Meet The Curly Natural Hair Stylists Challenging Hollywood Beauty

You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman

Can you believe that there used to be a time when natural hair was a rarity on the red carpet? Only straight hair was considered awards-appropriate, and that ideology is something that celebrities with a kinkier texture had to conform to. The Issa Rae, Yara Shahidi, Tessa Thompson, and Janelle Monae types were not non-existent because they were underserved. Consequently, we did not have the opportunity to see how curly hair could be elegant, versatile, and provide a different trend on the red carpet. Thank God those days are over! Celebrity hair stylists with specialties in natural hair have been able to come to the forefront. They currently provide us with looks for days on the red carpet and trends that we can recreate on the day to day basis. Keep reading to learn about the heavy hitting stylists bringing the natural hair world to Hollywood and serving us formal moments to live for.

Lacy Redway

Coming out of Manhattan where she professionally studied her craft, Lacey started out doing hair for editorial runway shows. It was at this time that she assisted the greats like Guido Palau but quickly rose from assistant to sought-after A-list hair. She is now a full on Nexus stylist slaying magazine covers and red carpets alike. Redway stands out because she likes to do hair in untraditional ways. So when you have a non-traditional texture, which is anything curly, she is in her element. She shows her pride for her people through her work! Lacey loves being able to show that African-American hair can do the same thing that Caucasian hair can do. She makes statements like this not only show her talent as an artist and a hairstylist, but it also educates people, not in the curly culture about textured hair. These instances are what's causing the hair conversation around black culture and coarse textures to become more mainstream. Redway is pushing the conversation every time she does a hairstyle switch up on an A-list celebrity client. Whether she Is putting them in a natural style, a protective style, or a wig she is pushing the narrative of versatility when it comes to black hair.

Nai'vasha Johnson

Nai’vasha Johnson is the hair stylist that has you wondering if Yara Shahidi's hair is hers or a wig. Yes, her units just that seamless. Although she does not do Yara's hair on the hit show Black-ish or Grown-ish spin-off, Johnson is the one responsible for Shahidi's more iconic carpet and magazine moments. She's also the mastermind behind Zendaya's pixie cut, and again we are here for it. The secret behind her talents? This southern girl studies everything! From trends to historical references, runways, and editorials she knows it all! And she uses all this knowledge to then act like the fairy godmother to all of her natural hair clients. Curls, box braids, and everything in between is executed flawlessly by this natural hair stylist Born in Tennessee and taught at the Paul Mitchell school in Atlanta Johnson is a godsend for all of the girls trying to recreate the latest trends in natural hair hairstyles. Johnson’s signature is her hair coloring. She's able to make curly hair hold a color just as vibrant as if the hair was straight. This is something that textured hair struggles with because of its dips and divots. The color isn't able to take as evenly and be as bright as it would on straight hair, but in Johnson’s hair, this is not an issue.

Nikki Nelms

Nikki Nelms is the Picasso of celebrity curly hair! The FSU drop-out is known to decorate her client's hair with rolling googly eyes like the iconic Janelle Monae moment, Safety pins, earrings, pom-poms, and beads like the one that covered Solange’s braids in the Don’t Touch My Hair video intro. Ironically, Nelms always seems to make it work. Her styles are never too over-the-top or too messy. Nikki's first celebrity client was Lil Wayne who she met in New Orleans at Essence Fest. The story goes: she met Wayne at a bar randomly and asked him what his next video shoot was. He told her it was the next day, and she gave him her number to call if you needed her. And he did. From styling the hair of Solange for her wedding, Lala for the cover of Latina Magazine, and chopping Kelly Rowland’s blunt bob a couple of years ago we know that Nelms is not only unconventional but versatile. A plus, she is quick to let it everyone know that women rocking their natural hair are not making a political statement. It's not a statement when you are wearing what you are born with!

Takisha Sturdivant-Drew

Takisha came into the hair industry swinging! She got her license, landed a job in a Manhattan salon, and moved out on her own all by the age of 20. Her first celebrity client and Hollywood heavyweight Kerry Washington met her through that very same Manhattan salon. Ever since then the duo have been making natural hair history on red carpets. Being that Kerry was one of the first celebrities to rock natural hair on a massive platform like a red carpet, it's no surprise that Takisha is known to avoid trends. Instead of throwing away from the work that natural hair might present to her Takisha embraces it. Knowing that every other hairstylist wants to blow out natural kinks immediately, Takisha is one of the first to use them to make her clients stand out in a sea of straight hair movie stars. Takisha is also a big proponent of hair extensions! She even has her own line called TSD Hair. She started the line because 50% of her client base uses extensions, but because their hair is of a kinkier texture, the silky straight extensions that she has access to never quite matched the feel of her client's hair.

Felicia Leatherwood

Celebrity hairstylist Felicia Leatherwood is known for her expertise in the natural hair care world. She even created her own detangling brush: the Leatherwood brush. Its widely-spread bristles are flexible and release knots to move with the shape of your curl pattern and cause less breakage as you detangle. With celebrity clients that range from Yvonne Orji to Jill Scott, she is one of the most trusted pairs of hands in the hair business when it comes to kinks and coils. Leatherwood is known for her amazing updos and growing hands. She is the stylist responsible for growing out Issa Rae’s short hair and giving us the trendy hairstyles that we live for in Insecure season 2. Nicknamed “The Hair Whisperer,” Felicia has always specialized in natural hair. It is easier for her to manage. Outside of doing a-listers hair, Felicia also travels the world doing natural hair workshops. Natural hair care has become very popular in places like Europe. Felicia takes her talents across the pond to help everyone learn the language of their hair and the critical practices that she uses when detangling. I Like My Baby Hair and Afros When you can be unapologetically you, it is a freeing feeling. Women with textured hair did not have the resources that reside in knowledgeable natural hairstylists. Nor did we have the confidence as a group of people with kinky hair to wear what is not considered beautiful or "normal." These women hairstylists mentions above are shattering the mold in Hollywood. Thankfully, they are creating a space for women with curl grades across the spectrum. And even though it is only a handful of them breaking down doors and jumping over barriers they are looking to reach back and help others come through the same doors that they've opened. That's beautiful for the next generation with curls and coils whole hair won’t have to be tamed. We want to know what you think! Comment below with your favorite natural hair red carpet look.
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