The first time I met Dr. Camille Verovic was at a natural hair event held at a Target in Atlanta. She was showcasing her haircare line, Girl+Hair, and celebrating her newly secured spot with the retailer.
Among her were a few beautiful black queens with a variety of different hairstyles: wigs, braids, afros, you name it. They were all in the aisle talking to other women about their hair concerns, textures, and the benefits of the Girl+Hair products. I ear-hustled a bit and overheard one of the girls mention that Dr. Camille was becoming a dermatologist and that she uses her studies to create the right formula for women of color.
Interestingly enough, Dr. Camille's career did not start in medicine. Instead, one passion opened the door to another.
She began her career as a marketing professional for an advertising agency which gave her all the tools, resources, and knowledge to build a brand. During her time working at the advertising agency, she also embarked on another journey: her hair. At that time, she chemically treated her hair with relaxers to the point where her real hair started to break off. As a remedy for her unhealthy hair, Dr. Camille decided to go natural and big chop. While on the mission to grow strong and healthy hair, she ran into another problem — she didn't have the right products. After struggling to find the right products, she decided to just solve the problem herself and Girl+Hair was the solution. Shortly after, Dr. Camille discovered a passion for dermatology to further help and create safe spaces for black women to express their hair concerns far beyond Girl+Hair.
Take a look into how Girl+Hair founder Dr. Camille Verovic breaks down the key to healthy haircare:
What inspired you to start Girl+Hair?
When I had a sew-in, I became concerned because I couldn't find products on the shelf to help me take care of my new growth while it was in a sew-in; and I have this protective style to retain length but I couldn't find products to maintain my hair while it was in that style. I was nervous that it would get dry, brittle, and go back to where I started. I couldn't find shampoos because they were too thick [and] the utility was all wrong. I would buy shampoo and mix it with water to get into the base of my braids and try to dilute my conditioner but it would always feel like I didn't know what I was getting and all the conditioners I liked didn't use the best ingredients. All of those things, out of frustration, created the concept of Girl+Hair.
"I would buy shampoo and mix it with water to get into the base of my braids and try to dilute my conditioner but it would always feel like I didn't know what I was getting and all the conditioners I liked didn't use the best ingredients. All of those things, out of frustration, created the concept of Girl+Hair."
What sets Girl+Hair apart from other products that claim to support hair growth with protective styling?
I think for our products, we think of different prongs. For each product, we think about how it's being used. For instance, not all products are [low porosity] or runny. We always make the shampoos low viscosity on purpose because if you have a braided style, you want the product to get to where it needs to go quickly and properly and you want it to perform well. Then there's the leave-in conditioner; we left out a regular conditioner on purpose because we wanted to make the steps a little easier. Then there's a daily restore product. It's a castor oil-based product and it's not a low porosity product because you want a protective oil. So, if you have a sew-in, you want the oil to stay at the base of the place. You don't want it running all over your sew-in. If you have braids, you want it to stay on your scalp to coat the shaft of your hair.
The second thing is, and I think this is where my expertise comes in, is the selection of ingredients. We just don't select ingredients just to do it. When I think of ingredients in my products, I actually go through a scientific database and look at studies to see why would I use these ingredients. When you think about Girl+Hair, I want people to know that there is a person behind the brand who actually tries to find scientific backing as to why we selected these things.
Do you think there’s a pressure within the hair industry as far as what ingredients to use?
I do feel that there's pressure. I'm not sure if it's the consumer driving it or the companies. I'm not sure if consumers express their interest on social media. I'm not sure if companies look at consumers as thought leaders and create products for what they're doing already or if everyone is following suit. I'm not quite sure. But you do feel pressure because once that key ingredient becomes a thing, as a brand, you'll do something with that ingredient too.
How do you stay away from that and avoid following suit?
I stay true to science. At the end of the day, I love what I do and I feel privileged to do what I do and there's an ethical code that comes with being a physician that I can't shake and I don't want to. I have to stand by my products as a physician.
Dr. Camille Verovic
"I stay true to science. I have to stand by my products as a physician."
How long did it take you to come up with the entire line?
Maybe two strong years, a lot of it was branding. I kind of knew my ingredients for the products but I understand the importance of branding from my years in marketing. I understood that branding is important. You want brand equity, so you have to put in the work when it comes to that. I also spent a lot of time identifying my customer. What does she want? Who is she? If Girl+Hair was a girl, would my customer be her friend? How likely would they hang out together? Then once I had that, I focused on formulations and finding the right one, having the base foundation products, and finding the money.
What inspired you to become a dermatologist?
I'm in my second year of dermatology training and I complete that next June and I take my board exam in July. One of the biggest things that I love about dermatology is it's a visual field, so you can look at something and, based on the visual acuity, diagnose conditions. I think that's amazing! Most things in the body need some sort of imaging or something to give a diagnosis. With dermatology, you literally use your eyes and sometimes your touch to help you figure out what's wrong. The second thing and why I feel so privileged to be in this field is that there aren't many black dermatologists. It's so crazy and so sad! It's a joy you feel when the patient sees you and they feel like you understand them and their skin a little bit better.
When it comes to hair loss with women of color, what do you think are some common causes from your experience and expertise?
In our community, it's an epidemic honestly. But I do think that consumers and patients are more intelligent as a people, so we have access to social media, access to information that helps us navigate that world of not having really tight braids or weaves. Most of us know that that's not right, it's painful, it's wrong, and it's causing damage. What I see too is CCCA. That's actually an inflammatory process going on in the scalp that no stylist can help you with per se, and you need to see a doctor about that. There's also something called LPP. There are different medical conditions that can cause hair loss, but I feel like when I see black women throughout the week, usually it's going to be traction alopecia.
Do you have any other suggestions on other ways to combat hair loss? Would you recommend men/women to see a dermatologist a certain amount of times a year?
I'm always into healthy styling practices and I'm not against protective styles as long as it is protective and not a damaging style; because some people will say it's protective but it's actually damaging. I'm also into:
- Frequent hair cleansing. I think that's another thing people don't do. They don't wash their hair often enough — at least once a week.
- Conditioning your hair properly.
- If you feel something, say something. If you feel something on your scalp, pain, burning, or tenderness in one spot, you should say something. You should say something to your hairstylist or dermatologist. But when you feel something on your scalp, you should definitely see someone about it because that could be the initial sign of something more serious going on.
Do you think there should be a different hair routine from wearing your hair and a protective style?
No. I think the same amount of care and concern that you give to your hair and scalp while you have your hair out should be the same concern and effort when it's tucked away. I think the biggest misconception is because it's protected, I don't have to think about it, and that's not true at all. You should be just as aware. You still have to moisturize. Take care of it just the same.
Is there anything else you’d like to mention that you’d like people to know?
I think one of the biggest things when it comes to our brand is education. Our brand is about smart haircare. It's smart because you have a founder who can sit at a table with companies and speak on behalf of black women but who's also a physician, and you have that backing the brand. I think with protective styles, it's just [about] educating ourselves as black women about the importance of taking care of ourselves. With Girl+Hair, it's that underlying current of self-care and self-care every single day, even when you don't want to. Also, I want to mention something called Skin of Color Society. People can go and find a derm doc in your area.
Follow Dr. Camille and Girl+Hair, follow them on social media at @girlandhair or www.girlandhair.com.
Originally published on August 12, 2019
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As much as I talk about sex, this is a topic that I was excited to shed a spotlight on. Why? It’s simple, really. Despite how sexed — and sometimes it really does seem oversexed — that our culture and society may be, virgins are not extinct. Believe it or not, it’s been reported that around 27 percent of guys are still virgins when they first step foot on a college campus (as a freshman) and, globally, approximately 38 percent of people between the ages of 18-24 are still virgins too. And even though it’s not a ton of ‘em, there are still some virgins who are over 40 (I personally know three, although they declined to be interviewed for this article).
And even though it really does seem like, over the past 50-60 years or so, virginity has been looked at as something that should be ridiculed, side-eyed, or even flat-out dismissed, I don’t feel that way at all. Fourteen sex partners and many lessons later, I actually get that there are many perks that come with waiting. Not only that, but I’ve encountered enough virgins in my time to get that, like most things in life, virginity is not a monolith, there are tons of reasons why people choose not to have sex until later in life and, if there’s one thing that you can’t really “do over” (because no, there is no such thing as a “born-again virgin.” You lose your virginity ONCE) is “losing” your virginity (I prefer to say “giving.” You know where it is)— being careful and even uber-cautious about how and when your first time goes down is something that I very much so respect.
You don’t have to take my word for it, though. As someone who gave my “conscious virginity” (I am a survivor of molestation, which is why I put it that way) at 19, I wanted to hear from women of that age and older who still haven’t “partaken of the fruit” just yet. First, to give their journey a voice and second, to remind others who may not be so vocal about their own virginal sexual status that, no matter what social media may be yapping about, when it comes to the topic of virginity, they are certainly not alone — and there is definitely nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about.
*Per usual, when it comes to these types of interviews that I conduct, middle names have been used.*
“It’s not like I planned to be this age and still a virgin. When I was in high school, I thought I would be married by now. I’m not, and that’s why I’m still a virgin. Does this mean I’m waiting until marriage? I am. I don’t see the point in giving some man my all without that level of commitment. I personally admire women who can because I don’t have the emotional strength or mental stamina to go through that kind of stress or pain — especially multiple times. I just think there is already enough to worry about in life than if I’m gonna get an STD, get pregnant by someone I don’t want to deal with for the rest of my life, or even if some man is going to call the next day.
"And before y’all even start — yes, I know that marriage comes with risks too. But if a man is willing to pledge his life to me and sign a legal contract to prove it just to get some, I’d rather go that route than some dude I met at a club or a guy who I dated for a couple of months, and it didn’t work out. To each their own, and this is the way that I choose to do it.”
“I’ve always been called an old soul. I don’t think that 22 is old, but it is old, these days, to be a virgin. Some people assume that I’m one for religious reasons. Really, it’s because I’m observant, and my sisters and friends who already gave it up usually had more drama in their lives than anything. I just want my first time to be with someone who, when I look back on it, I don’t have regrets. I’m not looking for the perfect guy, but damn, can he at least not ghost me, give me an orgasm, and keep the moment to himself instead of telling all of his boys? I don’t think that’s too much to ask — and if it is…oh well.”
“The question I get asked all of the time is if I’m saving it for marriage. I am. I used to say that I was waiting until I got engaged or at least fell in love, but I have friends who did that, and months after they had sex, the guys were gone. I know that marriage doesn’t guarantee anything, but I have some other friends who were virgins on their wedding night, and their lives just seem to be less intense.
“Not having sex has shown the true colors and real agendas of a lot of guys, so while it does get lonely, being this way makes it easier to see who is serious about a relationship and who just wants to get their d — k wet. Virginity can be the ultimate male marriage material predictor. At least it’s been that way for me.”
“I almost gave it up to my first love, and ‘he’ didn’t happen until college. The break-up damn near turned me into a basket case, so that proved to me that I’m not really for a sexual relationship. I think the best way to explain it is, until I know that I can emotionally handle giving myself to someone and it possibly not working out, I need to stay just where I’m at…and I’m just not there yet.”
“The timing of this is crazy because I almost lost my virginity last weekend. It’s a long story, but I was going to give it to a guy friend because I want my first time to be with someone who I trust. We didn’t go through with it because he said that he didn’t want to chance me regretting it and it ruining our friendship. I think it’s interesting that it seems that men value a woman’s virginity more than women do these days. Anyway, all I know is it won’t be just some random guy. If I don’t trust you with my heart, you will never be able to have my body. My standard will definitely be someone who was my friend first.”
“I’ve been too busy to give up my virginity. Sounds crazy, but it’s still the truth. I’ve always been very career-driven, so after getting my master’s, I decided to do a lot of traveling and then buy a home. It’s probably been over the past few months that my sexual status has even crossed my mind because dating just hasn’t been a priority.
“I guess you can say that having a full life is why I’m a virgin. When I can fit a man into my schedule, and I find him just as stimulating as what I currently have going on, I can almost assure you that my sexual status will change. Until then…stamps on the passport are my orgasms.”
“I’ve had plenty of oral sex — not giving, receiving. Some people say that, technically, I’m not a virgin anymore, but I guess I’ll speak for the women who fall into my special situation. The reason why I’ve never gone down on a guy is because I want that to be reserved for the one [who] I first have intercourse with. The reason why several have gone down on me? You know how guys are — they see virginity as a challenge and will go the distance to be the first. If they wanna try, who am I to stop them?
"As far as what I’m waiting on…I don’t really see it as ‘waiting.' I am open to it. I just haven’t been with someone who seems like he is who I should give it to. I think that the guy who never brings sex up will probably be the one who piques my interest. I’m already a challenge. I think I’m looking for someone who is one, too.”
“I’m a virgin because I’m focused. There are too many women at my school who are so distracted because of what some guy is doing or didn’t do — and I don’t have the time. I want to be able to have my master’s degree before my 23rd birthday, and I’m on the way to making that happen. I haven’t told anyone this, but the present I want to give myself is losing my virginity for graduation. I think an orgasm for all of my hard work makes sense. I know who I want the guy to be, too. He doesn’t know. Hope he doesn’t blow it. I’ll try to keep you posted.”
“All of the holy books value virginity, and that’s why you will never be able to convince me that there is not a serious spiritual breakdown in our society. What used to be respected is now a so-called social construct, and to me, that sounds like so many people are so hyper-sexed with no real reason or purpose that they want to take the ‘misery loves company’ approach — that because they weren’t taught to value virtue and virginity, they want as many other people as possible to follow suit. That will never be me. Until I meet the man who is deserving of being the first and only to enter into my body and spirit, I will remain a virgin and very proud of it.”
“I honestly don’t know why I’m still a virgin. Remember how you told me [Shellie] that after the first couple of years of abstinence, you got pickier and pickier? That’s the way I’ve been all of my life. I’m sure that sex is amazing, but it’s also complicated, physically kind of messy, and exposes you to a world of stuff that you don’t have to think about when you’re a virgin. I’m not scared to have sex, but I’m not in a rush. Look at me — I’m sure I’ll open these legs up one day, but I’m not checking off the calendar or anything. When I have room to explore the good and bad of sex, I’ll be more aggressive about it.”
There you have it — proof that there are at least ten virgins on the planet who aren’t still in high school. And what I like about each of them is there is both a confidence and focus outside of their sexual status that serves as a great reminder that sex is a part of who we are yet…it’s certainly not everything. And you know what? It never was designed to be.
So yes, kudos to them for having a personal type of conviction, for whatever the reason, and standing by it.
Virgins or not, it’s a reminder that we all should be firm in our standards about…something.
Amen? 1000 percent.
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