I don't know if it's the fall season's vibrantly colored leaves that makes so many of us wanna switch things up or, it's because autumn kicks off the holiday season and we wanna look as fly as possible (that's our true motivator). But there's something about the here and now that inspires a lot of us to change our hair—more specifically, our hair color.
I totally get it because I've done it. But with age and experience come wisdom. So, now that I'm just as interested in maintaining length (check out "This Is Why Your Natural Hair Ain't Growin'" and "7 Tips For Getting The Edges And Nape Of Your Neck To Grow Faster"), as I am in throwing some color in, I wanted to share some tips on how you can get the bold and beautiful hue that you want without totally wrecking your tresses in the process.
Have You Considered Taking an All-Natural Approach?
OK, so when it comes to going the all-natural route on hair color, I'll be real with you—unless it's something like hair wax (which is dope but it only lasts a few days), natural options tend to lean more on the subtle side. Even henna (which is wonderful at also conditioning your hair) typically doesn't end up being as bold and brilliant as you might like it to be. But, if subtle is what you're aiming for, there are some things that you can add to your hair that are virtually damage-free. Coffee can create a brown richness to your hair (there's a DIY video here). Or, if you want a subtle red tint to your mane, beet juice can typically do the trick (check out a DIY video for that here).
If Louder Is What You Want, Assess How Healthy Your Hair Is First
If you don't want anything subtle or a hair color option that won't last more than a few days, before you decide to dye your hair, take it from someone who has failed miserably at this particular point in times past—you really need to assess the state of your hair before doing anything drastic to it. What I mean is, you need to check it to see how healthy it is—or isn't—first.
If you've got split ends, your hair is extremely dry, if it lacks elasticity (it breaks easily), if it seems extremely frizzy or won't hold a style or your ends are raggedy AF—these are all indications that color is the last thing that your hair needs right now; especially since inclement weather will only dry your hair out further.
For the moment, focus on restoring your hair's health by deep conditioning it for a couple of months, trimming your ends and, giving yourself a protein treatment if it needs one (Naturally Curly has a good read on how to know if you need one of those. You can check it out here.) Yes, all of this might delay the time that it will take before you can get the color that you want, but it's better to have healthy locks with beautiful color than beautiful color that will result in you having to big chop because of how damaged your hair was before you actually dyed it.
Then Determine How Dramatic You Want Your Color to Be
Once your hair is in a good and healthy state, the next thing to ponder is how dramatic you want to go, on the color tip. This consists of factoring in personal preference, trends and also what will stress your hair out the most. As far as trends go, colors that are popular for winter 2020 and spring 2021 include deep burgundies, rich and smokey shades of blue (midnight blues are super dope on us, by the way), caramel hues, sombre highlights (which is basically a technique that puts two shades of highlights over medium brown hair color), deep brown, cinnamon and even silver is still hanging in there.
One of the reasons why it's so important to know how light (or dark) you want to take it is because certain looks need peroxide to lighten your natural color so that drastic hues will take properly. When the pigment of your hair is stripped, that automatically damages your cuticles to a certain degree, which means that you'll have to "baby your hair" so that you don't experience a lot of shedding or breakage. Plus, based on what you desire the end result to look like, you might need to seek out a professional's help 'cause listen y'all—I don't care what those box brand commercials tell you, sometimes you can't get the results you want without significantly lifting your natural color and oftentimes, that requires a pro to make sure that your hair stays in good shape once you do it. Always keep in mind, the lighter the shade, the more vulnerable your hair will become. Vulnerable hair is fragile hair. Factor that in as you're making your decision.
Will Semi-Permanent (or a Rinse) Do the Trick?
When I was in my 20s, my hair color was all over the place. Because I rocked a short 'do, pretty much most of the time, it could easily be blonde one week, red the next and then some shade of brown the following month. In my 40s, I like jet black a lot. But because I've known that dark hair dye has a breast cancer link, for a while now, I've been going with a black hair rinse which is basically a lower level option of semi-permanent hair color. How is that the case?
Well, while semi-permanent hair color can last through eight or so shampoos, rinses sometimes go away after only a couple. A plus with rinses is, since rinses coat but do not penetrate your hair shaft, they are considerably better for your hair.
As far as semi-permanent hair colors go, because they don't contain the bleach or ammonia that permanent dyes do, this makes them a much gentler option for your hair that permanent dyes are. Does semi-permanent hair color pose the same amount of a health risk as permanent dyes do? From what I've read, not exactly. But there is still some risk. Anything other than an all-natural hair color option poses at least a little bit of one.
Anyway, the main thing to keep in mind when it comes to going with a rinse or semi-permanent hair color is it's not permanent. You will have to apply more color, more often. A good maintenance hack is you should wash your hair with cool water so that your color stays longer. Personally, because I don't shampoo my hair any more than twice a month, rinses are just fine for me. Plus, I've only seen my hair thrive since I made the decision to leave permanent hair color alone.
If Not, Go with a Gel Color and Get More than One Box of It
If after reading all of what I just said, you still wanna go with something permanent and you still wanna do it at home, make sure that you go with a gel color. Why? It's honestly the kind of dye that will give natural hair textures the type of coverage that we truly need (a good runner-up is liquid hair dye). Also, make sure that you purchase more than one box. I don't know one person, pretty much regardless of what their hair length is, that is able to fully cover their entire head with just one bottle of hair dye. And again—and it really can't be stressed enough—if you want to go significantly lighter, the box alone is probably not gonna do it. You will need to lighten the base of your hair first. They sell them at local beauty supply stores. (Although I've watched a couple of naturalistas offer up a few non-lightener hacks. You can check out two of the videos that I've seen before here and here).
Prep and Maintain Your Hair with Wisdom—and Consistency
Once you've decided what kind of dye you want to use, it's equally important that you have a hair prep and hair maintenance play in place. As far as hair prepping goes, while I hope that you're already doing this, please make sure to deep condition your hair, every week, the month prior to coloring your hair. The more moisturized your tresses are, the better they will be able to handle the stress and strain that dye can cause your cuticles. Also, shampooing your hair with a clarifying shampoo, about a week before adding color, is a good idea because it will remove any product build-up that could make it challenging for your color to fully take.
As far as maintenance on the backend, it's important that you use a color-safe shampoo because it will help your color to last longer. Definitely do not slack up on your deep conditioning routine. Make sure to seal your ends with Jamaican black castor oil or something like avocado oil (you can watch a video on how to do that here). Try and rock protective styles at least four days a week (to protect your vulnerable ends). Oh, and since we are headed towards much cooler weather, make sure to line your fly hats so that they don't dry your hair out.
If you are diligent in doing all of these things, I have no doubt that you can end up with the color that you want without sacrificing the health of your hair. You will be looking amazing all fall and winter with extra inches to bring about, come spring. Dope, right? I know.
Featured image by Shutterstock
After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (email@example.com) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
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
"I Have Truly Survived the Unimaginable." Megan Thee Stallion Is Ready To Resume Her Next Chapter.
Megan Thee Stallion is ready to resume her life, not as a victim but as a survivor of gun violence.
In a recent as-told-to essay for ELLE, the 28-year-old mega-star took time to reflect on her experience surviving the shooting incident involving rapper Tory Lanez in July 2020.
In the piece, Megan described her traumas in the aftermath of the shooting and the drawn-out legal case and trial that brought on the public's negative reaction to the incident.
“Imagine how it feels to be called a liar every day?” Megan says. “Especially from a person who was once part of your inner circle.” She notes that many people were quick to doubt her story and blame her for how the incident unfolded. For nearly three years, she went through the weight of public humiliation, while being the brunt of jokes, memes, and “sneak disses” as her humanity was ignored.
“The truth is that I started falling into a depression,” the rapper says. “I didn’t feel like making music. I was in such a low place that I didn’t even know what I wanted to rap about. I wondered if people even cared anymore.”
She adds, “There would be times that I’d literally be backstage or in my hotel, crying my eyes out, and then I’d have to pull Megan Pete together and be Megan Thee Stallion.”
Megan wrote how not fitting “the profile of a victim” played a role in the dismissal of her traumas in the public eye and emphasized the importance of believing women when they come forward with their own stories of violence and abuse. “But my heart hurts for all the women around the world who are suffering in silence, especially if you’re a Black woman who doesn’t appear as if she needs help,” she says.
“So many times, people looked at me and thought, ‘You look strong. You’re outspoken. You’re tall. You don’t look like somebody who needs to be saved.’ They assumed that, per preconceived stigmas, ‘I didn’t fit the profile of a victim,’ and that I didn’t need support or protection.”
With time, the Houston fem-cee has been able to take a step away from the public eye to heal, spend time with her dogs, and “doing a lot of praying” to recover from the incident. “The physical and mental scars from this entire ordeal will always sting, but I’m taking the appropriate steps to resume my life,” Megan says.
And while she is “in a happier place,” there are still moments of anxiety that come up from time to time. “Talking about being shot still makes me emotional. I’ve started journaling as a way to better process my thoughts, hopes, and fears,” she says. “Prayer has also played a therapeutic role in my healing, because I can have honest and unfiltered conversations with God without any judgment.”
Megan concluded her essay by expressing her hope for a future where people can live without fear of gun violence and victims of trauma and abuse can receive the support and healing they need.
“My purpose is for these words to serve as the final time that I’ll address anything regarding this case in the press,” Megan notes in the article. “I understand the public intrigue, but for the sake of my mental health, I don’t plan to keep reliving the most traumatic experience of my life over and over again. I’m choosing to change the narrative because I’m more than just my trauma.”
With new music to come, we look forward to seeing Megan back on her healed, hot girl ish.
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Featured image by Hubert Vestil/WireImage