Viola Davis on Stylists and Black Hair: ‘It’s Almost Like They Need to Be Educated’

Viola Davis. (Photo: Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images)

It’s been quite the week for African-American hair: First, President Obama discussed his daughter Malia and her opinions regarding the struggles of styling, and then a women’s organization publicly demanded change regarding the toxicity of black women’s haircare products. Now Viola Davis has opened up in an interview with Essence about her frustrating experiences with hairstylists handling her hair incorrectly.

In the interview, Davis revealed, “It’s very difficult when [stylists] don’t understand our hair. It’s almost like they need to be educated.” Some hairstylists have been so off the mark that the two-time Oscar nominee has had to correct them mid-styling. “I’ve reluctantly told them, ‘that’s not going to work,’ or, ‘you have to do that over,’ and they get offended because they think we’re saying that we’re different from them. We are different, but I’m not being offensive.”

It’s not only the frustrations of having to tell hairstylists how to style her hair on set. Davis also asserted that black actresses face different hair standards than others in the public eye. “You’ll see a Caucasian lady walking into the scene with messed up hair, or after the shower with no makeup and it’s not a big deal,” explained Davis. “It’s just her portraying that moment in time, but we don’t allow ourselves to do that.”

Obviously, the How to Get Away With Murder star isn’t the only one to experience these issues. In light of that, celebrity hairstylist and founder of TSD Hair, Takisha Sturdivant-Drew, who has previously styled stars including Kerry Washington, spoke with Yahoo Beauty regarding the best hair care styling tips for black hair:

“When styling African-American hair, don’t overdo it with heat on the hair, because you can easily over-process it,” Sturdivant-Drew says. Since strands are typically dry to begin with, using too many heat products can quickly lead to drastic levels of breakage before the styling can even begin.

Instead of combing wet hair with a brush before drying and styling, Takisha recommends using a comb attachment on your blow dryer to detangle in order to prevent breakage and frizz.

A beautiful style all begins at the salon’s sink. According to the pro, using the right shampoo and conditioner for your hair texture is vital for a good styling experience. “If your hair is dry, you need moisture and heat when conditioning the hair, or shampoo your hair with a cleansing shampoo if it holds on to product,” Sturdivant-Drew explains. If excess buildup and oily hair is your problem, try a product like the Ouidad Superfruit Renewal Clarifying Cream Shampoo ($26) to remove residue while keeping hair shiny.  

This may seem like a no-brainer, but scheduling a trim regularly is vital for hair health, and will make styling easier in the long run. “Trim the hair every 12 to 14 weeks to keep the ends clean,” she advises.

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