Learning to embrace and maybe even love my curly hair — despite decades of beating it into submission — thanks to Zen Zen Organic Salon.

You may not be able to tell by looking at me, but I have really curly hair. Like, CRAZY curly. I’d even go as far as saying it’s kinky and not in a good way. It’s taken me years to come to terms with it and even longer to learn how to beat it into submission.

Believe you me, I’ve tried everything humanly possible to undo it: blowing, straightening, ironing, perming, curling, keratin, braiding, sponge curling, praying; the list goes on…

You name it, I’ve tried it. All in search of silky, satiny, sleek, sexy, poker-straight hair. You’d think by now I would’ve mastered my own mop, but sadly, I haven’t.

Instead, I let the professionals have their way with it, which includes: a weekly wash/blow-out/flat-iron sesh. If I have time, I ask for curls (of course, not my own.) I prefer well-contrived, perfectly constructed ones, created by a professional in a temperature-controlled environment. Yep…

Getting my hair straight is a full-time job and one I take pretty seriously. Television isn’t exactly the kind of career where you just let your fro’ go and hope for the best; in fact, I’ve written several blogs about it.

So, how is this one different? “Au Naturel” is about reimagining what my hair could have, would have, should have been if I had grown-up differently, in a progressive environment and bigger town. The blog is also about self acceptance, even if it’s years in the making. Speaking of…

From the moment I popped out of my mom’s womb, I had big, beautiful, bushy hair. I was a happy little towhead, with ridiculously cute ringlets. As I reached adolescence, my blonde locks faded into sandy brown and my curls grew tighter and thicker, becoming incredibly coarse. It made me miserable.

Mainly, because I didn’t know how to care for it and no one around me did, either. My mother tried, but it became impossible for her, too. That’s when we started our monthly salon crawls, trying to find someone who could understand and help manage my ethnic hair. Our search was semi-successful once we found some tricks of the trade.

Hello, lye and sodium hydroxide (those are the chemicals used to beat one’s hair into submission.) It stinks to high heaven, but the burning and stinging sensations (on the scalp) are even worse. Despite the suffering, the process never gave me the silky, straight hair I longed for. It did, however, make it more manageable.

As the years passed, I learned not to overlap lye (it burns your hair off) and without fail, I kept up the diligent task of hiding my hair’s true texture. If I had to be completely honest, I was only fooling myself.

Fast forward to adulthood and a successful career in television and a lot has changed (including society’s perception of naturally curly/kinky hair.) Meeting and working with some of the best styling gurus in the business has indeed helped me with my life-long hair struggles, but the last three years have been the most pivotal.

Zen Zen Organic Hair Salon and its master stylists (Cindy & Jess) have literally transformed my hair and my mindset. They treat your head and anything on it with love, respect and compassion, shying away from harsh chemicals and damaging techniques. Instead, they help you understand and care for your natural hair, all while helping it reach its maximum potential.

In the meantime, society has slowly but surely shifted its view on what beautiful hair is, with some of Hollywood leading ladies and high-profile models embracing their natural textures, in turn sending a healthy message to not only love the skin you’re in, but to celebrate it, too.

I’ve seen the aforementioned individuality movement expressed strongly in “Generation Z” (kids of today,) who easily express their ethnicities without the confinement of labels like “TV News Hair” or “Barbie Hair” (the list goes on)…

I’m not saying the world is perfect and there aren’t still prejudices, but I do think it’s better and I do think some of us are horrified by those who are judged because of race, religion and their overall “differences”…

In a perfect world, if I had been given a chance to see a famous actress, model or TV presenter with big, beautiful bushy hair, I think things would have been different for me. I would have relished my individuality and when I looked in the mirror, I wouldn’t have hated my curls and made it my life-long commitment to undo them.

When I see a young girl now with an Afro, I smile and think of how far we’ve come and how “Au Naturel” is removing the burden of some weird, unattainable perfection and replacing it with the beauty of individuality and that’s why it’s one of my favorite things.
For more blog pictures visit www.ShireenSandoval.com

Zen Zen Organic Salon
1825 NE 123rd Street
North Miami, Florida 33138

Tuesday-Saturday 10am-7pm


IG: @zenzenorganicsalonspa
FB: Zen Zen Organic Salon & Spa

“Curly headed girls rule the world.”
– anonymous

James Woodley Photography
Styling: Jackie Kay
Wigs styled by: Jess Stuver
Make-up: Tabitha Rey
Digital Editor: Jessie Neft-Swinger
Editor: Matthew “The Beauty of Imperfection” Auerbach

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