Since she hit our screens as part of S Club 8 with enviable curls in 2001, Rochelle Humes has been on quite the hair journey. Ten months ago she stopped straightening her hair and she’s still going strong. Stylist sat down with the new face of John Frieda’s Frizz Ease range to find out her tips, her progress, and whether she’ll be a curly girl for life…
Let’s take it back to the beginning. Can you describe the story of your hair?
All throughout my childhood, my hair was always curly. Although my mum was a hairdresser, she wasn’t used to taking care of mixed race curly hair because she’s white - she used to mix fabric conditioner and water in a spray bottle and use that, but it must’ve worked!
It wasn’t until GHD straighteners became such a holy grail item when I was 17 that I started straightening my hair. I also wanted to be part of the getting ready fun with my friends, and that involved using the same tools and products. Once I turned 18, I started playing around with hair extensions, and then chemical straightening. There was always something new that you could do with your hair, and the temptation was too much.
But last Christmas, my daughter told me that she wanted straight hair like a Disney princess and it broke my heart. I realised I wasn’t setting the right example, so I decided to stop straightening my hair and got rid of my extensions. That was ten months ago - I could’ve made a baby in that time, and in a way I have through nurturing my hair.
I don’t know how I’ve had the patience for this, as I hate waiting for anything, so I’m really proud of myself. My hairdresser told me that two years of no straightening is when I’ll truly see the difference in my texture - in just ten months, my hair’s already transformed so much so I can’t wait to see what’s in store.
Who is your curly hair inspiration?
It always used to be Scary Spice - we had the same hair, and I adored her. Now I follow loads of curly hair Instagram accounts and influencers who teach me about how to take care of my hair as well.
Have you ever considered doing the ‘big chop?’
I couldn’t, I’m not ready yet! My hairdresser advised doing transitional cutting, where we snip little bits off the ends now and again. I have about an inch or so of damaged ends which won’t re-curl that need cutting, but I’m doing it bit by bit rather than all in one go.
At this stage in your hair journey, what products do you swear by for restoring damaged curls?
I love doing a scalp massage with castor oil. But it’s so thick and syrupy so I mix it with coconut oil, which helps it wash out better. I use Sunny Isle’s Castor Oil, £11.99. I’m still working out what products my hair responds to best as it’s constantly changing, but I do love the Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Leave In Conditioner, £10,99, and the John Frieda Frizz Ease Dream Curls Deep Conditioner, £6.99, and John Frieda Curl Defining Creme, £6.99, right afterwards.
The most important tip I’ve learned is to do everything in the shower. From shampoo, to the hair mask, to the curly cream and jelly - everything! It all needs to be applied when the hair’s soaking wet, otherwise the frizz will have already set in by the time it’s started to dry. I wish they wrote that as an instruction on the back of bottles!
Who takes care of your curls?
Joleigh Wynter of @Curl.Talk - she’s amazing. She’s the only person with a pair of scissors that I trust. She’s trained in the DevaCut method of shaping curly and textured hair, and is about to open a salon in Brick Lane.
How has your daughter responded to you going curly?
She’s obsessed with the fact that we’ve got matching hair and it’s really changed her view of her hair. There’s only so much blame you can place on the fact that not all Disney princesses have curly hair. You have to make that change. It’s got to come from you, it’s a little closer to home.
Everything I do, she wants to copy, so I don’t think I could blow dry my hair straight over and over again now. I’m not saying I won’t do it again, it’s nice to have a change once in a while, but I’m not going to until I’ve got my hair to where I want it to be. I’ll never say never, but I think she would really tell me off! I hope she doesn’t go through the wanting-to-straighten-her-hair phase.
Why do you think so many young girls want to straighten their hair?
I think when you’re a teenager, the last thing you want is for people to look at you and single you out for being different. That’s something you try and embody more when you’re an adult. Teens always want to fit in, and I think the Noughties were the era of stick-straight hair.
There’s been a lot of discussion over the past couple of years about the natural hair community and how mixed-race or white models and influencers are taking the spotlight. What are your thoughts on this, as a mixed-race woman?
When I first discovered the natural hair community, it was such an amazing thing for me but I didn’t realise straight away that it had been created by black women. I had no idea about curl types or anything, that’s why I started using the hashtag #CurlsLikeUs (which currently has over 18k posts) to get people to share their advice so that myself and others could start our natural hair journey.
I got so much material that I started the Instagram account @curlslikeus, where I make little videos with influencers and curly girls and repost their photos for inspiration. Being mixed, I want to be as knowledgeable about race issues as possible and make sure what I put out there is diverse, but I can only represent what I know. In terms of me partnering with John Frieda and the backlash on that - I’ve got curly hair, I’ve been using John Frieda for a while, they know I’ve got curls and it makes sense for us to join forces.
Image: John Frieda