Lupita Nyong’o on the Culture of Hair for Allure’s March 2018 issue

The Oscar award winner Lupita Nyong’o ana share mambo mengi kuhusu nywele zake /kipilipili chake na jinsi yeye na hair stylist wake ernonfrancois wanavyo come up with different hair styles ambazo wengi tunatokea kuzipenda.

Here is the interview

ALLURE: Did your mother know you were going to do it?

LN: No, I didn’t tell anybody except for my hairdresser. When I got home, my mother was horrified. She was just like, “What have you done to my hair?” I remember her saying that: “I’ve been growing that hair since you were born — how can you?” Then I felt really self-conscious. 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. And it was cold. All of a sudden I would feel really cold on my head, and I didn’t have hats or the right headwear for a bald head. 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.”

ALLURE: Then you came to the States for school….

LN: Moving to the U.S. was very difficult because I didn’t have the same kind of support system. [Braiding] services were not readily available in Amherst, Massachusetts. For a long time I would braid my hair in Kenya and then spend months with the braids in when I got to the States so that I didn’t have to worry about my hair. Also, 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. One of the summers I went back home, I asked my aunt to teach me how to braid hair because I wanted to be able to do my own hair. I worked in her salon, and she taught me cornrowing, and twisting and plaiting.

ALLURE: And you’re growing it now?

LN: My hair is the longest it’s been in over a decade. A lot of that is because I have an amazing hairstylist in Vernon François. He’s been so helpful, helping me learn how to maintain my natural hair texture. Also giving me regimens that are streamlined because part of the challenge is all the steps. You go on YouTube, and there are just so many different ways of upkeep of one’s natural hair. It’s honey and rosemary water and avocado-paste conditioning and whatnot. I’ve tried it all. 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. Being able to have that kind of playtime with Vernon to create different things has inspired me.

ALLURE: What are your go-to products?

LN: Fortunately for me, Vernon has his own line, so that’s very, very helpful. I cannot live without his Pure-Fro Moisture Spray ($26) — [it] adds moisture to my hair, which loosens the curl — or his Scalp Nourishment Braids and Locs Spray ($24). Also he has this Mist-Nourishing Water ($18). One thing I’ve learned was the acronym LOC, and that’s basically the rule for how to treat my hair: liquid, oil, and then cream. It’s the idea that you wet your hair first, then you add oil so that it can trap the moisture in, then you put a moisturizer or a cream over it. And also shea butter, natural shea butter — no perfumes, no bleaches — which doesn’t smell great at all, but it does wonders to my hair.

ALLURE: We’ve had a lot of conversations here about language, for example people using the terms “kinky,” “curly,” “natural,” “black hair,” and “African-American hair.”

LN: Well, I’m not an authority on this. But the term “African-American hair” is inaccurate because I’m not African-American. And 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. So there’s that. So 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. I like the term “kinky.” Some people don’t like that term, but when I think about my hair, I think of it as African kinky hair. But I’m not really in deep with the politics of it all and the language choice. I speak just from my own experience or my own preference. Curly hair differs so much

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