For NaturallyCurly's month of celebrity curly love, we caught up with natural hair AMPRO spokesperson Toya Carter to find out what is behind her self-proclaimed weave addiction, her favorite products and what she is up to next.
What’s your hair story?
Well, years ago I thought I needed a relaxer because my hair was naturally curly. You know, every time I would wear it straight it would curl up. So I tried relaxing it thinking that that would, you know, straighten it out, but it ended up breaking my hair off because the chemical was too strong. I was getting bumps around my face and started getting like an allergic reaction to the product. So, I stopped relaxing my hair about 8 years ago. I used to use those little kiddie perms, but it made my hair really weak. So, I thought, “You know what? I’m going to stop relaxing my hair and just start pressing it.”
So I started pressing it for a while and let the relaxer grow out. But it was just so hard to maintain! It would constantly curl up and the parts that were relaxed would be brittle from the relaxer, so I was like, “I’m going to cut my hair off!” So I cut my hair really, really short in this Mohawk style back in 2005. I tried the short hair thing, but that didn’t work for me AT ALL because I was so used to having long hair, so I immediately put a weave in. At the time, my hair wasn’t long enough for braids, so I had to try the quick weave technique, which actually grew my hair out. It made it grow really, really fast.
After it got long enough to do a sew-in, I started wearing sew-ins to kind of let it grow. I would try to wear my natural hair, but it just wasn’t trained and I couldn’t go even a day without it curling up, so I would just put the weave back in, and I became addicted. I’m like, “My weave, my weave! I can’t go without my weave!” But my natural hair does grow really good with the weave.
How long is your hair now?
My hair is really, really long. My friends always ask me why I wear weave if my hair is so long. Some people don’t even believe that my hair is that long. I recently tweeted a picture of it and got a lot of backlash that I was lying that it was my natural hair. That’s crazy! It is really long — like at the middle of my back! My weave is only about two inches longer than my natural hair.
Wow! Were there any products that you used along the way to help maintain that length?
Yes! I use the Ovation Cell Therapy and I LOVE that product. I used it first on my daughter’s hair when it broke off really, really bad. A friend of mine recommended that I try it for her. So I brought it, and it is real expensive, like three bottles for $100! So I said, “This stuff better be good!”
I used it on Reginae’s hair and her hair was just so soft and pretty that I started using it, too. I’ll use it as a deep conditioner and leave it on for a while and my hair would just continue to grow.
So what about Reginae, is she natural?
Yes, she is natural too. She had a bad experience with a relaxer and her hair broke off really, really bad. So I had to cut her hair, too and since then, she has been natural. It's been a couple years now.
That’s great! Tell me a little about your current routine. How do you maintain your hair?
Right now, like I said, I use the Ovation Cell Therapy and for my edges I use the AMPRO Silk Edges, but before that I used to use this wax stick. I only use a little bit. I’m not really a product junkie. I don’t really use a lot of products on my hair. I don’t use oils or creams or hairspray, unless I’m at a photo shoot. I just don’t like product because to me it weighs the hair down and makes it oily and dirty very fast. I do the same with my daughter. She only uses products when her hair is old and to put it in a ponytail.
Oh, hairspray is the worst! What do you think about the way that professionals treat natural hair?
Really, a lot of stylists in the industry don’t really specialize in hair care. It is very hard to find a stylist that specializes in “hair care,” and that can take care of your hair when it is natural. You know, a lot of stylists these days just get to putting in a sew-in and styling the hair and never really caring for it too much, and that is what causes their client’s hair to break. They just aren’t treating it properly before applying the weave.
I’m blessed because my hair stylist specializes in natural hair and she also specializes in hair care. It is all about treating the hair before applying the weave, trimming the hair, and taking breaks. I think it is very important that if you wear weaves and if you are addicted to weave, like I am, that you take a break because you have to let your hair rest. You can’t just continue braiding it up all the time. You have to find different techniques. My stylist will do the links. What she does is she takes these clips and out them in your hair and then sews the hair in on top of the links so that way it’s not pulling your hair. It is flexible and you can put it in a ponytail. It is great because it gives your scalp and your hair a break and allows them to breathe. I think that is very important.
A lot of people don’t take care of natural hair. They just want to apply heat all the time and don’t let it rest. Me, I’ll get roller sets to let my hair breathe when it is resting and when I don’t have the weave in. I try really hard not to ever apply heat to it. You have to learn how to take breaks from the heat because it can really damage your hair.
Right! Heat is one of the worst things for natural hair. So for women like you who are in the spotlight, has having natural hair affected your career at all?
No, not really. I wouldn’t say that it has affected my career. But sometimes, if I do wear a puffy ponytail, they will search through it at airports – never when I wear it straight though. I don’t know I just find it very strange and a little disrespectful. I mean, what am I going to hide in my hair? Really?!
Yea, definitely weird. So what’s next for you? What do you have going on?
Right now I’m in the process of making my own hair product line. I’ve been having meetings and things like that and that is going great. So hopefully that will be coming in the next few months.
I’m also working with AMPRO and working on a new show. I’m writing another book – this time it is fiction. My daughter is writing one, too. I’m just trying to stay busy. I just opened a new shoe and accessory store. I’m just trying to stay busy!