â€œI got my first relaxer at 9 â€” my mom was against it, but I got it when I was 9 years old and every four to six weeks thereafter,â€ Chi-Raq and Dear White People actress Teyonah Parris tells Us. “Rewind to six or seven years ago and I was walking the streets of Harlem when I saw this young woman who had a beautiful twist-out and I thought, â€˜Wow, how did she get her hair like that? Itâ€™s gorgeous!â€™ And I realized in that moment that I had no clue what my natural hair looked like without chemically altering it.â€ Stylish recently caught up with the 29-year-old Dark and Lovely brand ambassador and chatted about her journey towards (natural hair) discovery. Read on for more!
Us: How has your attitude towards your hair evolved over the past few years?
TP: My personal idea of what beauty was, was very narrow and didnâ€™t include myself in the way that I was naturally made, the way I was naturally born â€” it was all about straight hair, lighter skin. You know, I felt like I had to alter what I naturally looked like in order to fit into that very narrow version of what beautiful was. I had to really recondition the mind because I didnâ€™t look at myself and say, “Ooh girl, yes!” when I looked at myself in the mirror. “You look bomb!” I cried and there were times that I was trying to wash my hair in the shower and I just had no idea â€” itâ€™s work! When youâ€™re first learning how to style your hair and care for it and love on it, itâ€™s so new and youâ€™ve done something different for 20 years and now you have to learn a new way of doing it. And I felt frustrated and I didnâ€™t feel beautiful and I felt like an outcast and like, “Why do I have to deal with this? Why canâ€™t I just wet my hair and come out of the shower and shake it and Iâ€™m good to go?” Which I can now, but before I didnâ€™t think that was beautiful.
Us: Walk me through your styling routine.
TP: One of my favorite products is the Knot-Out Conditioner. I use this as a co-wash, which is short for conditioner wash, where you donâ€™t use the shampoo to wash your hair, you use a conditioner. That gets all the dirt and grime out just as well for me. Then Iâ€™ll use the clay cleanser, which is a deeper clean in getting those impurities out once a month. So thatâ€™s my wash routine. Then I like to wear twist-outs, so Iâ€™ll start using the curl soufflÃ©, which keeps hair nice and fluffy, and because itâ€™s anti-shrinkage, it also helps keep some length on it. So, you do the double-strand twists and then Iâ€™ll wear the two-strand twists for a few days, so Iâ€™ll pin them and just have a flat little hairstyle. And when Iâ€™m ready, you take them out and untwist them. Itâ€™s a two-in-one hairstyle, the first being more of a protective style for a few days when itâ€™s in the twists and pinned back, and when youâ€™re ready to have it more out and fun, then I take it out. I havenâ€™t used heat in years, because I found that when I use heat, once I wet my hair again, the curl pattern has changed and has loosened. I want to keep my nice, nappy Afro. I donâ€™t want a looser curl, because I want to keep the integrity of what my curl is. I try not to mess with heat at all.
From left: Dark and Lovely Au Naturale Anti-Shrinkage Knot-Out Conditioner ($10.50, walgreens.com), Dark and Lovely Au Naturale Anti-Shrinkage Clumping Curls Clay Cleanser ($10, walgreens.com), Dark and Lovely Au Naturale Coil Moisturizing Souffle ($10.50, walgreens.com)
Us: Do you have advice for girls who look up to you and want to follow your journey?
TP: I say leap, ladies, leap. For me, it was more than just changing my hair, it was changing my mind about what I considered beautiful, about what I considered valuable and valid. So I definitely say leap, in the sense of, you donâ€™t know whatâ€™s on the other side of changing your hair. For me, it was acceptance, validity and truly appreciating how I was made. Itâ€™s hair, it can change back, but attempt the journey. There are many rewards that you canâ€™t even fathom before you take the journey that are waiting for you on the other side.
Us: You have flawless skin. What are the three essentials you always carry in your makeup bag?
TP: My must-haves are Skinn by Dimitri. They have an orchid primer and that primer gives me life! Iâ€™m in makeup 17 hours when Iâ€™m on set and primer helps foundation lay smoothly. The other one would be Lâ€™Oreal Infallible Setting Spray. It brings the juiciness back to skin. It hydrates and refreshes. I put it on after I put the makeup on because powder, for me, makes my skin look dull and ashy. But the spray brings it all back to life. For lips, I love Burtâ€™s Bees Tinted Lip Balm in Hibiscus because itâ€™s nice for a simple day, but it gives you a nice pink color thatâ€™s perfect for a more natural look.
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