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.
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!
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
I would like to know when she is coming out with a new album..Love her music
Loved it! Need to check to see if that tour is coming around my area. Thanks!
Just stumbled across this article all late in the game. lol!
I LOVE Amel! Her music, her beauty! Saw her live earlier this year, AND met Prince later on in the same night, it was great!
In any case, I was shocked to hear that she used to get relaxers in her hair up until 18. Its crazy what we automatically tell our children to do to their natural beauty to make it more "manageable". Absolutely ridiculous. I can't picture her doing that. She is so beautiful and has inspired me to embrace my own natural beauty as well!
Loved the article!
The natural style icons interviews are so wonderful. They are inspiring. And I love Amel she just always comes across as such a sweet, down to earth person! Loved reading this post!
Amel has always had a beautiful face and hair..yet she is so down to earth and humble.
I LOVE YOU AMEL!! I have loved you since Groove Theory. Great article! Keep 'em coming!
NIk, I'm loving these interviews! Amel has great music and beautiful hair. She's the reason I went natural!
Love this interview! I wished you could of expanded more in your questions. I also noticed that her daughter Sky Larrieux is a natural sistah too!
Oh I love Amel's music soooooooooo much! I own ALL of her albums including Groove Theory!
1st you got Corrine now Amel…Ive died on gone to curly heaven! Those two women are my hairspiration!
WOW. I love her so much. I have been a huge fan ever since Groove Theory. I got so much from this…
* I have always been a wild, frizzy/"messy" hair loving girl too. First because my hair has a mind of it's own and practically never clumps (except in the shower), slicks down or stays styled for long. I have grown to love it. 🙂
* Her thoughts about water are interesting. Every day we re-learn that although sharing best practices has been enormousley helpful along my journey, our individial crowns of glory are all so different and have different needs. You just have to listen and provide!
* Going natural IS a very PERSONAL thing. I am going to remember that, next time I am tempted to pass passive judgement on a non-natural. To each her own….
Wonderful interview with a gorgeous natural.
She is the T R U T H. I love that she is not length or texture obsesssed. She has been through the FULL gamut of natural hair care experiences (relaxed, loc'd, big chopped). She has reflected on those experiences and evolved into a healthier woman (psychologically and physically). I love and appreciate that about her.
Kerastase Oleo Relax is the bomb! I've been using it for about a year and a half now. It is pricey, but works for my hair like no other conditioner. It is my staple DC. I think it has palm oil in it. I jump around, but it is the one DC product that I am forever loyal to.
Ive seen the Phyospecific products, but haven't tried them. I have tried Kukui nut oil (in its pure form) and it also works like a charm in henna mixes. Moringa Butter is also fabulous. She didn't mention that one, but I just thought I'd bring it up.
Anyhoo, Amel is totally awesome. Love her talent and her hair.
Amel says: "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."
Thank you sooooo much, Miss Amel! This is pure truth. May God continue to Bliss you 😉 and godspeed on your new album!
I am so happy about this post. I have the exact same hair texture. Straight at bottom (and also at the roots)and tight corkscrew curls in the middle back. I also don't like to wet my hair but use hair milks. Such great advice, thank you!
Wow her hair is gorgeous, and I had to go to her website to find out who she is singerwise. I remeber her and the group that she was in as well, such a beautiful lady. In that 1st picture she reminds me of the actress that plays on the show called "Bones" played by Tamara Taylor.
FYI for those that haven't heard saw this on Naturalchica facebook.
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Great interview! Looking forward to new music from her. Love her! ~KF519
Great interview for one of my hair idols. Can you do Tracee Elis Ross and Rachel True? I have been dying to know what they do for years!
This is one of the best interviews yet. I love Amel!
This is what I'm talking about. A TRUE natural.
Yay, Amel's interview! Thank you, Nikki! So awesome to read.
Amel is the bizness! I remember wearing her music out when I was in high school. I've always loved her hair. Great interview.
I know what she's talking about with water. I can do so much with product and dry hair, as long as it's clean hair. Water makes my hoar shrink up, but when moisturized with product alone, it stays stretched much better.
Nikki, I really really reaalllllllllllly appreciate this interview. I remember her old interview years back about her hair regimen…So I've been waiting a long time for this..Yay!! lol She inspires me in so many ways…
Great questions. Thank you Nikki and thank you Amel for sharing with us 🙂
OMG! I love me some Amel Larrieux!
Great interview and she was very real/honest….good job Nikki and Amel
I have fawned over Amel's hair for years. Glad to know I'm not he only one whose hair has to be repeatedly wet to maintain its curl (but doesn't really like being wet every day, especially now that it's cold).
awesome interview, Nik! Been curious about the Phyto line for a good minute too….Pjism alert!
Great interview! Love her music & hair. I wonder if the reason her hair dries out with water usage, is because she's not sealing it in.
I am definitely a big fan of amel. Music 1st, then hair :). She is SO talented. Back in the day my roommate and I were so excited about meeting her and hearing her in concert that we hung around afterwards and actually asked to be her background singers. She graciously laughed at us. Thanks for this one Nik. Her voice is truly an instrument. Here's to good music and fabulous curly hair.
tell me if u want me 2.if u want my time i wanna make it good 4 u.lol.love that song.my fav of the yr….beautifull hair.
I like her even more-she is so down to earth. Wonderful interview!
I LOVE AMEL!!!!!! When am down I ALWAYS listen to Gills And Tails as a motivational mantra!!! Nikki THANK YOU! (hopeless Stan) ….and of course fab hair!!!
I have loved this womans music for as long as I can remember. Her music is absolutely timeless I swear. I know I say that like she's been around since the 60s or something but I can listen to any album or song and remember what I was doing the first time I heard it. Looking forward to the new album!!
Nice interview! Love her hair! Nik we can all share her!! I'm just waiting on your post of your other idol….Tracy Ellis Ross! 🙂
Nik Nik…are you "Hair Blocking"…giggle…..this one can't just be for you. I LOVE AMEL's HAIR TOO….thanks for sharing….I curtsey and bow….
I LOVE her music and her hair! She's my biggest hair idol. It's really interesting what she said about water and her hair. I think the same applies for mine so I'll put a product in it instead of water to see how that works. Great post!!