Her celebrity client list includes Zendaya, Rihanna and Taraji P. Henson. Now hairstylist to the stars Ursula Stephen is sharing her top tips on rocking healthy natural curls.
Leave-in conditioners, regular trims and a good at-home regime are the secret to keeping naturally curly hair healthy and thriving. Just ask Ursula Stephen, the hairstylist to the stars whose client list – past and present – boasts an impressive who’s who in Hollywood (Rihanna, Zendaya, Taraji P. Henson, Tiffany Haddish and Bebe Rexha to name but a few). She’s even touched Beyoncé’s tresses “one time.” And, whether her clients are rocking short or long, curly or straight hair that is dyed jet black or peroxide blonde, the 41-year-old knows how to keep their locks healthy. In this EXCLUSIVE interview, the New Yorker tells HollywoodLife how naturals can achieve the same with their curls.
“Leave-in conditioner and at-home treatments are what I say all the time,” says Ursula who is promoting Suave Professionals’ Natural Hair Collection. “It never gets old. As much as you spend in a hair salon and as amazing as your hairstylist is, you go one time. You spend so much more time with your hair than your hairstylist is, so it’s very important to get an at-home regimen.”
“That’s why I love the Suave new spa collection because it’s great. It’s Suave for natural hair, but it’s good for textured hair, period, across the board,” Ursula adds. “And the ingredients are amazing. [The] coconut oil, the shea butter… are key ingredients that could help you maintain healthy hair.”
Having the best ingredients in the world in your bathroom cabinet is not going to help you achieve gorgeous, healthy curls if you don’t use them. In addition to investing in great products, Ursula urges women to actually use them. “Really do it,” she says, “Apply the leave-in conditioner. Sit there and do it [and] a mask and a treatment in between. You’ll be happier, your hairstylist will be happy and your hair will be a lot happier.”
As any natural hair devotee knows, the bane of the curly girl’s life is dryness. So, how do you achieve moist tresses? “Conditioning, coconut oil and shea butter – all those things are helping with the dryness,” Ursula says. “Cause when you think about textured hair – not even just black hair; white hair, textured hair in general – it’s always going to be dry because of the way it grows out of the follicle. That’s what causes the dryness, the fight to come out of the follicle. So, we’re already starting with naturally dry hair… that’s what we have to deal with. [It’s] a matter of infusing it with oil, moisture and just keeping it hydrated. You must.”
As for the one product she absolutely can’t live without, Ursula says that it’s leave-in conditioner. “You can do so much with it,” she says. Add heat and it turns into a deep conditioner because the warmth “opens up the hair shaft.” “You could reapply it every day or all day if you want, especially [in the] summertime,” Ursula adds, saying, “[It’s] just one of those things and it helps you to recharge the hair as well.”
Don’t forget about getting regular trims “once every six weeks” (or longer, if you are really good at treating your hair). Ultimately, knowing your hair and what works for it, helps it to thrive, Ursula says. “Knowledge is definitely a big part of wearing natural hair,” she says. “It’s about being knowledgeable not only about [black] hair, but your individual hair.”