Laura Erickson embraces her natural hair texture and gains the confidence to try a brand new look.
woman with curly hair

I've been fighting my out-of-control, naturally curly hair since I was 13. I envied the girls in school who had perfect spiral perms with every little curl in place (something my hair refused to do!). The products I tried made my hair look crunchy or wet, so I straightened it -- first, with a blow dryer, then with a flat iron. After almost 35 years of hot styling, my hair was fried. One day this spring, I was at my wit's end. I thought, "I wish I could just wear my hair curly!"

By then, though, I had no idea how. Dreading a long -- and frizzy -- transition, I did some research. I consulted my stylist, who shaped my hair and suggested I let it grow out a little. Otherwise, my curls would be too poodlelike. Then I visited websites on caring for curly hair. At, I learned that there are nine types (I'm a Type 3A Curly Twirly) and read the message boards and product reviews written by others who were going natural.

Next came a lot of trial and error. There were times when I told myself, "Oh forget it! Go back to straightening." But I was determined. Drawing on more online advice, I switched to sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner, which were less drying, and experimented with washing my hair less often, settling on once a week. There were some crunchy/wet misfires, but a couple of new products, such as a curl-defining cream, worked surprisingly well.

After about six weeks, I found the right cocktail of products and a frizz-free styling routine. The first time everything clicked was a moms' night out. My friends loved my new look and were really supportive! Since then, I've gotten a few "Are you going to keep it that way?" comments, but mostly everyone respects that I've embraced what works for me. My husband, Pete, and our two boys, Michael and Trevor, still say they prefer my hair straight, but I know they love me no matter how I wear it. And I feel like I've released my inner curly goddess!

Laura Erickson and family

Want to try it?

Take the quiz at to discover your curl profile, then check out the style gallery, product reviews, and how-tos for "plopping" (fear not: it's a drying technique).

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