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Reader Q&A: CurlyNikki on Becoming Your Own Hair Care Guru

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Calling all naturalistas: Do you have urgent tress questions? If so, you're in luck. Every Thursday, natural hair blogger extraordinaire CurlyNikki will be solving your curly hair conundrums! Submit your questions by tweeting them to @EssenceOnline with the hashtag #AskCurlyNikki.

Check out the newest installment in CurlyNikki's reader Q&A series:

READER QUESTION: There are so many natural hair bloggers sharing their tips and styling secrets with us, through the web, YouTube, and various blogs. What criteria do you use to determine which videos, or hair gurus, you may borrow tips from? -Terra D.

CURLYNIKKI: I've been in and around the online curly world for more than 5 years now. When I first hit the scene I was a novice and, like a new sponge, absorbed as much information as I could. I made NaturallyCurly.com my home, and read every post, started hundreds of threads, and literally memorized all of the featured scientific articles (I LOVE TONYA). I immediately became a PJ, trying tons and tons of products and of course sharing my results with my fellow members.

I independently researched and cross checked every detail I came across -- never taking anything at face value. I had many, many online natural idols (Natakue, Subbrock, NaturalRemedy, Nikstar -- all of which are on Fotki), and for me, they were the gurus! Why? Because the proof was in the pudding. Their hair was gorgeous, healthy and their routines, on point. I relentlessly PM'ed (private messaged) them with question after question, knowing that although our hair textures differed, I could hopefully achieve their level of health and beauty.

Then, all of a sudden, a new wave of curlies joined NC.com and I became one of the 'gurus!' It was so strange... ahhhh... the student becomes the teacher. And I loved it! I love sharing the knowledge I've amassed, teaching... and (still) learning. That's why I started this blog!

Clearly, I'm not a cosmetologist, I'm not a trichologist- - everything I've learned about natural hair has come from independent study. People who know me in real life know that I'm a researcher. It's what I do best! Before I do anything, buy anything, visit a new place, I read up on it extensively, becoming an expert. And I'm even better at synthesizing and presenting it to people in a digestible way.

I said all of that to say this:
• Be your own guru. Read, learn and apply as you see fit.
• Don't jump on every bandwagon.
• Do your own research, take nothing at face value. You'll be surprised at how much BS you come across.
• Don't try everything at once. Live by the three-week rule, or else you'll never know what's working and what isn't.
• Learn the ingredients, the ones to avoid and the ones to seek out, as well as the reasons why.
• Remember that every head is different. Finding similar heads of hair online is fun and gives you a starting point (for routines and products), but don't be afraid to branch out. I've received some of the best advice and product recommendations from 2c's-3a's! The 'too heavy...weighed me down...moisture overload' products they complain about, are the ones I run out to purchase!

Nikki "CurlyNikki" Walton is a successful psychotherapist and creator of one of the most credible online sources about natural haircare, maintenance, and decoding the psychological ties between black women and their hair. Visit her at her blog CurlyNikki or follow her on Twitter @CurlyNikki.

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