If you haven’t read February 8 yet, you can do so here.

If you stumbled onto this post by accident and haven’t read any of the other stories, head over to this post to find out more about this project.

Jessica found herself staring longingly at Jamila’s curls, not for the first time. 

“Seriously, are your curls just naturally that amazing?”

Jamila laughed. “Girl, do you know how much time, money, and product goes into making these look good?”

Jessica shook her head. Jamila’s cabin was a few door’s down from Jessica and Poppy, but they often shared meals in the staff cafeteria. 

“I wish my hair would look like that. My curls are like… bad. And they’re always knotted,” Jessica complained. Mostly she tied her hair back in some kind of bun or ponytail and left it like that until the next wash day. By then it would be a knotted mass that barely resembled hair.

“Girl, how you wash it?” Jessica shrugged.

“Same as everyone.”

Jamila stared at her pointedly. “I’m gonna need a bit more than that.”

Jessica wondered how much she should tell Jamila. Should she mention that she didn’t look at it for days between washes and only washed when it started to itch?

She decided on a half truth. “Well, I usually brush it right before I wash. Then I just use shampoo, sometimes twice if it feels really gross. Then I condition it. Then I brush it and put it up.”

“Girl. Hold up. There is so much there that we need to fix.” Jamila sighed loudly. 

“You got work today?”

Jessica shook her head.
“Good, well, you come down to my room and we’ll deal with this hair issue of yours. Do you have a wide tooth comb? If you do, bring it. If not, I think I have a spare. Somewhere.” Jamila smiled. “Girl, you don’t know what you’ve been missing. We’re gonna have those curls looking fab. You won’t even know yourself.”

Jessica felt a knot of anxiety form in her stomach. She didn’t know Jamila that well, did she trust her with her unruly hair? How long had it been since she washed it? How knotty was it going to be.

Twenty minutes later, Jessica was sitting on Jamila’s bed while she explained the intricacies of caring for curly hair. Something Jessica had never thought to question. Her mother’s straight hair got shampooed and conditioned every few days; she’d never realized her daughter’s hair was any different. 

“Look, there are a lot of things to know about curly hair, but let’s go through your routine from start to finish and look at where we can improve it.” Jessica nodded her understanding. Jamila had been talking about conditioners, refreshing, co-washing, and other things Jessica didn’t understand for 10 minutes, so she was glad for a change.

“You said you brush first?”

Jessica nodded.

“Well, first off, that’s going to damage your hair. We want to stick to a comb. Something like this.” Jamila grabbed a comb with thick teeth and wide gaps between them to show Jessica.

“People always say that, but I can’t get the knots out that way.”

Jamila smiled. “My hair used to be like that too.”

“Okay. Wide tooth comb. What else?” Jessica knew the wide tooth comb was never going to work for her, even if Jamila said her hair had once had the same issues, but she’d see it through anyway.

“You shampoo?” It was a question, but Jessica didn’t understand why. Shampoo was a given.

“Yeah. Of course.”
“Girl, stop. No more poo. That shit is building up and building up. No wonder you so itchy.”

Jessica nodded. Still not understanding.

“Instead, we’re gonna jump straight into conditioning. Get that hair nice and wet, then condition. But we want a lot of conditioner. Whatever amount you think, double it.”

Jessica nodded again. “Lots of conditioner.”

“Yes, but it has to be the right kind or it’ll just build up. No silicones or parabens for starters. I’ll send you a list.” Jessica was already starting to feel like she had no idea what she was doing. Though, her hair could have told her that already.

“Next. You gotta comb it out. While the conditioner is still in there. Comb it out.”

“Comb wet hair?” Jessica could barely brush her hair once it was wet, here was someone telling her to comb it?


“In your case, we’re gonna add a bit of a deep condition, but just because your hair is so dry and broken. You don’t need to do it every time.”

Jessica had no idea what a deep condition involved but she had begun to wish she’d never asked Jamila how she got such nice curls.

“After that, we plop.”


“Plop,” Jamila confirmed. 

It was another two hours of Jamila doing who knew what to Jessica’s hair including half an hour of wearing a t-shirt around her head before Jessica got a chance to see the finished product.

“Wow, this looks way better than my first effort. You a new woman.” Jamila sat back and admired her handiwork.

“Holy shit. This can’t be my hair.”

“Yeah girl. It is. See what happens when you look after it?”

Jamila laughed as Jessica admired her bouncing curls from every angle. 

How was she almost 30 with zero idea how to look after her own hair? 

You can read February 10 here.

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