20 Times Black Celebrities Hit the Red Carpet in Their Natural Hair
The versatility of natural black hair styles can’t be overstated—which is why we get so excited when stars rock these looks on the red carpet. “We’ve always known natural hair was beautiful, but celebrities are finally showcasing it,” says Jihan Thompson, the cofounder of Swivel Beauty, a database that lets black women find and book appointments with stylists based on their hair type. Keep scrolling for Thompson’s tips on how to achieve some of the most stellar natural red carpet looks.
Shiny, voluminous curls like Taraji’s start with a healthy scalp. Henson relies on her own hair care line, the new TPH by TARAJI to get it. Her collection is small but powerful, with a minty conditioner that stimulates the scalp to promote hair growth and nix buildup. It also includes a hydrating scalp oil and detangling leave-in conditioner.
Just look at how lush Viola Davis’s curls are here! She has type 4C hair—which means it’s densely packed, tightly coiled and very delicate—so moisturizing is key. Davis’s hairstylist, Jamika Wilson, told Refinery29 that Davis applies a combination of As I Am Doublebutter Cream and Curling Jelly Definer at night, and then uses Shea Moisture Red Palm & Cocoa Butter Curl Stretch Pudding to stretch her curls in the morning.
The key to getting a slicked back faux hawk like Issa Rae’s? A heavy-duty edge controller that doesn’t leave behind any sticky residue, says Thompson. The Cantu Extra Hold Edge Stay Gel has over 700 rave reviews on Amazon.
If you’re bleaching your natural hair the way Solange did, it’s important to add moisture and protein to help protect the hair. “A lot of women just focus on deep conditioning, but forget about putting protein treatments in the hair,”
Thompson says. “It’s important to strike a balance.” She recommends asking a stylist to do a strand test—pull a strand down and see how it bounces back. If the hair snaps, it needs more protein. If it stretches and then snaps, it’s craving moisture.
Thompson looks to the brand BabyTress for edge-specific hair brushes that she says “slick and swoop your edges” into beautiful designs, like the spirals seen here on Keys. (Of course, a classic toothbrush works too.)
“Whether you’re wearing your natural hair or adding in pieces to create an updo like this, you’re going to want to seal it with a lot of hairspray,” Thompson says. Try the Ouidad Finishing Mist—it’s infused with jojoba oil for medium hold and a lot of moisture.