The methods to keeping natural hair healthy and maintained have an endless number of combinations. However, Black Girl Curls founders Aeleise Ollarvia and Aisha Strickland are here to tell us our Liquid-Oil-Cream hacks are actually counterproductive to what our curls need. Their suggested 30-Day Hair Detox may break a lot of coconut-oil-loving hearts but it may be for the better.
PEOPLE Magazine profiled the two natural hair stylists to see what the fuss was about as they both followed and debunked recent hair trends. Rice water rinses, shea butter slathering, even your gel-based wash and go is not the way according to Ollarvia and Strickland.
The women behind the digital hub Black Girl Curls say the secret to hydrated coils that pop is very simple and can be broken down into three easy steps — shampoo, condition, and style. To use their words, they’re “taking the stupid out of natural hair.”
“We’re not calling anyone stupid. But you cannot tell me that putting sweet potato conditioner [or] onion juice in your hair makes any sense when we start to think about cleansing, conditioning, styling,” Ollarvia, 38, tells PEOPLE, referring to haircare methods popularized on social media.
Their 30-Day-Detox went viral on Twitter and was debated by many natural hair YouTubers, reported PEOPLE. Since we were young, Black women have considered oils, greases and moisturizing butters as household staples and holy grails. Ollarvia and Strickland said there’s a better way to ensure definition and moisture, sending natural hair enthusiasts into a frenzy.
“The client’s telling me, ‘Oh, I’m doing all the right things to my hair and my hair’s still dry…’ And she’s listing all the things the internet is telling her. I’m like, ‘Okay, this is why this is happening, and this is why this is happening.’ I think Aishia had [an] aha moment of, ‘Why doesn’t everybody know this?’” said Ollarvia referencing the light-bulb moment from where the detox came.
The natural hair girls may not agree with the challenge but it honestly comes down to basic science.
“The detox is about removing all the unnecessary and then filling in the necessary foundational information about… hair,” Ollarvia says. “Basic cosmetology theory in terms of styling. What is shampoo? Why do we use shampoo? What is conditioner? Why do we use conditioner?”
Ollarvia breaks down why using grease, butters, and oil to add moisture to hair defies logic. Take the word “hydration,” for example. “Hydra is water,” she says. “Every word that we use to describe what state we want our hair to be in is related back to water.” If the hair is “not clean,” she notes, if it’s “built up with product, especially occlusive product,” moisture, water can’t penetrate it.
Ollarvia went further to explain that our petroleum-based creams and castor oil concoctions actually cause our hair to repel water rather than absorb it. Even your spray bottle recipe may need an adjustment. “When we think of putting water and oil in a bottle, especially without an emulsifier, it fights each other. We also think about coconut oil as absorbable to the hair, so if your hair is fully absorbed with coconut oil, it cannot absorb water,” said Ollarvia via PEOPLE.
It’s more than a matter of mastering hydration but also honoring our hair in its natural state. Friends of the two stylists called the challenge a “mindset shift” as it causes Black women to own their hair in its true form without additional or potentially damaging manipulation, reported PEOPLE.
“[We] really do it for the curls and the culture. That is why we show up every single day. It’s for the culture,” said Strickland via PEOPLE.