There’s no doubt that the pandemic has upended our lives. Since March, it’s disrupted the way we work, shop, socialize, and, of course, do our hair. For Black women, this change has forced an aesthetic and philosophical reckoning. We’ve had to ask ourselves: What happens when we suddenly decide to let colleagues see our natural hair? How does learning — or relearning — how to nurture and style our natural hair affect our self-image? In “Black Hair at Home”, a diverse group of Black women share their experiences and hair tips that they’ve learned during lockdown.
Kristy Lyons is a Chicago-based marketer for Google. Before the social distancing era, Lyons’s busy schedule kept her from wearing her hair in its natural glory. “It wasn’t until a few months ago that I took the plunge and started rocking a wash-and-go on a daily basis,” she says. “For the first time in years, I have a nourishing relationship with my hair. I’ve learned how to love it and give it what it needs to thrive.”
Have you always been comfortable with your natural texture? What was your path toward loving your hair?
“When I was in high school, my mom did the big chop and I was inspired by her hair journey. Though I opted out of cutting off my hair, I slowly transitioned but would still constantly press out my natural hair. As a college freshman in humid Georgia, I went back to a relaxer. In 2014, I made the transition back to natural again, but between work and adjusting to life in New York City, I couldn’t find the time or energy to style my hair. Instead I opted for braids or weaves so I wouldn’t have to deal.”
What’s your current WFH look?
“During the pandemic, all of my coworkers have seen my natural hair. Before I used to wear braids or a sew-in, then give my hair a two-week break with a press in between. The reaction was interesting initially, but now I just wear my ‘fro most of the time. Even if it’s not as neat as I would like it to be, I’ve grown to embrace it.”
How are you caring for your hair at home?
“I’m really learning the ins and outs of my hair and what works best. I figured out my hair’s curl pattern (tight coils) and porosity (high) with the help of Starresha, a licensed curl specialist. This has helped me determine the frequency of washing, products that help, and how to best protect it at night. I’ve actually done more experimenting than I usually would knowing that I have space for trial and error since I can’t leave my house!”
Any go-to hair products right now?
“I’m loving Uncle Funky’s Daughter Curly Magic Stimulator and Wet Line Xtreme Pro Styling Gel. I have very fine hair and this combo gives me the moisture, definition, and hold I crave, without weighing my hair down or giving it a crunchy feel.”
What products do you use for frizz?
“I’m a fan of Olaplex No. 3 Hair Perfector. It makes my curls less frizzy and smooths them out a bit more. It’s a pre-shampoo treatment so I’ll leave it in for 10 to 30 minutes, rinse it out then wash and condition my hair.”
Any tips or tricks you’ve learned recently?
“One technique that I’ve fully embraced is applying products to my hair while it’s fully drenched with water. The products that I use help to lock in moisture, which is crucial for my fine hair type and high porosity.”
What’s your pre-bedtime routine?
“I finally figured out that the pineapple method of pulling my hair up into a loose ponytail on top of my head does not work for me. So before bed, I just wrap a scarf around my hair and tie it to the back so that the front and sides of my hair lay flat. Then I put a bonnet on top.”
What’s your method for a quick hair refresh?
“I just take a pick, currently it’s from a drugstore but I’m dying to try Pattern Beauty, and lift my hair at the roots a little bit. If I need more definition, I’ll spray on a mix of water and Aussie Hair Insurance Leave-In Conditioner.”
Where do you turn for pro tips?
“@IAmBlackGirlCurls is an Instagram account run by two Black women who are hairstylists from Chicago. They post a lot of tips and show better ways to use products. They taught me that I should apply products for my wash-and-go while my hair is still dripping wet to improve my curl definition.”