Fashion week is when you see some of the most elaborate and elegant hairstyles that the most lauded pros can think of. Along with the creativity — like the chain-link ponytails at Christian Siriano, and the neon Motown-inpsired wigs at Anna Sui — comes a healthy dose of simplicity, too. At shows like R13 and Longchamp, natural hair texture was celebrated. But for three top models who use products for short natural hair, wearing curls and kinks isn't just about making an Instagrammable moment. It's part of their everyday life... and it's also a necessity.
While fashion month diversity backstage and on the runway is improving, some models admit that there are times when the hairstylists aren't equipped to work with their coarser curls. "Sometimes I just come ready myself, because they don’t know how to do it," model Ajak Deng told TZR last season. "If anything, they tease it too much. And I’ve absolutely been hesitant to speak up." So when it is time to sit in the chair, the girls come prepared, just in case. "It's actually easier for me as a woman with short natural hair because there's so many products out there and a variety of options," Herieth Paul tells me backstage at Cushnie. "In the past, it was so hard."
And with access to such an abundance of new hair products, who better to ask about the best of the best than the models who try them all? See them ahead.
Fatou Jobe: Short, Coarse Afro
"I take care of my hair by using raw shea butter," Jobe tells me backstage at Brock Collection. "I'll boil it up and put water in it until it's completely melted, every night and every morning. You have to microwave it because it's hard. I only wash my hair with conditioner instead of shampoo because it dries my hair out."
"Because I don't have regular curls, I have to use a wave brush. My hair isn't too curly... it's very dense. At shows, I always bring my brush but still ask for a moistuizer and a pick. That's all I need. Some shows want it bigger, so I'll pick it out," she continues. "Some shows want me to wear it smaller, so I pat it back down. For edges, most people don't want to do anything with those. So my look is just mostly natural, especially since a lot of shows are doing natural hair and makeup."
Olamide Ogundele: Straight-Back Cornrows
"I conditon my hair twice a week with mayonnaise, olive oil, and a bit of conditioner mixed with eggs. I use castor oil for my edges so they don't get snatched... it saves my hair," Ogundele reveals backstage at Brock Collection. "And then I do the cornrows after washing. I have a friend who does them. That's all! I'm keeping my hair in cornrows all of Fashion Week to save it from breaking, and I do rebraid it sometimes."
Herieth Paul: Short, Slightly Tapered Afro
"My wash day routine is very simple," Paul tells me backstage at Cushnie. "I know it's not recommended, but I shampoo every day. And with the hairsprays and everything that stylists use, I have to. I start with a Mizani deep conditioner and apply it on my hair before I wash it off. 10 minutes later, I go in the shower and shampoo and use the Vernon François deep conditioner. I don't like to put much moisturizer or styler on after because when I get to work, sometimes they tell me it's not the right kind.
"For styling, I pick out my hair a lot. And it might sound strange, but I do blow dry a little to give my hair some volume. But most of the time, it's the pick."