Texture Talk: Celebrity Hairstylist Kiyah Wright Talks Natural Hair Tips for Beginners

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Fashion magazine

Images courtesy of Imaxtree. Design by Danielle Campbell.

Welcome to Texture Talk, a weekly column that celebrates and deep dives into the dynamic world of curly hair, from crowns of curls that are free flowing to strands that are tucked away in a protective style.

With isolation and social-distancing still part of our new normal in continuing to combat the spreading of the coronavirus, and once-barred salons only now slowly reopening, many of us have had to re-evaluate and switch up our go-to beauty regimens over the past several months, from nails to brows and, of course, hair. If pre-Covid you were one who visited your hairstylist on the regular to chemically alter your hair for ease of management and in order to wear it poker-straight, quarantine life may have forced you to get to know your unique curl pattern — maybe even for the first time. We know that finally freeing one’s natural kinks, coils and ’fros can often feel like an overwhelming handful, especially if you’ve decided to grow out your chemically treated hair over a period of time (known as transitioning hair) instead of the big chop. When transitioning from relaxed to natural, breakage and excess shedding are unfortunately common side effects. Yep, embracing natural hair 99.9% means having to craft a different haircare routine that promotes curl triumphs, not defeats. To help you through this curly hair journey, we asked celebrity hairstylist and Gold Series ambassador Kiyah Wright (she counts Gabrielle Union, Jennifer Hudson, Kerry Washington and Taraji P. Henson as clients) for her foundations for keeping curls looking pristine and, more importantly, healthy. Read on for the textured-hair expert’s top tips for taking care of natural and transitioning hair:

Celebrity hairstylist Kiyah Wright.

Natural Hair

“The biggest misconception about natural hair is people think it’s going to be easy. They think that it doesn’t require any work — but it does. When you’re working with natural hair, it’s all about a system, a good regimen. It’s about the products you use from the beginning, and that starts in the shower. Natural hair tends to be really porous, which makes it can look dry, so you want to look for products that offer moisturization and hydration. Those are the two main qualities to shine.”

Stay clear of oil-stripping shampoos:

“Curly hair is so sensitive. You have to start with a shampoo that hydrates. If you start with a moisture-stripping shampoo, your curls won’t form right, even with styling products. The right shampoo and conditioner will help soften curls. Then you can move into your styling products.”

Don’t forget your leave-in conditioner:

“Natural hair tangles easily and a leave-in conditioner helps with comb or finger detangling.”

Transitioning Hair

“Transitioning hair is always a fragile position because you’re dealing with two different textures: What happens is the roots are kinky and the ends are still straightened, which can lead to breakage. Some people decide to just cut off all those relaxed ends and start fresh. Others hold onto them till the dear end.”

For those gradually growing out their relaxer…

Start scheduling regular trims:

“If you’re holding onto your ends, you should be going in for trims at least every month.”

Try to say “adios” to your trusty blow-dryer and flat iron:

“[With transitioning hair], it’s about being really delicate. It’s about keeping the heat out because if you keep straightening your hair, you’ll likely cause more breakage, which means you probably won’t be able to grow your relaxer out. You really have to keep that heat off. And keeping hair hydrated is key: hair oils, split end treatments, leave-in conditioners, a little bit of everything helps. You really have to handle your hair with care.”

Instead, opt for no-heat hairstyles to help you through:

“Give your hair a break and move into natural hair tutorials: You can do bantu knots where you section the hair and throw each section into a ‘knot’, or you can braid your hair back in three or four cornrows. I’m also big on extensions, like wigs and simple long braids — styles where you don’t have to touch your hair at all. You can also pull your own hair back and add in a clip-in ponytail. Having some extra hair around the house is always great — whatever you have to do keep that heat out.”

In Her Kit

Shop Kiyah’s go-to product heros below.