Jasmine Brown’s Hair Transformation Journey | Skin Deep | Refinery29

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I’m Jasmine Brown. I’m a YouTube creator and a social media influencer. I’m biracial. My dad is African-American. My mom is Mexican. And both of them gave me this big head of curly hair, which is a huge part of my identity. Beyond style, hair has a lot of history and cultural relevance especially within the African-American community. So today I’m going to travel around L.A. exploring my hair further to show that beauty is more than skin deep. Before heading out, I thought it’d be a good idea to start at the very beginning. So I decided to give my mom a call. Growing up, she was always the one doing my hair. Hey mom! Hey Jas! Whatchya doing? I just got up. How’s California? It’s good. So what are you doing? I’m actually going around L.A. today. I’m getting my hair done. I’m getting boxed braids. Oh that’s cool! Can’t wait to see them. I’ll send you pictures. Do you remember when you used to braid my hair? Like the halfway braids every week? That was really cool, at least to me that was. I always had you do the little two ponytails flipped under and it looked like little dog ears. And I was always like, “Ooh can I do the puppy ears today?” I remember those. I think that’s how your hair got so long because I used to always keep your hair in braids. Yeah. My eyes were always — it’s like I had a facelift when I was a kid. It used to hurt — you doing my hair because I was so tender-headed. But the more you did it, the less it started hurting. I had Tylenol for you. How did you learn how to do my hair since your hair is straight? When I had you, you actually had straight hair when you were first born. And then as the older you got, your hair got curlier and it got fuller because you’re biracial. I can’t use the same products on my hair that I use on yours. So half of my friends were mainly black so I used to always work with their hair and stuff. So they used to always teach me about how they would grease their hair, their scalp, and products they would use. So I was experimenting until I actually came up with the right texture. What’d work for you sometimes didn’t work for your brother even though all of you guys are all mixed. Your hair textures, they’re all different. Mine’s straight. I hardly ever put anything in my hair other than shampoo and conditioner. Imagine doing my hair now because it’s even bigger. No. I don’t think I would mess with your hair now. It’s too much. I learned because of you. That’s what moms are for. Like mom and daughter bonding time when you do my hair. Alright well I’m about to head out so I will call you later and I’ll send you pictures. Okay! I can’t wait to see them. Alright, love you! I love you too. You take care. —Bye Mama!
–Bye! The next stop of the day is Mahogany Hair Revolution, a natural hair-care salon and trichology clinic in the heart of L.A. I met up with Dr. Kari Williams, the owner of Mahogany, to learn more about protective hairstyles and get my hair braided by a pro. —Hello!
—Hello! Hi! How are you? —Good. How are you?
—Welcome to Mahogany. I’m Dr. Kari. Thank you for having me. You are so welcomed. I’m very excited about giving you your first set of boxed braids. Can’t wait. So do you have any questions about the style and how you would like them done? I’ve seen the little triangle parted ones and I really, really liked those. I think those are cute. You have so much beautiful hair. Thank you. So I’m very excited. So what I’m going to do first is I’m going to create sections in your hair. Have you gotten your hair braided before in any type of style? I’ve had french braids, cornrows, all of that. I’ve never had boxed braids. Like individual boxed braids? Individuals? Nope. I’ve twisted all of my hair before. This is truly a first for you. Uh huh. First time. I highly recommend protective styling and it’s easy for you to maintain your hair as well. So protective styles are great for giving your hair a break and preventing damage and breakage. Oftentimes women have concerns about length retention and keeping hair healthy. So when your hair is a protective style, you’re truly protecting your hair from damage, from the daily elements. Hair is just one less thing you have to worry about. With protective styles, you can literally just get up and go. So first what I’m doing is incorporating three strands of hair to create your three-strand braid. And I incorporate it invisibly so that I’m not wrapping the hair around your hair, which typically when you see some braids, it has that knot. And I’ve gotten away from that particular technique because it causes damage to the hair and the hairline because it adds weight. So this invisible technique that I utilize helps to keep your hair healthy so that as your hair grows out, it’ll grow out naturally. You braid quick. You got them fast fingers. This is how we’re going to get you done so quickly. How long do they stay in? You can wear the braids eight to 10 weeks, but I typically recommend if you’re gonna go that long, that you get a touchup. And a touchup typically includes getting the hairline rebraided. And that’s the area of your hair that you’re manipulating the most, that you’re pulling back and pulling up. And so it can still — even with my invisible method, you can still experience some stressed tension and weight, especially as the braids grow out. The art of braiding started of course on the continent of Africa. So within a number of different clans and tribes, hair is what signified a number of things. You could look at someone and tell by their hair what tribe they were from, they status in society, whether they were single, married. And also widows were instructed not to comb their hair during the time of grieving and mourning because they weren’t supposed to be attractive to other men. Wow. And then the art and tradition of braiding actually was a way to pass down oral history. So the elders in the community would take their time to braid the young girls’ hair — what I’m doing with you. And they would talk about the history and the culture. And they would have the teenage girls watch and learn the art and technique of braiding. And then ultimately, those girls would eventually braid the younger girls within their community, within their society so that that history and that cultural tradition would continue to be passed down. So this transition to embracing our curly hair to wearing it naturally, it’s not just trendy. It’s not just a movement. It’s literally life. And black women are reclaiming their life. Yes. Life. Hello! Hi! Look! Hey! You’re getting your hair done. Hi! Look we’re on the last braid. Oh it’s looking so good. She’s so quick. You look good in those Jas. Thank you. Thanks mom. She does so good. The best person ever. She braids so fast. Her hands are moving like this… You want Dad to look at them? Sure. Hey babe! You want to see them? Huh? Look at your daughter’s hair. Whoa. Whoa. Those are long. Yup. She’s on the last braid. Right there at it. It looks so good. Yeah it does. It’s very good. I think we both want our hair like that. I’m gonna let my hair grow out too. Both of y’all want to get these braids? Yes. Thank you so much Dr. Kari for that. She looks wonderful. You’re so welcomed. Thank you. So the final step in this process is something called dipping the braids. So dipping the braids — if you noticed the ends are kind of frizzy, I’m leaving them this way because the braids can technically unravel. So we want to give it a more finished look and more importantly, we want to seal the braid. And the way that we do that is with boiling water. Now remember this is a synthetic fiber so it’s not going to burn your hair, it’s going to smooth the ends. So I’m going to demonstrate and you’ll see. Oh wow! It changed the whole thing. So now your braids are nice, smooth, and silky. And more importantly, they’re sealed. It’s so smooth and soft. Yes. Ooh! I like that. So you ready to do some decorations? Yes. I like to say, as I borrow from Kanye West, “It’s in a black person’s soul to rock that gold.” It’s no coincidence that we love to put this type of jewelry in our hair to remind us of who we are and who are ancestors are. No mistake that when your hair is braided you start to feel like a queen or we acknowledge one another as kings and queens. Because truly, that’s what these braids represent. So when it comes to hair jewelry, you can get as creative as you like. Okay so baby hairs are back in style. And this is your official baby hair tool. Have you seen one before? Never. Isn’t it amazing? I need one. I actually prefer to use the comb side first so that I could comb the product through. And I use that comb tip to direct the way the baby hairs going to go. In the event, you cannot locate or find this very special tool for your baby hairs, you can always use a toothbrush. Unused? Very important detail. An unused toothbrush. Let’s do the final. Let’s take this off so you can really get a look — a feel for your new do, first time boxed braids. You are ready. I like them. Oh you did such a good job! Thank you! They’re amazing. Thank you. They call me The Braid Wizard. Uh… yeah! I’m happy to be a part of this process of enhancing your beauty with your first set of boxed braids. Yay! Thank you so much. I love them. You are so welcomed. It’s beautiful. I can’t wait to see plenty of pictures. Plenty. I’m going to be taking selfies everyday, all day long now. It’s been a long day exploring my hair out here in L.A. I feel like I’ve dug deeper into a part of myself than I have before. The best part of today was not only learning more about my own identity, but realizing that I’m much bigger conversation of loving your hair, no matter the texture or what other people may think.

 

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