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In The Lead Up To The ‘Black Panther’ Premier, Lupita Nyong’o Got Real About Putting Relaxer In Her Hair

Four years have passed since Lupita Nyong’o stole the limelight at the Academy Awards with her red carpet debut. While her robin egg blue dress has become a staple of red carpet roundup listicles, it was Nyong’o’s closely cropped afro from that night that has established the actress as a hair icon and a beloved crusader of the natural hair movement.

In her latest interview with Allure, the “Black Panther” star opened up about her hair evolution.

“Around 13 or 14, I had such a rough time with being teased and feeling really unpretty,” she said.

After years of having her curls relentlessly made fun of by her classmates, the Academy Award-winning actress decided to get a relaxer. Of course, it took some convincing before her mother agreed.

“She felt that that was a decision I could come to when I was maybe 18,” Nyong’o said, though she did eventually convince her mother to take her to a salon for a chemical straightening treatment.

“I felt so much better because it was easier to tame. All the girls in my class had their hair relaxed. Very few had natural kink, so I felt a lot more acceptable.”

But it didn’t take long for Nyong’o to realize how time-consuming her relaxed hair would be.

Black girls who have ever had relaxed hair will laugh-cringe at the moment Nyong’o described the demanding maintenance of her post-chemically straightened hair. “I remember doing crazy things, like sleeping with my head above the headboard so that my curls wouldn’t get messed up for the next day,” Nyong’o remembered. “I’d have these terrible neck aches because I was determined to keep my hair as pristine as possible. And it was super expensive.”

After years of expensive upkeep, Nyong’o’s dad joked that she should consider cutting her hair off completely. “I thought to myself, Why don’t I?” she said, seeing it as a challenge. “It was almost a dare to myself: Can I live without hair? He shaved it right off. It was so scary but so liberating because I went completely bald.”

When Nyong’o showed up to her parents house with a bald head, her mother’s reaction gave her second thoughts.

Wakanda touches down in London Town. #BlackPanther

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“It was hard to see the horror on my mother’s face. She was so disapproving, and I was so sensitive about it at the time, that I started to get scared that I had done the wrong thing,” Nyong’o said. “Eventually, my mom came around. I remember once when I was dressed up for church, she actually said, with a very quick mouth, ‘You look nice.'”

But moving back to Mexico, and later to the U.S., made her realize that her hair did not fit most beauty standards.

“The beauty standards had nothing to do with me in Mexico. It was such a bizarre, dire time for my hair,” she explained. “I was living in a small town where there was not any semblance of an African community.”

To get her hair done, Nyong’o would take an almost three-hour bus ride to Mexico City.

The upkeep of her mane wasn’t much better in the U.S. When she moved to Massachusetts for college, Nyong’o suddenly found herself in a cold climate, where her tresses didn’t have the same support system that it did when she lived in Kenya.

“My hair did something very different in freezing weather, which I didn’t know how to handle. My hair needs moisture. It needs warmth. All of a sudden, I was in this very cold environment, and my hair was bristly and dry and really hard to manage,” She explained. To cope, she would get her hair braided in Kenya, and wear the style for months in the U.S. until she could return home.

These days, Nyong’o views her coils through a more approving lens.

In her interview, the actress broke down why the language used to talk about natural hair is important. For starters, she says Black hair is way too rich with diversity to limit with one culture alone.

“I think the term ‘African-American; is often used as a racial term when it’s a cultural group that does not encompass every single person of African descent,” she explains. “When you say ‘African-American,’ you’re not actually addressing what you think you’re addressing. That’s a national identification, and it cannot be about the hair.”

Nyongo’s hair is the longest it has been in a decade, and after finally learning how to properly manage and care for it, the actress is happy to embrace the many styles she can shape it into.

“Now I love my hair. I love it because I’ve also been able to really embrace the stuff it can do. It’s like clay in the right hands. Clay can be dirt in the wrong hands, but clay can be art in the right hands.

Read: 6 Afro-Latinas Open Up About What Headwraps Mean To Them

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Safe Winter Hairstyles For Afro-Latinas To Keep Your Rizos Defined And Moisturized Even When You Want To Wear Them Straight

The Beatdown

Safe Winter Hairstyles For Afro-Latinas To Keep Your Rizos Defined And Moisturized Even When You Want To Wear Them Straight

Wintertime can be a rough season for black women. Not only do we have to remain hyper-vigilant about moisturizing (ashy skin is a big no-no), but we also have to go the extra mile to make sure our hair is properly hydrated. Seasonal elements like wind, dry air, and cold temperatures have been known to wreak havoc on already-fragile strands. And as most naturalistas know, lack of moisture = breakage. And ain’t nobody got time for that.

So to help out all of the Afro-Latinas who are struggling to keep their strands shiny and their rizos bouncy in the midst of the roughest season of the year, we’ve compiled a list of protective and low-heat hairstyles for black hair this winter. Check it out below!

1. Jumbo Flexi Rods

Flexi rods are the perfect tool to use if you want looser, bouncier curls without resorting to damaging your hair with heat styling. Jumbo Flexi Rods are one of the latest trends that have been sweeping Instagram’s natural hair community. Devotees love them because they’re low maintenance, low-damage, and long-lasting. Not to mention, they’re fun to put in!

2. Box Braids with Triangle Parts

Since box-braids made a huge comeback in the last few years, black women have been putting their own spin on the protective-style staple. The latest craze is parting your braids into triangular sections as opposed to the traditional “box” parts. That makes this style both protective and trendy.

3. Faux Locs

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Got a birthday reading from the amazing @readingsbyvida this past Friday and spent the weekend marinating on all the things she confirmed and enlightened me on. So good!! Check my stories for one of the invaluable things I received from my reading and comment below if you will be joining me for the #GoodVibesandChill challenge this month. ✨💜 P.S Still dying over these #fauxlocs! I felt so beautiful. My first protective style ever done by the beautiful @andranita_bita. Still so crazy to me how she even ended up doing my hair LOL Scroll back down on my feed to last summer for the story. Love her! I have a video on the process on my channel too if you want full details. Happy Monday Vecinas!

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Faux-loc extensions are a stylish and low-maintenance way for black women to keep their hair protected from cold, wind, and dry climates during the winter. So, not only do they protect your hair from breaking, but they are 100% Instagram-able.

4. Senegalese Twists

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Senegalese twists have been around for years, but they’ve recently gone through a renaissance. All you need to do is search Instagram or Youtube for your favorite natural hair beauty guru, and you’ll find a picture or video of her rocking this stylish ‘do. And like box braids and faux-locs above, this hairstyle is almost always extensions, so your natural hair will be protected from the harsh winter climate.

5. Roller Set/Tension Rollers

Tension Rollers are great for black women who want to occasionally wear their hair straight without worrying about compromising their natural curl pattern. The look is achieved by naturally stretching the hair follicle over a jumbo curler. The curl is then “set” under a hair dryer. Because this look is done with low heat, there is less damage, and therefore less breakage. It’s a perfect look for Holiday special occasions.

6. Clip-In Pony Tail

The clip-in ponytail is perfect for the woman who wants to look fierce but has a limited amount of time to do so (and let’s be honest–isn’t that all of us?). Many of us are in the thick of our natural hair journeys and our lengths might not be exactly where we want them to be just yet. Say what you want about clip-in extensions, but there’s no denying that they’re fast and they get the job done. If you’re worried about clip-in extensions looking too obviously artificial, invest a little more money in real hair.

7. Micro Braids

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What little black girl didn’t pine after Brandy’s era-defining micro-braids in the 90s? Well we’re in luck, because the look is finally making a comeback! While not as low-maintenance as box braids and Senegalese twists (micro-braids are known to tangle), they’re still a protective style. Not to mention, the braids’ thin width makes them easy to style into other hairdos like twists and braids.

8. Braided Updo

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If you’re tired of extensions, but you don’t quite have the time (or energy) to commit to brutal wash n’ go’s, then a braided updo might just be the middle-ground you’ve been searching for. A half-braided ‘do is the type of look that looks much more elegant and time-consuming than it actually is. Go to your trusty salon (or maybe your madre or tía, if they’re talented) and ask them to cornrow your hair only halfway through your crown. Not only will it be less time-consuming, it will be less expensive too.

9. The Whitney Bob

https://www.instagram.com/p/BqtlNk-h-BX/

If you’re in the middle of your grow-out phase after the big chop, don’t despair! This phase can be one of the most rewarding when it comes to playing with edgy haircuts and experimenting with hairstyles. One vintage mid-length cut that’s going through a renaissance is “The Whitney” afro-bob. But before you get this cut, make sure your stylist knows exactly what you want, because shape is everything when it comes to this style. Once you’ve achieved the desired cut, stick to roller sets for a low-heat, loose-curl look.

10. Hat With High Pony

The ultimate Bad Hair Day style has been transformed into the look of Instagram queens everywhere. If you’re in between protective styles, or you’re not about that extension life, a baseball cap and a high pony are a surefire way to disguise the state of your fifth- (or sixth-) day curls. All you need to do is throw your hair up into a high pony, place the pony through the cap’s closure, and mist your hair with some curl-reviving spray to bring it back to life. Voila! Instant Insta-baddie.

11. Mini Bantu Knots

Have you ever spent what felt like hours on your hair only to realize that you have to do it all again on the other side of your part? Well you’re in luck, because the Trend Gods have spoken, and they have determined that one-sided hairstyles are so in this winter. Especially one-sided mini-bantu knots. So you can claim your throne as a trend-setter and a women who protects her ends!

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11 Latinas Of The Ages Who Proudly Wore Their Natural Body Hair Despite Beauty Norms

Everyday Runway

11 Latinas Of The Ages Who Proudly Wore Their Natural Body Hair Despite Beauty Norms

The natural hair movement has generated so much excitement in the past few years, and it has been embraced worldwide. Everywhere you turn these days it seems women are happily saying goodbye to waxing, and hello to beautiful hair everywhere. But this hair trend didn’t come out of anywhere. It’s a feminist revolution that has been gaining momentum steadily.

For centuries women have been openly showing off beautiful forms of hair— whether on their face, arms, pits, or legs, or just letting their natural hair fly free. The old standard of pretty isn’t what it used to be, so it’s amazing to see so many celebs displaying that freedom of hair and giving it the attention it deserves.

Here’s a list of women, from the past and present, who boldly wear their hair proudly.

1. Salma Hayek and her baby hairs.

Salma has always been all about her luscious long locks, which is why she’s been an inspiring hair queen since day one. But it’s her baby hairs that make her look so unique. While other celebs laser off their baby hairs, Salma has always kept hers and they’re so cute!

2. Bella Thorne’s bold armpits.

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Fuego ????????

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Bella Thorne is one of those rare celebs that changes her look and always looks flawless regardless of the color of her hair. Lately, however, she’s fully embraced her armpit hair and shows it off proudly.

3. Camila Cabello and her armpit’s five o’clock shadow.

Camila is on top of the world, and she’s not coming down anytime soon. So who has time to shave every second? Not the “Havana” princess. It’s so refreshing to see a young pop artist not paying attention to every form of grooming.

4. Selena Quintanilla, baby hairs, arm hair, and hair everywhere.

Before Selena Quintanilla was sporting the slick updos for the red carpet, she had so much frizzy big hair everywhere. There’s no hiding that the Tejano singer had arm hair, poofy hair, and baby hairs for days, which is why she’s been an inspiration to so many Latinas who simply have too much hair.

5. Frida Kahlo’s unibrow and mustache.

While Frida is famously known for her unibrow, she’s rarely remembered for being a pioneer of the female ‘stache. The Mexican artist wore that mustache like no big thing, and it was almost like one of her gaudy accessories.

6. Karina Ortiz and her beautiful curls and brows.

The “Orange Is The New Black” star perfectly displays her hair in its natural form or in a beautiful blowout. We love how the Dominican-American actress can easily go back and forth between the two styles. Her full brow is like icing on the cake.

7. Kate Del Castillo big ’80s hair and classic unibrow.

Before the world came to know Mexican actress Kate Del Castillo on Netflix’s “La Reina del Sur”, she was one of the biggest telenovela stars. Her signature look was that stunning unibrow and her big ’80s hair. Though her brows tend to be a lot tamer these days, we sure hope she brings back that classic look.

8. Michelle Rodriguez’s badass underarm hair.

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No pain no Gain

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Michelle Rodriguez has never seemed to care what people have thought about her appearance. She can effortlessly go from t-shirt and jeans to a gorgeous gown in an instant, all the while having full-on armpit hair.

9. Lourdes Leon and her free-flowing pits.

Madonna’s daughter of Cuban-descent is clearly a star in the making. Whether she’s modeling or venturing into music, she’s already a fashion game changer. For Lola, showing off armpit hair is really no big deal. And she’s had quite the inspiration from the start in her own mother who has sported a full pit throughout her career.

10. Maria Felix, hair icon.

Mexico’s Golden Age of Cinema had a reigning queen and her name was Maria Felix. The award-winning actress stunned audiences with her talent and her incredible hair. From her full and luscious mane to her signature eyebrows, Felix will forever be a natural hair inspiration.


READ: 13 Magical Hair Masks For Black Hair This Fall Season

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