Texture Diaries is a space for Black people across industries to reflect on their journeys to self-love, and how accepting their hair, in all its glory, played a pivotal role in this process. Each week, they share their favorite hair rituals, products, and the biggest lessons they’ve learned when it comes to affirming their beauty and owning their unique hair texture.
When lockdown orders had Britons stuck indoors last March, singer-songwriter Nao took to her piano while many months pregnant. After a laughing, rhyming preamble, “Isolation driving me crazy, I’m really gonna have a baby…” she segued into her hit song, “Bad Blood,” light streaming through the window next to her. Her voice was a balm. In a year that canceled in-person concerts, Nao still found ways to connect with fans, and she resonated. Michelle Obama added her song “Drive and Disconnect” to a playlist, she collaborated with Lianne La Havas, she had her baby. “I’ve always followed my voice,” the Nottingham-born singer tells Vogue over the phone. “And here I am.”
Onscreen and onstage, Nao’s hair offers added inspiration. She’s always had natural hair, though she says, “It took me until my teenage years to really fall in love with it.” Growing up, she always wanted to relax her hair growing up but was never allowed to. Over time, the support of her family and friends changed her mind. “Just hearing them say things like, ‘Your hair looks really great like that,’ really helped me,” she remembers. “You start to accept the things you can’t change about yourself.”
Lately she’s been rotating between her favorite styles, among them crochet braids, headwraps, and goddess braids. “I love going to the markets in East London to find cool headwraps,” she says. “They sell a lot of beautiful African patterns there.” Now that she has her firstborn, she keeps her hair routine quite simple: Castor oil and a spray bottle of water do the trick for daily refreshes. “It’s my ends that really need protecting—that’s what tends to break off,” she shares. To rinse her hair, she uses apple cider vinegar while Creme of Nature slicks down her edges. On wash day, she swears by coconut-oil-infused shampoos and conditioners.
Between new motherhood and working on her third album, she’s reminding herself to make time for self-care. “The best thing you can do for yourself is spend time alone,” she says. “Whether it’s loving on yourself or your hair,” which includes, for her, spending time watching YouTube hair tutorials. “Finding examples of people with similar textures to you is super important: seeing how they treat it and what styles they do, et cetera. Try them on yourself and see how beautiful you are.”
Kreyòl Essence Original Haitian Black Castor Oil