(Curl Conversation)

Tia Mowry On Creating 4U By Tia Hair Care & Finally Learning To Love Her Curls

The actor and mom shares all the details on her new line.

by Sha Ravine Spencer
Originally Published: 
Lindsay Hattrick/TZR; Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
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Tia Mowry is no stranger to the spotlight. However, the glam characters she’s portrayed throughout her decades-long career haven’t always depicted how she’s felt offscreen. At the start of her career, while working on the successful network television show, Sister, Sister, Tia Mowry admits she didn’t always have the best relationship with her natural hair. Fast-forward to 2023 and the actor is hoping to help everyone embrace their textures with the launch of 4U by Tia, a line of hair care products for curly, kinky, and coily textures.

“I am the CEO, the founder, and the creative director of this brand," The Game star says proudly. “This brand was created with you in mind — and it’s celebrating women of all textures, kinks, coils, and curls. This is a brand that is for everyone — I wanted to include women with gray hair, older women, younger women, and trans women.”

While the mother of two is now fully comfortable in her skin, building this confidence as been a journey. In auditions and off-set, Mowry was in a constant battle with being authentic and showcasing her natural curls, often hiding behind styles that made her more palatable to casting directors. For Mowry, Hollywood’s rigid beauty standards caused her to conform, alter her curls by straightening them and adding extensions, all in the hopes of booking more jobs. The actor’s constant struggle is one that many Black women have experienced as the battle to deem natural hair professional continues with legislation like the CROWN ACT working to end race-based discrimination.

Adam Rindy

Mowry eventually found solice in a curl community online, which helped her feel free to embrace her curls. With 4U by Tia, she’s hoping to help those around her do the same, and not feel like they need to fit into a box. The initial lineup includes eight breakout products priced from $10 to $11, ranging from shampoo and conditioner to gels and oils, available exclusively at Walmart and the brand’s website.

Ahead, Mowry details Hollywood’s lack of natural hair representation, how she’s instilling self-love in her children, the inspiration behind 4U By Tia, and more.

What has your relationship with your hair been like over the years?

Growing up in school, I was told ‘your hair is frizzy,’ and it was never really embraced. I didn't always have a great relationship with my hair until there was this amazing, beautiful online community that started to grow. This was when Instagram came out around 2012; I started to see women that looked like me with curly hair, and their stories were familiar to mine. They were putting in relaxers and straightening their hair, trying to fit in, and they were starting to stand up for themselves. They were saying, ‘No, I'm not going to conform, I'm going to be me, I'm going to love me, I'm going to embrace me, I'm going to accept me, and I'm going to celebrate me.’

So they did a big chop — these women were cutting off all their hair. It was this movement — a celebration — and I resonated with it. I wanted to do that — I remember reaching out to this one girl who had my same curl texture and experiences, and I told her, 'You've encouraged me to do what you did,' and that's what I did. I remember documenting it on Instagram, and then more women were coming out and applauding. That was when I really fell in love with my hair, and there's been no looking back ever since. It’s just been all about embracing, celebrating, and having fun with my hair. I feel so alive, and my hair is beautiful; it’s vibrant. My hair is me, and I love my curls.

How do you feel about the Black hair representation you had growing up?

When I would look in magazines or on television, or even when I had to go out on auditions, there was a character that was being described, and they described everything, like how tall they were, etc. I would never see a character that was described that looked like me, so basically, an insecurity started to come about with my hair. If you’re a fan of Sister, Sister, you'll see that when I was in my 20s, we ended up straightening our hair. I did that because I wanted to fit in with societal standards of being sexy and what was being valued. I started putting extensions in my hair that didn't match my hair texture because I was trying to conform. I even remember going to auditions where I’d get feedback if I didn't get the part, and I remember one woman saying our hair was a distraction.

You have two young children who are natural as well. What are you teaching your children about embracing their natural hair?

It’s very important for me to showcase my children and their different textures and talk about how their curly hair is empowering. Just the other day, my son was called an improper word because of the color of his skin. At school, he's been told that his skin color or who he is, meaning being Black, is not beautiful. This is being told to him by children his age. So it is very important for me no matter how young they are, to constantly speak into them and to say how beautiful they are. I'm always talking to Cree and Cairo, saying your curls are beautiful and your hair is beautiful. I want to teach them that who they are, is empowering and who they are is celebrated. Once you embed that in them, when people who are ignorant say things to them, they're able to stand firm and not be altered by someone's ignorant words. So it is very important for them to live and breathe in their truth and their authenticity of who they are there. They’re kings and queens in the making.

Adam Rindy

Wash Day can be a long process for natural hair. What does your tagline “your natural hair care journey made simpler” mean to the brand?

We're not just looking at my experiences; we wanted to really talk to the community. We had this incredible work session that went on for four days with a room full of women, men, influencers, and beauticians who all have different types of hair textures, and we just started to talk about hair, and a lot of people were saying they wanted a hair care routine made simple because it can be overwhelming.

Even in my personal experience with my kids, we all have different curly textures. So I wanted to make the whole routine easier and simple. Meaning, have the products do what they're supposed to do — instead of you having to try 15 different products just to do what you're trying to get your curls to do. We also came up with a formula that works on all different hair textures. Growing up in a household with my sister and my brother, we’d even have different curl products. Then my children and I would have different curl products, so we’d have a cabinet of 1,000 different items, and it’s just too much. So we came up with formulas for many of the products that work for 2C to 4C curls. So [things] like the curl cream and the gel work on all different hair textures.

What was the process of creating the products & figuring out the final formulas?

First, I'll say it was about understanding why I wanted to come out with a natural hair care line. Number one is representation. I wanted to put out a product that celebrates curls and has curly girls a part of the conversation, a part of the dialogue, and creates options for them. I remember going into a beauty store and seeing 500 products for straight hair and seeing maybe one or two for curly hair. I created a line for consumers by a woman of color and created a product that really works and that enhances their curls.

The other thing that I'm very passionate about is family and being a mother. It was very important for me to create a line where I can recognize the ingredients. It was very important that I had ingredients that were natural and safe for you, your body, the community and the environment. So when you look at these products, you'll see flaxseed, watermelon extract, sea moss, aloe vera, all of these clean, wonderful ingredients that are good for you. Hemisqualane aka Hemi 15 is in all of the products, and it really helps shape the curls and keeps frizz away; it's a natural ingredient that’s replacing silicone.

Adam Rindy

Why is the accessible price point important to you?

I take pride in this brand — it’s a luxury brand, a brand of quality, but at a price that's affordable. I thought about them [consumers] buying the whole line and it needed to be accessible. The routine needed to be simplified — ain't nobody got time to be getting ready for two hours a day. We’re moms, we're entrepreneurs, we're business owners, we're teachers, we're lawyers, we're doctors, and we still want to look and feel good and feel confident. So how do we simplify this routine? Those are the things that I really thought about when making this line. Also, education. We have this barcode on the product that you can take a photo of and it'll take you to an education center where you can get all of the information that you need about the products and how to use them instead of just feeling so overwhelmed.

What advice do you have for anyone who’s trying to teach themselves to embrace their natural texture?

First and foremost, I would say you are worthy, you are valuable. You are important. You are a person to be loved, you're lovable. So it first starts with them seeing value within themselves. Don't be afraid to be you. Be your authentic self. I've learned that in authenticity, there is magic. So walk in your truth, live in your truth, and be you.

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