Elyse Myers Talks the Vulnerability of Sharing Her Curly Hair Journey: 'You Deserve to Be Accepted'

TikTok star and comedian Elyse Myers tells PEOPLE that learning to love her hair has been a roller coaster — and that's why she's sharing her story with the world

Elyse Myers attends 2022 VidCon at Anaheim Convention Center on June 24, 2022 in Anaheim, California. , Elyse Myers
Photo: David Livingston/Getty Images; Elyse Myers/Instagram

Elyse Myers has been battling with her hair her whole life.

The TikTok star and comedian, who has naturally curly hair, says she was bullied as a child for looking different and spent years rebelling against what her hair wanted to do. It wasn't until she was firmly into adulthood — and welcomed a child into the world — that she decided to own her hair and restore her natural curl pattern.

"I just wanted to do everything I could to get rid of it," Myers tells PEOPLE of hating her curly hair once upon a time. "So I spent a lot of years straightening it, and then when I was pregnant, my hair grew straight. I was like, 'Oh my gosh, I'm never going to have curly hair again. I didn't learn to love it when I had it. Now I don't have it, now I miss it.'"

Once Myers was postpartum, though, she felt it was time to take action, not only because she wanted to set a good example for her son on loving yourself, but because she felt like it was time to move past the trauma of the years of fighting against it.

"As I was raising my son, I had a weird mix of straight and curly hair," she says, adding that it was also a time when she was learning to love herself as a whole in her new role as a mother. "It was raising my son that really made me lock into this season of, 'Okay, either I'm going to fully accept myself or I'm not, and I've got to decide that now, because he's starting to understand what's going on around him,' and my hair felt like a really good place to start with that."

But as anyone who has dealt with repairing damaged hair knows, it's not an easy or quick process. Myers faced months of figuring out what products would help restore her curls — and then she faced making a big chop to get rid of the damaged, straight hair.

She turned to California-based hairstylist Daisy "Daze" Henson after a recommendation from her former assistant. Rather than travel from her home state of Nebraska to Henson's chair, though, the comedian met with her virtually — and learned how to properly cut her hair herself.

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Despite feeling ready to start her curly hair journey, it was still a difficult decision to be willing to cut off the length of her hair, because as Myers tells PEOPLE, it was her security blanket and something to hide behind.

"Elyse wanted to go a little slower — she wasn't ready just to cut off all of the damage," Henson tells PEOPLE. "So we took it slow. We did it in two cuts. The first cut removed some of the straighter ends and gave her a shape she could work with, and the curls could start to curl even more. By the second cut, she was ready. It had grown out a little bit longer and we were able to cut the rest of the damage off."

Despite how nerve-wracking it could have been to cut her own hair at home, Myers says she's been doing it since she was 10, and Henson helped her learn how to do it the right way. With that, it wasn't scary at all.

A "really bad chop" in her youth convinced Myers that no one truly knew how to deal with her hair, and that mentality stuck until she found Henson and learned that she herself could deal with her hair.

"It was the game changer, because I'm not scared to do the cut," she says. "I just don't have any confidence on where to do it and what it will do once I do cut it." After some trial and error and a few appointments with Henson, Myers feels like she has the routine down.

"It's a unique technique," Henson tells PEOPLE of her virtual curly cuts. "It's a 360-degree haircut, not a YouTube tutorial. It's a personalized, custom experience. You don't have to be a professional to do it — we can do it."

Henson, who shut down her brick-and-mortar salon during COVID to take up virtual appointments, says there are a lot of doubters when it comes to her craft, but Myers' story is just one example of her success. And like so many hairstylists, Henson takes her appointments beyond just a haircut — she helps her clients love their hair.

"I really listen to them and try to understand them," she says of working with people like Myers who have some trauma over not understanding their hair. "I take the conversation to helping them love their curls, finding a shape that they love and feel confident in. That's what's really important."

With Henson's help, not just with the cut but with confidence, too, Myers went forth in her curly hair journey, which she documented on social media over the past several months. She says it's been about eight months since she started the process, and the cut was just one piece — finding the right products for her hair was another frustration.

She tells PEOPLE that she started with her usual products for straight hair and would change things one at a time.

"It was just this really long process of trial and error of buying a million things," she says, adding that it started to get really expensive and can be downright cost-prohibitive for some people. "But I had to have all the products and try all the things. I would do it all when my son would go to bed, so I'd spend all day working, my son would go to sleep, then I would go downstairs in our basement bathroom and I would try these new products out."

Unfortunately, there were a lot of negative reactions along the way. "I'd usually hate it," she says of trying out the various products. "It would put me in this horrible mood, and I would come back upstairs with just this complete frizz of hair and Jonas, my husband, would be like, 'Did it work or?' and I would go to sleep so mad."

Myers got there, though, and now she has a routine she can rely on. She washes her hair with No.4C Bond Maintenance Clarifying Shampoo and nourishes her strands with JVN Deep Moisture Mask. She then goes in with a dual treatment of Olaplex using Olaplex No.3 Hair Perfector and Olaplex No.0 Intensive Bond Building Hair Treatment. She also uses the Ouidad Advanced Climate Control Heat and Humidity Gel to tame frizz and the XMONDO WaveTech Wave Foam to style. Lastly, she swears by her Denman brush to put her curls exactly where she wants them.

The podcast host has shared all of this with her social media audience of millions, and while she's gotten so many loving comments from her followers, some of the negativity still cuts through, which sends her right back to her childhood when she was picked on.

"To be fully honest with you, the first few times I did my hair, I would look in the mirror and I would see the girl that got teased," she says of the vulnerability that has gone into this process and sharing it with people. "I could not separate myself from that person in the mirror. I actually tried to get my curly hair back a few other times, but I could not get over the emotional block of hating myself."

It was a healthy dose of positive self-talk that encouraged her — and she has to keep reminding herself that she's not who she was and her curls are healthy and beautiful.

"It took a lot of just pushing through to really be like, 'First of all, you're not 12 years old. That's not the seventh grader that you're looking at. You're a grown woman, you're a mom, you're a wife. You've changed so much and grown so much. But even if you were, you deserve to be loved at that point too. You deserve to be loved the entire time. You deserve to be accepted and celebrated for the fact that you loved yourself and were trying to figure out who you were.'"

Though many of her curly hair videos on social media are upbeat and helpful for other curly-haired people who are watching, Myers has been feeling all the emotions during this process. As someone who has built her brand on being authentic, it was important to share both the ups and downs of this "roller coaster" of a journey.

"It's very emotional, and I know that so many people go through that," she shares. "I've not seen a lot of people talk about it because it's embarrassing, and it opens you up for ridicule and suggestions that you didn't ask for."

Her goal in sharing with her followers — aside from learning to love herself — is to be a voice for anyone else struggling to understand their hair and acknowledge that while curls are beautiful, they're sometimes a pain to figure out.

"I wish I would've seen somebody talk about their hair the way I am trying to talk about it when I was younger," she tells PEOPLE. "I think I would've been like, 'Okay, I just need to stick with it.' People are assholes, and they're going to be assholes, and that's not going to stop and start with my hair. It's just going to be about everything."

She continues, "I think that hair is emotional because it's so tied to our outward appearance, and our outward appearance is so tied to how we feel on the inside, even if we don't want it to be, it just is. There are just a lot of people who talk about curly hair and how awesome it is. And people who talk about straight hair and how awesome it is. You don't see as much of that transition in between where it's like, 'Man, this is the f—--- worst thing I've ever done trying to figure out my curls.'"

Figuring it out is exactly what she's done — and is still doing. Sometimes Myers still lets her hair do its own thing rather than taming it, and that's okay. She and her hair are a work in progress, but she already feels so much better about her strands than she did even a year ago. At the end of the day, it's her own hair to love.

"You know what? It's a whole character on my head," she says of her curls. "I'm going to respect the curls and let them do what they need to do."

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