have always been passionate about sustainability in general. I am always in search of better and simpler ways for self-care and that includes a sustainable hair care regimen for all naturals out there.
You have gorgeous curls, have you always wanted long hair?
Thank you. I think I have always wanted healthy hair more than length. I happen to have long hair so I never consciously thought about length in general. But that perspective changed when I became a natural and saw the shrinkage. I still consider it long however :)
Did you always accept your curls, or was that a journey?
Not at all. Growing up I always had pinned-straight hair. It was straight out of the shower and to the blow dryer, then to the straightener for me. I never questioned why I did not like my curls, that took a journey in discovering and deconstructing my consciousness to find out why that was. Accepting my curls at the end was the best thing to ever happen to me because I learned a lot about myself throughout the process of transitioning.
Looking back, what are some things you wish you knew sooner about hair?
I often think about this a lot and two things come to mind:-
- I wish I knew about hair science, particularly the versatility of hair and how the very thing that is an extension of you is just as adaptive as yourself. If I had known the malleability of my hair a long time ago, I would have started my hair journey then. Lack of knowledge and process can definitely have its effects on your hair. Nowadays I take into consideration the versatility aspect of hair when creating recipes like oil concoctions or deep conditioners. It allows me to cater to the specific needs of my hair based on its texture type, flexibility, and condition.
- I also wish I knew about products that are catered to curly-haired people. I think there were a few but they were not available in major stores or hair care salons. This lack of access had an influence on my hair care regimen. Because of this, I started experimenting and creating recipes based on whatever was available at the market. Using regular conditioners as deep conditioners and steaming with a plastic cap instead of a fancy hair steamer was an adaptive process for me. It also taught me that there is always a sustainable and affordable way to care for hair.
What made you decide to start “curlsbyelsi”?
I started “Curlsbyelsi” as a guide-page for people who are starting out or are on their journeys. I relied mostly on research and some youtube videos when I was transitioning. That took a long time and I am still actively learning and adapting. It took me 4 years to transition to curly hair and it is still a learning curve. I want to share what I used and continue to use for those that are also in their wonderful transitioning period.
The page is created for those who want to know about hair care tips, recipes, and methods, regardless of their hair types. And I wanted to make sure it is sustainable, meaning that the products, recipes, and tips are easily accessible in creating these concoctions. I believe that simple methods are better. You don’t need 15 types of oils to grow or strengthen your hair. If you do it right with research and learning their benefits, you only need 3 to 4 oils and half of them could already be available in your cupboard.
Most importantly, embracing my curls has allowed me to accept myself for who I am and it is through this journey to which I learned that about myself without even realizing it. I wanted to share that experience through my page in hopes that it can influence others as well.
What would you tell your youngest self?
Love yourself as you are and not as what society expects you to be.
What would an exciting future look like, from your perspective?
An exciting future would look like an environment in which everyone embraces their curly hair as it is. We are all created different and accepting who we are allows us to garner a positive space for our well-being. Through my page, I want to create a space where people can also share their experiences and how that shaped their perspective about themselves. Going through a hair journey opens up a dialogue for self-learning and introspection. And I want to give people simple tools that can aid their curly hair journey.
I am excited to share more on my page about self-care in general. Hair care is based on both external and internal factors so I am looking forward to providing guides that can definitely be helpful to anyone going through this process.
Let's play a little game. How do you rank popular social media platforms, from your favorite to your least favorite? Is there a reason?
- Instagram is #1
- Facebook is #2
- Youtube is #3
- Pinterest is #4
- Linkedin is #5
- Tiktok is #6
I can’t keep up with too many social media platforms! I can’t stand Tiktok, there are way too many trends out there and some are not safe from what I see. Instagram is my #1 choice because I can create videos, post pictures, send messages and do everything the rest of the platforms can do but in one application. I’m a minimalist so if I can do all in one platform, Instagram is my choice. I can also see the latest tiktok trends on Instagram so it’s a win-win.
How about these methods?
I used to cowash often but now I use a conditioner instead. It saves the same purpose because some conditioners can also act as mild cleansers.
This is the most important step for me. I religiously prepoo every week before washday. It is the most significant regimen of my curly hair routine. My prepooing consists of oil-concoctions, I apply it to my scalp and curls, wrap it with a plastic cap overnight for absorption, and wash the next day with a mild conditioner or shampoo.
- Water only method
That will never work for my hair, I only tried it once and it left my hair going in all directions.
- LCO & LOC
I prefer both, they both cater to my low-medium porosity hair well depending on the season.
In winter months I use LCO because applying the oil as the last step protects my curls from dry weather conditions. The oil locks the moisture and gives my curls shine and causes less frizz.
In summer months I use LOC because my hair dries quickly due to heat. I usually air-dry so locking in the leave-in with oil in the middle step will close out my hair cuticles before I apply my cream.
What’s your favorite kind of Self-care?
This is my absolute favorite because I consider self-care as “my day”, a day to nurture myself and be introspective about how I can tend to my well-being. Sundays are usually my self-care days because it is the day I give to myself to relax, do my hair routine, listen to music, chat with friends, and do things that make me happy. I see self-care as my ritual to re-energize my mind and body and I think everyone should have a self-care day.
What do you wish more people knew?
I wish more people knew about the porosity of their hair. It is often the one that gets missed or is unheard of. I never knew about porosity and different levels until I went natural. Knowing your hair’s ability to absorb and retain moisture is so essential in targeting what type of products and oils work for your hair.
Where can people find you?
People can find me on my Instagram page @Curlsbyelsi
Elsa, Thanks so much for sharing all those super useful tips, and for sharing your knowledge with us all, it's empowering indeed!