A Conversation with Hollywood's Natural Hair-Whisperer, Felicia Leatherwood
We had the pleasure to talk with Felicia Leatherwood, celebrity hair care guru and stylist to natural Hollywood. She is known for creating iconic hair styles for the likes of Issa Rae, Ava Duvernay, Skai Jackson, and Teyonah Parris, just to name a few. Felicia gave us some simple solutions to everyday hair problems and provided valuable tips to get and keep our natural crowns healthy and on point. Whether you need a tutorial starting with the basics, a general refresher course, or you’re a curious reader, this is the post for you!
Rachael: How should you prep your hair before detangling?
Felicia Leatherwood: Take a mixture of water and mix it with about 1-2 tablespoons of your favorite conditioner, and add a couple drops of olive oil in a spray bottle. Work in with fingers and detangle with the Felicia Leatherwood Hair Detangling Brush.
R: We're glad you mentioned your detangling brush, why should one use a special detangling brush versus a comb or a regular brush?
FL: Sometimes regular combs or detangling combs do not move. Because these combs are stationary they can either cause breakage, or make knots worse. My brush, or something like a Denman Brush, flexes and moves with the hair causing less tension that results in less breakage and less hair loss especially when you haven’t had a trim.
R: How often do you recommend a trim?
FL: I would say every four to five months you can trim your hair. In between trims remember to deep condition your hair, use a leave-in [conditioner] and moisturize the hair. This will help keep the hair from splitting higher up the hair strand.
R: What do you do if you encounter stubborn “fairy knots”/single strand knots?
FL: Many times those come from the hair being dry and not being detangled. I always recommend that you break out your favorite conditioner that has slip and is hydrating and you use the Felicia Leatherwood Detangling Brush. If you catch the knot while it's looping this method will smooth it out. Though, a lot of times when people have them [single strand knots] it's because they haven't detangled their hair for a long time and they've let it become a little too dry. A lot of fairy knots also come from when the hair is not tied up properly at night or if something is worn at night that dries out the hair. Lastly, some of the fairy knots are just going to be there due to the texture of the hair. The coiler the hair and the dryer the hair tends to be, the more you may experience fairy knots.
R: Hair Growth Vitamins, yea or nay?
FL: Well I believe that a vitamin, supplement or herb is meant for the entire body not just the hair or nails. When you take something for one specific reason, you're missing out on [knowing] the benefits of the other things that it could bring you. I always advise women who are planning to take some type of supplement for their hair go to grow, to lookup the individual vitamins inside the supplement and see what benefits they provide in so many other ways because it will give encouragement to stay the course. Many times we start for one reason and once achieved, we leave it alone. We don't continue [hair vitamins] when really the supplement is for the whole body to thrive. So don't stop it, keep going. African Americans especially, don't always take care of themselves as it relates to the insides of the body. It's important for us to adopt a way of life where we are caring for not just the outside, but also the inside of the body.
R: How do you save and regrow edges?
FL: Well you save your edges by not putting any unnecessary tension on them. That is head wraps around the edges, or when have protective styling done but not holding the edges to relive the tension of being pulled on. A lot of times, people don't hold their edges. So when getting braids, twists or cornrows you have to ask the braider if you can hold it. You have to hold it pulling the opposite direction in which she's braiding to release the tension that is being placed on the edges.
It is important to also give your edges a break. Refrain from certain hairstyles you continuously do. You can't keep doing the same thing this will stress the edges. [To regrow edges] you can also use edge growth products like ORS Temple Balm. The Mane Choice has an edge control that supports your edges. I believe Cream of Nature also has edge control pomade that strengthens the edges. Even using Black Jamaican Castor oil to strengthen or regrow the edges is good.
R: How often should you deep condition? What’s can be used? Hot oil, an actual deep conditioner type product?
FL: Every other time you shampoo. Hot oil treatments should be done at least once a month along with the deep conditioning. The hot oil goes on the scalp, the conditioner goes on the hair and when you go to wash out the conditioner the oil will run over the cuticle strand to seal the conditioner into the hair.
R: Is heat always necessary to deep condition?
FL: It's not always necessary, but it helps to open up the cuticles of your hair so that it can accept the conditioner better.
R: What do you look for in a daily hair and scalp moisturizer?
FL: I look for it to soften the hair, make it feel hydrated and make it easier to manage hair styling.
R: Shampoo vs. Co-wash, which do you think works best?
FL: They're both different. Shampoo is meant to strip everything away so if you have a high fat diet, or you sweat a lot, you're on medication or if you've had a really bad cold or flu and then you actually use the shampoo it strips all of that out of the hair. Co-washing if for people who have super dry hair and can't get the moisture properly. If this hair type uses shampoo their hair tangles. So they can co-wash because it softens and it makes it easy for them to manipulate the hair and detangle it when it is wet. They have cleansing co-washes now which are better because before people were just using the conditioner to wash their hair which sometimes results in build up on the hair. People have had to be careful of that because it can clog the pores. If your pores get clogged from the co-wash it can prevent your hair from growing naturally.
Be sure to check out Felicia on social media!