The unconventional Kelis knows how to make a statement both on and off the stage. Since her “colorful” debut in 1999, this Harlem-bred songstress continues to keep heads turning with her risk-taking tresses. We caught up with her longtime NYC hairstylist, Dickey, to get the 411 on the trendsetter’s most memorable dos over the past decade.
By Bridgette Bartlett
“Just look at Kelis from the start of her career, which was that kaleidoscope, rainbow hair. It’s very inspirational for me to have somebody open like her who is ready to go that creative mile. My challenge is to be able to make all those changes and still keep the hair healthy,” says Dickey, who has been styling hair for more than 20 years.
“At a moment’s notice Kelis is ready to do her hair, herself, at home with some crazy color from Ricky’s. I have to be able to reel her in and work with her. The flip side to that is she’s extremely conscious of the health of her hair. As much as she likes to change it is as crazy as she is about keeping it healthy. I have to be professional and say, okay, this is what we can and cannot do. But we’re friends, so it’s a little easier,” reveals Dickey.
“Kelis does not like her hair with any product beyond a leave-in conditioner. So that is one of the reasons for her healthy hair. Everything has to be very clean and hydrating and conditioning. No greases, no silicones; just really gentle hair care,” says Dickey.
“When her hair is worn straight, it’s achieved with a blow dryer using a comb attachment followed by a flat iron. She’s really good with maintaining her hair. You know there is nothing like a sister who knows how to throw on a scarf and tie it just right,” explains Dickey with a laugh. “It helps hairstylists out when clients take care of their hair that way,” he adds.
“Kelis’s inspiration for this haircut was Salt ’N Pepa. That’s really where that cut came from, and then all of the sudden it became the Rihanna cut. But Rihanna rocks it, I mean, it’s just a great cut. It has done a lot for women who needed to cut their hair. It modernized a lot of women and made them look really good,” says Dickey.
“One of my favorite looks from Kelis is when we did her hair platinum. We bleached her hair seven times to get it right. It took a while because we had to lift it from black. The inspiration for this look was Etta James,” says Dickey.
“Kelis was instrumental in helping me develop my line, Hair Rules. Hair Rules is a new generation of cleansers, conditioners and styling aids. When her hair is curly we use the Curly Whip (pictured). It gives a lot of definition to curly hair and leaves it soft and pliable. When she wears it straight, we use the Wavy Mousse, says Dickey.
(Visit hairrules.com for more information.)
“The moment we talk about an idea, she wants to execute it. If she’s in L.A., I just have to cross my fingers and give her as much instruction [on the phone] on what to do and what not to do because she’s generally doing it at home herself. And if she’s in NYC I have to get in a cab and go down to her house,” explains Dickey on Kelis’s constant hair color changes.
“Kelis cut her hair out of a [want for] change. You have to embrace change and understand that hair grows [back]. Once you do, it is easier to cut it,” says Dickey. He adds, “Damaged hair needs to be cut off. There’s no saving it.”
“Kelis doesn’t have a relaxer, so in addition to the blow dryer and flat iron we use the Nourishment Leave-In Conditioner from Hair Rules. She likes to be able to wear it both curly and straight,” says Dickey.
Dickey is quite frank about Kelis being a stickler for her hair staying soft and healthy. “The moment it starts to feel funky, ya know…we have problems. (Laughs.) The Hair Rules deep conditioners help me keep her hair soft and pliable regardless of her style,” Dickey explains.
Curly Whip from Dickey’s line Hair Rules is a protein-enriched formula that tames frizz and protects curls from humidity. This mainstay of Kelis’s haircare regime also infuses curls with essential moisture.
“Curly Whip is part of a new generation of gels; it’s a conditioning gel that leaves the hair soft not hard,” says Dickey.
“Kelis’s natural hair color is dark brown. I always like her hair when it is freshly cut and has a lot of movement,” says Dickey.
“I don’t think being a mother will make Kelis any less adventurous at all. She now has a bob with platinum bangs. One side of it is blue and one side of it is green. Next, I believe she’s going to do something kind of feathered and seventies for her new disco album,” shares Dickey.
A Seattle native, Dickey has been styling the tresses of Kelis for nearly five years. Now based in NYC, he has also tended to the tresses of First Lady Michelle Obama and R&B divas Estelle and Rihanna. For more of Dickey’s hair wisdom, check out his book, “Hair Rules!: The Ultimate Haircare Guide For Women With Kinky, Curly or Wavy Hair” (Villard).
So tell us, over the past decade, what has been your favorite ’do from Kelis?