Val Mercado’s Hair Transformation Journey | Skin Deep | Refinery29

Val Mercado’s Hair Transformation Journey | Skin Deep | Refinery29


Even my mother to this day, you would never see her like this. She’s like, My name is Val and I’m a proud Afro Latina. Straightening my curly hair was part of what I thought it meant to be a Dominican, but when I moved to Los Angeles everything changed. I grew up in New York City which has the largest Dominican community in the US, with Dominican hair salons on just about every corner. I was raised with the idea that my naturally curly hair was “unrefined” or “messy,” and wearing it that way was not presentable. It definitely impacted the way I felt about
my curly hair for years But I never stopped to question it until I moved to LA three years ago and I was unable to find a Dominican stylist that specializes in my hair type. I had no choice but to embrace my natural curls. But while I learned to love ‘em, a part of me still missed the experience of a Dominican blowout. Hi Ma. Hi sweetheart. What are you going? How is DR? It’s good, I’m just at the beach, see? Oh wow. I just got my hair done by a Dominican and she charged me 250 pesos, its $5 dollars. She charged me $5. Oh my god. I’m actually gonna go get my hair straightened. We were able to find a Dominican hair stylist, finally. No kidding, finally. I’m glad you finally found a place that’s able to do your curly hair. Because unfortunately, being that your hair is very thin, you know, not a lot of people can specialize in that area to do it, you know, properly. Every weekend we would go spend up to seven hours at the hair salon to get our hair straightened, why would you straighten our hair so much as little girls? You know, people would be judgmental if you had that kind of hair. Being a Dominican, we bring such a different diversity to the world. But I felt that to fit in with the kind of people that we were around, you had to fit a certain criteria. And I think that that was the way that you guys were more accepted. But I know what, if you do your hair curly or if you want to have straight hair, don’t care what people say. As long as you feel comfortable. Talking with my mom left me feeling even more nostalgic for the blowout experience. I went to Salon Republic in West Hollywood to meet up with Rosa, a Dominican hair stylist to give me a blowout. Like me, Rosa has come to embrace both curly and straight styles since moving to LA. And I’m so excited to see what she does with my hair. Wow look at your hair, I love it. Let’s wash it first and then we’ll start. Okay, sounds good. Cool? I immediately felt right at home. And I realized quickly how much we had in common. So you’re Dominican too? Yeah, I am. I’m from Santiago. Oh okay. Yeah, where are you from? Well I was born in New York but — Me too! I used to live in Santo Domingo. Oh, okay. I didn’t leave my hair curly until I was 18. Me too. And I grew up going to the salon every week, religiously. I think that’s the main thing in Dominican beauty. We do whatever it takes Absolutely. to look good and feel good, you know? It’s the culture. You have to look presentable, Dominicans they don’t go to the supermarket without having their hair done, and their clothes need to be good. Back in New York, when I’m home, I usually do roller sets. Roller sets? Okay. Yeah the roller sets honestly makes it smoother and shiny, and glossier. That’s like a two hour process. Yes. The Dominican blowout, it’s such an essential and vital part of our culture. Absolutely. To me and to you it’s a regular blow dry, Exactly. But for most people the way we do our own technique. Yeah. You’re blow drying your hair in a healthy way with a round brush and actually putting that tension how we do it. It closes the cuticle better. As Rosa did my hair, I realized how much I had missed this. It felt especially good because this time I was straightening my hair on my own terms, rather than from a need to fit in. And after going so long without seeing my hair straightened, I was really excited to see it. You ready to see it? Yes, I’m so ready. Oh my gosh, no way. My hair never looked so bouncy. What? This is a Dominican blowout right here. Yes. Although I love my curls, getting a Dominican blowout reminded me so much of home and my childhood which felt really comforting. Next, I’m headed to meet up with my friend Gina for lunch. Gina is a professional dancer. As Dominicans growing up in New York, we shared a lot of the same experiences. Today we’re discussing how moving to LA has shaped our hair journey. Thank you. Thank you so much. Yes. Wow. Thank you. That looks so good. I know. Even though this is not Dominican food, that looks like a Dominican meal. Something my mom would make. Absolutely. The platanos maduros. Platanos is such a vital part of our culture. It is, it’s just platano with everything. Literally anything. If there’s no rice in it, it’s not a meal. Yeah. It’s just a snack. It’s so hard finding any Dominican spots out here. Barely any Dominican people too. Literally I’ve met like four Dominicans out here and that’s it. What do find is a struggle for you being a Dominican in LA? It’s definitely being a struggle finding a place for someone to manage your curly hair. Exactly. I don’t really straighten my hair at all anymore, I just always just keep it natural. I feel the most beautiful with my hair curly for sure. So when you were younger you used to straighten it more? Definitely, my mom would blow dry my hair all the time, go to salon. My mom did not want to see me with my, she called it a pajón. My grandma does too. Yeah, so Dominicans that moved to America kinda emulate more of the European culture. I think I was always told my whole life like, “You’re just Dominican, you are not black.” And when I went to college they were like, “You know you’re black, right? Like that’s part of who you are.” And I just didn’t know that. But it just makes sense, like when you research Dominican culture, Dominicans, where they come from, all the heritage, and just the land itself — it makes sense to be considered an Afro Latina. Things that have been hidden or denied in the past as a part of our culture is finally — people are being more accepting towards it. My mom has just, she’s been finally complimenting me on my natural hair and it’s amazing to watch her growth. And so it’s been so good to finally be the real me and just myself in my natural state. And have my mother finally embrace it and appreciate it. After some good food and conversation with Gina, I decided that I want to embrace my true roots. Literally. I headed over to Ouidad salon in Santa Monica to meet with Marissa, a curl professional. I was so excited to get all her tips for happy and healthy curls. So I’m gonna use a leave in and then a styling gel. So I’m applying the leave in, mostly to the ends and mid shaft area, and then I’m gonna do a little bit of the gel all over. So I’m gonna have you feel it. This is how it should feel, nice and slippery. That’s how you know you have enough. I kind of finger comb to break through, break up the curls. Once I’ve done that a few times and it feels nice and smooth, shake it to activate it. This is where the diffuser really comes in handy. My hair has never looked so good curly. Thank you so much, Marissa. It’s my pleasure. Yay, I’m so excited. Today has been a day of self-discovery that I didn’t know was possible here in LA. I felt reassured and secure in ways that I wasn’t expecting. From finding out more about where I come from and connecting that to where I am now, I feel like I have a better sense of self and I’m so ready to bring some Dominican flavor into the city of angels. Thank you so much for watching, to see more videos like this click here, and to subscribe click here.

100 thoughts on “Val Mercado’s Hair Transformation Journey | Skin Deep | Refinery29

  1. Wait… so we literally just watched her wash her hair before getting washed and straighten. Then lunch, washed and curled again?

  2. This is exactly how my stylist does my hair, but I'm not Dominican. Why is that, is it just a healthier way of blow-drying?

  3. Ohhh Comeee onnnn how came no one noticed she looked like monika from friends😂😂😂😂

  4. I don't think I've seen a smooth blow out like this before! And she looks absolutely gorgeous with her curly hair

  5. Sounds just like black peoples think natural hair curls and Afros are not acceptable they want people to wear straight hair like white people some schools and place don’t like the natural curly hair but hey time have changed and a lot of people are accepting and a lot of people still don’t accept 🤷🏾‍♀️

  6. If she has to use a defuser and 12 different products those aren’t her natural curls plus it has literally no curl to it when wet…..😴

  7. I'm from Brazil and beauty is very important in our culture. Even having a large black population, in Brazil, having curly hair was highly criticized. Watching this video made me feel at home and made me realize how important it is to embrace my culture. Even though I have so many different descendants my hair has always been a very striking feature of mine. I related so much.

  8. Curly hair makes you look 5 to 10 years younger cuz of the shape, I'm 23 and ppl ask me if I'm 17 sisters keep your natural hair🙂

  9. I am Dominican too and have curly hair too this was very inspiring cause my mom would take me to the salon every month

  10. Wow super impressed with Refinery 29 for tapping into the Dominican hair identity. I have seen countless hair videos on Youtube and none of hit so close to home, I even understand the ”afro latina” term better and now I can also have a term as I feel all other races do. Proud Dominican even more so now!!!

  11. I used to hate my curly hair, I would straighten it so much and it became so damaged. I decided it was a great idea to get a big chop, it’s been about 9 months since I’ve cut my hair, and am so happy with the transformation my curls came back and it’s gotten healthier ❤️ I just wanna say you should never be ashamed of your curly hair, cause its beautiful

    (Am Puerto Rican btw 🇵🇷, and only me and my mom have curly hair in my family)

  12. She is SO beautiful in both straight and curly hair!
    I'm from Finland, in northern Europe, and I'm "caucasian" but I'm a Latina at heart <3 I think Latinas are so beautiful, and I love the culture, music, food..everything!
    I have never done a dna test, to find out were your heritage come from, and I kind of don't want to, because now I'm hoping that I have some latina in me, and I don't wanna know if I don't 😀 I only know that I DON'T look finnish!

  13. Everyone I know that has curly has always hated it and constantly straightened their hair. Mostly cuz they don’t know how to style it without it frizzing out. My stepmom was the only woman I knew that learned to manage her kinky curls and taught my little sisters and my older sister. They all curly beautiful long hair and I’m the only one with straight hair 😭

  14. So I am Latina but I am from Mexico and so I actually have really curly hair but my mom would never ever let me do anything to change my hair texture when I was a bit younger or when I got older and she has always told me that my curls have been blessed and that I should never be ashamed of them and that literally everyone is always celebrating my hair and I am absolutely in love with my hair and I to this day still won’t straighten my hair anymore because last year it left my curls very dry and ugly and I am just so proud of them❤️

  15. Looking for the Afro from the Afro-Latina part. I don't see it annnnywhere. It's a reach chick. You're white.

  16. Alright, so us Latinas must unite in loving each other with our different features and our common ones such as dark hair, curvaceous bodies and every skin color and hair type. OUR DIVERSITY IS WHAT MAKES US BEAUTIFUL AND KNOWN WORLDWIDE!!

  17. Did this bitch really just get her hair blown out only to get it washed and set…? 🥴🙃 at least there was some good food porn…
    She’s beautiful too tho so sis go off 😂

  18. I’m Venezuelan and I can totally relate, I think many latin american cultures emulate these more euro-centric beauty standards, not just Dominicans. ESPECIALLY when it comes to something as powerful and visible as curly hair, I think the intensity and freedom of it scares many people in our strict cultures, but if you see it with appreciation its such a beautiful thing.

  19. How is a Dominican blow out different from any other blow out? I've been to many didn't salon's with all types of hair stylist. Pretty much the same. A blow out is a blow out. And it's not our culture to do this, it's our culture to be natural. This is european culture to straighten hair to fit in.

  20. You know what you're gorgeous. You're so natural you could easily be a model you know what was even better, watching you made me some how also feel pretty you were that much happy and carefree and it was contagious ♥️

  21. I’ve always wanted to try comida Dominicana 😩 but LA don’t got it like that . I know there’s some places pero I want that moms cooking type .

  22. Same in my country. Whenever I wear my natural hair, I'll hear that it is messy or looks rough or not well cared for. But I take good care of it and it's really soft to touch (my boyfriend always says so). I always felt the pressure to straighten it, and never had the necessary guidance to taking care of my wavy hair as my mom and sisters have straight hair; but now I am in a place where I know what is good for me and my hair, and no matter what someone says, I won't heat damage it again like I did in my teenage.

  23. omg!!!!!!! im a dominican and i have your hair type. i miss it so much and i moved ere 3 yrs ago and i MISS THE BEACH

  24. I have straight hair that is a bit wavy in the past I have permed my hair boy do I miss my curls but there is no one in my area that can give a diva curl cut so I let the perm grow out and let my hair air dry to have my waves

  25. Your hair is beautiful and your mom is right. It’s amazing how things have changed. In the 70’s African Americans were proud of their natural hair. I used to go to New York a lot and there were so many Dominican salons and car services.

  26. I’m 69 but I remember getting my hair pressed, I hated it but I wanted to wear the hair styles of the day, geometric cuts covering one eye, etc.

  27. I'm confused, what made that a "Dominican blowout". Besides big rollers this is how everyone i know does a blowout, is it because a Dominican women did it?

  28. I'm still in shock that she got that all done on the same day. Wtf? There's some dumb hair stuff on this channel and that might be the dumbest cause it was pre-planned. I honestly think she looked her best in the very beginning lol. She's gorgeous. Her confidence shines through!

  29. Soo she basically is drying out her hair going from curly to st8 & back to curly on the same day?! Tf? Btw her friend is going to sit there in front of the cameras and LIE. How is she going to say she didn't know she's mixed with black. 😆😆😆 Oh please, sis. Keep it real. She been known. Now denying it is a different story. There are Dominicans who practice colorism. Don't even mention they're mixed with Hatian, they'll have a fit.

  30. Honestly, they keep saying how their hair is so hard to manage but their curls are not even frizzy or kinky imagine what Africans have to deal with

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