Amel Larrieux's Natural Hair Journey- Exclusive!

Original hair idol and music legend Amel Larrieux is On the Couch. And just for the record, this one's for me, not for y'all! I've been fawning over her hair for years and it was amazing to finally chat about her iconic curls and waves. Enjoy!

CN: How long have you been natural?
Amel: I've been natural since I was 17. When I was a teenager, I used to get my hair relaxed and when I turned 16, I stopped and had my hair twisted and it locked up. I had locks for 2 years. Then I cut my locks off when I was 19 and my hair has been completely natural ever since.

CN: Why did you stop getting relaxers?
Amel: I got really involved in African history and my roots, and I was very Afrocentric at the time. I wore big head wraps and I was studying a little bit about Rastafari and hanging out in Harlem on 125th street... back when it was very much a time when people were talking about our culture... lots of Black owned book stores. It influenced me a lot and I realized that they (relaxers) were not for me.

Also, my mother has always been natural so I think that I kind of went through the prerequisite 'straightening my hair to fit in with other people', but by the time I was 17, I was finding my individuality and a part of that, was being natural.

Feb. 2011

CN: How would you describe your hair?
Amel: I have two very distinct grains. The top part of my hair is a thicker, coarser grain with cork screw curls and the bottom part is almost completely straight. You can't treat both parts the same. I've only encountered 1 or 2 stylists that know what to do with it, which is why I usually do it myself.

CN: I came across an old interview where you discussed your hair routine and products... it's several years old and I wonder how your regimen differs from that time? I remember some old school products and lots of braid-outs...
Amel: It's basically the same, except for the last 6 years I've been using organic products. I don't use any of the old school stuff anymore because unfortunately, it doesn't have the best ingredients. Plus, there are so many more organic things available now than there were before. Everything... your hair, your skin, leads back into your blood and your body. Now, everything that I put on me is basically organic.

I still wash my hair every week unless I'm really busy. I have very curly corkscrew hair and although sometimes I'll let it air dry naturally, I usually braid it. And every night I braid my hair because if I don't, it'll lock up! The curls are so curly that they lock together very quickly. My secret is moisturizing it before I braid it. And it's really also about the products that I use.

I deep condition every time I wash my hair for around 10 to 15 minutes. After applying the conditioner, I'll put on saran wrap or a plastic cap and sit in the sun or just keep it on as long as possible. My favorite deep conditioners right now are Kerastase Oleo Relax, Bumble and Bumble Creme de Coco Tropical Rich Mask and the PhytoSpecific Intense Nutrition Mask. I also like the PhytoSpecific Kukui Oil Shampoo.

I try to get my hair trimmed twice a month. I don't wear my hair long anymore... I just prefer to have it shorter. I pretty much keep it at shoulder length now. I may wear it long again one day but for now, I really like it at my shoulders because it's really modern, easy and fun! I have a person who knows how to trim curly hair... she actually can trim my hair without giving me split ends. She makes my hair look better every time she trims it. I appreciate this because many stylists can make matters worse.

CN: You mentioned Phyto, Kerastase and Bumble and Bumble, what other products are you digging?
Amel: Using the best combination of products is an ever changing thing. I won't stick with the same thing for more than 4 months because my hair kinda becomes immune to it, so I switch around.

I love the PhytoSpecific brand. It's one of my favorites and I always come back to it. I also like Shea Moisture, which I know is Black owned and that makes me very happy. I love the Organic Coconut and Hibiscus Curl and Style Milk. I love it so much that I don't even know what to do. It works so well. It repairs any and all problems. I use it at night before I braid my hair.

I am a person that likes my hair frizzy and wavy, not a person that's concerned about it looking silky and curly. I grew up on Chaka Khan and Diana Ross, I like big hair. I like frizzy hair, I think it's beautiful and it looks like a cloud! It took me many years to embrace that part of my hair. I'm not into gelled looking hair and these products don't make my hair look gelled or defined, it makes it soft and wavy like a beautiful cloud [laughter].


CN: Can you tell me more about your night time braiding routine? Do you wet your hair before applying the Organic Coconut and Hibiscus Curl and Style Milk?
Amel: I apply it to my dry hair. I've learned that water is my hair's enemy. That is one of the reasons why I stopped wearing my hair naturally curly all the time. You know, like when you get out of the shower and let it air dry? I had to wet it every day and it really dried my hair out. The braiding works better for me.


CN; What would you tell a woman who is contemplating going natural?
Amel: Well, it's such a personal thing. As Black people, we have so much weight, so much luggage, baggage that comes with it all... all the stuff we've been through for decades, how we're not right, in terms of our beauty and our attributes. Every commercial is like, 'get rid of frizz, relax your hair', and i know it's for white people as well, but still. I know how extremely intense it can be for someone to make the change and then feel the reactions from people. When I cut my locks off and had hair that was one inch long, the kind of reactions I got from people I knew and didn't know... it was astonishing. It was astonishing that my hair mattered that much. That it made such a difference that they had to give me their opinion... that they were so offended or whatever. I just really believe that people have to do what's right for them in their own time. It's definitely more time consuming. We all have different hair and some might find that braiding their hair is not the thing, that they have to do knots at night, or pin curls at night. Someone else might let it be completely free and natural. I just really want women of color to feel good about themselves without having to compromise or without having to fit into someone else's standard of beauty. And sometimes it's a really long road. Everything in our society has been anti-black anything for many years, so it's totally understandable.

CN: What projects are your working on?
Amel: I'm mixing my new album that will be out early next year. It's going to be called 'Ice Cream Everyday' and I do spot dates all the time. I'm not doing a full length tour right now, but I love to do live shows, they're so much fun!

Keep up with Amel on her website and Twitter.

CN Adds-
Later, we discussed her curl's objection to being watered too often and how I can totally relate. My hair seems to do better with these dry sets... applying product to my dry hair prior to twisting. It stays moisturized for much, much longer and gives me that soft, perfect 'cloud' like frizz she was talking 'bout! #thatisall

A Man's P.O.V: Nafis

by Alex of The Good Hair Blog

Name: Nafis
Age: 26
Location: Philadelphia

How important is a woman’s hair to you? Especially if you are dating her, does she have to wear her hair a certain way to keep grab your interest? (i.e. which styles down vs. ponytail vs. bun, hair length? To me, hair is just hair; however, I do feel that no matter what hairstyle a woman wears it should always be well kept and neat. As I get older, I do see myself paying more attention to a woman’s hair now more so than ever before. At this stage in my life, I feel like everything comes into play when dating a woman including their hair. By me being a very active and adventurous person (i.e running, working out, water fun etc.), I need a woman who is ready and down for adventure just as much as I am without the restrictions of a hair issue.

Do you think that there is a ‘Natural Hair Movement’ or trend going on these days? Why do you think so many women are choosing to go natural now, do you think it’s a fad? Right now it does seem like the natural hair thing is big. Honestly, I really don’t know why that is. There are a ton of natural hair blogs and videos out there now so I think that may add to it but also I think lot of times people just get bored and might want to try something different. I was told by a good friend of mine that, “only the strong survive. Having natural hair is a lot of work.” So with that said, I think that will separate the true natural women from the fad followers

Would you support your partner or family members (i.e. mother, sister, daughter) if she decided to become natural? Of course! I LOVE women with natural hair. It says a lot about their character I think. To be honest, I think I’m more attracted to those with natural hair than those without it. Don’t get me wrong I appreciate and have love for all black women but it’s just something about a natural woman that I’m drawn to. Natural women have always stood out to me. They represent a part of our culture that has been stripped away from us. I feel we’ve been conditioned to believe what is considered to be beautiful, normal, or good-looking when it comes to women especially black women and their hair. Natural women have my utmost respect because it takes courage and confidence to do what they’re doing and to me that speaks volumes. I’ve been telling my mother for years to get locs. I think she’d look awesome with them but she won’t do it lol

How important is hair texture to you? If your significant other were to go natural, would the texture of her hair affect your opinions on whether she should remain natural or not? Texture isn't really important to me. Fine, medium, coarse, curly it doesn't really matter. Besides, I can’t be too picky about a woman’s texture when mine is like a Brillo pad lol

What is your definition of “Good Hair” and how do you feel about the word “Nappy?” Growing up, “good hair” to me always meant wavy, soft, straight or long hair. I think we as a people are forced to believe that. Now that I’m older I think that “good hair” is whatever kind of hair makes you feel good. Whether it be natural or weave, relaxed or loc’d, long or short. If it makes you feel good, rock out!

Would you rather your partner wear her hair natural or in a weave? Why or why not? As I mentioned before, I’m a very active person and I would like my partner to be also to a certain extent without her hair holding her back. But above all else, I want her to be happy so if that means wearing a weave then that’s something I would have to deal with. However if I had to choose, it would be natural.

If you are involved with a woman do you think she should consult with you when it comes to making changes to her hair? Not really but I think that depends on the change. If she wants to go completely shaved after having a head full of hair, I think some type of heads up would be nice lol But after awhile, I think you kind of know how far your woman will go with her hair.

Why does it seem like some men are “hung up” on hair length? Does it matter to you? Again, I think this is something that has been forced on us through the media and everything else we as a people are so consumed with. The long hair fetish goes back decades along with this whole “light-skinned” non sense. For YEARS, they’ve been the only symbols of beauty for black people in this country. It’s been regurgitated and passed down from generation to generation. There was a time when a black person wouldn’t get a chance in Hollywood if they were darker than a brown paper bag. I think this way of thinking has stuck with us. Her length is not important to me.

Would you be supportive in your partner’s journey to go natural?
Without a doubt.

What makes black women and their hair unique and beautiful to you? Everything about a black woman makes them unique and beautiful. Their lips, hips, ass (Can I say ass on here? Lol), sassiness, even their hair. They all represent beauty. This might sound crazy but to me natural women have a sense of “realness” about them that makes them unique. Immediately, you get the sense that they are down to earth, cool, and open minded. That right there alone is a beautiful thing. There is nothing more beautiful and sexy than a confident, educated, curvy, down to earth, open-minded natural black woman.

Who is your favorite “curly girl?” (i.e. celebrity, actress, friend, ect.) Erykah Badu, Amel Larrieux, and Alexandra Smith all three of these women are dope and amazingly gorgeous.

I Greased My Hair and I Liked It!

*takes deep breath, knocks back another shot, talks fast as hell* it wasn't my fault. What had happened was... they made me do it. Amel Larreiux uses it, Corinne and Chicoro both use Vaseline and Folake of StylePantry all but held me down... she even mailed me a jar! So I tried it and it wasn't my fault. But now, I like it. *ducks* Don't hit me!

For reals, y'all know me by now, and for those that don't, know that I keep it mad real, even in the face of the natural hair police and judgey judges. I disclosed my grease usage to several people last week and surprisingly, most recommended, while clutching their pearls, that I keep it to myself. Really?! I hate controversy as much as the next diva, but I take my job here seriously. I also strive to be super authentic... so when I experiment with a product as 'sinful' as Dax, with all of its lanolin and petroleum greasiness, and get great results, I just have to share... no matter the backlash.

I was surprised, relieved even, at how many of y'all came out the woodwork confessing your guilt of being greasy too! Funny stuff... us coming out the closet and all. So let's bust it wide open, shall we?

For the past year or so, I've been re-examining some of the natural hair no-nos. I re-introduced silicones, started washing a bit less often, using 'suspect' products (ones without all natural ingredients like Lacio Lacio), dry detangling and leaving in light protein conditioners. Living on the edge! I've revisited protective styles out of convenience and a few weeks ago realized that more than anything, my new routine most closely resembles my childhood one. My hair thrived back then in the twists and braids and ultrasheen. All this to say, my mind was already open and Momma may have been on to something.

Enter Folake.

... the gorgeous fashion blogger, with her luscious hair. She shared photos with me from her wedding and hair straightening adventures and when asked about her faves, she's all, "Dax, Green Dax". Shocked, I proceeded to pack up Boogie and hit every store in the city of State College, Pennsylvania. After checking the 5th store, I remembered, duh, I'm in Happy Valley. Ain't no Black folk here. This was a Wednesday I think... and my parents were driving up on Thursday so I begged Mom to stop by the beauty supply in STL before hitting the highway. Score!

I had been looking for the perfect dry twist-out product- one that would provide hold, protection and reversion prevention- and for some reason, I felt deep in my heart, that this was it. I used it as she walked in the door on my freshly washed and twisted hair. Took them down and re-twisted with Dax for the pumpkin patch--

It's been in heavy rotation for going on three weeks with amazing results.

Damn, I talk/write too much... that's what happens when you feel like you're pleading your case! Bottom line is this, I only use it on hair that has already been moisturized, I avoid my scalp and I'm light handed during the application.

The deets--

1. Dax works amazingly well. If used sparingly, on already moisturized hair, it'll be the best sealant you've ever used, provide ridiculous shine and a medium firm hold, all without greasiness. I also find that it doesn't weigh me down... at least not in a bad way. It's heavier than other products, which prevents shrinkage. Best twist-outs of my life.

2. Yes, this product has mineral oil, lanolin and petroleum jelly. Yikes. BUT, so far, and I haven't been using it long, it's the best sealant I've come across. My hair stays moisturized for like 4 days... which is unheard of. I've been moisturizing and sealing Gia's hair with all natural products and oils... virgin hair, and it's dry as a bone after 2 days. Mine was the same. The oils, while great on day one, disappear rather quickly...

3. It provides awesome slip when dry twisting and I notice I encounter less tangles and snagging. I really feel like it creates a protective barrier around each strand. I'm curious to see how I'll feel in 6 months.

4. I've washed it out, using Elucence, with no issues, even having reapplied it three times prior to the wash. Obviously, I won't be cowashing, but, I had reintroduced regular pooing months ago. I find that my hair attracts lint more... so I may return to bi-weekly washing.

5. I don't use it on my scalp. Although it's been shown to be beneficial in length and moisture retention, mineral oil may clog pores, so I avoid the roots. But I can't say it hasn't crossed my mind! Every time I'm standing in the bathroom, grease in hand (haha, it's not what you think), applying it to my length, the smell makes me think of my childhood... which makes me think of my mom massaging my scalp and smoothing on that ultrasheen. I've resisted the urge... so far :)

There you have it. My Monday morning confession. I'll keep you dolls posted with the good and the bad.

Here are some articles on mineral oil and the like... as I always say- - be your own guru, do your own research, draw your own conclusions and do you booboo!

A Closer Look at Mineral Oil

Mineral Oil, Has it Gotten a Bad Rap?

Silicones and Other Sealants

Mineral Oil or Coconut Oil?

Now who's ready for a Blue Majic, Dax, and Soul Glo giveaway?!?!?!?

Have you used grease since going natural? Why or why not? If so, what's your experience been ?

Show and Tell- Fierce Fridays!

Hola chicas!

It's that time again! The images below are of CN readers at their work, on the town, and with the fam. Showing us all that natural hair is not a fad, it's a way of extension of our beauty! Click on the images to enlarge them:

Hey bellas! I am rocking my signature "twist-out" at the Amel Larrieux concert in Chicago. I put my hair into six twists and used water, Aveda Light Elements Defining Whip, Aloe Vera Gel, and Shea Butter to seal the ends. I got so many compliments on my hair that night :-)

Hi CurlyNikki, I just want to say "What would I do without your blog" It's my daily news. I wanted to share a photo of me and my daughter. I've been trying my best to stretch our hairstyles for two weeks ( My new years resolution to free up some time on the weekends). I pulled our hair up to pineapple and protect our curls at the end of the day. The results were a pineappled braid-out on my hair and a pineappled twist-out on my daughter's hair. These are styles that protect our curls but also work when worn out and about.

Hi Everyone!
In this pic I was on my way to work. The night before, I experimented with an oil rinse (which I loved) and my new products from Koils by Nature (also loved). This is the resulting twist-out. My hair felt great and smelled delish!

Back to work after 2 snow days. Wearing a Twist-n-Curl out. Have a fab weekend!
At work wearing a 2 week twist-out now up in a puff which I could get it to go higher!! ;-)

I love my hair! Headed to the club. I had just added highlights the day before (':
I'm discovering that my style options are NOT limited just because I'm still at the TWA stage! After using the banding technique to stretch my hair, a two strand flat twist across the front and a two strand twist-out in the back, these are the results! I got LOADS of compliments!

This is a wash and go with Olive Oil Eco Styler Gel on the sides, to
create a Mohawk look. I'm a 3c/4a. I'm 6 months natural today (January 14)...yippee!!

My first attempt at mini twists. I was on my way to work after being "iced" in all week in ATL.

I just wanted to thank you and everyone who contributes to this site. There are days when I want to go back to the crack and I come here to convince myself not to. Sometimes I wish I had a different type of hair, but alas this is what I have. I tried my first twist-out during the ice storm in Atlanta this week. This picture is of second day hair. (I've always wanted to say that and now I can). I bought those clips from the grocery store. I was headed to Wally World to buy some fondant for a cake.

**If you don't see yourself today, rest assured that you'll be up in the coming weeks! I post in the order I receive them!**

**To submit**:
Send in your favorite picture with a caption detailing where you were (or where you were headed to), along with a brief description of your hairstyle, to [email protected] I'll post several each Friday. Be sure to use 'Fierce Friday' as the subject line!
We always need more!

My Routine: Winter 2009- Spring 2010

My hair in the KPLR interview, as well as other recent pics have been the result of the routine below :)

Current Product Rotation:

*I now henna once a month (if I remember), and DT twice a month.*

Hair Styles (listed in order of how often it is worn):
  • Braid-n-Curl (see below)
  • High Bun- The same basic steps found in THIS VIDEO, but done on dry, previously twisted hair.
  • I haven't done a Bantu Knot-Out in a while due to the amount of time it takes to dry. I love the look, but hate sitting under the dryer!
To see pictures of my hair in the various styles, browse through My Hair.

Current Routine:

Every other Saturday (yes, twice a month) afternoon I do the following:
  • Thoroughly saturate hair with water in the shower, and divide into two (left and right).
  • Cleanse hair with poo bar-- one side at a time.
  • Apply conditioner of the day to both sides in a smooshing motion (usually Herbal Essence).
  • Pass my head back under the shower stream for a second for better distribution and added slip.
  • Clip the hair up and out of the way while I complete shower rituals.
  • Take down the right side and finger detangle a bit -- detangling the rest under the water stream after the big knots are out. Follow up with the left side. If the conditioner is washed away and tangles are left, I add more conditioner, and repeat. The power of the water stream and the slip of the conditioner should make detangling a breeze!
  • Once all the tangles are melted away, and the Herbal Essence is rinsed clean, I apply a generous amount of Jessicurl Weekly Deep Treatment or Aubrey HSR. I get out of the shower, don a plastic cap and let it sit for 30 minutes with heat (the bonnet or my micro heat cap).
  • Get back in the shower and rinse thoroughly. Apply leave-in of choice-- usually Desert Essence or Giovanni Direct Leave-in.
  • Make 8-10 twists- 4 or 5 on each side. **This step is to stretch the hair for the 'real' hairstyle**. You could also pull the hair into a bun, do cornrows, a roller-set, chunky plaits, or band.
  • Seal the ends with shea or Oyin Burnt Sugar.
  • Allow to airdry overnight, using a bonnet dryer if you're in a rush.
  • The next morning (Sunday), take down the twists and finger detangle if necessary. Divide hair into two. I now prepare to braid my dry hair for a wavy effect.
  • I do 9 plaits total, 4 on each side (one in the back, one above my ear, one framing my face, and one immediately behind that one), and one at the crown, braided toward my face.
  • Start with the back- left side. Brush the hair out (this is optional... I use a goody paddle, but a wide tooth comb or fingers should suffice), apply a teeny bit of Burnt Sugar pomade, and make a braid/plait. I braid until I reach the last 2 inches and then I twist.
  • Complete all braids/plaits in the same manner-- adding Burnt Sugar Pomade along the way, and twisting the last two inches (makes for an easier take down).
  • Now, gather hair rollers and find your spritz (in a 2 dollar spray bottle from Sally's, I combine 1 part water, 1 part Desert Essence Green Apple Conditioner).
  • Spritz each braid, making it damp, not dripping wet. This step sets the hair. To make sure the braid gets thoroughly saturated I cradle the braid in one hand and spritz directly, in close range, with the other. Finally, I squish the mix through by squeezing the braid gently. Set the end on a rod roller, and move on to the next one.
  • Once all the braids are damp and the ends are rolled, I tie on a satin scarf, leaving the braids dangling, but the crown secure to control the frizzies.
  • On Monday morning, I carefully take down each braid and fluff.

Preserving the Style:
  • I re-braid every other night. Since the hair is somewhat straightened and already detangled, your fingers and a wide tooth comb should get the job done.
  • On nights that I don't re-braid, I pineapple (gather the hair at the crown and secure with a loose, satin scrunchy, and tie on a scarf), and sleep on a satin pillow case.
I've been experimenting with this routine for a little over a month now. I like that I don't have to wet my hair as often, and that it yields fluffy, HUGE hair on day one. I've received tons of compliments and people that know me, keep asking if my hair has grown! It makes my hair look thick, healthy, and full of life.

-Moisturize once daily or every other day
-Stretched Hair (prevents breakage, splits, tangling)
-Makes fine hair appear voluminous
-Only have to re-style (wet, detangle, etc.) once a week, or bi-weekly. yay!!!

-Excessive manipulation (especially if you're brushing daily). If you try this routine, only use the brush on day 1.
-If you work out regularly, you'll have to water rinse more often than twice a month.

As I stated in previous posts, I got the inspiration from Amel... plus, this was the routine my mom followed when I was a little girl (only it stayed in plaits 80% of the time). Since my hair is stretched, I'm experiencing fewer knots and tangles. I hope to see excellent length retention with this routine!

**I plan to do a Braid-n-Curl tutorial in the very near future!

What Are Your Hair Plans...

for the weekend?

I'm doing a henna treatment as we speak! My first one since October. I plan to DT and style tomorrow (a twist-out on wet hair, then a dry braid-out). Yesterday, I cut off a half an inch-- my ends were super raggedy, probably due to neglect. Sad.

In 2010 I'm gonna be so on it... no more tomfoolery! I've really been playing my hair to the left for the past 6 or so months and I'm definitely seeing the effects. I hope to henna monthly, and DT bi-weekly in the new year.

Next week, I will finally reveal my new routine. It's working well... saving me time and effort. Plus, the results are ridiculously predictable, and my hair is voluminous each time without much coaxing. It's very similar to Amel's routine... she's actually my inspiration. I just swapped the coconut oil out for shea butter. Check it out and let me know what you think! I'm braiding dry y'all!!!!

Later Gators,

Food for Thought and Hair Today


**How do you really know a product is moisturizing? Do you blindly trust in the ingredients, or do you look for tell-tale signs? **

I was thinking about this last night while doing my hair. The products that make my hands feel soft, even upon rinsing thoroughly, (instead of sticky, coated, or weird), I judge to be super moisturizing. How about you?

Hair Today:

So what do you think I did? A hint-- Amel with a twist ;)
The first person to guess the hairstyle will win a free box of Cassia (thanks Nmoultry!).
Leave your response in the comments below!

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