America's Next Top Model contestant embraces her natural curls and kinks

Bre Scullark

Bre Scullark

A curly's favorite pastime is ogling over pictures of gorgeous natural hair... mostly random divas on Fotki and hair blogs, but other times, natural hair celebs. Whether it's for inspiration, motivation, or finding the nerve to transition or chop, we often look to these idols to remind us just how beautiful natural curls can be.

I've been a member of the virtual natural hair community since 2005, and I'm more than aware of who the 'popular' idols are (the celebs you see over and over again in everyone's Fotki). Bre Scullark is definitely among the favs. I'm sure you remember her from America's Next Top Model Cycle 5—hair was RIDIC! I tuned in that season just to watch those curls... plus she was hilarious and very down to earth. She's since appeared on later Cycles of ANTM, episodes of the Tyra Show, and ripped countless runways. She's been in more commercials and campaigns than I can name. She's becoming a super model in her own right!

Bre has recently big chopped to signify a new beginning. She recently took a minute from her busy schedule to chat On The Couch! Here's what she had to say:

On her hair story...

I've been natural much of my life. In middle school my mother began relaxing my hair to thin it out because there was so much of it, and therefore deemed 'unmanageable'. The problem was that the relaxer only changed the texture... it did nothing for the thickness. I wore it permed for about a year, and then slowly transitioned, chopping off a little bit at a time. By my sophomore year in high school, I was completely natural again.

On embracing her natural hair...

I didn't always like my curls, mainly because I was the only one in middle school who had this hair texture, and so much of it. I remember my classmates used to make fun of me and call me mop head! All the other girls had straight hair, and I wanted that, too, because in my mind, that's what pretty was. Pretty meant you had really manageable, silky straight hair—I wanted that so bad. And even though my hair was long and healthy, no one really acknowledged it because it was very, very curly. I vividly remember my feeble attempts to make it silky and straighter—I'd apply petroleum jelly (don't laugh!), brush it through, and then braid it up. That obviously never worked out—I just looked bad.

Bre Scullark

It wasn't until college that I began to appreciate and enjoy my hair. In high school I abused it—I would color it a lot, straighten it every single weekend, I cut bangs . . . you name it, I tried it. Then I went off to college and couldn't do that anymore—there were no salons around, and I had no choice but to embrace it.

During my first years in college, I wore a bun religiously. I remember one day I took it down, and my next door neighbor in college said, "You have beautiful hair!" And I responded, "No, it's too much; it's too thick.'' And she said, "No really, you should wear it out and curly more." So I did just that, and received a great response. I had never looked at my hair in that way—as beautiful. It was different for me, and just the beginning. I began wearing it out more and more, big and wild! I also feel that people were becoming more accepting, despite the fact that I was the only natural on campus (that I knew of). Almost everyone had a perm!

On her 'long and curly' ANTM hair...

While I was on Top Model, I'd always have my hair in a bun. I'd wash it maybe once a week, bun it, and every once in a while, when the weather was nice, I'd wear it out curly. I remember Tyra telling me, "Stop this. You have beautiful hair, please wear it out!" So that's when I started washing and conditioning it more often (sometimes 3 times a week). Even after the show, whether at home, for shoots, or working with Tyra, I continued with that regimen. I'd wash, condition, grease my scalp, gel, and just go!

On greasing her scalp...

You know all the old school products—Don't Be Bald, Doo Gro, etc.? They worked out really well for me, LOL! I would take one of those and mix in a little olive oil and grease my scalp. I now use Indian Hemp. Love the stuff!

On growing and maintaining long hair...

I've never had a problem growing my hair; it's usually pretty resilient. Last year was the first time it has ever broken off. Before then, I had colored it many times over, heat styled frequently, stripped it platinum blond... and it suffered no damage. My hair is tough, very, very strong! But I think from working so much and having to do so many campaigns, it just couldn't handle the stress. Now that I've cut it all off, I have virgin hair again. It's growing back twice as thick as it was before...it's almost frightening!

As far as growing and maintaining long hair, I think it really is about knowing your hair type, knowing what works for your hair, and being consistent in whatever you do. There are models out there with beautiful hair, whatever the texture, it's beautiful, healthy, and strong. Some of them swear by salon products, while others rely on old school eggs and mayo treatments. Figure out what works for your hair, and just be consistent. I've seen women complain about their hair not growing and breaking off in places, and when I ask what their routine is, they don't have one. Find a routine and stick to it!

Also, I know so many women who have beautiful hair that just never seems to grow. I feel that their hair is being traumatized from excessive heat and roll brushes. It's nothing more than a quick fix... it's not maintenance, and can be quite damaging.

On her 'long and curly' staple styles...

I love a bun! It's so funny that I cut my hair off, because buns were truly my staple style. I love to see a woman with her hair pulled away from her face. Gorgeous.

Bre Scullark

I would usually opt for a middle part, and slick the sides back into a pony tail. I'd then wrap it around itself and pin it into a huge bun. I kept that look. I also did a lot of messy buns, usually worn high on top of my head. I would literally get up in the morning and go.

I also did a lot of wash and gos. I'd shampoo, apply conditioner, rinse (because if I didn't, I'd get white flakes) apply gel, and go. I'd let it air dry throughout the day. My curl pattern is strong and becomes super defined as soon as the water hits it. Wash and gos were very easy for me.

On her current routine...

I don't have to do much of anything... my options are a bit more limited now. It's grown out to a really cute length from when we first cut it, and I love it! After washing and conditioning, I just use a leave-in conditioner, grease my scalp, and go. I don't even use gel anymore. My virgin hair is growing in so nicely, I can't even tell you how thick this afro is on my head!

On her must-have products...

I love, love, love Mixed Chicks! I love anything that is cream based, like Neutrogena's deep conditioner (it's cheap and easy to find) and I love olive oil too... I add it to all of my conditioners, and leave it in my hair.

My Favs:

On being natural...

I find that with natural hair, you have more manageability as far as maintaining the hair. It's a lot healthier, a lot stronger, and honestly, internally you just feel better. In the media, we portray ourselves to only be beautiful if we look a certain way. But the most beautiful thing about our culture is that we have versatility! You can be anything you want to be, and look however you want to look. With that said, being natural just gives some kind of an internal boost—it's refreshing to have natural hair and just say, "I'm beautiful the way I am." And it truly shows . . . other people pick up on it too.

As afraid as many of us are to go natural, the minute we step out of that box and do it, people are like, "Whoo, you look so much better like this! I love this look on you! It fits your personality... who you are." I feel like all along we've been trying to be someone else, something we are not. Now that we are coming into ourselves and genuinely accepting ourselves for who we are, everyone else is accepting us, too.

On others embracing their curls...

The most beautiful thing about life is stepping out of your comfort zone. Change can be scary. It doesn't always mean better, but it's not always bad either—change from negative environments, change from negative relationships, change from feeling ugly or inferior. Accepting your natural curls allows you to look at yourself in a better way, a different and more positive way.