Viola Davis: 'I Took My Wig Off Because I No Longer Wanted to Apologize for Who I Am'

Viola Davis is known for embracing the skin she was born in, and she’s bringing that natural beauty to the cover of this month’s Essence Magazine.

On the cover of the October issue, the 48-year-old Oscar-nominated actress rocked her natural hair pinned up in a pompadour and caught up with the magazine about the joys of marriage, love and motherhood as she tries to keep things positive for her husband, Julius, and their adopted daughter, Genesis.

Read On>>>

On the Couch with Sheryl Underwood- She Explains Natural Hair Remarks

Yesterday I received a massive amount of messages regarding statements made by comedian and Talk Show Host, Sheryl Underwood. Several of you, up in arms, forwarded me the synopsis from TheRoot, requesting that I start a petition, write into CBS or just publicly share an outrage over the comments she made on her show, ‘The Talk.” After reading through the transcript and watching the video myself, my initial thoughts were that A.) Yes, she’s a comedian and afforded some manner of freedom to entertain and provoke people but more importantly B.) What was said marginalized a large group of women (on a national stage) and in my opinion, spoke to what I feel is a deeper issue, one that the ladies of are not at all unfamiliar with.

Read On>>>

On the Couch w/ Raven-Symoné: Natural Hair Celeb

Recently I had the opportunity to sit down with actress and singer extraordinaire, Raven-Symoné. Best known for her roles as Olivia Kendall on 'The Cosby Show', and Raven Baxter on the hit Disney sitcom, 'That's So Raven', she is all grown up and doing the dang thing. Talented, smart, and beautiful, Raven is a role model for young and old alike. Over the years, she has rocked braids, ponytails, lace fronts, and weaves. She's worn her hair curly, short, long, red, blond, and black. But did you know that underneath her Hollywood hair, she is a fellow natural? She shares her hair story, and her reasons for keeping her natural hair hidden away.

Read On>>>

The Queen of the Afro: Pam Grier Talks Hair

Anya Grant writes:

The lovely ladies of iHEARTmyhair6 caught up with the iconic Pam Grier!  Check it out!

Chrisette Michele on Her New Body and Hair!


Last night I was watching movies with Hubby when he hit pause. We do this often... like 'put a pin in that' so we don't forget to do stuff or revisit things later.  Anyway, this particular interruption was to remind me that I needed to call Chrisette because he had just seen her on somebody's red carpet looking 'good as hell'. So yeah, I caught up with her today!  Homegirls' 'feeling so good' and has taken this whole year to be very introspective- mind, body and soul.


The Body.
I became very interested in the raw food movement so I went out and purchased an Angel Juicer. I fell in love with juicing and feeling really clean and started off by juicing the first 60 days of the year. Not only did I lose 17 pounds in those 60 days, but I lost a lot of emotional weight too. It was a great mix for me.

After that, I went vegetarian and started writing a bunch of recipes to keep myself interested because I have ADD and get bored, fast. There are a ton of farmers markets where I live so it’s perfect… I’m always so excited to try new things- I even had purple basil one weekend!

So about three months into vegetarianism, I was feeling so long, not necessarily lean, but just taller. I remember I was looking through my closet and I saw my tap shoes and my brother was like, ‘yo Chris, why don’t you dance anymore?’ and I was like, ‘you know man, you’re right I gotta get back to that’. So I went to my favorite dance school in New York, Peri Dance, and also went to Broadway Dance Center and started taking tap and ballet again and modern dance... everything! I began to really just sweat like mad. I’d take two or three classes a day if I could. And that really helped me detox for real. For some reason, working out sucks for me [Laughter]. I think that I get angry! I get upset and I think that stress contributes to weight gain, because my body would just be like, ‘I am not going to lose weight. I don’t care what you do! I hate this place!’ I mean, I had a beautiful trainer and she was working so hard with me… we were running back and forth for two hours, 5 days a week, and I just couldn’t understand… I was like, ‘why is my body not budging?’ But the combination of dancing and vegetarianism really got things moving for me.

On the Couch with Michelle Williams (Updates!)

Re-posted from 2012!

Hola Chicas!

Michelle popped in and saw your comments and took to twitter to set the record straight. Her interview with Angela was more about empowerment and catching us up on her successful career... but of course y'all wanted the hair deets, so here ya go!

She told me--

"Some of the readers were disappointed that I didn't discuss my hair routine! On my episode of Styled By June...all of that was my real hair....we shampooed, blow-dried and added clip in pieces for the makeover look.

When I'm not working I like to shampoo and air dry my hair and go. OR I diffuse my hair and take a small barrel iron to define unruly curls.

I like Mixed Chicks products and I also love Moroccan Oil line of products. They have amazing curl creams.

I've been relaxer free for about 11 years now. First it was a transition....then in 2008 I cut my hair short when I released my new album!

My hair was always long. Without weave it was down to the middle of my back. Where the bra band sits!"

Michelle in December 2011 with her own hair.....growing it out! Her hair was shampooed, diffused and curls defined w/ a small barrel iron.
"Nikki Mangrum of Freedom Salon in Chicago does my hair. She's great!"

"My natural hair out with pieces added for a more full dramatic effect! I love Diana Ross so this is my Diana Ross look..."

Natural Hair Celebrity Interview- Bibi McGill

Reposting 'cause BiBi just slayed during the SuperBowl Halftime Show! #KingBey
Bibi McGill, world famous guitarist, actress and model is a force to be reckoned with. I first saw her on stage with B at the American Music Awards... her tattooed arms and massive fro demanded my attention, and she was screaming FIERCE! Prior to her current gig as Beyoncé's lead guitarist, she was rocking out with Pink across the pond.

Here, she dishes on everything from her bodacious fro to her experiences working with Beyoncé!

Curly Nikki: Tell us your Hair Story!

I come from a family of stylists; my mom and sister are beauticians, my dad is a barber. My mom started relaxing my hair when I was 10, and whether it was pressed or relaxed, it always looked nice and healthy. I was very spoiled when it came to my hair and didn't have to think about it much.

Later on, I began wearing dookie braids, extensions and micros. This quickly became very expensive and was ridiculously time consuming. About 8-9 years ago, I took out the dookie braids and never looked back, lol. I washed it, colored it (big red chunks), and walked out of the salon. At this time, I still had some relaxed ends... they grew out over the next year or so. When I walked out of the salon that day I received a ton of compliments... from friends, family and strangers. People loved it! I had no idea it was going to be so cool -- I even got more work! Everyone wanted the girl with the big afro and tattoos. So my journey to natural just sort of happened. It wasn't cool or in to have an afro then... I was just doing it for financial reasons. It worked out. One thing I've learned is that regardless of what I do to my hair, it's going to be a lot of maintenance.

CN: Have you always liked your curls? If not, how did you come to embrace your natural hair?

The texture of my hair is something I've always liked. I always got perms because it was what I was used to -- it's how I was raised. But when I went natural, I loved it and felt completely free.

CN: What is your current routine?

If I'm on the road, I have to wash it before every show. Two hours on stage leaves me completely drenched, and my hair shrunken and frizzy. So, the next day, before the show, I have to wash and style it again. Usually, I end up doing it about four times a week.
When I'm home, however, I only wash and style once or twice a week.

When I say wash, I mean conditioner wash. I no longer use shampoo. I use conditioner to cleanse, and a different conditioner to detangle. I let it air dry half way, and finish it off with a blowdryer/diffuser to speed up drying time and add body and length.

I deep condition about once a month, but want to step it up to twice a month. I use cholesterol but look forward to trying some new products.

By the way, I always do my own hair. I stopped letting other people touch my hair when I went natural.

CN: What are your staple hair styles?

The afro is my staple style, but sometimes, I wear cornrows when I'm off... but those don't last very long because I end up having to do something work related and people always ask, "What happened to your big hair?" I'm thinking of trying twists because they're low maintenance and maybe I'll be able to keep my hands out of my head for a while.

CN: Must-have products?!

I'm always trying something new! I was using a lot of Carol's Daughter , but after a while I wasn't getting the results I wanted (especially for how much they cost). I do still enjoy the Khoret Amen Hair Oil, and plan to keep it in my rotation.

I'm really liking Oyin Handmade products. A lot of products claim to be all-natural, but to me, Oyin appears to be as natural as you can get -- no chemicals or preservatives. I use their honey hemp conditioner, their whipped pudding, the shine and define, head-to-toe wash (not shampoo) and frank juice herbal leave-in spray conditioner. Sometimes I use castor oil as a pre cleanse conditioner.

CN: What's the best thing about being naturally curly?

To be able to look in the mirror and know that it's all me -- it's all mine, it's all my texture! That is something to truly take pride in! My lifestyle is very natural, very holistic -- from the food I eat, to the products I use on my skin. It's been a part of me for so long that I don't even think about it anymore. It's freedom. I don't have to alter my hair or change it to be beautiful. My fro has gotten me way more work, more confidence, and more compliments than I ever received when I was wearing the extensions and braids.

Kimberly Elise talks Healthy Natural Hair Care

Reposting 'cause she's so damn cute and down to earth!  Her hair is EVERYTHING!  Enjoy! 


Kimberly Elise, acclaimed actress best known for her roles in 'Set It Off', 'John Q', 'Diary of a Mad Black Woman', and 'For Colored Girls', is On the Couch! She's one year into her healthy hair journey... she prepoos and utilizes protective styles! I'm sure by now, you can tell she's a member of the natural hair community, even calling sites like CurlyNikki, the Natural Hair University!

To achieve this look, Kimberly set her hair in small bantu knots while damp.
She released when dry then lightly spritzed with rosewater.

CN: Your hair is stunning, so thick and healthy. Have you always been natural?
KE: I had my last relaxer in the early 2000s. I grew up with the pressing comb, had a Jheri Curl and then I started relaxers. I have a very sensitive scalp and no matter what I did, they always burned. My hair wasn’t happy and didn’t do well. And so I just stopped at a certain point and my last one was probably in 2000 or 2001. I reverted to using the pressing comb, then I tried braids, sort of leaving it alone, and I found that that made it really grow.

Just last summer, 2010, I thought I’d try something a little different. I had heard about the keratin thing and I understood it to be a temporary process… something you could put in and wash out in like 2 months. I thought it would be a nice change. Well, it didn’t wash out and my curls were gone. It was really upsetting. I pulled back again, put it in and braids to let it grow
and recently cut off about 6 inches, all the keratin, and now I finally have my curls back.

It’s been almost a year of letting it regrow itself. That’s where I am now. My curls are back and honestly, I didn’t know a whole lot about how to take care of my natural hair until this last year. I learned so much on your site. I don’t even know how I stumbled across it… it’s like so educational, a university for natural hair. I’ve also learned so much from Youtube, everyone from CurlyChronicles, Naptural85 to NaturalChica and Kimmaytube. I so love and appreciate the community and I’ve learned what my hair does, what it is, and how it thrives in a way that I really never understood before. I felt like I’d been given a key to a secret room and all the answers were in that room. It’s very empowering because you really are in your own little world trying to figure it out (hair), and to see this whole community of support and education and sharing information, it was refreshing.

CN: I see that you’ve been wearing your natural hair on the red carpet quite a bit. How has it been received?
KE: I’m extremely protective of my hair and so I don’t let them use it. Like in my last movie… they wanted to style my hair and I said no. I’ll do wigs, but I don’t want the stress on my strands. There are too many people that don’t know how to take care of it and I’d be bald by the end of the production. It’s too sensitive for the rigors of production.

As for your question, people love it. Certainly on the red carpet people love it and they’re excited to see natural hair out and wearing it and feeling free about it and I’ve received nothing but compliments and good feedback from just being myself.

CN: What’s your current routine and staple products?
KE: I went through the whole junkie phase and tried all types of things. And now I have a very simple routine. I spritz day and night with rosemary water I make myself. I get rosemary herbs from Whole Foods and boil them and let them sit overnight in purified water. Then, I’ll either use shea butter or coconut oil to seal in the moisture. And that’s it! Very simple. I’m still trying to find the right shampoo because I’m very particular about products. I’m a vegan, I was a vegetarian for 13 years and just became a vegan. And I’m very particular about natural products, organic products and that’s been like my biggest challenge. And that’s why my routine is so simple because I am so selective.

Mostly I prepoo with Aubrey Honey Suckle Rose or coconut oil and then I was using the Giovanni to shampoo, but it wasn’t quite right for me. So I’m still searching there. And I find that that’s a part of it too. The journey to find what works. My mom is on the journey with me. She’s been natural forever but again didn’t really know how to care for her hair. She grew up believing ‘black girls don’t like water’. We need water, we need to drink it and put it on our hair. So she’s really on this journey with me too. Things that don’t work for her, might work for me, and vice versa. I don’t have a good answer for that. I’m still figuring out what’s best for me, which is why i don’t want to put a brand name out there.

On Sunday, I’ll shampoo and condition. It’s an all day thing. Ninety-nine percent of the time, I’m in a protective style. I have learned that with my hair less is more with as little manipulation as possible. I will wear cute braid/twist/bantu knot style, a pretty scarf, a cute hat and always some sort of hair accessory that brings it all together. My hair grows very fast, over a 1/2 inch a month. Protective styles allow my hair to grow at it's full potential so when I do want to wear it out, it's healthy and vibrant.

And if I have something that I’m going to go to and I want to wear my hair out, that’s a special thing. I don’t just wear twist-out and curl outs everyday.

So Sunday, I’ll do that and braid it, spritz it and put my silk scarf over it or find a cute braid style that I can wear out. Come Wednesday, I’ll cowash with Aubrey, and then do it again on Sunday. And in between, every morning and every night, I spritz with the rosemary water and seal with coconut oil.

For events, I’ll stretch it with… I learned from GirlsLoveYourCurls about threading. So I stretch my hair and then very lightly spriz and either twist it or roll it and then finger it out and apply a little more coconut oil. And that’s how I got that look.

CN: I've seen pics of you with your daughter. She's adorable! Does she love her natural hair too?
KE: My mom and my youngest daughter. My daughter is feeling more and more comfortable about her natural hair as she watches me embrace mine. What’s really amazing to me is that growing up, the pressure was, ‘when are you going to get your relaxer?’ or ‘when are you going to change what your natural hair is?’ And you didn’t feel good unless it was pressed or somehow chemically processed. My daughter is 12, she goes to school and the girls are all natural. And they’re teaching each other how to take care of their natural hair… really supporting each other in their natural hair. And these are 12 year old black girls, all kinds of textures of hair and they’re all natural! No one has any chemicals and it’s a whole different world. And so my daughter comes home from school with a new technique that she learned from another girl about how to flat twist or another moisturizer, and it’s beautiful. They’re learning from us as mothers but they’re being very strongly influenced by their peers.

CN: Any words of encouragement for a newbie or a woman thinking of making the transition?
KE: It’s so incredibly personal. I definitely wouldn’t try to persuade someone because there is a lot of commitment that goes with it. But if a person is at a point that there sure that this is what they want to do… I’d say get as much education as you can even before you big chop! I recommend reading 'The Science of Black Hair'. Be patient with it, listen to it. What works for your sister may not work for you. It’s an exciting, magical process to watch your hair come to life and thrive. My mom is 73 and she said her hair is saying ‘finally!’ It’s true because your hair really will talk to you. Surround yourself with a community of support. Not everyone will be supportive. There is still a lot of stigma against us with our natural hair. Pressures to have it straight. It’s important to have a support group, even if it’s just strangers on the Internet. Have fun with it. Create some new styles and share them. It’s a magical journey and it’s liberating. You can walk out in the rain and not worry about it… it’ll create a new fantastic hairdo!

CN: What's the best thing about being curly?
KE: I love how my curly hair is such a personal expression of the woman I am. The woman God created. I get excited as I see it grow and grow and I see it as a direct reflection of my own growth into myself and accepting me as me. I find that though not everyone embraces my hair most people do and they love to ask me about it, learn how I care for it especially if they are struggling to understand their own hair. I am always open to answer their questions and advise them as much as I can. They will start asking me about my movies and we always end up talking about hair care! Also I find that people of other ethnicity's really really love our kinky curly hair and are always full of compliments and praise and simply cannot stop the flow of positive words about my big kinky curly hair. It's a wonderful way to celebrate self and be celebrated by others who may be different from me. I love it!
CN: What projects are you working on?
KE: I just finished a really fun film… ‘Hannah’s Law’, a western. Me and Danny Glover and Billy Zane. I had a blast creatively, it was a really fun experience. I played a cowgirl.
For that project, all my projects, I cornrow my hair and wear character appropriate wigs and that’s what I did for ‘Hannah’s Law’.

**Kimberly is on twitter and she wanted me to tell you that she responds!**

Tracee Ellis Ross on Her Natural Hair Journey!

Many of you may be just too darn excited to read the intro - and that's fine skip on down to the good stuff! Cause lemme tell you child, when I found out I was gonna be interviewing my (imaginary in my mind) best curlfriend I was more excited than Lil' Wayne at a skinny jeans and skateboards convention! I'm talking Sophia Grace at a Nicki Minaj concert kind of excited! I'm telling y'all, today -Tracee, tomorrow, Michelle? *dives behind rose garden bushes*

On her hair as a child…
My hair has always been a huge part of me. I swear you can chronicle the evolution of my spirit and my embracing and celebrating all of who I am through my hair journey.  

In all honestly, I’ve completely resorted back to all of my childhood hairstyles! The way I wear my hair at home, the way I braid my hair, and the way I comb out my natural curls to get that huge wind swept, salt water look… it’s all very reminiscent of my childhood photos and the history of my mother’s hairstyles. 
that's a young Tracee on the left!

I have not always been natural. I had a relaxer in my hair during my teen years…well it was more of a texturizer than a relaxer.  But I started as a natural girl. I used to go to Joseph’s every Saturday to get a roller set, a wet set.  I’d sit under the dryer for an hour while I waited for ‘lil Joe-Joe to do my blow-out. He was like, ‘THE guy’, so everybody waited for hours and hours to see him and that was the majority of your Saturday.

So I did that for many years and if I couldn’t go for my hair appointment, my mom would blow my hair out or put the hot comb on the stove, which was a part of her childhood.  My hair never required a ton of heat and my texture was actually really consistent but the pivotal point came when I moved to Europe to go to school.  Enter the Relaxer.

The teenage years…
I remember calling my mom from there and saying ‘Mom, I know that hair, in it’s essence is already dead, but my hair is dead in a way that I don’t know how to explain.’  I was all the way in Europe and I was in school and it was just me doing my hair.  I would kind of blow out the front of my hair, my sort of ‘quote, unquote’ bangs and kind of poof them forward with a headband and take the rest of my hair and put it in a little bun really low down at my neck.  And so I had this poof in the front and whatever in the back and whenever I’d come home from Switzerland I’d get my hair relaxed.  So when I left Switzerland and started going to school in the States, which was 10th grade, the evolution of my Natural Hair began.

So I didn’t cut my hair off, I basically grew my relaxer out and then the journey began.  It was sort of like this crazy experimental process of trying a million different products and actually, I’m still the kind of girl that will try any and everything!  The hard part was when I started working, I mean modeling was one thing, but then when I started acting…that’s when it got difficult. 

... the beginning of Tracee's natural hair exploration!
The ‘Girlfriend’ years…
For the first three seasons of Girlfriends, if I had an early call-time, I would wake up 3 hours before so my hair could dry naturally.  Three hours before!  I didn’t use any form of heat on my hair at the time… no blowdryer, no diffuser, I wouldn’t let anybody do anything to it. I had finally gotten my hair back to its virgin condition… my huge natural curls were back and I wasn’t letting any heat or chemicals near my head!  So yes, there would be these conversations with the assistant directors where I’d plead for a 9 am call time, but if I got a 6am call time - and I’m not joking - there were times when I’d wake up at 3 am.  And it’s not like you can wake up, wash your hair and go back to sleep. 

Then something else occurred, an exploration of sorts.  Around year three, Tracee’s hair became Joan’s hair… it was interchangeable. So when I was off camera, when we weren’t shooting, I started to get bored with my look. The things that were so me, weren’t anymore- - the ‘Tracee bun’, my natural hair, became the ‘Joan bun’ and Joan’s natural hair. I was like, okay, I need something different, I need to be able to break away and turn back into Tracee when the season finishes.
So, I went to get my hair blown out and the person that usually did my hair wasn’t in town and the woman that she referred me to used a stove and an iron… it was still a flat iron, but it was too much heat for my hair and although I spent the entire summer with gorgeous, shiny, blunt, crazy great hair, three months later, my hair would not curl. So I ruined my curl pattern and I freaked out! But that created a whole new exploration.   

There was a man by the name of Scott Williams that came in to work on the set of Girlfriends, I think it was Season 4.  After that season, I took great pictures of the straight hair that will never happen again (because the curls would never come back), and we started to discover the Chi curling iron, not the Chi-3 but the Chi. I don't think they make it anymore, they keep trying to reconfigure it and it’s not the same, but it’s okay because I’ve discovered other things now. But anyway, the Chi iron saved my life! It was ceramic and it would get hot enough that it would leave me with straight, silky hair, but it wasn’t so hot that it would change my curl pattern.  So we nursed my hair back to health using a silicone-y something on my hair and the Chi and that’s when I discovered all these other hairstyles that I could achieve. And we found that balance between my natural hair volume and more ‘movie stary’ looks- that’s what we used to call it when I started naming all of the hairstyles! 

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!

Cindy Blackman- Natural Hair Celebrity

Re-posting for those that may have missed this one. Cindy's advice on healthy living has given me life and I've adopted a bit of her regimen. I had already cut back on meat (not counting the Southern Fried Family Reunion binge, lol), and I'm doing my best to eat more fruits and veggies (blending not juicing) and taking my supplements... even added chlorophyll. Enjoy!

On December 19th, in a beautiful Hawaiian ceremony, guitar legend Carlos Santana married the gorgeous Cindy Blackman. Cindy, a jazz and rock drummer often recognized for her work with Lenny Kravitz, is absolutely stunning. Her ‘fro is the definition of fierce, and get this, she’s 51! I know, right?! I caught up with her in Austria and she not only shared her hair secrets, we even got the scoop on her own personal fountain of youth!

CN: Tell us your Hair Story.

CB: I’ve been wearing my hair completely natural for the past four years. Prior to that, I used a softener, but didn’t like what it did to the texture, so I let that grow out. When I was younger I would get hard-core relaxers but when I got to high school, I stopped using them altogether and wore an Afro. So I guess you can say I’ve had a few periods in my life where I’ve used chemicals, but at this point, it’s completely natural.

Have you always liked your natural hair? If not, how did you come to embrace it?

My hair is really thick and full, and while I love it today, in the past, because of the sheer volume, I found it to be a chore to take care of [Laughter]. It took a while for me to figure out what to do with it—my hair is strong yet soft, full of tight, kinky curls, and is very easily damaged. So I have to be careful even with the kinds of products I use on my hair. For example, conditioners high in protein, cause my hair to break. I learned that from Diane Da Costa who used to care for and braid my hair. She told me that at every bend and turn along my highly coily strands, are a potential weak spot. You have to be careful, and using high protein products can do more harm than good. I’ve also learned that my hair dries out easily, so I don’t always use shampoo to cleanse. One time I’ll wash and condition, but then a couple of days later, I’ll just rinse it and condition, and then the next time I’ll wash it and condition it. These are just a few of the things I’ve had to learn in terms of what makes my hair its healthiest and its best.

I love Diane Da Costa. I have her book! Do you dye your hair at all? Your color is gorgeous.

Thank you, I've known Diane for a long time, she's an old friend. My hair color is completely natural. I love it.

What is your current routine?

It depends. Right now I’m on the road, so it’s done a bit more often because I’m working out and sweating every night. I might wash it maybe three times a week. Other than that, I’ll maybe wash once a week, and then condition it a couple of other times within that week. After it’s cleansed and conditioned, I apply a leave-in conditioner and then twist my hair in order to wear a twist-out the next day.

So the twist-out is your staple style?

Yes, definitely. I also like to twist and leave them in for a while which allows my hair to take care of itself. I even rinse and condition in the twists. I like not having to comb or manipulate it everyday, and my hair appreciates the restitution. But I do like wearing it out in an Afro, which is what I do mostly- twisting for the sole purpose of wearing a big 'fro.

You were stunning on your wedding day. Did you style your hair yourself?

Thank you so much! I wore my signature Afro for my wedding. My husband Carlos, actually requested it specifically! He said, ‘How are you going to wear your hair? Will you please wear your Afro?!’ And that’s exactly what I did. I love wearing my hair out. I washed it the night before, applied a couple of different conditioners, and braided it. I think I even lightly blow dried that night as I braided. The next day, I removed the braids, put some sheen on it, and I was ready.

What are your must have products?

There are a few that I’m using currently. I like PhytoSpecific products and use their normal line because it has the fewest proteins in it. Otherwise, I use a natural line called Wachters. They sell chlorophyll and a lot of other natural things for the body, but they also have a lovely shampoo and conditioner. It’s called Nuti-Hair Complex. I love these products because they make my hair feel so good. I also use Ouidad’s shampoo and conditioner. Very, very nice. Between these three companies, my hair is well taken care of.

I also recently found another staple by Karen’s Body Beautiful. I use the Butter Love as a daily moisturizer. It is really nice for after I’ve shampooed and conditioned my hair, because it keeps it soft and prevents it from drying out. I like that it’s completely natural, and it smells delicious too. I also use Wild Growth Hair Oil on my scalp and a little bit of it on my ends. It keeps my hair soft and conditioned. When I’m wearing my hair out in an Afro, it easily dries out, so at night I re-braid it with Karen’s Butter Love and when I wake up in the morning, it’s soft and re-hydrated.

Does the Butter Love help to set or is it more for moisture?

It’s more for moisture… it doesn’t really hold, although depending on what kind of look I want, I may twist it or I may braid it. If I want my Afro to really stand up, and be edgier, I braid it. If I want a softer look, I twist it. And when I apply the Butter Love, and either twist or braid, it seems to help my hair conform to whatever shape I’m trying to achieve. So it doesn’t have hold, but it does help to mold my hair, if that makes sense.

Once you’re braided or twisted up for the night, do you sleep on a stain pillowcase, don a bonnet, or a scarf?

My hair is actually best when I sleep with a silk or satin scarf, but I usually forget to do it. At home I have a stain pillowcase, but when I’m on the road I just sleep on whatever they provide, which is almost always cotton. My hair gets a little bit drier because of this. When I can remember to put it on, the satin scarf holds the moisture in, and I find that my hair is even softer when I wake up.

What do you use as far as hair tools are concerned? Are you a brush girl or a comb girl? Or, do you prefer your fingers?

I use mostly fingers actually; otherwise I use a wide tooth comb. I’m not much of a brusher- - I feel like it pulls my hair out. My older sister, who has beautiful, long, gorgeous hair, is an advocate for brushing. But my hair is quite a bit kinkier than hers, and I don’t really brush. In fact, I comb it as little as possible.

What's the best thing about being curly?

The best thing? My hair looks like only my hair looks! It’s my own look and it’s the look that God gave me. Of course a lot of care, and a lot of feeding goes into keeping my hair this way, but it is so worth it. Especially if you consider chemicals- if you choose to go that route, you are always in jeopardy of your hair breaking off or becoming damaged. But when you’re natural, there is no jeopardy. You just have to make sure you keep it conditioned well enough…washing it enough, but not too much. Once you get the balance down, you’re golden.

I cannot believe you’re 51 years old! What’s your secret?

Thank you, I really appreciate that! I’ve actually been speaking to my older sister… she’s trying to get me to write a book.

You should! We’d all buy it. I’d be the first in line.

Thank you [Laughter]. I’m really considering it because I love the health field and I love to get on the web and research, plus I’m a big advocate of supplementation. Firstly, before anything, I drink a lot of water. I think that’s really healthy for the body. It keeps everything fluid, it keeps everything flowing, and keeps everything as moisturized as possible, from the inside out. It keeps your whole body running efficiently. I take a lot of chlorophyll. I mentioned Wachters' earlier—this is the brand I buy. It’s the best that I’ve tried so far.

I try to eat a healthy diet- - a balanced diet. I don’t want to sound hypocritical because I don’t, rather I can’t, eat this way all the time, but as much as I can eat vegan and raw, I do. I do a lot of vegetable juicing, green juice, green drinks, and also fruit juicing. I also eat a lot of blended foods. For instance, I’ll take avocado, spinach, sprouts, fennel, an apple, and some cinnamon, cayenne, a little sea salt and some turmeric, and I’ll make that into a meal. So I eat a lot of blended foods…as much as I can. I also eat a lot of salads. I eat the salads because you need to chew, and you need the roughage in your system, but I eat the blended foods because you also need to give your body a break from the rigorousness of digestion. Remember, digestion takes a lot of energy and when your body is trying to digest something such as meat or other foods that are hard to assimilate, it doesn’t have time to work on other things… the self-healing aspect of our bodies takes a backseat. So when you give your body a break, and you’re eating blended foods or fasting, then the self-healing capabilities of your body are then able to work better. The energy can go to your skin, or your hair, rather than breaking down a huge chunk of meat.

From a practical standpoint, I tour a lot, and I can’t always eat that way. When I’m at home and in my own environment, I eat that way almost all the time. But again, when I’m on the road, I have to eat something, and even when I’m able to carry my own blender with me, I’m not able to go out and find organic produce in order to bring it back and then blend it, due to time constraints. In that case, I eat the best that’s available to me at the moment.

I eat meat once in a blue moon, and only when my body tells me to, and even then, I don’t eat much. I don’t eat chicken at all. I eat fish. I don’t eat much cheese; I eat dairy once in a while, but not a whole lot. I have desserts occasionally, but I try to avoid them because of the sugar content. At home, I don’t buy sugar. I don’t keep sugar in the house. However, I have been known to satisfy my sweet tooth outside, if I’m at a restaurant, hanging with my friends, or for a special occasion. Then I’ll have a dessert. I try to keep a balance.

Another thing I’ve been doing lately, that’s helping my body tremendously is paying attention to the quality of water that I drink. Carlos and I have a Kangen water machine. This water is amazing- I drink as much of it as I can… all day long… I drink a lot. The machine filters the water and it also adds active hydrogen to it and makes it ‘living water’ which kills bacteria and germs in the body, and helps remove toxins.

Without getting even more specific those are the things that I do. Those things , plus exercise. I carry a jump rope with me, I like to stretch, and love to do yoga whenever I can. And Carlos recently took me for my first tennis lesson, which was awesome. Keeping active and engaging in exercise regularly are really important for the body. Finally, I get as much sleep as I can because rest is important as well.

Wow. Amazing information. I had fallen off the healthy lifestyle wagon, but I’m back on now, thanks to you.
I get lots of emails from 40 and up curlies that often feel left out on Youtube and the Blogs. Some even feel that the new natural hair trend is for younger woman. How do you feel about this? Any words of encouragement?

For me, age is really a mental thing. I’m not a trend kind of person. If I want to wear my hair in an Afro, I will… I don’t care what everyone else is doing. And maybe when everyone is wearing Afros, I'll be into wearing my hair another way. I wear what suits me- I take into consideration the shape of my face and my hair texture when choosing a style. Some styles work better for my hair than others. It’s not about what’s trendy at the moment, do what works for you.

Is there anything you'd like to say to the ladies of CN?

To go along with my response to the previous great question, beauty is feeling comfortable with oneself and being happy with oneself. It’s a different thing for every individual. So, it’s a joy for each one of us to find our own sweet spot in terms of what makes us radiate, and what makes us tick. And to me, that’s what we have to find rather than what’s popular and trendy. There might be products that are out now, that weren’t 5 years ago, a year ago, a month ago, or even a week ago. It’s nice to stay up on things and to see what’s available and to even be influenced by styles and trends sometimes. But ultimately the decision for how we wear our hair, what we do to our hair, and how we carry ourselves is something that is completely individual. I find this to be the most important thing to remember. We are our best, when we are ourselves.

Tell us about your current or upcoming projects!

I have a record that came out this year called Another Lifetime on Four Quarters Records. I collaborated with some great musicians- - Mike Stern (guitar), Doug Carne (organ), Vernon Reid (guitar), Patrice Rushen (keyboards), Benny Reitveld (bass), Joe Lovano (tenor saxophone) and others. It's a tribute to my friend and mentor Tony Williams.

I have some really nice projects coming up too. Right now, I’m on tour in Europe with my band. We're doing the songs from Another Lifetime, but the band consists of Mark Cary on the keyboards, Felix Pastorious on the base, and David Gilmore on Guitar. We’re just wrapping up this tour here, and then I’ll go home and play with Vernon Reid's band which will also be a tribute to the late great Tony Williams. We’ll play at the Blue Note Jazz Club in New York at the end of the month, January 27th-30th. Come out and see me if you're in town!

India Benét on Her Natural Hair

by Alex of TheGoodHairBlog

Some of you may know her as Eric Benet's daughter, others may be a fan of her beautiful voice but what captured my attention to the stunning songstress were her beautiful curls. India and I started following each other a few months back on Twitter and OF COURSE I tried my hand at getting her on the blog. When she agreed I was super anxious to read and post her curly girl story. I think you ladies will really enjoy India's simple approach to hair care!

Please, introduce yourself!
Hey! I’m India Benet. Singer/Songwriter, LF Stylist and USC Student!

What is your current hair care regimen?
About every other morning I apply Shea Moisture African Black Soap Balancing Conditioner. I run it through my hair in the shower with my fingers until it’s even, and then I wet my hair and crunch my curls with my hands from the bottom up. I towel dry and diffuse a little, but only until it’s about half way dry. After that I just let it air dry! It took me a long time to figure out a system that works perfectly for my hair!

What is your hair type and what works best for your texture?
My hair has ringlet curls with varying curl patterns all over my head. It’s also dry. I need to make sure that I get the right amount of moisture. The Shea Moisture African Black Soap Balancing Conditioner is my FAVORITE. It gives me moisture without my hair looking oily or greasy.

What reaction did you get when you first decided to go natural or have you been relaxer free all your life?
I used to get my hair flat ironed often, but when I decided to wear my hair big and natural I got very positive feedback! Everyone loved it.

Did you big chop or transition, for how long? If you’ve always been natural, did you ever have any curly hair girl insecurities? If so, what helped you adjust to having naturally curly hair over the years?
I was insecure about my curly hair for a long time. I used to flat iron it often. Also, I used to put way too much leave in conditioner in it because it made my hair smaller, but it also made it crunchy and greasy. With time I just realized that my big curls are beautiful and I should flaunt them! I think a big part of it was not having the right haircut. When I started wearing my hair natural, I had my hair layered so that it would fall naturally.

What makes you love your kinks, curls and coils?
I love that my hair is never the same! Every day my curls are a little different. It’s like my hair has its own personality.

Where can we find you on the web?
Twitter- @IndiaBenet
Instagram- @IndiaBenet

Anything EXTRA you want us to know?
Love yourself the way you are! There is NOTHING wrong with kinks & curls! We’re programmed to think that our hair is a problem that needs fixing, but natural hair is so beautiful. Sometimes it just takes a minute to figure out a system that works for your specific hair type.

My name is Alexandra Smith, I am 22 year old single mother of one, full time Media Journalism student and business owner.I share my curly girl experience and other kinky haired goodness on my site "The Good Hair Blog." My overall goal of blogging for the natural hair community is to bring us together,men included by spreading knowledge, inspiration and love about our diverse heads of hair.

CN says:
Check out my interview with Eric Benet! It's a family affair up in here!

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?!

Solange Knowles Shares her Natural Hair Secrets!


Solange Knowles is under the hot lights on set, but her demeanor is cool while hairstylist Chuck Amos coifs her strands into French rolls. Knowles's now famously impulsive act, chopping off her tresses in 2009, has transformed her into a natural hair icon. But that was never her intention. "I honestly was just tired of the energy surrounding my hair," she explains. "So when I cut it, I didn't think about what anyone else would think." We've been admiring her flair for switching up her hairstyles ever since. She's living proof that natural hair can be versatile, stylish and edgy. In the June issue of ESSENCE, she opened up about wearing and caring for her crowning glory.

ESSENCE: Are you surprised so many people are inspired by you?
SOLANGE KNOWLES: I am! I wasn't expecting that. I get women all the time on Twitter and face-to-face saying, "I did this [haircut] because you did." That's really, really humbling, and I think it's amazing.

ESSENCE: Is there any style that stands out as a favorite?
KNOWLES: I actually love my natural hair when it's in a twist out and it's been slept on for five days and revived by the steam of the shower. A lot of people say, "It's so beautiful. Why don't you wear it like that all the time?" Well, I'm in all these different places and working with different hairstylists, so it's important for me to wear it in a protective style.

ESSENCE: How do you feel about your hair now?
KNOWLES: I think many people, especially from other cultures, just don't understand the role hair plays in Black women's lives. I can now transform the energy surrounding my hair into something way more productive. Now that [my hair is] growing back, I'm kind of in that in-between stage. Previously, I would have said, "I'm straightening it again; it's just becoming too much work." But I think the key is to find styles that give me flexibility.

ESSENCE: What advice would you give someone who wants to go natural?
KNOWLES: I would say it's going to be a journey and you have to be 100 percent ready. I think many people are coming into it thinking it's going to be easy and it's going to be healthier. Just because you're natural doesn't mean you'll be able to wash, shake and go. It's a lot of work. If it's something you truly feel strongly about and it's going to represent you in lifestyle, hair care and health, then it's a worthwhile journey to take. I stand for people who are firm in their journey.
**To read more and to check out Solange's top natural hair tips, click HERE!**

CN Says:
'I stand for people who are firm in their journey' #boom

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

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