Growing up, my curls were a point of pain. My own culture glamorized straight hair, and at school, I was made fun of. I was called “Puff Ball,” “Frizz Puff,” names that drove me to believe that my hair was in fact, ugly. “Pelo malo.”
Millions of women, including Latinas, have beautiful curls, waves and coils. I think we all have vivid recollections of the many times we’ve been reminded that we have curls — reminded as though it’s a burden. When I was around 5 years old, I went to the hair salon with my mom for my first haircut, back when you’d pick your hairstyle from a salon book. “Go through this book and tell me what haircut you want,” the stylist prompted, mostly to keep me distracted. I remember finding a picture of a girl with super long straight blonde hair and I excitedly ran to the hair stylist saying “I want my hair just like her!” Everyone looked at me with my huge, gravity-defying curls and started laughing. That was a pivotal moment in my life, after which all I wanted was straight hair.
So, I spent years flat-ironing my hair, just to fit in, just to feel pretty. It wasn’t until I was in high school that I started embracing my natural hair. I went to a progressive high school where we learned race theory, and how many of our internalized beauty standards are a result of systems of inequality against people of color. I realized then that I needed to dismantle my previous beliefs around my hair being “pelo malo” and instead, learn to love it. Embracing my natural hair has been so important to me because I realized I couldn’t fully love myself until I loved my hair.
In the years that followed, I saved all my money to buy anything that was even slightly advertised for curly hair, but most products left me disappointed. I was left with such few options for hair care that I did the next best thing and came up with my own alternative. I turned to the Earth for natural ingredients to give my hair the definition, hold and moisture it needed without compromising its health. I spent years walking around with a little ziploc bag filled with my own concoction of natural ingredients. With my special little formula bag in tow, I was always ready to hook up anyone who was ashamed or intimidated by their curls (“undercover curly” hair, as I’d call it) and show them the full potential of their glorious curls. When women saw my curls, they would pull me aside and ask for my help, so I knew I wasn’t the only one struggling to find the right products for my own hair. All of these experiences were inspiration for what would soon become our most beloved product: the Rizos Curls Curl Defining Cream
I created Rizos Curls because I always felt that Latinas were left out of the curly hair conversation because the broader beauty industry did not understand the needs of curly-haired women and men across diverse communities. I wanted to change that by creating clean curl care and styling products, but also by creating culturally relevant curl content in both English and Spanish. I want all of our customers to know that we deeply understand and celebrate them – from curl type to culture. Rizos Curls is a direct reflection of the diversity of our current community and culture. We’re not just a brand that is using high-quality natural ingredients; we’re a brand that is deeply rooted in Curls, Community and Culture.
I never imagined that Rizos Curls would be where it is today, and that the brand could help so many women and men, not only embrace, but show off their curls, waves and coils. Learning to love my hair was a big part of learning to love myself. The majority of our customers are men and women who, like me, were looking to embrace a part of themselves they had been taught to reject for so long. I feel incredibly honored that Rizos Curls is able to support them on this journey of self-love and acceptance. I hope to continue learning, growing and improving, so I can better serve my community. Because, our pelo is truly a thing of beauty.