Lil' Mama Talks Natural Hair, Haters & More

via LoveBrownSugar

This past weekend, contributor Kisha caught up with female rapper & America's Best Dance Crew judge Lil' Mama backstage at the Global Fusion Festival in Philadelphia.

She was rocking a brand new fro-hawk 'do (which was quite cute) and we got into asking her about her new style. You may recall that Lil' Mama recently posted a Twitpic of herself rocking out with a natural 'fro (see below), which garnered tons of attention when she put it up in May.

She chatted with us about the commentary she received after boldly posting the photo and she had quite alot to say about it.

"I posted the picture of my hair and people were like ‘Omg you look like a shocked slave!' I didn’t get one comment from a white person about my hair. All of them came from the sisters that had these bullsh** helmut weaves looking like a fake a** Nicki Minaj. They don’t know who they are. And the people they’re looking to for guidance don’t know who they are either, which sucks."
Aside from going all-natural with her hair, she's also decided recently to spring for natural nails. She no longer uses acrylic nails. A recent mishap actually led to an allergic reaction and what Lil' Mama believes was a message from God about being natural, in the form of a blister shaped like Africa. See pic below:

Watch our exclusive video where she discusses it all:
Thoughts on Lil' Mama's new do? Or her stance on being natural? Soundoff below!

Exclusive!- Nicole Ari Parker's Natural Hair Story

Reposting for those that missed this one-
(the giveaway is closed, by the way)

Oh, and for the record, yesterday, on MHP, Nicole's hair was styled in a wash and go using mousse!


And the winners are...
Eli's Mom

Congrats ladies!  Email me ([email protected]) your addresses ASAP!

Actress and former model Nicole Ari Parker is On the Couch!  Best known for her roles in Boogie Nights and the Showtime series Soul Food, this fellow Nikki recently Big Chopped and is loving the versatility of natural hair.  Enjoy!

 CN: How long have you been natural? 

I stopped relaxing my hair last summer.  Kiyah Wright in LA does my hair and she's so good at it that I didn't even notice that 6 weeks...8 weeks... 3 months had gone by with no relaxer.  She'd blow my hair out, flat iron it and I would go. I was also weaving at times, so I just didn't think about getting a relaxer. And then before I knew it, it was Christmas and my hair was getting so long that I was able to slick it back into a bun...then I bought a little friend to make my bun a little fuller [laughter].  I began to notice how beautiful my hair was at the root, and how soft it was.  Also, my daughter is 7 and she's starting to really stare at Mommy and what Mommy does, and I wanted her to love her hair.  So I slowly began trimming it. 

I started wearing natural styles around February when I met Felicia Leatherwood.  She helped me when I was still holding on to some of the length. She twisted my hair up into that wonderful chignon for the Essence Luncheon in February and also turned me on to SheaMoisture.

Street Car Named Desire opened on Monday and it's 8 shows a  week for 16 weeks. I took this opportunity to really take care of my hair and start over. There's just something about playing this character of Blanche DuBois, as an artist, as an actor, I have to be myself 100% and bring everything that I have to the role.  In every way, it was finally time to make that transition to natural hair.  I went over to Hair Rules Salon on March 17th and Anthony Dicky chopped me up and started me over!
CN: That's wonderful! Congratulations on your Big Chop. You look stunning.  How do you protect your hair while on stage?

The play is set in 1951, so I wear a wig.

CN: What rocks about natural hair?

My hair is just really loving being natural, being moisturized. Our hair is so much more versatile than what we give it credit for.  We're raised to immediately straighten it, fry it and never take the time to learn to work with it.  My hair can do so many more things now that it's natural- - I can wear it coiled, I can pick it out, or I can blow it straight.  My hair will completely blow straight... who knew?!  A little bit of heat and I have a pixie cut!  And for those times when I do blow it out or flat iron it, I like to keep it that way for a few days because, you know, it cost 100 bucks... but I never miss my workout!

CN: Speaking of workouts, tell me about this 'Save Your Do' wrap I've been hearing about.

The idea came to me last year when I noticed a common excuse emerge among busy everyday women (myself included) about why they couldn’t work out: their hair. Hair is a serious issue for most of us women because after spending a ton of time and money to have it washed, blow dried, flat-ironed and curled, none of us want to sweat and mess it up all over again.

Considering my own transition to natural hair, during the conception phase, I knew I had to consider all the ways Black women wear their hair.  I had to make sure that I included our sisters who have weaves in the back with their front edges out, my sisters who have lots of thick, beautiful natural hair, my loc'ed sisters, my relaxed sisters, even my sisters who don't care about their hair as much as they just want a good sweat absorber.  It's a great option over having to wear a bandanna, baseball cap or doorag to the gym.  I designed the band to include everyone and it comes in 3 different styles.

Prior to your work out, I encourage you to add a little product to your front edges, like a natural balm or wax and then tie the wrap on snugly.  And like I said, in going natural, I discovered that you don't need a lot of heat. So even if I'm wearing my hair straight, after my workout, when I get home from the gym, if there is still a little moisture lingering, I can put the hair dryer on cool, just enough to lift the moisture out and then maybe bump it with the flat iron and go do what I have to do.

CN: What are your favorite hair products? 

I'm in love with three major brands right now- Hair Rules Shampoo and Conditioner, Jane Carter Solutions, her mousses and her hair balms, and SheaMoisture's Black Soap Shampoo and Conditioner.  They're all amazing! I rotate with those three and throw in in a little Kinky Curly Knot Today on my quick days.

CN: What does the future hold for your TWA? 

My goal is to grow all the way out. I don't know how long it's going to take but I want the full actualization of the Afro!

CN: Anything else you'd like to add?

Yes, everyone please come see Street Car Named Desire. The play was written 65 years ago by the great American playwright Tennessee Williams, and has won a Pulitzer Prize. This is the first time that it's been done with a multiracial cast on Broadway, with African Americans in the lead roles.  It's been done before off Broadway, but never before on Broadway, so it's kind of a little slice of theater history to be a part of.  So if you're in New York and plan to visit, please catch the show!

Want a Save Your Do gym wrap?!

In the comment section below, share your workout regimen and how you currently maintain your hair.

On Sunday, April 29th at noon, 2 winners will be randomly chosen to receive one!

Good luck!

MSNBC's Melissa Harris-Perry on Her Natural Hair

For those that missed it, a re-post from 3/9/2012-

Melissa Harris-Perry wears many hats. She's a wife, mother, professor, author and political commentator. She graduated from Duke University (the same department as Hubby!) and taught at Princeton and the University of Chicago before moving on to Tulane University, where she is currently a professor of Political Science. Several weeks back, she landed her own show on MSNBC! The icing on this magnificent cake is that she's doing all of this in twists! Enjoy!

CN: What sparked your decision to go into academia?
Certainly the fact that my mom got her PhD. She didn't go into the academy, but she was always sort of an academic in very many ways. Her older brother was a college professor, my dad was a college professor and his twin brother was a college professor. And although it's not like people sat around and talked about being college professors per se, it was certainly in the family that way. I did one year at a Masters of Public Policy program and that was enough to convince me that I wanted to be an academic. It was a great and I learned a lot, but I really wanted the time and space to ask the good questions. I didn't want the pressure of putting it all in a spreadsheet and finding 'an answer'. There isn't one answer to those problems... there are lots of answers and they're all complicated! I had a lot of great college professors and parents who were good models of being able to make a life in academia and then obviously also, my own desire.

CN: Tell me about your natural hair journey.
For years, I wore my hair permed for 6 months out of the year, basically during the academic year. And then, around April or May, when the semester was over, I'd put it in braids for the entire summer up until September. I found it easier to travel, easier to swim and easier to manage the heat and humidity in the South and then I'd go back to the perm in the Fall. So I was always on a 6 months on, 6 months off schedule. As a matter of fact, if you look at those early years of me on TV, you'll see that sometimes my hair was in braids and other times it was in a perm. And then in 2008, I lost my battle with fibroids. I had been battling with fibroids for years and finally had a hysterectomy in the summer of 2008. After I had that hysterectomy, my body changed in a thousand different ways. One of the things was that my hair went gray. I think it brought on some aspects of premature aging. I thought, 'oh, no big deal, I'll just color it'. So if anybody was watching, they'd see that in about 2009 or so, I was wearing my hair permed, but a lot shorter. I was coloring it and perming it, and you know what the next part of that story is [laughter]!

In 2009, my now husband started running for office so I decided not to braid it that summer, in part because sometimes people have a lot of notions about braids, so I lost my 6 months off rest period and by the end of 2009, the start of 2010, my hair was absolutely terrible... I had never seen my hair like this. It was brittle, dry and breaking everyday. It was bad. I felt bad about how I looked... I felt terrible about the shape that my hair was in. And so at that point, I made a decision going into 2010, that I was going to get my health back from all the things that had happened with the hysterectomy, all the stress of my husband's campaign. So I said, 'this is my year to get healthy'. So I started running, I started watching what I ate, not so much limiting what I ate, but really eating more fruits and veggies. I was really being careful about the quality of food I was eating and a part of that journey was the decision that I wanted to go completely natural.

Being that I'm on television, I'm in the unfortunate position of not being able to just go though the awkward phases that you have to go through. So I started twisting it and have been in twists now almost two years. I cut the perm completely out and probably have 6 or 7 inches of natural hair. I plan to continue to wear it in twists for another two years until I get it at a length and volume that I can manage, and probably do the big reveal at that point [laughter]... maybe my show won't even be on the air anymore! It's been a real consideration for me to figure out how to make that transition to natural hair, while at the same time needing to maintain the consistency of being on television. So the solution has been to wear the twists.

CN: How do you maintain your scalp health? What do you do for your real hair in between sets of twists?
It's very funny actually. I just had to revisit this. Typically what I would do is take a week off between twist sets. But now with the show and my teaching schedule, it's difficult to find 3 days anywhere. I can't exactly explain this to the white folks I work for... that I need 3 days to take my hair down... a day of rest and then put them back in. But seriously, I'm like, this has to happen, I have to be able to have that time. That's actually what I do, sit down and look at the calendar.

Typically what I would do is take them out for a week and give my hair and scalp a rest. Even when I'm in the twists, since I'm running, I get a lot of build up, so once a week I wash it with a tea tree oil shampoo or something else that is specifically meant to treat scalp build up. I use a lot of Carol's Daughter products. I use the Hair Honey and the revitalizing/penetrating spray. When I use them, they're great, they make the twists look great, but after 4 days I'll realize that I have some build up and need to wash.

CN: Advice for success and achieving your goals?
Well, I'm always so reluctant to give advice because the single most important thing about success is that everybody's pathway is so different. I hate the idea that everybody has to march in line for that one thing... that there is only one way to get there. It feels inauthentic. If I had to give one piece of advice, it's that you have to be really comfortable with failing. Because the only possibility of reaching whatever success means for you, will require taking risks. Sometimes those risks are going to pay off and be great, and other times they are going to be really spectacularly painful, and sometimes public failures. And also sometimes, you'll have to deal with lots of criticism from people that you care about. It can be hard to take those really, really tough hits. You can't always take it as, 'oh, they're just haters and I don't even care', you have to actually take them and listen to them. 'Cause sometimes, even when somebody is hating, they're right. It's completely plausible that they're hating and 50% of what they're saying is absolutely accurate. So you have to learn to be comfortable with your own imperfections and try to figure out how to take the useful criticisms even out of the things that seem like they're hateful.

CN: Tell me about your new show and airtimes.
We are on MSNBC, Saturdays and Sundays 10am to noon eastern time. And this is my fourth weekend coming up. The name of the show is 'Melissa Harris Perry', which cracks me up. I was like, couldn't we call it 'The Melissa Harris Perry Show'? It's completely nuts but it's very easy to remember. I'm not sure whether or not people are going to like what we're doing. For me, the joy of what we're doing is that I find it exciting... the opportunity to take so many issues, the topics I care about and bring it to a wider audience. I think it's yet to see if the wider audience cares about what I care about! [laughter] We're learning and figuring that out. But I have an absolutely, incredibly brilliant staff. They are very committed and very hard working and really helping me to walk through this whole process.

Keep up with Melissa on her website-

CN Says:
Where are my curlies in grad and professional school?
Where my curly professors at?!

Actress Janet Hubert's FIERCE Loc Twists!

Janet writes:

Hey sister girls!

I wanted to contribute to Fierce Friday. I calls this the loc twist. It's a combination... half locs, half twists. It is my new style for those of us who can't decide which way to go. This is my dog who sports the same style as I!

Any of you thinking of loc'ing?
Any of you fresh out of locs? If so, what's your current routine?

On the Couch with Singer Dawn Richard

prepared by Sheena for

Thanks to Nikki, I had an opportunity to speak with Dawn Richard on one of the most exciting days of her career thus far. Dawn, best known for being a member of the Bad Boy Entertainment groups Danity Kane and Diddy Dirty Money, released her first solo EP yesterday. She is sharing her newly found independence with the world with her EP titled, ARMOR ON and expressing her freedom with her super chic, short hair cut.

I’m loving this short cut you're rocking. What made you go shorter?
I used to wear it shorter before and as time progressed, a lot of people followed suit, so I wanted to try something different with the hopes that I could revisit the look after it died down a bit. So I decided to revisit it for the album because the inspiration behind it was more of a strong, independent women. I wanted to give everyone a strong Joan of Arc vibe and this was the perfect haircut for that- - more erogenous sound and look. That’s why I wanted to get away from it so I could bring it back! I believe it’s the perfect look for that.

Are you team natural?
Yes! I’m team natural all the way, holla! I’ve been team natural for 6 and half years after a long-term transition.

When you're not getting your hair styled, do you ever wear your natural hair out and curly?
Yes ma’am I do. Whenever I get a break for holidays and stuff, when I go home, I usually wear my hair curly. For an everyday look, I usually wear weaves with my natural hair braided up underneath. Not for the purpose of loving weave, but more for the purpose that I never like to damage my real hair... I’d rather have weave to work with. So of course when I have time and I go home, I can wear it curly, out and in an afro. Kind of like what you saw-- I wear a really curly fro hawk.

Oh I'd love to see that! What products do you use when you're wearing your hair natural?
The great thing is we just came from Miss Jessie’s who has really good products for curly hair. I went to an event and that’s how I was first introduced to their products. It works really well on natural hair and I’m becoming more of a fan of it each day. Outside of that, I usually use Ojon, another product that’s really good for your hair. I typically apply the conditioner and let it sit for awhile and it conditions really well. I periodically color my hair and I notice that it helps with damage-- I'll treat it with Ojon and have Miss Jessie's on deck.

Typically when performing, we see you rocking your hair a bit longer. Do you prefer long or short hair?
I don't have a preference. I think because I’m a woman, I love everything from short to long. I think it just depends on the feeling and the vibe.

I think one of the benefits of being natural is the versatility...
Yeah you can style your hair so many different ways. My texture is super curly, coarse in some places, but it’s fine as well. And although my hair is braided, my weaves don't last as long as someone else's would. My hair starts to slip out after a while, so I have to get my weaves done a little more frequently than I'd like to. But that’s the reality.

Not only is your hair always fly, but you're very fashion forward. Do you style yourself?
I have an amazing stylist, her name is Olori Swank. It’s funny because people never really understand... one minute they're on board and the next minute they’re like 'we don’t really understand is... we don't get it'. It’s great to find a stylist that you enjoy their personality. You know, I come from New Orleans and everything is hot, sweaty, and muggy. It’s a different type of vibe so I grew up where barefoot and blowing in the wind also meant you could be great. I love couture but I also love that un-doneness about fashion and I love the fact that you can break rules. So Olori and I push the envelope with fashion... we just like to put patterns together, trends, textures and play with it. Fashion wouldn’t be fun if you couldn’t take risks, so across the board we're taking risks, musically, the look of who I am... a brown girl in the industry with short hair. Yes! We’re taking risks across the board so it would only be right if we did it in fashion as well because that’s apart of who we are.

Definitely. I often see your looks and think that’s hot. You have the perfect body type to be able to experiment and try different looks. Watching your SMFU (SAVE ME FROM YOU) video I thought that jacket, those shoes, those shorts... she is just bad all the way around. Who was the designer of the shoe you were rocking?
I think it was Jeffrey Campbell. I told the stylist I wanted simplicity because sometimes I feel like records are overshadowed by the fashion and you lose sight of the lyrics and what the song is about. I wanted people to love the song because of the story and not the fashion. Not have people say, “Oh they look beautiful but I have no idea what this record is about.” I wanted people to be in touch with the record, so I told him to give me one dope piece but let it be the shoe or the jacket. I knew people who are fashion heads would see that, that was all we needed. People got it so; I thought that was pretty dope. I always want to do those things that if you really dig deep you will see it. People really didn’t even notice that the shoes were really showcased as well. If you paid attention to them you would notice that they were structured, they were super dope. We had glass on the back of them and you really didn’t even see it if you didn’t pay attention. But that’s the dope part it's pushing you to pay attention.

What was it like working with Diddy all these years?
He was kind of like my coach, the professor, or whatever you are experiencing on your job or your school, whoever that mentor is for you, that is kind of what he’s been. And I have been able to experience things that I may not otherwise have had the opportunity to do under him.

Watching your progression from Danity Kane, to Diddy Dirty Money, and now your solo project, I think you were definitely able to capitalize from that relationship. Your projects have been so successful! Will there be another Diddy Dirty Money album coming out soon?
I don’t think we’ll have another Diddy Dirty Money album. What I do know is that there's a thousand songs in the vault, so if someone releases something, people will be just as excited to hear. But I don’t think there will be another album.

So are you still with Bad Boy?
No, I’m no longer with Bad Boy, but they are my family for life, I adore them, I love Puff for allowing me to be released because I asked to be released. Not only did he support me, but he let me do it, and I’m forever grateful to them. I would never ever have anything but amazing things to say about them because; they gave me not one, not two, but three huge opportunities in my lifetime so I’m forever grateful for that.

You recently dropped a hot new single BOMB. What is your inspiration behind it?
The direction behind it was a follow up from A Tall-Tale Heart Mix tape. The whole reason I remained with ‘ARMOR ON’ was because I wanted people who have gone through things not to feel like victims, but to feel like warriors. The journey that I have gone through... people have watched me. So I felt like I didn't want this to be about me, I wanted it to be about us. Everyone who has been on this journey has gone through something. I remember doing a Golden Heart essay asking people before me how they have survived some of these issues, and some of the stories I got, made me humble myself to my experience. People have really gone through some awful things, and I wanted them to know the reality is that this is life. So they should suit up and get ready because it's a battle. Whoever is shielded the right way could really win this thing. So the EP is to gear up and have everyone put their ARMOR ON and the album will be the battle itself. I think when people listen to it, they will see me fighting with the journey of falling in love with the music industry and then getting the trade, getting hurt, falling down and getting back up. In the midst of this, they'll see why I chose to say I needed amour in the first place.

To learn more about Dawn-
Follow her on Twitter or visit:
To get your copy of her ARMOR ON click here

Chaka Khan Talks Natural Hair

Reposting 'cause Chaka's on Piers Morgan... right now! Tune into CNN!

Yes, you read right! The queen of BIG hair is On the Couch! The legendary singer/songwriter and 10 time Grammy award winning diva gave me a moment of her time to reflect on her hair story. There aren't even words to describe how amazing it was to speak with the woman who inspired an entire generation. Her music, her fashion, her hair... all so revolutionary and timeless. When I asked her how it felt to be a natural hair icon, she showed a humility that doesn't always accompany such greatness, and said she had no idea. She reflects-
My mother used to braid my hair in three braids- - one one each side that she'd pin at the top, and one in the back. There was a lot of duplication... she would use the hot comb and we'd wear the Page Boy. That's pretty much it. I was wearing a perm when I was 15 or 16, which was also around the time the Afros came out. I remember, I cut all of the perm out and wore a short 'fro for a long time. I wore it for years before growing it out.

When asked how she felt about her TWA (teeny weeny afro), she responded,
I loved it. That's how I wore it on my first album cover with Rufus. I was actually pregnant at the time. Since then, throughout my career, I've experimented with a thousand colors and a thousand styles... everything from microbraids to blow outs. I've done it all.

Chaka still reps team natural to this day but enjoys experimenting with different looks--
Sometimes I'll go for a straighter look, but I really don't like straight hair on me, it's not my favorite hair at all. I find it... unlikely [laughter]. I like a lot of hair. I'm about the wild things.
Today, Chaka admits, she's "not really fussy" when it comes to her hair and is a self-proclaimed "wash and wear" girl. Most days, she just spritzes with a conditioner and keeps it moving. Her favorite products are Mixed Chicks and Peter Lamas. She goes on-
For me, it's the wilder the better. I love big hair! I don't like the coiffed look. I'm not a coif hair girl. I don't like to look neat like I just walked out of the beauty shop!
Much to the dismay of her stylist, there have been times that she's spritzed her freshly straightened and barrel curled hair with water to give it some "umph!"

Chaka is just as busy as ever. Last year, she not only got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame ('bout damn time), but she and her former band Rufus, were jointly nominated for induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame! She continues to tour and is clocking tons of studio hours in prep for her next album. She is humbled that we in the natural hair community tout her as Natural Hair Style and Hair Icon and appreciates our support and love.


Keep up with Chaka and her tour on her website-
and on Facebook-

Eric Benét on Natural Hair + I Reflect on Celeb Interviews

So somehow, I forgot I had an interview with Eric Benet scheduled for today. It’s been planned for weeks and I’ve been pursuing him (in a completely non-stalkerish way) for more than a year. Hubby laughed at the ridiculousness that I could forget such a thing… which got me to reflecting on this whole celebrity interview phenomenon.

Let me tell y’all. It hasn’t been easy. My first interview was with Syesha Mercado back in May of 2009 and it's been a long road. I’ve been laughed off phones (seriously) and my emails have been ignored, trashed and spammed (delete, delete, delete), like I’m a Nigerian princess asking for help in exchange for millions. But through humorously uninhibited persistence and the influence of the Natural Hair community, I’m proud to say that the reception is much warmer now.

Only recently has Hollywood been able to appreciate the full potential and benefits of the internet and social media. People who had already achieved a certain amount of fame generally tended to see the Internet as an alleyway of negativity—a place where their reputation is defamed and where malicious rumors are spread without the ability to defend themselves (where the heck would they possibly get that idea?). Also, and I'm sure this won't come as a surprise, but blogs weren't very much respected until recently.

But now, once I get past the hard ass publicists…

…the celebs are excited and enthusiastic to share their hair journeys. They're just people too, and it turns out that they have the same issues and struggles that we do. They face the same challenges with their hair, only sometimes more intensely because they’re under the microscope of the media and at the mercy of production companies that may or may not value natural hair. So it’s fascinating that they are willing to share what their struggles have been, and how they’ve used this information to empower themselves the same way we have.

Their willingness to share, is in large part because of you, the community-- The CurlyNikki community, and the other communities of which I’m sure you are a part. I’d like to encourage you to continue to participate and participate more fully as the benefits are many. Hair companies are adjusting the chemicals in their products and switching up their marketing techniques, all because of what they’re learning from you. We’re providing real time feedback. The quality of what we now have in the marketplace has improved because they know what we want, what we demand. And in a very real sense, the celebs are also taking cues from our community. They’re active participants as well. When you write a comment, know that Wanda Sykes, Kim Wayans, Janet Hubert and others are reading, listening and learning. For example: TMI ALERT! I never shared this before, but the morning that Chrisette Michele emailed me, I was in the bathroom and I literally shit a brick. I requested a call ‘cause I didn’t believe it was her… thought I was being punked. When I asked her how she heard about the site, she said she tweeted her fans looking for natural hair info and they shared the web address with her. Now, she frequently tunes in to see what the latest crazes are and what products we're loving.

At this point, I’ve lost count of how many interviews there are and quite honestly, the actual number is unimportant. I’ve worked hard to bring you these stories and have been rejected countless times (I think Michelle's secret service team has me on some kind of list), but I'm proud to say that this unique resource is available because of the power of our community. The reality is that nowhere else on the internet, in a magazine, or on TV, can you get this many real sisters sharing their real hair stories. But next up, we have a real brother...


Eric Benet needs no introduction (although the one above gets the award for longest ever). The singer, style icon and fellow natural dishes on his upbringing, inspiration and upcoming projects. Enjoy!

CN: Growing up, were the women in your life relaxed or natural?
Both. I saw both growing up. My sisters and my mom would, from time to time straighten their hair, but they felt comfortable wearing their hair naturally. It was the '70s so it was quite the statement to wear it, but they did and often. But sometimes, things like Easter would come around, and you'd have to get your hair straightened [Laughter]. From a psychological and cognitive standpoint, I can see how what you see growing up will influence what you see as beautiful, so I guess I'm blessed in that way.

CN: Raising India, concerning hair, were you a 'strict all-natural daddy' or indifferent?
I was very much against straightening. I guess it's the biased 'you're beautiful just like you are' perspective of Daddy. Forever her baby, even though I was Dad, my mother would say, 'boy you need to be quiet, you need to let her get her hair straightened'. I was pretty much a single dad and my mom was very instrumental in raising India too, so I'd come back from touring or traveling and India would have her hair straightened and of course she was still adorable and cute. But I've just always thought natural was more beautiful.

CN: Tell me about your locking experience.
I didn't anticipate it. I never really expected to have long, flowing locs that hung down to my elbows. I just really liked being able to have a very free and natural look to my hair. I got really lazy with my hair cuts, started wearing twists and they just eventually started loc'ing up. I did twists for a while and once the twists started to naturally loc, I just went with it. It felt good for me at the time. I was having this conversation with someone else. You go through different stages in your life... whatever is happening inside of you emotionally is somehow represented on your exterior, both in the clothes that you wear and also with your hair in some obscure way. And it was a time in my life where I felt very free and almost like... I wanted to be a leaf in the wind, like I was just going to do my music and let it take me where it was going to take me. That really reflected in my exterior. I found it interesting that everytime someone got close enough to my locs they would say, 'your hair smells really good,really clean'. I mean, I washed my hair all the time. To keep it real, during the first 4 months of the period before they actually loc'ed up, I'd wash once a week and re-twist, but after that, I'd wash all the time.

CN: So with that, dealing with folks assuming your hair was dirty, how were your locs received by your fans and fam and friends? Was it all good or did some people have reservations?
It was pretty much all good. It was interesting what kind of sex appeal and lure the locs had on women at the time. That wasn't the reason I started growing them, but once they were there, there was some kind of heightened sexual attraction from women. It was very interesting to me, almost like a Samson and his mane type of thing. It was received very well, one of the only things I could say is that it was always interesting whenever I'd leave the country... when I'd come back and have to go through customs at the airport, there was usually some type of incident [Laughter]. There was an assumption that, 'I know we're gonna find some drugs on this bohemian dressed, dread locked dude'. There were quite a few times when I got pulled in the back and they checked my stuff, went through my pockets... pretty interesting.

CN: Why'd you cut them?
When I cut them, I don't know, I guess I had just reached another stage in my life. It was less about free flowing and became more about structure. This is what it represented for me... it's not to say that people that have locs are just free flowing in the wind. But for whatever reason, for me, I just felt like I needed a change. I needed a little bit more structure in my life and as that structure applied, it felt like I needed to cut my hair. That's how it happened for me.

CN: You're still wearing it a little long though right? Comparatively speaking to other Black men with the bald fades and such...
I don't do the bald fade thing. I feel as long as God, Mother Nature or whoever has me in the 'hair growing' category, I might as well utilize it. I don't have it very long, but I still like to keep some hair. I actually just got it cut yesterday. I keep it lined most of the time with my lazy self, sometimes I don't even get around to doing that for a couple of weeks. But usually I keep it faded around the bottom... but I don't really comb it. I wash it regularly, 3 times a week and then put some leave-in conditioner in it and keep it moving.

CN: What types of products are you liking right now?
Really anything that my wife has in the bathroom [Laughter]!

CN: Spoken like a man.
One particular pomade that I like to put in my hair is called Free Your Mane. I wish I could think of the other products, but I use what my wife has around. I pretty much try whatever she has on hand that particular week and then apply the pomade on top of that. It's not greasy... not sure how they do it... maybe the glycerin base? Whatever the case, I appreciate that it doesn't make my hair feel weighed down with product. It keeps my lil' nappy vibe I'm going for.

CN: Your new addition, Lucia Bella, is gorgeous! How has it been for you this second time around?
It's been a challenge. A beautiful and most welcomed challenge. For the past few months I've been working on this album and this wonderful new addition to our lives has been around for the last few months as well. So I've been spending many many hours in the studio and then I'd come home and if I'm lucky, get a few hours of sleep before the baby would wake up. It's been amazing being able to do this again... my daughter India is 20 years old now. The thought that this happened 20 years ago... that I was changing diapers 20 years ago, that's blowing my mind. Time is a beast, it just moves so quickly. I'm at this really mature, evolved comfortable place in my life where it just feels like there is so much less trepidation. I was a kid when India was born with feelings of , 'I don't know if I'm going to be able to do this type of thing'. But there is none of that this time around. And I have an incredible and amazing life partner, Manuela, to do it with. It's been wonderful.

CN: Tell me about your new album, "The One".
The album is going to be a must have. Listening to this record so far... it's hot! My first thought was if you love R&B, you have to get this record, but it's not even like that... it's just so good that if you love music, you're going to have to get this record. There's so much craftsmanship put into it. There's actually a duet I do with my daughter India called 'Music'. And she is so incredibly talented and it's a beautiful showcase for her voice. We actually co-wrote the song. The album is going to be released on May 8th and will be a wonderful soundtrack for the summer.

Keep up with Eric on Twitter, Facebook and at his website-

Jesse Boykins on His Natural Hair and Music

prepared by Weusi for

Thanks to a hook from CurlyNikki, I had the chance to speak with one of the most talked about up and coming artists in the WORLD! Yes ... I said the WORLD! This brother is making an impact from continent to continent. I looked at his show listing the other day and I saw him booked for shows in 3 different CONTINENTS. AND ... As popular as his music is, his hair has also garnished a certain level of fame itself!

His collaborations with artist like The Foreign Exchange, Theophilus London, MeLo-X, Machine Drum and Phantom Lover have the streets and studios buzzing. In 2010, he was recognized by BET as "One to Watch" and became a major component in their MUSIC MATTERS campaign. in 2011 he was also tapped as a guest participant and lecturer for the esteemed RED BULL MUSIC ACADEMY, which took him all over the world! You don't believe me do you!?!

Here he is just the other day on 106 & Park speaking about it ...

SO ... if you didn't know about him or his hair before... I introduce you to...

JESSE BOYKINS III and this is his hairstory!

Q: Let's talk a little about the hair. What inspired it?

I wore braids for a long time. They were the style back then. A lot of people were wearing them. I guess there were kind of a lot of singers out there with them too. Because of that, I was put in an artistic box. I wanted to be free. Me wearing my hear out is symbolic of being alive. Getting out of that box. Being free.

Q: So how do you care for it?

I usually keep it in French braids and, while it's out, I treat my scalp and brush it. I sometimes wear it in a bun also. I try to tend to it every week and a half. As far as the wash goes, I wash it with peppermint shampoo. My hair stylist, DeeDee, makes a garlic conditioner for me and I use olive oil on it. I'm pretty simple

Q: But your style is special. I know that you were influenced by your early upbringing in Jamaica, Miami and New York. How did that impact your ideas of and around aesthetics and style?

It just made me aware of the different cultures I've been blessed to experience. To witness the importance of culture and tradition and the symbolism in certain style permeated into my lifestyle. Everywhere I went I was influenced. In terms of fashion and style, it is really all about energy.

Q: Many people speak about "energy" as something that is only for the "creative/hippie/artsy." You seem to use it as a very practical reference in your everyday life. How do you define it? How does it influence your everyday life?

We are all made up of energy. We are all connected. It is how we find common ground with friends. It's how we find the love of our lives and how we co-exist. It all depends on the kind of energy you receive from someone or something. Sensitivity and awareness teaches and helps you grow.

Q: Who were some of the people/celebrities that you saw as beautiful growing up?

Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley, Andre 3000, Michael Jackson, Prince, Stevie Wonder

Q: These are all heavy hitters ... musically and in style. This a great segue to talk about music.

Cool. I love music. I've been around music all my life. You can say that I've been doing music all my life. I have a musically inclined family that has always supported me creatively. I got serious about music when I went to college at the New School University. I was 17 and I thought there was nothing cooler than being creative and being around music and inspiration. I decided that was how I wanted to live my life.

Q: What are you listening to now to be influenced?

I'm working on my new album right now. It's called called, "Love Apparatus." So I'm listening to a lot of the artist that I'm working with now. The Romantic Movement - MoRuf, Mara Hruby, Chris Turner & MeLo-X. These are (a few) artist that I am collaborating with on various projects. They keep progressive energy around me.

Q: Your crew keeps banging out great product! I'm digging the new single "B4 the Night is Thru" and the video!

Thank you. It was done by my man Dr Woo hooked it up.

Q: In closing ... can you share a guilty pleasure?

My guilty pleasure is movie hopping. I love cinema and the feeling I get when I am in the theaters and watching something for the 1st time.

Q: I don't want to take too much of your time ... plus your music really speaks for itself, so I'm gonna direct people to your site where they can get all the past albums (Dopamine: My Life On My Back & The Beauty Created) and keep up with all news that is JESSE BOYKINS III.

SO as you can see ... Jesse Boykins III is a real cool cat ... please be sure to check out his albums.
In this clip ... you can hear him croon a little and get a quick glimpse into his world as he stops by the Translation office in NYC run by Steve Stoute. He speaks on his musical journey, The Romantic Movement and performs a couple tunes accompanied by David Linaberg on acoustic guitar.

I hope that you enjoyed this, I did. JESSE BOYKINS III is really a good dude that not only has incredible hair, he understands the process, beauty, work, role of art in our lives and community. PLUS, he is an independent artist, so PLEASE support him!

Beverly Johnson Reveals Her Real Hair!

Beverly Johnson is On the Couch! Ms. Johnson was the first Black woman to grace the cover of Vogue in 1974. Since then she's been on the cover of more than 500 magazines, ripped all the runways, authored books and appeared on television. Currently, you can find her on the Oprah Winfrey Network, starring in her own reality show, Beverly's Full House', as well as find her new hair care products on the shelves at your local Target. During the interview, Beverly talked staying young, weaving as a protective style and revealed pics of her real hair! Enjoy!

On her new hair care line, 'Hair by Beverly'...

I've been chasing the formula for 10 years, so I can't really take all of the credit. I was the spokesperson for this line... that's how much I loved it. When I was doing my hair care line for Target, I decided to check back in and see if it was available. It's the most incredible products in the sense that we take science and also natural ingredients and put them together. I feel that there is a huge void in the market for an affordable, quality product and this should fill that space. With all the perms and improperly installed weaves, our hair has gotten really, really beat up, so my line promotes healthy hair and growth.

I'm proud to say that there is no compromise in the quality of the products. And I don't get to say that a lot. I've represented a lot of products... I'm a model, that's what I do. But with this, I'm really happy to be an owner, in the sense that I manufacture, distribute... every single ingredient, every single step of the way has been this amazing team effort that I've been very involved with. I'm blown away and I hope you will be as well.

On her hair...

I don't perm my hair. When I take my hair down, people don't even believe it's all mine! It's so thick and long. It's crazy. Also, I'm proud to say, I have all of my edges, all of them.

What happened was 14 years ago, a wig and weave care company approached me and I wasn't even wearing extensions at the time. My manager was like, 'you can't do that... don't even go there'. But I'm glad I did... it really paid off because we went from a 3 million dollar company to an 80 million dollar company.

That was a fantastic and interesting journey in that I really got to know the hair business. We, people of color, have had a love affair with our hair since the beginning of time and that's not going anywhere. But what I found is that through all of this experimentation with relaxers, wigs and hair extensions, is that our own natural hair took a serious beating. And the relaxers are just deadly. You look under a microscope at a hair strand from a perm... forget about it... it's amazing that it can exist on our heads. So what I started to do was not to relax my hair at all, use good products, braid my hair up and use a regular sew-on weave, netting the hair. This is what jump started my hair growth. Whenever my hair is out, I'm careful not to wet it too much and I only use wide tooth combs. Once a year I let my hair down for a while and people just can't believe the growth. For me, it's easier with my schedule to have extensions. I like my hair to look a certain way all the time. I don't care what you do to your hair or how you wear it, as long as you feel beautiful.

Beverly's natural, heat styled hair-

On weaves as a protective style...

I know a lot of women, my daughter included that wear clip in pony tails. That's a great protective style that's easy and not very invasive. My daughter doesn't wear weaves at all, but for shoots, she'll use a clip in. It's fun, we like to change it up. Every woman has a bad hair day every now and then which is why I have the line of ponytails as well.

Also, if you choose to wear extensions, you really have to go to someone that knows what they're doing. And please, stay away from the glue at all cost. Try the clip ons, you can clip it in, take them out and there is no damage to your hair. The sew ins with the net on top is what I use and it really does protect the hair and your edges. My stylist braids in hair with the edges to reduce the tension and then puts the netting around just the edges and then proceeds. I get my hair done a lot. I don't leave my hair in for long periods of time. And my real hair is conditioned and maintained in between.

On keeping it tight and smooth as we age...

This scientist went around and interviewed regions of the world where people live the longest, where people are over 100, and he asked them their secrets to longevity. He discovered four things about them. Most of them had daily exercise and routines. A lot of them live in the mountains so just walking around is exercise, but they work in the fields, etc. that was one of the main components. Everyday, doing something, moving your body. And we have a generation with the TVs and computers... we sit on our asses a lot and it's not good. Another thing they do is of course eat their fruits, veggies and fish and just about everyone ate meat only in moderation if at all. I've tried to incorporate this into my life. The other thing is that they have frequent and meaningful communication with family and friends, a very tight network. And finally, a place of worship... finding faith in something other than themselves. Those are the 4 things that are keeping me vibrant and young.

On her new reality show on OWN...

I'm a business woman. I manufacture and distribute beauty products. Oprah I've known and loved for many years so I pitched her some shows. I didn't think she would pick my reality show! I trust and love Oprah and absolutely loved the idea we developed. It's about the mother, daughter relationship. It's so interesting... that relationship. It's a show about building bonds and the whole thing of better communication. Hopefully people will laugh and cry a lot and have a lot of fun. Even though I'm the executive producer, I've only seen a couple of the episodes, so I'm a little scared [laughter]. It should be a lot of fun. Check it out on March 31st! Everyone can always go to my website and I'll keep you abreast of what's going on!

Janet Hubert's Open Letter to Wendy Williams

Our favorite natural homegirl Janet Hubert, recently went in on Ms. Williams and her sudden show of support and love when Whitney passed, wondering where all that compassion was when the Queen was alive. Remembering that fateful interview and Wendy's relentless mudslinging, Janet felt compelled to take to the keyboard after witnessing the daytime star break down in tears on her show following the announcement of Whitney's death. Janet told me, 'it was just something I needed to say... enough is enough!'

Dear Wendy,

This past weekend was a very difficult time for so many of us.

Though I never knew Whitney Houston, I felt a profound sense of loss and sadness. On Sunday morning I took my dog for a walk in the park across the street and still could not shake the sadness I felt. I wondered if what I was feeling was perhaps related to losing my mother and brother this past year, but then I thought no, it was something else.

I watched the funeral service with the rest of the world, and cried time and time again with each story that was told. I felt like I knew more about this amazing woman than ever before. We all watched her as a little girl, center stage, singing like a bird, she was destined for superstardom. To watch her center stage full circle in death was a feeling no mother should ever have to feel. I applaud Ms. Warwick, the pastor, and all others who formed a police line of love and protection around her that was impenetrable only to those who really knew her. We, the public accepted their decision to keep it private, but they allowed us to witness her Home Going ceremony, I don’t know if I could have been so gracious. WE felt like we knew her and we knew nothing about her except what we read and hear from people like you and other media outlets. I listened to her interview with you and was compelled to say out loud. “Go on Whitney tell her like it is,” when you pried into her life back then. I had my son in the same year as Ms. Houston; we did Ebony Magazine that same year, she introducing her baby girl and me my son. I am trying to be dignified, but here goes.

The Internet has become somewhat like the 10 commandments, and this is why… whatever is posted or commented on… is forever written in stone. Neither I nor anybody can stop anyone from making up stories, reviews, lies etc, cutting and pasting whatever they decide to put together like a bad buffet breakfast.

I have had some horrible meals shoved down my throat on the web that I had no parts of.

I still have a bad taste in my mouth from a recent cut and paste meal from your beloved TMZ (THE MUDSLINGING ZONE). I believe you said once “If you heard it on TMZ then it must be true,” really Wendy?

The Internet is indeed the information highway, but it can also be “a Forum of Hate.”

You said that morning with tears in your eyes, that you would not discuss Whitney any further, but you crucified her the whole time she was alive, as you do so many people on your show. I want to ask you why? What do you get out of this besides money?

How do you sleep at night knowing that you are one of the biggest bullies in the world disguised as HOT TOPICS? Celebrities are not topics we are people, just like everyone else, we hurt and we hear and we bleed real blood, not fake blood, just as you do.

How do we as parents teach our children to honor each other, treat each other with kindness when all they see are images of people like you who condone and promote meanness, rude reality TV stars, and your opinion as you berate world renowned people like Janet Jackson, Gwyneth Paltrow, and others you slam on a daily basis.

I keep asking myself why no one is saying anything about this. What the hell are they afraid of? Where are my sisters out there who feel as I do?

Well Wendy, I try to teach my son to stand up, shout, and scream when there is injustice. Yeah yeah, I know, I have been screaming for years and will continue to do so as long as there are images that depict black women as neck shaking, over bearing women who can’t get along.

A sister, a mother, a daughter, a star, left this world way too early; she was loved by the world. The world mourned, I don’t think that we needed you to try and take down another brilliant sister on that following Monday morning. (Your rude comments about Janet Jackson)

You started right back up without hesitation or pause… you need to stop Wendy. We need to stop, and the world needs to stop. I need to stop as well. There will be no more quotes from me to be misquoted. We need to join together, wrap our arms around our children, everybody’s children. Remember you have a child who will suffer every slingshot and arrow that gets thrown back at you Wendy; our public lives greatly affect our children.

I know I am going to suffer some arrows for writing this letter to you, I know you are loved by many, but remember this Wendy; they love you when you are up and they love to take you down. You will not always be up, you will not always be on the A list and attend all the parties. Ride the wave sister girl, but make sure you know how to swim when the ride is over. Artists are survivors, we work hard to build our crafts and careers and I ask that you simply remember that in the future.

I’m just sayin’ it like l mean it too.

Janet Hubert

Wendy breaks down--

What do you think of the letter? Are you a Wendy Williams fan?

Click HERE for my interview with Janet Hubert.

Denise Richards Talks Big, Wavy Hair!

Lately, my Google searches go something like this--

'at home hair thickening treatment',

'naturally volumize fine ass hair',

'mousse for bigger hair'

...and things of that nature. Hundreds of henna, beer rinse, oat flour and sexually inappropriate results later, I happened upon something that caught me off guard. Apparently, Denise Richards has a volumizing hair care line. Denise Richards. You know...actress, model, white she-devil from Undercover Brother... Charlie Sheen's ex-wife? I couldn't help but reach out and I'm glad I did! She's super down to earth, friendly and a fellow curly. She'll also be in the new Tyler Perry movie! #WINNING

CN: Your hair is stunning! It's obviously naturally textured, but how would you describe it?

Thank you! My hair is thick with a bit of natural wave. Although it's very full, I feel like it's gotten less curly over the years.

CN: What was it like growing up with wavy hair? Did you always like it?

As a kid, we always want to be part of the ‘status quo”, which usually means having perfectly straight, shiny hair. I battled with my hair at the time (hey, it was the 80’s!) but through the years I stopped fighting my hair and found a style that works for me.

CN: What are your go-to products?

Speaking of the 80’s…. it’s all about the hairspray! But a much more grown up version, like the Volumizing Hair Spray from my Volume Extend line. I’m currently obsessed with my new line of products- they’re so luxurious and make my beauty routine a breeze.

CN: Tell me of this new volumizing haircare line?

My new hair care line, Volume Extend, is a volumizing line I created with celebrity hairstylist, Cristophe that uses cutting-edge formulas to achieve the perfect balance of volume and thickness without any frizz! It should go without saying, but these products are never tested on animals and are sulfate and paraben free.

CN: What is your current routine? How does it differ when you're working?

When I’m working, I have the best in the biz making sure I look perfect from every angle; I just let them work their magic! But when I’m at home, it’s all about my kids, which means my beauty routine is pared down to the bare minimum. I think the best way to keep it simple is to adopt a beauty routine that keeps your hair healthy and your skin glowing.

CN: As a new mother, I always ask celeb moms this question- How the hell do you do it? How do you save your last nerve while juggling career and kids?

I think it’s important to take time out for yourself. As a working mother, it’s easy to lose yourself in the demands of others, but what’s most important is maintaining a healthy, happy ‘self’. I recommend taking an hour to go for a walk, meditate, spend quality time with your friends – these are the things that maintain sanity.

CN: Any new and upcoming movie projects?

I recently guest starred on 30 Rock and I am currently working on a new Tyler Perry film, “Madea’s Witness Protection”!

CN: Dope. Can't wait! Where can we connect with you on the web?

You can follow me on Twitter (@DENISE_RICHARDS) or on my website at You can buy my products at!

Thandie Newton on Her Natural Hair

by Kay Montano of

Bafta winning actress Thandie Newton and I first met on a Vogue shoot about 6 years ago. It didn’t take long before I felt that I’d always known her. She is one of the most inspiring women I’ve ever met and I’ve been fortunate enough to make-up, wax lyrical and travel with her ever since. I have made her up more than anyone else in my whole career, in an entirely different way each time. We often discuss what it is like to be mixed race, our experiences, what it means to us, what we continue to discover and most importantly perhaps, find ways of celebrating it. Our hair is not easy hair. It frizzes, it tangles and it knots and takes a lot to understand. There is still much stigma with a large ‘hair culture’ surrounding it, plus a multi-million dollar industry supplying women with ways of taming it.

Thandie has been growing out her hair relaxer for the last year and she’s now 100% Lye-free, (the controversial chemical in black hair straightening products) and is finding that wearing it big and natural is extremely liberating.

Your hair looks so different, what made you decide to go natural?

Its taken about 2 years to fully grow out my relaxer. I always thought I would go back to curly, because I didn’t want my daughters to judge their beautiful curls. I assumed they’d want to be like their Mum, and they’ve only ever known me with straight hair. However, it turns out they’re so secure in who they are as individuals that I don’t think it occurs to them to be like anyone else, and that includes me.

What inspired you to allow your hair return to it’s natural state?

So, the ultimate personal wake up call was when I saw Chris Rock’s documentary Good Hair, and saw how the active ingredient-Lye (that’s in all black hair relaxing products)- can melt a Coke can. Also the fact that the FDA take no responsibility with harmful chemicals when it comes to beauty products. Scary.

How does having wilder looking, bigger hair make you feel as opposed to the elegantly-on-trend hairstyles we’re used to seeing you with on the red carpet?

I have to feel comfortable with having ‘all eyes on me‘, which I do when I work, less so in life. Ironically I don’t want to draw attention to myself because of celeb spotting, but my big hair, for a time will work as a disguise! Straight hair has been ‘on trend’ for years and years, so having big-ass curly hair means “I’m stepping outside the mould, outside what’s accepted and applauded”. It takes a little courage to do that. Mainly, I want to wear it natural because it looks amazing!

Do you think cultural attitudes within the black community are changing with regards their hair?

The kinky-haired Afro has been practically ironed out (pun intended!) within the mainstream black community. Now, black women have silkier, smoother longer hair than any other women. And there’s no stigma attached to black women and false hair (weaves, extension, wigs) whereas if a white woman wore false hair they’d seem more of a phony and inadequate. That’s changing a lot, but men certainly don’t expect white women to have false hair, whereas black boys know that there’s ‘No touching above the neck!’ And there’s no embarrassment about it.

Being mixed race myself, know that there is a lot of stigma steeped in history surrounding black hair and it still exists today. Tell me a bit about your experiences.

The stigma with some black women seems to be that ‘nappy hair’ is almost as bad as loo roll trailing from your shoe. I have always let my daughter’s hair be wild and scruffy. I love the shapes and fluffy halo. But when they were ‘papped‘ in the States I had remarks about how I don’t take care of their hair. The truth is I choose to keep it that way. When I see hair that’s been pulled, stretched, brushed till bullet smooth I just think ‘ouch‘. I have my limits mind, sometimes I have to beg Nico to let me tidy it up for fear of her looking like she’s been neglected!

It was relatively easy for me growing up in West London amongst all colours and cultures, but how was it for you, growing up in Penzance, Cornwall?

Well for a start I only visited a hairdressers once in my entire childhood. It was a nightmare. They washed it and then (drumroll…) blowdried and BRUSHED it. It was like a huge candy floss – no curl definition. It looked ridiculous. And it cost my Mum 20 quid – that was the thing I hated most, that my Mum had to say thank you, pretend she was pleased and pay all that money. The truth is the salon had no idea – we were a loooong way from London. A long way from any other black person. I don’t think you could even buy a decent conditioner. Vitapoint was the only product, I bloody loved Vitapoint. The smell meant ‘friend’.

Without the support of a black ‘hair culture’ around you, how did you learn to manage your hair?

I think the closest thing I had to long, straight tangle-free hair was when I had it braided into ‘singles’ during the Summer holidays. By the time I was 13 I could do it myself. That’s one huge plus, I’m REALLY good at doing hair – I HAD to learn, and I did and I can do it all. I can braid, fit extensions, do my own weave, cut it, blow dry it bone straight, make hair pieces, fit wigs, style it beehive, forties, Afro, you name it. I started young and then from 16 when I started acting, I learned from the best of the best.

How was it for your Mum, coming to a culture where her ‘normal hair’ was suddenly non-’normal’, then having children, and approaching their hair in this alien place. What was her approach to your hair?

Mum wanted me to fit in, and I don’t blame her. My hair hampered that. Poor Mum. I remember when I was 7 at my convent school, it was school photo day so all the kids came looking their best. Mum did my hair in 20 or so ‘corn rows’ with green wooden beads on each end to match my school uniform. The nuns were appalled, they wouldn’t let me have my picture taken. I felt embarrassed, disappointed, ashamed. Can you imagine how my Mum must have felt? There was a mild rukus and the next day I had my picture taken. But then I read this year a piece in The Independent about a student who appealed against not being able to wear his hair in (what the school felt was a hoodlum style) braids, and he won. That’s 30 years since the Nun’s dissed me… This shit keeps going round and round.

Apart from the school photo incident it was 1 or 2 plaits every single day, and a bun when I was doing ballet. Never, ever, ever loose. Never.

So when did you discover hair products designed for black hair?

There wasn’t any ‘Dark & Lovely’ in Cornwall but I can say it was like Christmas when we discovered that a ‘home perm’ has the effect of loosening curls. I was around 14 then.

So what is your experience of modern hairdressers today-are they all clued up about how to manage your hair?

To be honest I do struggle with hairdressers, even now. The main problem is that hairdressers (and some at the top of their game) don’t understand how my type of hair changes dramatically depending on what climate, substance, effects it. Water in any form is like a cheeky magic wand – even mist! But with the correct tools ad managing my kind of hair can do ANYTHING, which is brilliant! So hairdressers like the genius Kerry Warn, or Maarit Niemela, are leagues better than others because they can work black hair from wet to dry in any style.
I’m surprised that more people don’t understand this (even though hair salons still seems to be culturally divided between ‘black’ hairdressing or ‘caucasian’ hairdressing), there are many black models and actresses around that they work with.

I think a problem for top hairdressers is that most black models and high end clients have weaves (Indian hair), so the technicians never work on authentic black hair. Whether black, white, blonde, brunette, I’d head to a local black hairdressers any day of the week- because if a technician can work black hair, you can work ANY hair.

So tell me about products. You’ve been an international actress all of your adult life, you must have tried everything!

My favourite shampoos, conditioner, serums and sprays etc are from John Masters Organics and the ‘Brilliant’ range by Aveda.

I have lots of ‘beauty icons’ that, to my mind, represent a more diverse attitude to beauty, that hopefully represent a wider scope of womanhood. Do you have any ‘hair icons’?

I just watched Flashdance with my girls. Jennifer Beales hair! In the same breath I get a total wide on for my friend Laura Bailey‘s hair. It’s unreal. Thick, shiny, heavy swinging blanket of the good stuff. Who doesn’t love Rihanna’s red? Or Stevie Wonder’s braids?

What would you say to young girls and women of colour who struggle with hair ‘issues’?

Ultimately the goal is to be free to do whatever you want with your hair. But what we ‘want’ is influenced by so many factors. When I was little I insisted my parents stopped calling me Thandie because it was so ‘different‘, my desire was influenced by a community where the way I looked was not celebrated, where my uniqueness was seen as suspect. Whatever we are repelled by, or don’t want – right there is the bud to a root we need to dig up and investigate.

Once we’re conscious of the story behind our discomfort, we can reject that story and be free. And then we can have it all, and love it all.

Watch a trailer of Thandie’s next movie, GOOD DEEDS (out in US Feb 14th) HERE

Watch Thandie’s talk on ‘Embracing Otherness, Embracing Myself’ at TED HERE

Watch the trailer to Chris Rock’s insightful documentary GOOD HAIR HERE

Read writer Funmi Fetto’s honest account of her hair from British VOGUE HERE

See my Pinterest board full of work that Thandie & I have done together HERE

Kay Montano's make-up career started at 16 and she learned her skill on the job within the edgy London fashion world. At 25 Kay moved to NY and worked regularly on glossies such as Vogue, Allure, Bazaar, W and Elle. From there she was introduced to a clientele of actresses that she still works with today including Salma Hayek, Nicole Kidman, Keira Knightley and Thandie Newton. Kay is now based in London but continues to travel for press junkets, premieres and ad campaigns. She is a Chanel ambassador and creative director of MyFace Cosmetics. View her agency portfolio here.

Follow Kay on Twitter at

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