How To Style Your Natural Hair

5 hair stylists, known for tending to Solange, Haim, Lorde, Zendaya and more, give us the low-down on getting the most out of your natural hair texture.

Let's face it: unless you're part of that token genetically blessed minority that actually manages to "wake up like this" and not look like a cast member of CATS, natural hair isn't always the most forgiving look. Between constant straightening, curling, teasing, and whatever you did between the ages of 13 and 17—hello DIY-ed neon crimping—your hair has likely seen more than its fair share of abuse. So we figured it was time we give our manes some much-needed TLC and go with the au naturel flow. After all, it only takes one look (and a subsequent two hour scroll down a Tumblr black hole…) at Solange's ‘fro and the Haim sisters’ carefree rocker waves to throw our skepticism and hot tools to the wind.*

With some multi-textured hair goddesses in mind, including the aforementioned Solange and Haim, as well as Zendaya, Lorde and Liu Wen, we turned to their mane-stylists to get the low down on everything from products and natural hair health to maintenance and styling. And trust us, when Solange Knowles' hairstylist tells you to sleep in a silk headscarf, you sleep in silk headscarf. The fact that it’s McQueen, well, that’s just par for the course.

*Don’t like actually throw your hot tools to the wind though.

—Naomi Nachmani

Chuck Amos

CV: Solange Knowles, Iman, Alicia Keys & more

 
ON STYLING SOLANGE'S HAIR:
“I hardly use any products on Solange when I style her. She is a total expert at knowing what her hair needs and she comes prepared. She has extremely gorgeous natural locks, and I try to keep them as organic and product free as possible. Even though she is a ‘heat free’ girl, I sometimes can use a small or medium size curling iron on medium heat, to create artistic bends and waves to make her hair interesting.”
 
ON HIS FAVORITE CURL ENHANCING PRODUCTS:
“Some of my favorite curl-enhancing products are Carol's Daughter Marula Curl Therapy products. [I also like] Mizani Puriphying Shampoo, Pantene Truly Relaxed Moisturizing Shampoo and Conditioner, Oribe Curl by Definition Crème and Oribe Curl Gloss.” 
 
ON ACHIEVING THE BEST MOISTURE FOR YOUR CURLS:
“To get the best moisture for curly hair, use a cream and serum mixture. Whatever your favorites are, combine them and put them on your curls. I also like to start styling curly hair ‘saturated wet,’ so you get the exact curl pattern, and then add cream, serums, etc., according to your unique curls.”
 
ON PROTECTING YOUR CURLS WHILE SLEEPING:
“Wearing silk and satin pillowcases and silk headscarves while sleeping help keep the moisture in your curls.” 

 

ON PRODUCTS YOU SHOULD AVOID:
“If you have curly or kinky textured hair, you should never use heavy waxes, creams or pomades. Even though these are heat free notions, if they’re too heavy or thick, they will eventually break hairlines and deplete hair of the nutrients that are trying to get to the ends, therefore killing your curls. Also, stay away from products with alcohol in them. Alcohol is the deadliest of all ingredients for curly hair! It will strip it of all its life and zest. The more you use it, the more your hair texture gets worse and worse. Stay away!”
 
ON EMBRACING YOUR NATURAL TEXTURE:
“Be proud of your curly hair! Your expression about your natural locks will exceed anything you actually ‘do’ to your hair. Also play with shapes within your curly hair. It doesn't always have to be round—it can be geometrical shapes as well. Use bobby pins and hairpins to create different shapes. You can also play with textures: brush your curls out and make them more of a funky Afro texture, or use creams and serums to define curls for a more sophisticated look. If you keep your hairline smooth and your hair texture moist and healthy, any style will look beautiful, and hopefully you'll inspire others to go natural as well!”

 

Candice Birns

CV: Haim, Tavi Gevinson, First Aid Kit & more

 
ON STYLING HAIM’S HAIR:
“When styling Haim’s hair the few things I cannot live without are a 1½ barrel curling iron and a 1¼ inch iron, Oi/ Absolute Beautifying Potion by Davines and This is a Sea Salt Spray by Davines. Pending the style, I must have Oribe Après Beach Spray and Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray. Last but not least, Rene Furterer Naturia Dry Shampoo at the root! It saves the day and helps soak up any oil or grease. It also helps to soak up sweat, so if there's a performance it's a must-have.”
 
ON FAVORITE HAIR PRODUCTS: 
“I'm a firm believer in any shampoo and conditioner from Davines. Depending on your hair texture you will have to pick accordingly, but for any kind of natural wave or curl I absolutely swear by Love Smoothing Shampoo and Conditioner, as well as the Love Curl Enhancing Shampoo and Conditioner. Also Oi/ Shampoo and Conditioner for all hair types—it has Roucou oil in it, which is very light but also very moisturizing, and it helps with frizz, shine and hydration. They also make a veggie mask, which is excellent for moisturizing hair. You can use it once a week.”
 
ON WASHING HAIR:
“You should only be washing your hair three times a week max if you have naturally wavy or curly hair—and that's even pushing it. The more natural oils you allow the better. An essential part of hair maintenance and health is dry shampoo, my favorite being Rene Furterer Naturia Dry Shampoo. It soaks up the most amount of natural oils and really makes hair look clean. It also saves you from drying your hair out—especially living in Southern California where we have extremely hard water.”
 
ON CUTTING YOUR HAIR FOR YOUR WAVE:
“If you have any kind of natural wave in your hair—not necessarily curl, but a natural wave—the more you layer it the tighter your wave will be. You can do long layers which will naturally wave up the hair, or you can do a surface layer which will help enhance the wave but also leave the maximum amount of weight.”

 

Marco Chan

CV: Liu Wen, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Moss & more
 

ON STYLING MEDIUM TO FINE HAIR NATURALLY:
“For medium and fine hair I would suggest Bumble and Bumble Surf Spray and Dryspun Finish. First spray the surf spray and twist the hair up in a bun and let it dry naturally, then release the bun and have a good shake out of with fingers before spraying on Dryspun Finish. The surf spray creates a dry texture that helps you modify the shape, and Dryspun Finish creates more of a natural and stylish touch.”
 
ON THE BEST VOLUMIZING AND TEXTURIZING PRODUCTS FOR NATURALLY STRAIGHT HAIR…
“[To add volume and texture I like to use] Shiseido Professional Stage Works Powder Shake, Spike Booster and Bouncing Primer. Use Shiseido Powder Shake when blow drying to achieve messy waves and apply Shiseido’s Spiky Booster to the surface or tips of hair, blending it slightly to add the texture of a tousled look. Alternatively, using your fingers, casually separate the clumps of hair to create a natural sense of unity to the overall look.”

 

Shai Amiel

CV: Zendaya, Andy Allo, Mara Brock Akil & more
 

ON STYLING ZENDAYA’S HAIR:
“I trimmed Zendaya's hair using my curl-by-curl method where I trim each curl separately to remove ends that look straight due to heat and styling abuse. We cleansed it to remove any existing buildup caused by hair products. For styling I used the DevaCurl Arc Angel and a small amount of One Condition by DevaCurl. I like to diffuse curly hair and my favorite diffuser is the T3. I push the diffuser up towards the scalp helping the hair to shrink to its natural curl pattern.”
 
ON STYLING CURLY HAIR WET:
“Curly hair looks best when it's wet, so it's important to keep the moisture in the hair during the styling process. The curls are more defined when they are styled right away before they have a chance to dry and frizz up.”
 
ON HAIR MAINTENANCE WHILE SLEEPING:
“We recommend sleeping with the pineapple bun. This helps protect the hair while we sleep and it eliminates friction that will result in added frizz and dented curls. It's a pretty simple bun but can help maintain good hair for more than one day.”
 

 ON PRODUCTS TO AVOID:

“I recommend avoiding using low end products that are sold at discount shops like Target, Walmart and on eBay, or at grocery and drug stores. Cheap products usually mean cheap ingredients that can hurt your hair. You should always avoid using products that contain sulfates, a lather agent that dries out hair, and silicones, which build up on hair making it lifeless and dry.”
 
ON STRAIGHTENING CURLS:
“The more we stretch our curls, the more likely they will lose their spring factor leaving hair lifeless. It's just like taking a rubber band and constantly stretching it and forcing it straight; eventually it will snap off just like hair breaks from constant abuse.” 
 
ON COCONUT OIL…
“Most women apply coconut oil to wet hair. We know that oil and water don't mix, so putting it in wet hair will only create greasy hair. I recommend using the oil on dry hair so it can penetrate the areas that need a little more moisture. It's best to leave it in the hair for as little as ten minutes. You could leave it longer but the most important part is washing it out of the hair and following with a hydration conditioner. I love Heaven in Hair by DevaCurl as a deep treatment.”

 

Gavin Harwin

CV: Lorde, Bella Hadid, Uma Thurman & more
 

ON STYLING LORDE’S LOCKS:
“On Lorde I like to use John Masters Argan Oil through the ends to add moisture and shine. Redken’s Guts Volume Spray Foam is great to put in her hair before drying to add extra texture and body. When drying her hair I use a diffuser to keep the curl texture, and once it’s dry I take off the diffuser and blast the roots to loosen it up. I like to use a 1.25 inch curling iron to add a bit curl in places around the face and on the ends. I’m a big fan of John Frieda Frizz Ease Moisture Barrier Hairspray and it’s always my finishing touch.” 
 
ON WASHING YOUR HAIR:
“Try not to wash your hair too much. If your roots get oily, just use a small amount of shampoo and only massage it into the roots, the rest of your hair will be cleansed enough when you rinse the shampoo out. See if you can go an extra day without washing your hair; a lot of people’s hair looks great when it is a bit dirty. A small travel size dry shampoo can be a life saver to add a fresh bounce to your hair whether it’s after a long day at work or a long flight.”
 
ON USING OILS:
“Get some healthy natural oils into your hair. Run a small amount of natural oil—try jojoba, coconut or olive oil—through the ends and leave over night ready to shampoo in the morning.”

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