I started locing my hair when I was in college. Back then, I wore my hair braided but it was always so much maintenance taking the braids out and putting them back in. I got tired of having to do all that work so I decided to start locing my hair. I figured it would have the same look as braids, but it would be my own hair. I started my locs over the summer because I wanted to have them formed by the time school started. That same summer I was teaching at a school in Dorchester, MA and my students were from the inner city. When I took out my braids, the girls in my class were like “Your hair is ugly. You look like an African.” They didn’t hold back. We went to the park one day and there were these guys there. The guys wouldn’t talk to me and my students would say to me, “Those guys would have talked to you if you had your braids in or your weave in.” They were so mean and they were saying you look like an African like it was a pejorative thing. I got the most flak about my natural hair from these young girls and I think that’s really telling about how indoctrinated we are and how we indoctrinate kids from when they’re born to believe that a certain type of hair is “good” and a certain type is “bad” and that your natural hair is not a good thing, that being African is not a good thing.
With my hair, my style is really about just celebrating what makes natural hair unique. Our kinky, natural hair is beautiful. We need to show that and also show the versatility of black hair. I love when I go to Milan or Paris and people are just looking like ‘how do you do it?’ The bright hair with the dark skin always turns heads. For me, it’s one of those things where I wanted a signature hairstyle. When you look at anyone in fashion, there’s Anna Wintour and her bob and even Andre Leon Talley who has made the cape his signature look. For me, I decided to focus on my hair as my signature. Who else has blonde bright locs in fashion? No one. My hairstylist Sammy LaCombe here in New York and I conceived this hairstyle and doing the different updos. And now people don’t even care about my clothes. They’re always commenting on my hair. So it has become a good signature look for me.
I have to be honest— I get my hair done every week and I get my color touched up every 10 to 14 days. I see my stylist so often because I want to keep my hair healthy especially with the bold color. I think the issue with color is that your hair gets really dry in some parts so if you’re going to do color you must take really good care of your hair because it can get fried so easily. The maintenance runs me about $500 a month. I always get an updo so there’s not a lot that I do myself. I always get a good protein treatment and I use Nioxin shampoo. At home, I’ll put a little oil on my scalp when necessary.
I’m always so inspired by black hair. The beauty of black hair is that you can do so much with it. Whether you weave it up, whether you have a teeny-weeny afro, the beauty of our hair and our style is the versatility and diversity, so just embrace it however you see fit.
Claire Sulmers is the founder and editor of Fashion Bomb Daily, a daily destination for the multicultural fashionista and one of the most influential fashion blogs on the web. Claire’s fashion writing has also appeared in ESSENCE, Real Simple, Newsweek, and New York magazines and on the websites of Paris and Italian Vogue. Follow her fabulous style on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.