Killin’ It Like Issa
We all know when it comes to slaying natural hair looks, Issa Rae is the queen.
She gives us different styles for every look. Who says natural hair can’t slay a red carpet? It is incredible the way she pulls of every look with elegance and class and looks just as good as the woman next to her.
There are many beautiful looks she has rocked but here are some of our fan favorites.
Now we can’t bring up Issa without talking about her hit show Insecure that premieres on HBO.
In this series, Issa gives black girls all around the world inspiration and lets us know that our natural hair is just as beautiful as wigs or any form of extensions. And she has proven that to us off the screen too!
If you have never watched insecure, you should tune in. Here is a quick summary of this relatable show. The show follows the life of Issa and her friend Molly played by Yvonne Orji.
The basis of the show revolves around Molly and Issa’s friendships, work, and relationships with men.
Molly was having problems finding a guy that could commit to her and the times when her relationship was going right; she would do something to mess it up. The show also revolved around her workplace as she was very successful. It spoke about the racial issues Issa experienced at work such as unequal pay from her white male counterparts.
As for Issa, she was in a long time relationship but felt as though she did not want to be in one anymore. Issa ended up cheating on her boyfriend by sleeping with a man Issa had chemistry with from the past. After doing so, she commits fully to her relationship, but it all blows up in her face once her boyfriend finds out she cheated and broke up with her.
The show also follows Issa throughout her work experiences and her relationship with her friends. I do not want to give too much away as there are many jaw-dropping moments, but tune in as soon as possible!
The Importance of Issa’s Natural Hair Movement
As stated before, Issa Rae and her natural styles are inspiring to the African American community to young girls and women alike.
A lot of that we can attribute to her hairstylist Felicia Leatherwood. Leatherwood has spoken about natural hair and has stated a little of her reason for being a natural hairstylist as “I’m 4c, and no one understood my hair. The only thing they could do was braid and bead it.”
She continued, “so what that prompted me to do was to take care of my hair, showcase my texture, that made me feel good. I couldn’t do relaxers. Relaxers broke my scalp out. Weave didn’t feel good to me. So for me, the only thing left was for me to rock my hair. So I look after texture 4s first.”
“I take care of everybody, but for me, texture 4 struggles the most with trying to understand their hair and no two texture 4s are the same. They’re all different, they all require something a little bit different. But I’ll make it my specialty to make sure that I can match the product with texture type hair.”
Leatherwood’s statement is powerful as it shines a light on the struggles of Black women everywhere and their hair. Not everyone knows how to deal with natural hair and what works best. Issa is a role model for African American women everywhere that there are so many different ways to style your natural hair.
You do not have to put on a wig or rock a weave for your hair to be considered “red carpet ready.” Leatherwood also stated that she wanted to do styles on Issa that wear achievable for black women.
And with that statement, here are a few of the most memorable hair looks of Issa Rae.
The Disco Fro
On the last year’s red carpet for Black Girls Rock, Issa wowed us all with her beautiful fro.
Felicia Leatherwood said that the afro inspiration came from a recent photoshoot that Rae did with Hannah magazine. She said “The big Afro looked beautiful on her. I wanted to give that to her again, for the people that did not see it in print. I wanted them to see the beauty of Issa in many different ways,” she says.
And we all saw how beautiful Issa was with this look.
How to get the look
There are several methods I’d like to share to help you achieve a cute curly fro on your natural hair.
This process may take a few tries to get those curls to pop really, but it is worth it!
You want to part your hair into small sections and tie them off with rubber bands. Once that is done, you want to work piece by piece. First two strand twist the part, then you want to wrap the hair into a knot and make sure it is secure.
You can use a bobby pin to do this. Once you have done this for every piece, you then want your hair to sit overnight to get the curls to push through. The twists will be more defined if you use some styling product such as eco styler gel or spritz your hair with water before beginning.
Once you take the curls down, you can tease and comb out your hair to your desired fro look, and you’re good to go!
Two Strand Twists
You first want to pull out the section of your hair you want to put the twist. The size is up to you.
A thicker strand will mean a larger twist. Then starting at your roots, separate the original strand into two pieces. Next, you start twisting. Pull the hair tightly and then pass one strand over the other, grasping it between your forefinger and middle finger of the hand with the strand you have yet to move.
Still holding hair tightly, move the second strand to your other hand, holding it between your forefinger and thumb. Move the original strand from between your middle finger and forefinger to between your forefinger and thumb. Pass the second strand over the original and begin the process over again until you reach the end of the strands.
Secure it in place as you would a braid. Once again, using a holding product or water will help define the curls. Once the twists have sat overnight, you then want to carefully pull them apart, and style your fro as desired.
Other methods you can use are flexi rods, perm rods, finger coils and different creative ways. Or you can just comb out your natural hair and rock it like that! It is essential to use a holding product to keep your hair fresh all day.
High Ponytail with Beaded Braids
The high ponytail was a look. Issa shut down the 2017 BET Awards red carpet with such a unique and beautiful style.
Styled by Felicia Leatherwood, Rae rocked a large braid. To make it a bit more interesting, two cornrows accented with beads above each ear took this protective style to the next level and made this look all of our natural hair goals.
How to get the look
This look is a bit more intricate to achieve, but it is still doable!
You will first need to buy 2-3 packets of cheap braiding hair. You want to buy as many depending on how thick you want your braid to be. But hold off on doing anything with the braiding hair, for now, you will not need it until the end.
To get your hair to be slick back do not worry about heat damage! You do not need to use heat. There are ways to stretch your hair without using a flat iron. And gel is your best friend to make sure your hair stays slick back.
But if you do use heat, make sure always to apply a heat protectant to minimize the damage the heat may cause.
Once your hair is straight, you want to make the parts for the two braids that will be coming out of your head. At this time, you want to take a little bit of braiding hair and cornrow from the middle of your head down.
Do this on both sides and make the braids coming out as long as your desire.
Once you have your cornrows, you want to take a hair tie and tightly secure your hair into a bun.
This step is where the rest of the braiding hair will come in. You want to put all of the hair you are using together and put a hair tie in between. Then once you fasten the hair to a hair tie, you want to tie the hair to your natural hair bun and make sure it is secure.
Wrap the braiding hair around the bun to make sure the bun is covered and braid down. And that’s it! You can also add the beads to the cornrows to personalize your hair and make it unique!
The Braided Bun
At the 2018 BAFTA Tea Party, Issa rocked a simple, regal looking braided bun. The look is so simple, and yet so elegant, and that is why we all fell in love with it.
How to get the look
The great thing about this look is that is simple to achieve. The first thing you want to do is get your hair as slick as possible.
As I mentioned earlier, there are several ways to get your hair straight without using a flat iron. Now I am going to expand on those methods. Here are some techniques you can try to straighten your hair without using heat:
Use a straightening shampoo and conditioner. You should begin the process of getting straight hair by getting products that encourage straight hair if you don’t already, use a shampoo and conditioner that are meant to straighten and smooth hair.
These products are formulated to moisturize and weigh down curls for straighter locks heavily.
Use jumbo rollers to straighten your hair. Divide your hair into about six sections and wrap each section around a hair roller, rolling the parts up until you reach the roots.
Secure the rollers against your head using large clips. The next morning, take the rollers out of your hair and comb. You should see that your hair is visibly straighter. Try to use plastic rollers as opposed to Velcro or foam.
Wrap damp hair around your head until it dries. Another way of encouraging straightness is to wrap wet hair around your head and secure it with bobby pins. Brush or comb your hair, then divide it along the central part into two sections.
Take the left section and smooth it over the top of your head toward the right section. Wind it around your head until you reach the end of your hair, then pin the part in place at the back of your head with bobby pins.
Do the same on the right side, flipping the hair over to the left side and pinning it in place. After pinning your hair, place a silk scarf around your head to reduce frizz while you sleep and take down your hair in the morning.
You want to keep in mind that straightening your hair using no heat methods may have a bit different results and is more susceptible to frizz. Remember if you decide to use heat, apply a heat protectant!
Once you straighten your hair, you want to tie it back into a tight bun. You can apply gel to help your hair hold. You then want to use braiding hair again, and use a hair tie and attach it to your hair and braid it down.
This part is the same method as the last look. However, this time once you braid the hair down, you want to wrap it around your bun and secure it with bobby pins or a hair tie.
And that is it! You can slay this look by slicking your baby hairs as well.
The Half Cornrowed Bun Half Down
This look is my personal favorite. At the 48th NAACP Image Awards, Issa wore her hair half in cornrows wrapped into a bun with the other half down. To top it off, she had two single braids on either side of her head accented with beads. This look was so unique and made her hair the center of attention.
How to get the look
You first want to part your hair in two sections with their being a top half and a bottom half.
Doing the cornrows is the trickiest part, but if you feel comfortable doing them or getting someone else to do them for you, you want to cornrow your hair into a side ponytail so that you can make it into a bun. Make sure to leave out a small piece of hair on each side to create two single braids.
With the back half of your hair, you can leave it out natural and do two strand twists, Bantu knots, or you can crochet it to add a little length.
Then you can personalize the style by adding beads to the braids or maybe add gold and silver cuffs to the cornrows, and you’re good to go!
The Scarf Updo
At the 2017 Independent Spirit Awards nominee brunch, Issa’s hairstyle was so simple and appropriate for the occasion. Adding a colorful scarf was a genius way to make her hair pop, and it is indeed a style you can dress up or dress down.
How to get the look
This look is effortless as it does not take much work. There is not any preparation you need to do beforehand as you are working with your natural hair.
In the look Issa did, you can see that she did a bun in the back and had a natural bang in the front. All you need to do is part the bang and tie away the rest of your hair. If you feel like your bun isn’t full enough, you can always get extra natural hairpieces to add to your bun.
It is best to get hair pieces that mimic natural hair. You then want to use bobby pins to pin the bang down. Then you can add your scarf, and you’re ready to go out!
What Issa Style Will You Try?
Issa Rae is an inspiration to black women everywhere as she shows us that our natural hair is beautiful and is indeed appropriate for any occasion.
Whether onscreen or offscreen, her hair always slays. She displays so many different styles that we may have never even imagined. And the best part? These styles are cheap and doable. You can easily imitate any of these styles from your home.
So what style inspired you to give your natural hair a try?