Before the natural hair movement, images of natural hair on screen were limited to the likes of Tamara Tunie from Law and Order SVU, Tracee Ellis Ross from Girlfriends, and Cree Summer from A Different World and every black animated character you can think of with the rarities of The Cosby Show. Now we are slowly seeing more women with afro-textured hair like Teyonah Parris on the big screen and I'm excited because it matters. Presenting a broad range of all women with different stories and various aesthetics is important, as limited, homogenous, trite representations can reinforce stereotypes, limit relatability, and create a societal standard of acceptance. Representation matters, and to undermine its importance is reckless and naive, especially since children and adolescents are extremely impressionable.As a means to combat those images, narratives, and expectations, Blackandsexytv is intentional about showcasing real representations and reflecting the culture in their storytelling. During the “Panty Dropper” episode of the series Sexless , two of the main characters enjoy the pleasantries of wash day while their other girlfriends are…well, you’ll just have to watch the episode. I contacted the cast and crew of this series to learn more about this episode full of co-washing, shea butter, and panties.
I was ecstatic to see Wendy teaching Farrah about hair care in the Sexless “Panty Dropper” episode. That scene was the talk of the comment section, along with Stasi fantasizing at the poetry night. It was beautiful mesh between nostalgia and modern times. Tell us how this happened. Was this already in the script or was it improvisation?
Khalilah (Wendy): The idea was incorporated into the original script. Numa Perrier and Dennis Dortch (co-founders of Blackandsexytv) gave me the go-ahead to make a whip for Farrah's hair and then wash and twist her hair the way I would do my own. I even brought my own hand mixer. It was a great bonding moment between the characters, but was also pretty true to life.
Gabrielle (Farrah): We of course have the basis of the scene in our minds, but most of what you saw in the hair care scene between Khalilah's character and mine is all improv. It's all her actual hair care mixtures of the shea butter, coconut oil, etc. Also, her talking about how to twist the hair and soaking the moisture with a cotton t-shirt is all from her personal knowledge dealing with her own hair.
Art reflects culture and not only are more black women discontinuing the use of relaxers but they are also fleeing from salons. Oftentimes when hair care in the black community is captured on film it is set in a hair salon, but this may no longer be an accurate depiction, especially for the millennial generation. Why was it important to share that moment, especially since the scene took up half of the episode?
Numa Perrier (co-creator/showrunner): Our writers room is comprised of all black women and the majority of us have natural hair or natural styled hair. Most of us also either do our own hair or trust a friend to help. When the idea came up we wanted to juxtapose what Wendy and Farrah were doing - a quiet night of hair washing - with what Nolita and Stasi were doing - a night out on dates. We know in our real lives that wash day is very real and will take up your entire night so we didn't want to back away from the reality of that. It's also a way that friends bond with each other. There are few things more intimate than letting someone be all inside your hair/ scalp etc. This is that unspoken trust and care between women that we really wanted to express and not just in a brief way, but almost in real time.
Of course we want to know your DIY recipe!
Khalilah: When I make a shea whip, there are always three main components: 100% natural raw shea butter, coconut oil, and vegetable glycerin. Other ingredients vary and can be tailored to anyone's preference. I typically include a leave-in conditioner, Jamaican black castor oil, sweet almond oil, setting cream or lotion, and whatever essential oil you want for fragrance. My fave is lavender!
What are your individual hair care regimens?
Khalilah: Believe it or not I'm pretty lazy when it comes to my hair. I like to leave my hair in twists and rock hats, scarves, wigs, etc. I co-wash once a week and shampoo every two weeks. Whenever I shampoo, I do a pre-poo and detangle first using a cheap conditioner like Suave and coconut oil. After I shampoo I deep condition with either just a plastic cap or under a bonnet dryer. I always finish with the L.O.C. method. I use my leave-in mixed with water and vegetable glycerin as my liquid and then seal with coconut and/or Jamaican black castor oil. Lastly, I finish with shea whip or the Just Natural's Organic Nutritive Setting Lotion.
Gabrielle: I wash, condition, and brush it in the shower to bring it back to life. Once I condition it, I give it a good comb out. After that I rinse and then apply another coat of conditioner to set the curls and rinse again, which allows my hair to get as soft as possible. Then, I dry my hair, let it settle, and then add some leave-in conditioner and maybe some oil to add shine. I pick out the curls with my hands and then voila! My 'fro is reborn.
I loved when Wendy was co-washing Farrah’s hair in the kitchen sink. Which Nature’s Gate conditioner was she using? What are your Holy Grail products? Give your favorite brands a shout out!
Khalilah: We used the Nature's Gate Aloe Vera Conditioner for the co-wash. My favorite products are Oyin Handmade's Greg Juice, Jamaican black castor oil, and Just Natural's Organic Nutritive Setting Lotion.Gabrielle: I've been a fan of Mixed Chicks products, so I use the Mixed Chicks Sulfate-free Shampoo and Mixed Chicks Leave-in Conditioner. As for oil, I don't worry too much about it. My hair naturally creates a fair amount, but I try to remind myself to add some mainly for my ends.
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