Since I've been doing my own hair, my standards for hair salons are even higher than ever.
I love and take good care of my hair, and anyone who does it has to have the same pride and love in doing it. Going natural has been more than a hairstyle change, it's been an empowering self-love journey. I've discovered more ways to express myself, get to know myself, and be more comfortable with who I am. This is why each product I use and each salon I visit is so important to me.
If you think about it, our stylists play an instrumental part in helping us maintain our look. We want someone we can trust, understand, and slay. So, when I am looking for a salon or stylist these days, here are a few key qualities I look for to find the right one:
Love For Hair
This may be obvious, but I like for stylists to love what they do. When your stylist loves doing hair, they approach each head with excitement, as if it's a new journey for them too. He/She creates a better experience and is willing to learn and do as much as they can to make you happy, instead of just thinking of you as another paycheck.
I feel more confident when I'm in the chair with someone who knows their stuff. I like to get tips and recommendations on how to better take care of my hair. I also love to exchange thoughts and get an expert opinion on current hair trends. As we all know — especially if you're natural — there's always a new oil or a new product to use, and it wouldn't hurt to get a professional opinion. The perfect salon should be your one stop shop for hairstyles, hair knowledge, and hair products.
Furthermore, it's not enough to just know how to do hair, but the stylist has to know how to do my hair. Any salon I consider has to have experience styling and treating all natural hair types, especially 4C hair. It's important to me that understand the needs and techniques of each hair type.
I look for a salon that is reasonable in price and time. What I've been noticing about natural hair salons is that they are charging monthly membership prices. I personally don't like this for a few reasons: one, I don't want my salon experience to feel like another bill that I have to pay. Salon time is a pampering experience for me and I don't want it to feel like anything else. Two, I don't want to be charged monthly if salon visits are not as frequent. I do my own hair, so I tend to only go to salons for a trim or special treatments. I also expect to have a timely service, I don't want to be in the salon all day, nor do I want to wait hours to get seen.
Accessibility To Products
It's an extra bonus if salons offer the products that they use on their customers. It's also very important to me to learn how to upkeep my style and have access to those resources. I think with the evolution of beauty salons it is becoming industry standards to be the one-stop-shop with natural hair salons.
And since I'm from Atlanta, a city known for hair, I couldn't leave you without a few salons in Atlanta that you should try if you're ever in the area:
Replenish Salon prides themselves on practicing healthy hair methods that promote hair growth. Their staff of highly trained stylist have years of experience and believe in the importance of not just healthy hair, but healthy stylist-customer relations. Replenish Salon offers a variety of services including, but not limited to: micro twist treatments, silk press, and hair color services.
Find them on Instagram: @replenishsalon
What are some non-negotiables that natural hair salons have to check off for you to consider them "the one"? Let us know in the comments down below.
Featured image by Shutterstock
Freelance writer, content creator, and traveler. She enjoys the beauty of simplicity, a peaceful life, and a big curly fro. Connect with Krissy on social media @iamkrissylewis or check out her blog at www.krissylewis.com.
Unapologetically, Chlöe: The R&B Star On Finding Love, Self-Acceptance & Boldly Using Her Voice
On set inside of a mid-city Los Angeles studio, it’s all eyes on Chlöe. She slightly shifts her body against a dark backdrop amidst camera clicks and whirs, giving a seductive pout here, and piercing eye contact there. Her chocolate locs are adorned with a few jewels that she requested to spice up the look, and on her shoulders rests a jeweled piece that she asked to be turned around to better showcase her neck (“I feel a bit old,” she said of the original direction). Her shapely figure is tucked into a strapless bodysuit with a deep v-neck that complements her décolletage.
Though subtle, her quiet wardrobe directives give the air of a woman who’s been here before, and certainly knows what she’s doing. At 24 years young, she’s a “Bossy” chick in training— one who’s politely unapologetic and learning the power of her own voice.
“I'm hesitant sometimes to truly speak my mind and speak up for myself and what I believe,” she later confessed to me a couple of weeks after the photoshoot. “It's always scary for me, but now I'm realizing that I have to, in order to gain respect as a Black woman— a young Black woman— who's still navigating who she is. And you know, I'm realizing that closed mouths don't get fed. And if I keep my mouth shut just because I'm afraid of what people's opinions of me will be or turn into, then that's not any way to live.”
For Chlöe, the journey into womanhood is about embracing who she is, without succumbing to the perceptions of what others think of her. From the waist up she’s everything you’d imagine. A gorgeous goddess with the kind of sex appeal that some work hard to embrace but fail to exude. But unbeknownst to anyone not on set, her bottom half is covered by a white robe, surprising coming from the girl who boasts “'Cause my booty so big, Lord, have mercy” on her first hit single “Have Mercy.”
But that’s the beauty of Chlöe. There’s more to her than meets the eye. More than what a few sensual photos sprinkled throughout an Instagram feed could ever tell you. Just like the photo-framing illusion of her portrayed from the waist up, what we know about the songstress is just the tip of the iceberg. There’s so much more beneath the surface.
Some hours later Chlöe leans back in a high chair as her locs are transformed from a formal updo to a seemingly Basquiat-inspired one. It’s pure art, and at her request, no wigs are a part of the day’s ensemble. She’s fully embracing her natural hair, a decision that wasn’t always a socially accepted one.
In the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia, (Mableton, to be exact) Chlöe began to explore the foundation of her self-image. At an early age she and her younger sister, Halle, demonstrated a vocal prowess and knack for being in front of the camera that caught their parents’ attention. Soon after, they were sent on a parade of local talent shows and auditions, and eventually broke into the digital space with song covers on YouTube.
It was during these early years that Chlöe first learned that the entertainment industry could be unforgiving to those who didn’t fit a particular beauty standard. Despite the then three-year-old snagging a role as the younger version of Beyoncé’s character, Lilly, in Fighting Temptations, casting agents requested that her natural locs be exchanged for more Eurocentric tresses. Ironic, considering that growing up Chlöe saw her hair as no different than that of her peers. “I remember specifically in pre-K we had to do self-portraits and I drew myself with a regular straight ponytail, like how I would put my locs in a ponytail,” she says. “I just never saw myself any different.”
Chlöe would also learn the true meaning of a phrase that would later become an affirmation posted on her bedroom mirror: “Don’t Let the World Dim Your Light.” After attempting to wear wigs to fit in, the Bailey sisters instead chose to rock their locs with pride, which undoubtedly cost them casting roles. Yet they would have the last laugh when making headlines as the “Teen Dreadlocked Duo” who landed a million-dollar contract with Parkwood Entertainment, and the coveted opportunity to be groomed under the tutelage of a world-renowned superstar.
Credit: Derek Blanks
While that could be the end of a beautiful fairytale of self-empowerment, the reality is that it’s just the beginning of the story of her evolution. For most girls, the transition into womanhood takes place in the comfort of their own worlds, often limited to the number of people they allow to have access to them. But for Chlöe, it’s happening in front of millions of critiquing eyes just waiting for an opportunity to either uplift or dissect her through unwarranted commentary.
Many in her position wouldn’t be able to take that kind of pressure. But Chlöe is handling it with grace. “I feel like all of us as humans, we have the right to interpret things how we want,” she says. “I put art out into the world and it's up for interpretation. I'm learning that not everyone is going to always like me and that it's okay.”
Chlöe isn’t the first artist to receive criticism for her carnal content, and she certainly won’t be the last. In 2010, Ciara writhed and rode her way to banishment on BET when the then 24-year-old released her video for “Ride.” In 2006, 25-year-old Beyoncé received backlash for “Déjà Vu."
"I put art out into the world and it's up for interpretation. I'm learning that not everyone is going to always like me and that it's okay.”
So much so that over 5,000 fans signed an online petition demanding that her label re-shoot the video because it was “too sexual.” Even 27-year-old Janet didn’t escape critical headlines when she shed her image of innocence for a more risqué appearance with the 1993 release of janet.
It’s almost as if public reproach is a rite of passage for young Black women R&B singers on the road to stardom. Good girls seemingly “go bad” whenever they embrace the depths of their femininity, and fans only like you on top figuratively. But Chlöe has learned not to bow down to other people’s opinions, but to boss up and control the narrative. As the saying goes, well-behaved women seldom make history. If sex appeal is her weapon, she wields it well.
On set, Chlöe exudes the energy of Aphrodite in an apple red, off-shoulder dress with a sexy high split. In between shots, she mouths the lyrics to Yebba’s “Boomerang” as it echoes throughout the space in steady repetition at my recommendation. The hour grows late, yet Chlöe is heating things up as eyes stare in deep mesmerization of the girl on fire.
Credit: Derek Blanks
Through music, she explores the depths of her being, a journey that seems to be, at its foundation, rooted in self-discovery. Whereas their debut album The Kids Are Alright (2018) boasts a young Chloe x Halle empowering their generation to embrace who they are while finding their place in the world, their second album Ungodly Hour (2020) shows the Bailey sisters shedding the veil of innocence for a more unapologetic bravado.
What fans looked forward to seeing is who Chlöe shows herself to be on her debut solo album In Pieces. In an interview with PEOPLE, she confesses that releasing her first project without her sister was “scary.” "It was a moment of self-doubt where I was like, 'Can I do this without my sister?’”
Chlöe has never been shy about sharing her insecurities or her vulnerabilities, all of which are laced throughout the 14-track album. “I want people to have fun when they listen to it and to just realize that they're not alone and it's okay to be vulnerable and raw and open because none of us are perfect; we're all far from it. And I think it's healing when we all admit to that instead of putting up a facade.”
The gift of time has given the self-professed “big lover girl” more encounters with romance and heartbreak. Love songs once sung for their beautiful riffs and melodies become more than just abstract lyrics and are replaced by real-life experiences, which she tells me is definitely in the music.
In her single “Pray It Away,” for example, she contemplates going to God for healing instead of going at her ex-lover for revenge for his infidelities. “With anything dealing with art, I am completely vulnerable,” she says. “I'm completely myself, I'm completely open and transparent. So it's pretty much all of me and who I am right now.”
Has Chlöe been in love? That still remains to be said. Of course, she’s been linked to a few potential baes, but dating in the digital age isn’t as easy as a double tap or drop of a heart-eyes emoji. It requires a level of trust and vulnerability that’s hard to earn, and easy to mishandle. To let her guard down means to potentially set herself up for disappointment. “It’s difficult dating right now, honestly, because you really have to kind of keep your guard up and pay attention to who's really there for you. And you know, I'm such an affectionate person and I love hard.
"So when I meet the one person that I really, really am into, it's hard for me to see any others and I get attached pretty easily. And you know, I don't know, it's…it's a scary thing.”
Credit: Derek Blanks
“With anything dealing with art, I am completely vulnerable. I'm completely myself, I'm completely open and transparent. So it's pretty much all of me and who I am right now.”
While broken hearts yield good music (queue Adele), what’s in Chlöe’s prayer is the desire to be happy. What does that look like? Well, she’s still figuring that out herself. “Honestly, I'm the type of person who I don't truly learn unless I experience it. So it's like I can view and watch my parents and watch the loving relationships that I see in my life and be like, ‘Oh, I want that. I would love to have that.’ But then I also have to experience [love] on my own and see what my flaws or my faults might be or see what my good things about myself are. I feel like it's really all about self-reflection. And even though our base is our family and that's our foundation, we are still our own individuals and we have to find out specifically the things about ourselves that may be different from what we saw from our parents when we were growing up.”
Her ideal beau, she tells me, is someone she can feel safe to be her fun, goofy self with, but who also gives her the space to be the boss chick chasing her dreams. A man who understands that just because the world compliments her doesn’t mean she doesn’t want to hear those words from his lips or feel it in his touch. A bonus if he shows up on set after a long hard day of work with vegan cinnamon rolls. You know, the basic necessities. “I like whoever I'm with to constantly tell me they love me and that I look beautiful because I do the same. I am a very mushy person, and if I see something or you look good, I will never shy away from saying it out loud. And I want whoever I'm with to do the same, be very vocal. Tell me that you love me. Tell me what you love about me because I'm doing the same for you because that's just the person I am.”
Until she meets her match she’s married to the game, and for now, that seems to be perfect matrimony.
Credit: Derek Blanks
On stage at the 2021 American Music Awards, Chlöe solidified her position as a force to be reckoned with. It was a full-circle moment. In 2012, bright-eyed and baby-faced Chloe and Halle would walk onto the set of The Ellen Degeneres Show and blow the audience away as they bellowed out their future mentor’s song. Ellen would present the sisters with tickets to attend the AMAs, assuring them that they would be back and had a promising future. Nine years later, Chlöe descends from the sky cloaked in a snow-white cape and matching midriff-baring bodysuit for her debut performance. It’s the first time she’s graced the stage of the very award show that she was once an audience member of.
As she shakes and shimmies and boom kack kacks out her eight counts, it’s clear that she’s in her element. Just like her VMA performance a couple of months prior, and the many more stages she’ll continue to grace, she brings an energy that has earned her comparisons to the beloved Queen Bey herself. An honorable statement, considering few R&B songstresses are getting accolades for their entertainment capabilities. It’s on these very stages, in front of hundreds of astonished eyes and millions more glued to their televisions at home, that she tells me she feels most sexy. Powerful, even.
But off stage, it’s a different story.
It’s more than just the commentary about her image and media-flamed rumors that get to her. Mentally, she’s in competition with herself. The desire to be the best burns at the back of her mind with every performance, every production, and every time she steps into the booth. Before, she could share the weight of this burden with her sister. Being a part of a duo meant she could turn to Halle for quiet confirmation and encouragement without a word being exchanged. But lately stepping on the stage means stepping out on her own. And despite being a breathtaking, five-time Grammy-nominated star, Chlöe doesn’t escape the reality that sometimes we can be our own worst critics.
Over the last year, she’s been coming to terms with who she is on her own while overcoming the fear of failing to become who she’s destined to be. While the world waits to see how Chlöe wins, the real triumph is in every day that she chooses herself and continues to walk in her purpose. “I don't really have anything all figured out, honestly. But what I try to do, a lot of prayer. I talk to God more and I just try to do things that calm my mind down and just breathe.”
To whom much is given, much will be required. She’s been chosen to walk this path for a reason. Once she fully embraces that everything she’s meant to be is already inside of her, she’ll be an unstoppable force. “My grandma, Elizabeth, she just passed away and my middle name is her [first] name. So I feel like I truly have a responsibility to live up to her legacy that she's left on this earth. I hope I can do that.”
There’s no doubt that she will. With a role in The Fighting Temptations at three years old, a million-dollar record deal, a main role on five seasons of Grown-ish, five Grammy nominations, a number one solo record in Urban and Rhythmic Radio, a debut solo album, and starring roles in recently released movies Praise Thisand Swarm (just to name a few), Chlöe’s certainly already made her mark, and she’s just getting started.
Photographer & Creative Director: Derek Blanks
Executive Producer: Necole Kane
Co-Executive Producer: EJ Jamele
Producer: Erica Turnbull
Digitech: Chris Keller
DP: Alex Nikishin
Gaffer: Simeon Mihaylov
Photo Assistant: Chris Paschal
2nd Photo Assistant: Tyler Umprey
Features Editor: Kiah McBride
Special Projects: Tyeal Howell
Hair: Malcolm Marquez
Makeup: Yolonda Frederick
Fashion Styling: Ashley Sean Thomas
For More: Cover Story: Issa Rae Comes Full Circle
THE Raven-Symoné And The 6 Times She Radiated Lead Character Energy IRL
One of my mentors once told me, "To be a Black woman is to show up in spaces as Beyoncé, just to prove that you're Beyoncé." I remember when she said it, a refreshing take from the usual "work twice as hard" mantra. In fact, safe spaces such as xoNecole exist for this reason: To let it unapologetically be known who really drives society in those moments when our accomplishments are watered down.
More specifically, in the case of Raven-Symoné, one of the most impactful women of our generation, to think she would be anything other than THE Raven-Symoné may be unfathomable for you and me, but believe it or not, there was a time when people questioned it even though the actress, singer-songwriter, and multi-hyphenate, now known as Raven-Symoné Christina Pearman-Maday, is revered as one of the greatest child stars of all time.
For decades, she has carried our childhood classics, starring or appearing in movies/shows such as The Little Rascals, The Cheetah Girls, Doctor Dolittle, and so much more. Sis has been nominated for various Emmy Awards, served as a host for ABC's The View, racked up Kid’s Choice Awards, multiple Young Artist Awards, and has more NAACP Image Awards than I can count. Symoné has been GOATed since before she could talk, making her multi-generational career speak for itself.
Or, so one would think.
In 2002, she arrived at Disney at the young age of 15 to star in, produce, and creatively steer the reigns of That's So Raven, birthing one of the greatest sitcoms of all time. Yet, in a tale as old as time, according to her co-star, Anneliese van der Pol, the Disney Channel sitcom about a teen psychic in San Francisco was originally supposed to be quite different.
Van der Pol appeared on former fellow Disney star Christy Carlson Romano's podcast Vulnerable recently and broke down what "Raven" looked like.
"When I went into audition, the show was called Absolutely Psychic–it wasn't called That's So Raven at all," the actress revealed. "At the time, Raven wasn't the lead, she was the sidekick. They were looking for a lead. I came in to audition for the lead. I think the character's name was Molly. I auditioned, and a couple [of] other people auditioned. I didn't get the part — somebody else got the part — but when they filmed, they realized that Raven was the funniest one and had a following, and so they bumped her up to first position and started auditioning people again."
Me and Anneliese are revealing some Disney secrets tomorrow over at @thevulnerablepodcast … stay tuned 👀 #ravenshome #anneliesevanderpol #disneychannel #foryou #fyp
Disney then shifted the focus to Symoné and held new auditions. "I went into a big cattle call, and I finally got the part. I think the character's name was like Molly, then Emma, and then it became Chelsea. And I think it was kind of like racism at a low level, if that's even a possibility. They couldn't really see a Black girl leading a show."
"With Disney, it's like, it's not personal, it's business," Romano responded.
That's So Raven went on to air on the Disney Channel from 2003 to 2007, holding the title of the first Disney Channel show to hit the 100-episode mark...ever.
Thankfully, Symoné's main character energy how she approaches life as well, proudly showing off the fact that she is a gem to our generation.
Like the time she decided to reboot 'That's So Raven,' and introduce a new generation to 'Raven's Home' (but this time as the boss).
Raven’s Home is in its sixth season and centers around lead character, Raven Baxter, and her son Booker, who has inherited her psychic abilities, as they move to her hometown of San Francisco to look after her father, who suffered a mild heart attack.
“It feels so good to be able to see the journey of Raven Baxter as she is raising a teenage son, is taking care of her father, and finding who she is,” Raven-Symoné said. “I think that story can resonate with a lot of mothers as their children grow up. Just seeing what that means for her and how she decides to tackle life in that manner,” she told ESSENCE.
When she transitioned from hesitancy in revealing her sexuality, to openly putting on for the LGBTQ community.
#🌈 #fits #ootd
“While it was a selfish thing for me to keep my secret to myself for as long as I did, I am very happy that I’m out if only to help someone else feel comfortable,” Raven-Symoné revealed to Variety as part of their inaugural "Power of Pride" issue.
“It is about that one person who you’ll never see or meet who watches the show and feels that confidence to just say, ‘Hey, guess what? I’m gay. And if you can’t accept me, it’s okay because I see Raven pushing through.’ That feels good. It’s a hard journey, though. It’s difficult.”
Or the time she publicly opened up about depression and normalizing therapy because she knew her voice held weight.
On an episode of the podcast Mayim Bialik’s Breakdown, Raven-Symoné and her wife Miranda discussed her defense mechanisms, their individual therapy journeys, and their struggles with depression.
"At 18, I told my parents I wanted to go to therapy,” which they didn’t quite understand. “Started there,” Raven continued, “got pretty much the understanding that I have PTSD and… I don’t have bipolar syndrome, but I have depression that is in that world, so took some medicines for that.” One of which she stopped taking after it resulted in finding herself “underneath a table while filming, and could not get up."
“Growing up in the industry from the age of 16 months to 36 years old leaves an interesting trail of bread crumbs that can be used in a positive light for others, can help others, can inform others. And when it comes to me personally I’m dealing with that through my therapist.”
When she decided to take her health seriously and didn't want to make a big fuss about the weight loss that came with it.
The actress said her diet is one she has carefully educated herself on, adding, "I don't try to speak for anybody else."
"I'm not over here trying to be a little twig," the former The View co-host shared. "I'm not trying to be, like, 'Oh my God, look at me.' I have a goal in mind, and it's not just weight loss, it's really complete body health."
"The way people were treating me while I was bigger was emotionally damaging. [After I lost weight] I remember the moment I went on the red carpet, and in my head, I was cussing everyone out. I'm like, 'Wow, now you want to look at me because I'm skinny, thanks.'"
And the time she recognized her hard work and the legacy she has built by just being herself.
Raven-Symoné was so ahead of her time and basically raised a generation of women through comedy. She told Entertainment Weekly:
"It didn't impact me as much then as it does now because I was 15, I was like, cool, I got my own show. It means so much now because I understand the [gravity] of what it means and the caliber of humans that I am in the pool with. I think it was kind of a good thing that I didn't let it go to my head. It was just about working and wanting to create great content at the time."
She continued, "Whether it's like a young Black girl saying, 'You gave me the confidence to do this or that because I loved Raven Baxter,' or if it's a grown gay man who is like, 'Wow, I had the hardest time coming out, but seeing you two gives me such joy,' it's really cool."
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Featured image by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for WIF (Women In Film)