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CN: How does your routine change when you're on set? Do you always style your own hair?

AB: I wear a half wig 99% of the time in order to protect my hair. The majority of set hair stylists that I’ve encountered are unskilled when it comes to natural hair unless it’s very loose curls. Before I started wearing the wig, these stylists would have me looking a hot mess and I would have to sneak into the bathroom to do damage control. I’ve had two different stylists damage my real hair to the point where I had to cut off entire sections. Two months ago, I did a shoot where my real hair was straightened and had a few tracks added. When styling my hair/weave, the stylist cut off almost 4 inches of my own hair. My hair was prepped the day before the shoot so I didn't even notice the drastic length difference until I got home. He took me from APL to just above SL. The shoot was very high paying so I guess it was worth it. However, I was told that my hair would be trimmed, not sheared off!

Stylists don’t care about the health of your hair, they just want to achieve a certain look. When I wear the wig, they just fluff it a bit and tell me I look good. They are always relieved that they don’t have to work on my hair.

Also, as an actor/model, it’s very important to have consistency. I have to look like my headshot at all times. Every natural knows how unpredictable our hair is. My hair is very susceptible to the elements. NYC gets very humid (and it rains a lot) and can cause major shrinkage for me, even after spending 2 hours on a braid/twist out. The shrinkage was causing a lot of SSKs so, last October, I started wearing my half wig as a protective style. I found one that closely matches my texture and I leave the perimeter of my hair out when wearing it. This way, my look is very consistent, quick to achieve, and I still get to rock my natural look while protecting my hair. Prior to my last on-set setback, I’d gained about 4-5 inches of retained length in about a 6-month period, so my hair has been thriving.

CN: How did you achieve the style in the CBS sport video?

AB: I’m wearing my half wig. Sorry to disappoint y’all!!

CN: Wow! Amazing. I want one! Any recs for places to find 'convincing' kinky curly half wigs? Dish!

AB: My wig is not really a half wig, it's a full wig that I've cut to fit me as a half wig. I use bobby pins to secure it. I cut off the bottom "track". I also cut out one of the middle tracks and sewed the gap closed to make it smaller. It's called HH Afro Curl. I think the brand is Suprema. Lots of beauty supply stores carry full wigs that resemble most natural textures. It's rare to find a half wig for textures in the 4 range. I'd recommend searching the internet first. When you find a wig you like, search YouTube for review/tutorial videos on the wig. Almost every wig out there has a video of someone wearing it and noting their likes/dislikes.

I also would recommend buying a full wig and cutting it the way I did so that it fits you well and leaves plenty of room for you to leave the perimeter of your hair out. Also, to make it look more natural, you have to frizz the hair out a bit with a brush or rub it with a dry towel. People NEVER know I'm wearing a half wig unless I tell them.

CN: What are your must-have products?!

AB: For tools, my best friend is my Ouidad detangling comb. It’s huge and heavy (don’t ever drop it on your foot!) and has two thick parallel rows of teeth. It glides through my hair and gently removes knots and shed hair.

Product-wise, extra virgin coconut oil and aloe vera juice are my staples. Right now, I’m really in love with the Shea Moisture brand. I use the Curl Enhancing Smoothie and the Deep Treatment Masque. I love Organix conditioners and right now, I’m loving Pantene’s Beautiful Lengths Replenishing Mask. It reminds me of the Pantene Relaxed and Natural Deep Conditioning Mask that was discontinued a couple of years ago.

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I understand where she's coming from, but it's hard for me to consider her natural. I know there's a fine line between natural beauty and beauty that's enhanced by products, but how can you be natural if you don't even wear your own hair out in public? It's like saying you're the color green just because you paint your self the color.

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