Articles By Michelle

Michelle

As co-founder of NaturallyCurly.com, a website for curly hair she began with her business partner and friend, Gretchen Heber, Michelle Breyer helped create the leading community and resource for people with curly hair. Frustrated by the lack of information on curly hair and the limited products available in the marketplace, the duo launched the site in 1998 with the help of a 14-year-old web designer. When Procter & Gamble called three years later to advertise to the NaturallyCurly.com® audience, Breyer knew they had indeed created a force in the industry, providing helpful information and unparalleled expertise for what was then considered a niche market.

Written by NaturallyCurly Co-Founder Michelle Breyer for her blog, The Curly Connection

curly hair strands

PHOTO: MIT RESEARCHERS JAMES MILLER AND PEDRO REIS

Growing up, I always envied the silky-haired girls with ponytails that swished. Darcy Waterman, a girl on my high school track team, had a long sleak sun-streaked ponytail that cascaded down her back, swinging from side to side as she jogged effortlessly in front of me. That ponytail mocked me. My puff of a ponytail was immobile – like a bonsai tree on top of my head.

Little did I know that the difference in our two ponytails was something being studied by scientists around the world who were trying to tease out the physics of curly hair.

Curly girls know first hand how challenging their coils and ringlets can be. The complexities of curls, coils and waves also challenged the film and computer animators who tried to recreate them.

Most of the heroes and villains in animated films had hair that was extremely rigid straight hair, swinging to and fro. It was rare to see an animated character with bouncy, curly hair, since computer animators didn’t have a simple mathematical means for describing it.S o it was was big news when scientists last month announced they had created the first detailed model of a 3D strand of curly hair was recently created – something  that had vexed film animators for decades.

Researchers at MIT, in Cambridge, Mass., and the Université Pierre-et-Marie-Curie (UPMC) built their model using flexible rods to examine varying degrees of curliness.

“Our work doesn’t deal with the collisions of all the hairs on a head, which is a very important effect for animators to control a hairstyle,” study co-author Pedro Reis, an assistant professor in MIT’s department of civil and environmental engineering, said in a statement. “But it characterizes all the different degrees of curliness of a hair and describes mathematically how the properties of the curl change along the arc length of a hair.”

Using lab experimentation, computer simulation, and theory, the team identified the main parameters for curly hair and simplified them into two dimensionless parameters for curvature (relating to the ratio of curvature and length) and weight (relating to the ratio of weight and stiffness). Given curvature, length, weight, and stiffness, their model will predict the shape of a hair, steel pipe, or Internet cable suspended under its own weight.

As a strand of hair curls up from the bottom, its 2-D hook grows larger until it reaches a point where it becomes unstable under its own weight and falls out of plane to become a 3-D helix. Reis and co-authors describe the 3-D curl as a localized helix, where only a portion of the strand is curled, or a global helix, if the curliness extends the entire length up to the head.

A curl can change phase — from 2-D to 3-D local helix to 3-D global helix, and back again — if its parameters change. Because a strand of hair is weighted from the bottom by gravity, the top of the strand has more weight under it than the tip, which has none. Thus, if the weight on a hair is too great for its innate curliness, the curl will fail and become either straight or helical, depending on the strand’s length and stiffness.

For the curvature study, Miller created flexible, thin rods using molds as small as a bottle of Tabasco sauce and as large as the columns in MIT’s Lobby 7 (about a meter in diameter). He injected a rubber-like material inside hollow flexible tubing wrapped around these molds. Once the rubber material cured and the tubing was cut away, Miller and Reis had flexible polyvinyl thin rods whose natural curvature was based on the size of the object around which they had been wrapped.

“One of the key issues was how to handle the distribution of intrinsic curliness found in real hair,” reis said.

They were able to focus in detail on the properties of a single curly hair under gravity.

“The fact that I am bald and worked on this problem for several years became a nice running joke in our lab,” Reis says. “But joking aside, for me the importance of the work is being able to take the intrinsic natural curvature of rods into account for this class of problems, which can dramatically affect their mechanical behavior. Curvature can delay undesirable instability that happens at higher loads or torsion, and this is an effect that engineers need to be able to understand and predict.”

In addition to helping animators create more realistic curls, this technology also also could be used by engineers to predict the curve that long steel pipes, tubing, and cable develop after being coiled around a spool for transport. In the field, these materials often act like a stubborn garden hose whose intrinsic curves make it behave in unpredictable ways. In engineering terminology, these items — and hair — are all examples of a slender, flexible rod.

This work was funded by the National Science Foundation, Schlumberger, the MIT-France Program, and a Battelle-MIT postdoctoral fellowship.


WRITTEN BY MICHELLE BREYER ON HER BLOG, THECURLYCONNECTION

Amanda Crawford will never forget the sight of her 8-year-old daughter Deborah-Ann coming off the school bus in tears. The second-grader had been viciously teased about her coily hair.

“They told her she had horse hair,” Crawford said. “When your kid struggles with something that’s such a part of who she is, it’s incredibly painful.”

Crawford said her daughter – who is biracial - already was unhappy about her hair, which didn’t look like either mother’s curly hair or the straight hair of most of her schoolmates. She usually wore it back in a ponytail, slicked down with gel in an attempt to control it.

Her mom took to the Internet, and found our NaturallyCurly Facebook page. She showed her daughter examples of women with gorgeous natural hairstyles  Deborah-Ann asked her mom to post a picture of her on the Facebook page. Crawford posted the picture, along with the story about the teasing she got about her hair.

The response was overwhelming – and life changing.

That picture got nearly 33,000 likes, 1,400 shares and 4,800 comments – the most ever for a NaturallyCurly Facebook post. People posted words of support, photos of their own daughters and positive comments about Deborah-Ann’s hair.

“I was crying,” Crawford said. “I read a lot of the comments to her and she was so tickled. She’s turned it around and is so much more confident. She loves her hair and wears it down now. She realizes her hair is beautiful just the way it is.”


You would think acting in two of the hottest shows on TV, directing her first feature film and writing a book would fill up a woman's time.

But for Tanya Wright - Deputy Kenya Jones on "True Blood" and Crystal on "Orange is the New Black" - her passion for natural hair has become an obsession.

Wright is raising money for a project called HAIRiette of Harlem, a 10-episode interactive series co-created by the community. It is about HAIRiette ARMS, an actress who discovers herself via her relationship with her hair - something Wright knows all about.

"I have been working for HAIRiette of HARLEM for the last two years, and it was time to share her with the rest of the world," says Wright.

The interactive series is about the life and times of HAIRiette ARMS, an actress who discovers herself via her relationship with her hair! At its core, this entertaining series with multi-cultural characters is designed to create a healthy awareness and esteem of women with textured hair. The show - which will launch online in April and on TV in July - will shoot in Harlem at the HAIRiette of HARLEM salon. It will also travel to hair shows, expos, film festivals, meet ups, churches, etc.

WHEN: April, 2014 (website launch); July, 2014 (series premiere!)

In conjunction with the series, she also is launching her HAIRiette haircare line. The shea-and- olive- oil- based HAIRiette haircare line is designed to meet the needs of naturally textured hair (moisture/hydration, frizz, shine).

The fundraising campaign kicks off Feb. 19th on RocketHub.com, when Wright will appear on a New York morning show alongside The Actor's Fund, which will receive a portion of the proceeds of every bottle of the hair-care line sold. She hopes to raise $50,000 in 50 days.

"I have to admit, I was a bit nervous about doing a fundraising campaign," Wright says. "It is by far the most vulnerable thing I've ever done! But it was clear it was the best way to launch the project. The series is co-created by the community, so it seemed only right that we would fund it together too!"

Wright's natural hair obsession really took off four years ago,

"There was something gnawing at me," she recalls. "I didn't feel like I had control over my life. I became fixated on one thing: my hair. Somehow, I thought if I could get control over my hair, maybe I could get control over my life! I always felt the curly mass atop my head gave me a Raggedy Ann sort of look. My hair was massive, cottony and swelled like a Chia pet whenever water/humidity got anywhere near it, which was pretty much every day."

After reading a book called "Curly Like Me" by Terri LaFleur, she became obsessed with YouTube hair tutorials and read every article, blog and book that had anything to do with naturally textured hair.

She started mixing hair potions (shea butter and olive oil were her ingredients of choice), and created a fictional character named HAIRiette. She began writing a book - "I found God in My Hair: 98 Spiritual Principles I learned from My Relationship with...My Hair!" - which she recently completed.

"I tied the books to the hair products to my alter ego, and put it under one umbrella - HAIRiette of HARLEM," Wright explains. "This project was made in loving celebration and gratitude for my natural hair. Cause we've come a long way, Baby!"

To take part in the series, check out HAIRiette of Harlem here. 


SheaMoisture, a curly staple for his haircare products, has expanded into makeup.

The award-winning hair and skin care brand unveiled "A Better Way to Beautiful" Cosmetics Collection during Fashion Week at the Korto Momolu Fall/Winter 2014 Collection . Celebrity makeup artist Jackie Gomez and celebrity hair stylist and SheaMoisture beauty ambassador Diane C. Bailey will create trend-setting runway looks for the show.

Momolu, a “Project Runway” All-Star who was awarded as “fan favorite” and finished the Bravo hit show’s fifth season as first runner-up, will debut her sophisticated and military-inspired “Urban Coup” collection at Fashion Week. The collection pays tribute to the increasing strength and precision of women’s wear in the fashion industry, and will present a parade of fresh cuts and silhouettes to compliment the modern woman’s lifestyle.

“A Better Way to Beautiful” launches this spring exclusively at Target stores. The makeup is shea butter-based with certified organic and natural ingredients, and features palettes in two sizes that may be customized. The paraben-free collection includes cc cream, lip stain, lip gloss, wet/dry eye shadow, mineral blush and other offerings, with a range of on-trend vibrant, classic and nude shades that suit all skin tones.

“I can’t think of a more authentic brand to help bring about my vision for the fall/winter 2014 collection. SheaMoisture’s celebration of community, culture and dedication to global beauty and wellness inspires me tremendously as an artist, as a woman and as a Liberian. I am honored to have their continued support,” says designer Momolu.

NaturallyCurly's Co-Founder Michelle Breyer feels that "with enormous brand equity among consumers (they won numerous Editor’s Choice and Best of the BestAwards on TextureMedia) it’s brilliant to launch a makeup line now." 

Breyer blogged that "at this rate, expect the SheaMoisture empire to continue to grow and confound the largest players in the beauty industry, giving the Goliaths a run for their money."

PHOTO BY @STYLENBEAUTYDOC

PHOTO BY RICHARD BURBRIDGE

Makeup artist Sonia Kashuk says she was blessed with the "craziest, kookiest curly hair."

Because my hair was so daunting I didn't really know what to do with it, I began tying it up on top of my head," Kashuk says.

Her wild curly bun has become the signature look she's worn for 30 years.

"As I get a little older, and I pull my hair a little tighter," Kashuk says "it's an instant face lift. It is what it is."

Kashuk's no-nonsense approach to her hair can also be seen in the makeup line she created for Target - a line that celebrates its 15th anniversary this year. She wanted to bring high-end cosmetics and accessories directly from manufacturer to store - a luxury product at an affordable price.

Kashuk took time away from her busy schedule to talk with NaturallyCurly about her hair, her makeup and makeup tips for curly girls.

NaturallyCurly: As a curly girl, have you always loved your curls or has it taken time?

Kashuk: As a kid, my mother couldn’t deal with it. I always had my hair short. My mom had five children, so it was one less thing for her to worry about. I’m definitely the curliest of all my siblings. I got the crazy, curly corkscrew hair. It was not until my late teens that I finally grew out my hair. I’d never had long hair. It became a whole different ballgame.

People have always said “You have the coolest hair.” I’m glad I’ve got hair on my head, but you always want what you don’t have. I see these girls with pretty, silky hair and I think that would be amazing. But my hair takes approximately three minutes. I don't wear it differently if I'm wearing sweats or going to a black-tie affair.

NC: Do you ever straighten it?

Kashuk: I think that when I see myself blown out, it’s like 'Who is that person?' I’m so used to volume and bigness. I’m one of those curly haired girls that goes crazy when my hair is smooth. I want to be more natural. I just think if you’re born with this crazy, curly hair, it all looks better the way it’s supposed to. It’s about finding that comfort zone"

NC: What are your favorite hair products?

Kashuk: I’m a huge Oribe fan, especially the Supershine Moisturizing Cream and the Signature Moisture Masque. I wash my hair once a week and condition it once a day. My hair also loves the Oribe Gold Lust Nourishing Hair Oil. It's hard to find products that aren’t drying. I can’t stand if anything makes it feel crunchy. It has to appear totally natural.

NC: Do you ever wear your hair down?

Kashuk: Not too often. It’s like a whole other living being.

NC: How often do you get it cut?

Kashuk: My last haircut was in July. You have to cut it like it’s a piece of sculpture.
As soon as someone comes to give me a blunt end, I know they don’t understand curly hair. It’s very low maintenance for me. My deal is I don’t deal.

NC: Tell me about your bun.

Kashuk: I don’t like it if looks too perfect. I like it to look free form and sculptural. I actually prefer when there are a lot of layers so different pieces come out differently. It's like a giant spider on top of my head.

NC: What are some tips you have for curly girls when it comes to makeup?

Kashuk: It so depends. If you wear your hair curly and it’s covering your face, you may want to have a stronger eye or a stronger lip so a feature stands out. Other than that, when I pull my hair up I feel it makes my face more taut and pulls my eyes up. That's a very good thing. I can either wear makeup. Or if you’re exposing your whole face, you can go for a strong smokey eye, with a soft and neutral lip color.

We used to always say do one feature. But now there’s that old classic showgirl face with a strong eye and strong lip. It’s a lot more of a makeup statement. If you want to be a little softer look, you can do that if the eye or lip is the focus. We can each look at our face and know what our strongest feature is. It's all about being in your comfort zone.

NC: Are there things girls should girls should be doing differently than straight-haired women when it comes to makeup?

Kashuk: Not really. It’s no different. The only difference is that curly hair can be so big and overwhelming that you can get lost in it all.

NC: What are your makeup must haves?

Kashuk: I always have some foundation. I love our Perfecting Foundation. We just released a Stick Foundation. I also love bronzer, like our Illuminating Bronzer. I also like to have a great blush and lip color. My whole line is about wearable color. I always say we're on trend, but not trendy.



PICTURED: MICHELLE BREYER (LEFT) AND HER STRAIGHT-HAIRED SISTER (RIGHT)

Erica:

Hi NaturallyCurly,

I am a Jewish young woman who has been using your website NaturallyCurly.com for some time.   My hair is mixed texture and definitely has a few types of kink.  It's been very interesting to discover that my hair type is not included in the current texture typing system.  I think that talking about Jewish hair and its related issues and history could be a valuable contribution to the natural hair conversation.
Because NaturallyCurly.com has been such a valuable resource for me on this journey I wanted to touch base with TextureMedia first. Perhaps you could give me some guidance on how to start talking about Jewish hair?  Or perhaps we can figure out how to work on the conversation together?

Any and all thoughts are appreciated and I thank you for your time.

Best,

Erica

NaturallyCurly:

Hi Erica,

Thank you so much for your message. Love this topic, I actually started the site 15 years ago because growing up curly I was similarly  frustrated by the dearth of information on curly hair, the lack of conversations happening around curls and the scarcity of curl-specific products and stylists who understood how to work with curls and kinks. After 15 years in the industry my insight would be that there's no such thing as Jewish hair. Some Jews, depending upon their background, have kinky or curly hair. Some have straight hair.

I think there are definitely issues related to how some Jewish women feel about their hair. I know when I went away to Jewish camp in the summer, I was so envious of the girls who had the long, silky hair. Some of us did have Jew 'Fros. There are Jews from Eastern Europen and Jews from Spain. I have an Orthodox Jewish cousin with stick straight blonde hair. My own sister has totally straight hair, and I always envied her feathered Farrah Fawcett hair growing up.

Because two siblings with the same parents, in the same immediate family can have completely different curl patterns and hair textures (much less porosity, density, width etc), we found other ways to describe our hair besides ethnicity or race.

We've found that the most comprehensive way of identifying curl pattern is to use the Texture Typing system, but I get that you feel your hair type isn't included in the Texture Typing system. More often than not, curlies have multiple curl patterns and hair textures on their head, so while your hair is not likely to fall entirely under one curl pattern, it is at least a jumping off point to understanding the products and regimen that'll work best for you.

We'd love to open up the conversation to our readers in the comment section too. Curly community, weigh in!
Best,

Michelle

 

MORE: WHAT IS YOUR TEXTURE TYPE? TAKE THE QUIZ

 


Chanel Schenck is an African-American woman with curly-coily hair. When she looks for hair care products, you won’t find her in the ethnic hair care aisle. She gravitates toward brands like Paul Mitchell, L’Oréal Paris and Aussie for her cleansers, conditioners and styling products when she shops at Walmart or Ulta.

“I really don’t buy anything in the ethnic hair care section because it doesn’t really help my hair,” says Schenck, who lives in Jesup, Georgia.

This purchasing trend is slowly changing the way hair care products are being sold, with a movement by both brands and some key retailers away from shelves dedicated to “ethnic” products. This trend has been led by curly and coily-haired consumers, as well as the growing number of brands that sell products specifically for their hair types. It also has been spearheaded by organizations such as NaturallyCurly.com, which has focused on hair texture rather than skin color since the social media company was founded 15 years ago.

“Since day one, we always talked in terms of texture type, and how best to embrace curls, coils and waves,” says Michelle Breyer, president and co-founder of TextureMedia, which includes NaturallyCurlyCurlyNikkiCurlMartCurlStylist andTextureTrends. NaturallyCurly’s 1.6 million unique monthly visitors include a wide range of ages and ethnicities, and use the nine category texture typing system—from 2a to 4c—to find the best products and stylists for their hair.

“It doesn’t matter what color you are; it’s about what texture you have,” said Mahisha Dellinger, creator of the CURLS line of products. “So many people of different ethnicities buy my products. Obviously the lines are blurred.”

This trend has been fueled further by plummeting relaxer sales as more consumers embrace their natural hair texture. According to Wave III of TextureTrends' market insights report, 90% of women are more likely to wear their natural texture than they were five years ago. “The new general market dictates that hair care be categorized by hair type and concern rather than ethnicity,” says Richelieu Dennis, founder and CEO of Sundial Brands, which owns the SheaMoisture brand. “America’s increased blending of cultures means that millions, whose backgrounds defy simple categorization, need efficacious products for their curls, coils and waves.”

TextureTrends' research supports this: All texture types include a variety of ethnicities, with an increasing number of people identifying themselves as multi-racial.

Helping lead the charge are retailers like Ricky’s, a New York-based beauty supply chain, and Target, a mass retailer with more than 1,900 stores in the U.S. and Canada. Since 2008, Target has partnered with some of the top brands for textured hair, adding SheaMoisture to its shelves in 2008, Miss Jessie’s in 2010, Mixed Chicks in 2012 and Camille Rose in 2013. The retailer now carries a number of favorites among the curly and coily consumers—multi-racial consumers who span all ethnicities.

“We monitor guest feedback, census data and market research to help us identify multicultural trends,” says Courtney Foster, spokeswoman for Target. “In response to increasing demand by our guests, Target is committed to growing this category and expanding beauty aisles with a differentiated product mix that appeals to a wide range of guests. We understand that every guest is unique, so we strive to offer differentiated and relevant beauty solutions that meet the needs of all guests and provide solutions for specific hair needs, but not make distinctions about ethnicities in doing so.”

Sundial’s Dennis said it makes business sense to merchandise and market this way, as 65% of the world has textured hair. He notes that his brand worked closely with Target when they first went into the store to help them understand this new textured-hair space, as well as to create the education and engagement around it that would appeal to this new, inclusive general market. “Women and men from all walks of life have textured hair, and placing hair care for textured hair in an ‘ethnic hair’ section creates confusion for consumers who feel that they can’t use these products because they’re not a particular ethnicity,” Dennis says. “Making the section about hair type and concerns supports a more therapeutic, results-oriented, less myopic approach that’s all about hair care needs.”

Usage of hair products for textured hair supports this strategy. The TextureTrends report finds brands that might once have been considered ethnic products—such as Carol’s Daughter, Organic Roots Stimulator, Miss Jessie’s and As I Am—are now used by women with wavy, curly and coily hair of all ethnicities.

Dennis believes there will come a time when the ethnic hair sections of stores may be phased out altogether. To many consumers, especially younger consumers who are increasingly wearing their hair in natural styles, these ethnic aisles are viewed as a dinosaur, selling relaxers and products that cater to straightened hair. “We believe eventually, all hair care will be segmented according to hair type rather than the color of one’s skin,” Dennis says.

This is a no-brainer for Marsha Coulton, the African-American creator of the Curl Junkie line of hair care products. “It’s how it should have been in the beginning,” says Coulton. “It should always have been about solutions rather than segregated—something I always found offensive. I shouldn’t have to search for the right products.”

Coulton notes she believes there may be resistance to the phasing out of ethnic hair care sections because it’s the way it’s been done for generations. “It’s a daunting task to rethink it,” she explains. “You’re changing an entire mindset about product placement.”

Among those who believe this is Sam Ennon, who heads up BOBSA, a leading trade association for black-owned beauty supply stores, salons, barbershops and training institutions. He doesn’t think the black consumer is the same customer as the curly/coily customer. “The ethnic sections of stores won’t disappear,” he says. “You’re still going to need black stores that carry all of the other products. You can’t integrate all those products into the general market.”

But many brands, retailers and consumers believe integration of products for textured hair is inevitable. “It opens up products to all customers because there’s no stigma attached,” says Coulton. “This is not about being black and white. It’s about breaking down barriers as more people embrace their natural texture and texture becomes mainstream.”

Michelle Breyer is the president and co-founder of TextureMedia, Inc. Find more information on TextureTrends here.

A trip to the barber with her 3-year-old son was a harsh wakeup call for Ama Yawson about the way society viewed coily hair. During Jojo's other two visits to have his hair cut, the barber had shaved all of his coils off. On the third visit, she asked the barber not to shave it because she wanted to let his hair grow.

"The barber started from the middle of his head and shaved him practically bald," Yawson recalls, still angry over the experience. "I said 'What are you doing? That's not what I asked for?'"
The barber, a black man, told her it was the best haircut for him because "his hair isn't pretty." He used the n-word to describe her son and his hair.

"I was really taken aback," she said "I sat down in a state of shock and sadness. I was feeling sick about the state of black self love. Accepting ourselves is also accepting the kinky hair on our head."

Yawson channeled her anger and pain into a book called "Sunne's Gift," a book she hopes will shield her son, and other children, from all manifestations of racism.

"A long time ago, I heard someone say that all pain should be turned into art in order to make pain beautiful," she said. "But how was I going to make it art? I'm a critical writer, not an artist."

She prayed, and "God gave me 'Sunne's Gift."

Sunne's Gift is a modern fable that honors afro-textured hair while teaching lessons of self love and celebrating diversity in all of its forms. The book is about a magical creature named Sunne. God imbues Sunne with the power of the sun and for that reason Sunne's skin is a sun-darkened red shade and Sunne's hair grows out in spirally twists towards the sun. Sunne has the power to make the sun rise and set. God also imbues Sunne's siblings with other powers.

But Sunne, is the only one with kinky, spirally, twisty natural afro-textured hair. One day, her siblings tease Sunne about having different hair. Sunne does not want to be different so Sunne takes a stick and attempts to beat the kinks out of Sunne's own hair. When Sunne beats the last spiral out, the world changes for the worse and the children have to figure out how to fix the problem.

"The book is a metaphor for racial diversity," Yawson said. "The goal is to let people know all of us are necessary. The world needs you to be you."

The book has a guide for parents and teachers and Yawson hopes to make it accessible to teachers so they can start using the book in discussions about teasing and bullying. To that end, the unillustrated PDF of the story is completely free! All people who donate to this campaign, regardless of amount, get it automatically. It is also available for free by emailing sunnesgift@gmail.com. You can even email me at ama@loveessence.com and I'll send it to you myself.

Yawson would like to bring the story to life through illustration and printing of physical books on environmentally friendly paper (forest stewardship council certified paper). She is launching a Kickstarter campaign to raise $10,000 to print and illustrate the book and to pay for outreach to schools. So far, she has raised over half the money.

Yawson has traveled her own natural hair journey, getting her first perm when she was three.

"I had a huge big beautiful afro before I got a perm," Yawson said. "People used to gawk at me.

Even though she went to an all-black school, she said she was teased because of her darker skin and her hair, which had been so damaged by perms that it stopped growing.

"I felt like I had been cursed," she said.

When she went away to a white boarding school at 13, she stopped perming her hair. She left with braids in September and by December, she had a huge, gorgeous 'fro.

She told her mother "The curse is over."

Even though she had experienced her own hair trauma, she said she didn't expect her two sons to face the same beauty issues.

"But unfortunately, that’s wasn’t the case," Yawson said.

With 'Sunne's Gift," she hopes to inspire all children to embrace their unique qualities rather than fight them.

To donate you can go to Yawson's Kickstarter campaign


Musician Valerie June may rock a head of dreadlocks. But her music is more “organic moonshine roots" than Reggae - something that often surprises people who hear her perform.

Born Valerie June Hockett, the Tennesee native said her sound combines such genres as gospel, country, folk, bluegrass and the blues. On her new album Pushin' Against a Stone, June is making a name for herself with music fans around the world. The album, her fourth, was inspired by her struggles to make it in life.

She says "Some days it’s a good thing to have, like a best friend, and sometimes it’s your worst enemy. In the case of this record, I had so many friends helping me move the stone.” Those friends include such legendary producers as Dan Auerbach and fellow musicians like Booker T. Jones.

NaturallyCurly caught up with June during her recent trip through Austin for ACL Fest. We talked to her about her music, and of course her trademark hair.

NC: How did you come up with "organic moonshine roots music" to describe your music?
June: It’s a whimsical name for my music. I want people to come in with a question in their mind. I want them to say ‘What is that?’ Then when you come in, they can be open to what I do. It's the way to keep their mind open.

NC: It sounds like it's been a busy year for you. I just heard an interview with on NPR and read an article about you in the New York Times Magazine.
June: It has been a busy year. I’ve been in Europe most of the year, and at home for five weeks - five minutes here, two minutes there. A lot has changed in that sense. I'm on the road all the time. It’s all good. I work hard to play hard, I guess.

NC: How do people react when you first started performing? With your dreadlocks, do they expect the voice they hear?

June: When people see me, they have a misconception of who I am. I do it all the time myself. It’s just human. Even when I walk down the street. A lot of brothers will look at me and say "rasta." (On stage), I can't really see their reaction because I usually sing with my eyes closed. I get into the moment and let it go and don't even think about that.

NC: So let's talk about your hair. Tell us about your dreads.
June: I did my hair this way because I don’t want to spend a lot of time on my hair, and I don't want to use a lot of things on my hair. I used to perm my hair every two weeks=. I burned my scalp off. I would spend hours on my hair. I was ready to do something where I could just wake up and go. I decided to get dreads. I just wanted an easy lifestyle.

NC: How do you care for your dreads?
June: When I’m on the road, I wash it very little. I usually wash it when I have a day off and I'm going to be in the hotel. I love to use Pantene Truly Natural Shampoo. I've tried a lot of shampoos and this is the best. Other shampoos make my hair sticky and rough. I also use basic oils on my scalp. I'll pick up some coconut or olive oil, drench my hair before I wash it and let it sit there. When I wash out the oil, it leaves in enough that it's not greasy but it’s still moisturized.

Photos Courtesy Of Instagram


Jessicurl welcomes the newest member of its family - Spiralicious Styling Gel - exclusively on CurlMart during the month of October. Jessicurl enlisted the help of Naturallycurly's audience to name the new stronger-hold gel, nine years after our community came up with the name for Confident Coils Styling Potion.

We talked to Jessicurl founder Jessica McGuinty about the naming contest and the new gel, which has become her new Holy Grail product for her red corkscrew curls.

NC: What was the response to the naming contest?
Jess: Over 1,700 individual people responded. And since most of them used all three entries, that adds up to roughly 5,000 entries. OMG, eh?? We were hoping for a good response to the contest, and I’d say we got it.

NC: I heard some people actually thought you were naming a child. Any good names?
Jess: Yeah, that was pretty funny. I often joke around and call my products my “children” so it just seemed like a funny extension of that to call this the “Name Jess’s New Baby” contest. Well, I guess some people didn’t read the full description of the contest, because quite a few suggested human names. My favorite was Hannah. I’ve always loved that name – for a daughter though, not a hair gel. Ultimately, we did not name the new gel Hannah.

NC: Was it hard to choose a winner?
Jess: There were several we really liked and would have been happy with, so that was cool. Clearly, whatever we chose had to be something that wasn’t already in use, so that was one of the largest criteria we used when selecting the winner.

NC: What were you looking for in a name?
Jess: We wanted something fun and cute that would fit in with the rest of the Jessicurl family!

NC:. So, drum roll please, what's the name of the new gel?
Jess: Spiralicious Styling Gel! (Apologies to anyone named Hannah).

NC: What are some of the attributes of the new gel?
Jess: It’s much thicker than any of our other styling products and provides stronger hold. Don’t fear the hold though, because your curls will still be touchably soft! (Whether you let people touch them is up to you). It also has amazing frizz control. CRAZY frizz control in fact. So it’s a really unique product in that it will hold your curls and keep them frizz free, but doesn’t make them all ramen-noodley.

NC: How do you use the gel? Do you cocktail it with other products?
Jess: Personally I do cocktail it with Rockin’ Ringlets, yes. Rockin’ Ringlets gives that added curl enhancement, so if you’re currently using that, you’ll want to continue to. Spiralicious plays very nicely with it! For curlies with tighter curls who don’t need a curl enhancer, it can be used alone for hold, definition and frizz control.



Total 3 results.

6 Gentle Dyes for Naturally Curly Hair

Hair color alternatives that are free of harsh chemicals.
April 16, 2014 Read more »

Get the Tension Method Right

Three steps to effectively stretch your natural hair with heat.
April 15, 2014 Read more »

Product Discovery: BB Cream Works for Your Wavy Hair!

Now BB cream is versatile enough to protect both skin AND hair.
April 15, 2014 Read more »