Whether MR Managing Editor Erica wears her hair natural or in a protective style, she has the kind of hair that makes you pause and look and fawn. (People literally stop her on the street.) Read on to learn everything there is to know about that which grows out of her head. — Haley Nahman
How often do you wash your hair?
I’ve been on a protective style bender since May of this year, so technically, I only wash-wash my hair (completely wet, shampoo, rinse — the whole shebang) every two months; immediately after I remove whatever protective style I have in (boho locs currently, and maybe forever). I have curly hair (A LOT OF IT) and hate spending any time on my hair in general, so it’s truly been a dream to skip washing/detangling and the other 50 steps that come with it.
What’s your hair approach in the shower?
My approach is very neutral and chill, Switzerland style. There isn’t much to do, so I mostly stay out of it. Usually I’ll tie it back (sometimes I can’t even be bothered to do that). If it gets wet, I’ll give my scalp a quick massage. If my scalp feels dry or irritated, I’ll dilute some apple cider vinegar in a spray bottle and spritz my scalp pre-shower and rinse it out during. Zero hair products are present during actual shower time. As such, my shower is extremely zen; I’m living that KonMari lyfe.
What’s your daily routine?
My daily routine takes five to seven minutes, tops. It consists of waking up and massaging this loc spray into my scalp before deciding how deep I want my part. Next, I’ll dampen the extra toothbrush designated for my edges with water and lay my edges, following up with a few swipes of DevaCurl’s a Beautiful Mess to hold it all in place. This stays the same for special occasions, but I do want to start upping my up-do game now that it’s scarf season.
How often do you get it cut?
Kidding, but still, extremely sporadically and not that often. I’ve learned to accept it, and any hairstylist reading this and shaking their head right now should accept me for who I am, too. I try to fit a trim in between protective styles, but the shrinkage that comes with curly hair has a way of camouflaging both split ends and growth, so haircuts are rarely, if ever, on my mind.
Any standout hair-related memories?
This most recent round of boho locs by my stylist Anta took 10.5 hours, a new record, so I’ve officially watched everything on Hulu.
Do you dye, highlight, treat it?
I’ve dyed it once and only once — I got pintura highlights at the DevaChan Salon back in March (before I decided this protective hairstyle is me becoming who I am). The highlights look even better now that they’ve grown out; maybe you’ll see them again one day!
Have you gone through a bunch of hair phases or had the same hair your whole life?
I’d say I’ve gone through three phases.
1. The Baby-Me Phase, which consisted of baby-me with my natural hair, zero heat styling and approximately one box-braids stint for a family vacation in Hawaii.
2. The Tween/Teen Phase, which consisted of relaxers.
3. The Early Twenties Phase, which consisted of no chemical straightening nor relaxers, but heat-styling (and bangs!).
I’m currently back in Phase 1; switching between wearing my hair natural and in protective styles after quitting heat-styling in 2016.
When do you hate your hair?
When it’s tangled, but that’s just me lashing out.
When do you love it?
About 15 minutes out of the shower when it’s detangled, still damp-ish, the leave-in conditioner has just gone in (so the curls are still super defined), shrinkage has yet to take hold, and the thought of having to sleep on it hasn’t even crossed my mind.
What’s the most tragic hair-related decision you’ve ever made?
In 8th grade I got it cut super short and super layered because my cool older sister cut hers really short, but she was moving out of the awkward phase, and I was in the height of it, and let’s just leave it at that.
What’s one product you couldn’t live without?
A quality spray bottle. You can put anything you want in it and nothing in my routine would get done without it: I need it to spray my co-wash/water mix when I’m removing a style, I need it for refreshes while wearing a protective style, and most importantly, I need it for detangling and moisturizing when I wear my hair curly. Best $2 I’ve ever spent.
Who first taught you how to do your hair?
Fairly recently, my sisters and I had this epiphany that we never really knew how to do our hair. Our mom and our mom’s mom did our hair when we were growing up, but they’re both Korean and have hair completely different from ours. Our dad is black and has kinky hair which is closer to our texture, but he never waded into hair-styling territory. My sisters and I all straightened our own hair in our teen years/early twenties, but now that we’re all wearing our hair natural, we’ve basically had to teach ourselves wtf to do with our mixed curls. It’s been a lot of trial and error but the internet can be a glorious place for predicaments like these and we have an ongoing FB group chat filled with product recs and twist-out selfies.
What’s something you’ve always wanted to do with it, but still haven’t?
Loc my own hair. I wouldn’t mind keeping this look on a more permanent basis and multiple strangers have asked me if and when I’m going to do it, which has to be a sign, right? My little brother successfully loc’d his hair years ago and it looks amazing (Hi, Jr!). We basically have the same face so I’m sure it’d be fine.
Who has your favorite hair in the world and what’s your personal dream hair?
It’s a toss up between Diana Ross’ and Donna Summers’ hair in the late ‘70s. Like theirs, my personal dream hair is pretty long, very big, imprecise, and pairs well with flares.
Photos by Edith Young.