Photos by Steven Meisel and hair by Oribe.
Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series on curly hair, which will feature top tier celeb hairmasters, plus the best products, tools and accessories for your curls. We have also partnered with Ouidad, “The Queen of Curls,” and her salons for a special promotion for Mamiverse readers. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to learn more.
Celeb hair stylist Oribe says: “Look at babies’ curly hair. It’s just spectacular. That’s what we all want—hair that looks natural and healthy, with shine and softness.”
The Cuban-American hair virtuoso has always loved and championed curls. Way back in 1990, for example, he and photographer Steven Meisel created a breathtakingly lush editorial for Italian Vogue called “A Cuba Story” with Linda Evangelista, shot in steamy Miami. The model’s short, tousled, curly dark hair has just as much fresh and sultry sex appeal today as it did decades ago.
Growing up in the ʼ50s, the Cuban-American only-one-name-needed Oribe imagined that’s what women in Cuba looked like. Super-glam. “I wanted to show that super-short can be super-sexy, like a Latina Marilyn Monroe,” Oribe says. “Linda’s hair is chin-length to shorter, layered, and I used a curling iron. You can go into any of those styles with curls.”
Well, it helps if you look like Linda Evangelista. But! Oribe’s point is that “the things that are ‘off’ are the things that look attractive.”
I recently sat down with Oribe to learn more about his vision of Latinas and curls.
Anders: Do Latinas have any distinct hair challenges, as opposed to everybody else?
Oribe: Well, I think generally Latina women are very fortunate because they have lots of good hair. Dominican, Mexican, Cuban—you end up with a decent amount of hair. The advantage is that by age eighteen they’ve managed to conquer their hair problems. Especially for those with curly hair, there’s lots of body. You can use hot rollers, really blow it out, or let it dry naturally into ringlets. There are lots of different ways of getting curled that work for today.
Anders: What role do celebrities play in our perception of curly hair?
Oribe: We look at TV and see people like Kim Kardashian. They’re loaded with extensions and have hairdressers right next to them. We have our own amazing role models. Look at Jennifer Lopez. (We should note that Oribe has worked with JLo since they partnered together in 1997, shortly before the release of her debut studio album, On The 6.)
She’s confident. She’s on the cover of Vogue. She’s a fearless person with perfect hair—of course, she’s very fortunate; on her, everything works—with normal amounts of curly to wavy. She’s a typical Latina woman who’s not afraid to experiment. Her layers start around the jawline—with curly hair, think long because it shrinks as it dries. In the Vogue portrait, the hair is glamorous and wavy but it doesn’t look cookie-cutter. It has personality. That’s the cool way to rock curls.
Here’s Oribe doing his curly thing:
- If you have more length, you can go the natural route, which can be fantastic. Work in Curl by Definition Crème ($48) and let it dry naturally. It conditions and moisturizes the hair and takes to the curl, leaving it shiny and soft. It’s a great look for summer, when it’s nice to be able to wear something natural. It’s ridiculous to go for super-straight hair in July. Even if you have frizz, which is really broken hair, good products and tools help you control it and sort of turn it into something.
- If your curls are coarse or dry, Signature Moisture Masque ($59) is a great rinse-out product. Once you start ageing and experimenting with color, you change the structure of the hair. You have to add products to give it the look of luster. Constantly condition, use what you know, and play with it.
- Don’t cut your hair all the same length; that weighs it down. You want erratic layering, so you can take a piece here and there that’s shorter and longer. Imperfect layers give fullness on top and not just on the sides.
- If you’re growing out your hair, don’t necessarily go for extensions. Make sure you start with a good haircut and have your hairdresser take off just the ends every three to four months.
- Think of your hair as fabric. Be kind to it. Always use a leave-in conditioner, like Supershine Moisturizing Cream ($49), and don’t touch the movement of the hair as it’s drying. If you use a diffuser attachment, keep it on medium heat to blow on the hair gently.
- At the moment, one of my personal inspirations is salsa and mambo and Latina sexiness. Be brave with your curls and embrace your Latina-ness!
THE QUEEN OF CURLS
Lebanese-American Ouidad is known as The Queen of Curls. Who? Ouidad. Wee-DAHD. Why? Because her first-name-only salons in New York City and Santa Monica, California, were the first to offer us curly girls an exclusively curly place to go and love our special hair.
Growing up curly in Beirut in the ʼ60s, Ouidad was teased mercilessly about her hair. She vowed to stay curly and became a stylist, first in Europe, then America. In 1984, she opened her Manhattan salon. The rest, as they say, is history. I just love how childhood trauma can transform a woman into a queen. This monarch’s philosophy is simple: Curly hair is a beautiful gift.
Being busy moms as well as professionals, Ouidad and her team really get how to help curly mamis get really pretty, really fast.
Ouidad Creative Director, Morgan Willhite, offers these great tips:
Prep the night before. Prepping your hair at night will help shorten your morning styling routine. Once hair is styled and completely dry, use a scrunchie to put it in a high, loose ponytail before going to sleep. For extra protection from the friction involved in tossing and turning during the night, try a satin or silk pillow case.
Don’t skimp on styling. Take the time to style your hair thoroughly; this will allow your look to last three to four days, with just a little refreshing needed each morning. Make sure your hair is still wet when applying styling gel or mousse; the water in the hair will help distribute the product evenly, ensuring that each strand of hair is coated with product. The more evenly the product is distributed, the longer the style will last before you have to shampoo again.
Embrace braids and headbands. On those mornings when you’re running late or don’t feel like styling, try a braid.
It’s an easy and trendy look right now. You can also style your braid to the side for a modern feel. Cloth headbands are another hot trend right now. Wear one as a traditional headband, or turban-style or like a bandana. Barrettes can also be a cute touch to a natural style, whether you clip it all back or pin only a section.
Work with your bedhead. To give your hair a boost without having to wash and restyle, try using Ouidad Botanical Boost ($16-48). Spritz the product on dry hair, smoothing your hands over the surface and slightly scrunching the ends to help reactivate the gel that is already present in the hair. This works best on medium to long hair. For shorter hair, opt for the Ouidad Clear Control Pomade ($26), which has a smoothing agent to tame frizz. Work in the product by using your fingertips to piece out and separate the curls to achieve more definition.
While you’re busy getting your curls beautiful, don’t forget the little ones’. Ouidad certainly hasn’t. She’s just introduced an exclusive kids’ hair collection called KRLY Kids. Why didn’t they have this back when I hit puberty and my hair went berserk?
Check out this vid. It’s the cutest thing you’ve ever seen:
No Time for Tears Gentle Daily Shampoo ($12-$26) contains cry-proof proteins and amino acids to create luxurious curls. No More Knots 2-in-1 Conditioner ($14-$42) is both a conditioner and a leave-in moisture treatment that prevents tangles and split ends. And Pump ʼn Go Styling Spray Gel ($15-$45) has wheat proteins that calm and define curls with a soft hold, and block out humidity-causing frizz-o-trauma. Some kids have all the luck.