Curl Talk with: Taryn Williford, Cleaning Expert and Lifestyle Director at Apartment Therapy

Headshot of Taryn Williford with dark curly hair with bangs

Just because this holiday season looks a little different than years past doesn’t mean you still can’t enjoy some cheer—there are plenty of ways to get into a festive mood and feel the holiday spirit. We chatted with Taryn Williford, Cleaning Expert and Lifestyle Director at Apartment Therapy, for her tips on ways to make decorating during the pandemic fun (hello, Charlie Brown tree!) and, how to celebrate your curls throughout the season—and beyond. Keep reading for more deets and join the conversation on social with #OuidadCurlTalk


This year, "home for the holidays" takes on a very literal meaning. What are some tips for making them still feel special given the unique and challenging times?

This holiday season is going to be so unusual for so many reasons. I've been leaning into small joys that make these holiday-season days feel more special than the rest of the time we've been holed up at home. I put my Christmas lights up before Halloween! And I've been lighting lots of candles and turning the lights down low in the evenings and listening to Christmas music. I'm trying to reflect on what I really enjoy about the holidays, which is being present and celebrating the year—even though 2020 hasn't exactly been a gift.


Even if we won't be having larger family/friends gatherings this year, how can we still make decorating fun?

This is the year to do the thing you always wanted to do. If the holidays are going to be untraditional, your decorating can be too. Do the Charlie Brown tree! String lights on your house plants! Hang string lights from every surface you can find! This year I got the feeling that people were ready to cast off the expectations that Instagram and Pinterest throw at all of us, in regards to how we use and style our homes. I think that's true for the holidays, too. Just get the animatronic Santa, ya know? It's going to make you smile every day.


Taryn Williford looks down at her dog with natural, bouncy curls

Any ideas for making virtual holiday parties interesting and engaging?

You need to go into it with a plan. Someone needs to volunteer to "host" the night, and they should have a list of activities ready to keep the party going, whether that's trivia or a talent contest, or just a list of engaging questions. But I say that with a caveat: that host should be ready to abandon the plan if it seems like everyone is having a great time. Your plan is there for structure and to fill dead air, but if people start vibing...let them vibe!


Do you think it's still important to get dressed up for the holidays, even if you're going to be at home?

Nope! Not unless you want to. I like to feel put together on special days, even in lockdown, but sometimes I feel put together in a really comfy sweater onesie.


What's your go-to holiday hair look to show off your curls?

I like to let them go wild, mostly. Once they're set, I shake them out and roll. But I have been doing this thing where I gather the curls around my temples, and pull them back to my crown, in a half-up kind of deal, clipped with a small butterfly clip. It feels a little more refined. 


Any products on your wish-list for this year?

I'm going to be real with you: I have been eyeing a 5/8-inch curling iron. I know, I know, heat tools are bad and my hair is already plenty curly. But I have curly bangs and there are always one or two little pieces that curl so strangely—they defy gravity and actually end pointing up— and they're right in the middle of my forehead. I've been thinking that a tight curling iron could help me with getting those two to shape up when I need them to look a little more perfect.

Profile of Taryn Williford with dark curls and bangs looking at camera

Have you always embraced your curls? How was your relationship with your hair evolved over time?

Gosh, no—it’s been a long, hard road. I wore my hair curly in high school, but I never knew how to treat it or what products to use, so I never liked the way my hair looked. Then sometime in college, I had a roommate who straightened her curls and I started doing it too. I straightened my hair for so much of my adult life, until about two years ago, when I started reading the Curly Hair sub on Reddit and found a great stylist here in Atlanta (Hi Alex!) who taught me what products to use and how to style my natural hair. It is by far the best journey of my life. I love my hair now. I love that it's genuine and unique. Embracing the way that my hair naturally grows out of my head was, in a lot of ways, the first step towards really embracing my entire natural self. My confidence has grown a ton in the two years since I've stopped straightening. 


What does beauty mean to you?

Beauty isn't one thing. It's a whole vibe. In terms of personal beauty, it's so easy to get focused on small things like the way an eyebrow hair lays or the shape of a nail. But when I see someone and think "wow she's beautiful," it's usually because she's smiling. And confident. And stands out from the crowd. I have never in my life paid attention to anyone else's single eyebrow hair, so I'm not gonna worry about mine.