Like many hair stylists will tell you, Philadelphia stylist and owner of Kayce’s Creations, Cynthia King, has been doing hair since she could pick up a comb. She was the one family member or friend who could hook you up with a press and curl, or give your daughter a cute back to school ponytail.
Cynthia didn’t start taking hair seriously or considering it as a career until sophomore of junior year of high school. As a self-taught stylist, she got her start braiding hair for the low, using MySpace to market her work. While attending Morgan State University, she began to take her business seriously. On the first day of classes, she created flyers in the library to promote her work, and hung them all around campus and in the dorms.
Now, with over 300 clients and one of the most in demand stylists in the Delaware Valley region, Cynthia takes a personalized approach to her clients hair care needs. I spoke with her about her work and with the colder months approaching, I wanted to know what tips she had for hair upkeep in the fall and winter seasons. Looking to create a bomb natural hair winter regimen? Keep reading!
Real Beautiful: You only specialize in natural hair care. Why do you prefer natural over relaxed/processed for your clients?
Cynthia King: I always recommend natural. I have never offered coloring or processed services to my clients because I like to protect their hair from damage. I refuse to handle clients with processed hair if they are not transitioning. It’s safer and it leaves less room for error.
RB: What are some hair maintenance tips you give your clients during the transitional months? How often should we wash, condition, trim and moisturize our hair?
CK: There aren’t any general practices I abide by because everyone’s hair is different. I have learned that it’s important to replenish your hair with whatever you are stripping away when you shampoo. I recommend staying away or using less shampoo because it strips away natural oil. If you co-wash (co-washing is washing hair with conditioner and water only) bi-weekly, you probably only need to shampoo once a month or less because shampoo can make your hair brittle. You can create your own cleanser for your hair. Grab exfoliants and household items to make a homemade avocado treatment (which can be made with avocado, olive oil and honey) and other similar ingredients right out of the produce market. Trimming is on an as-needed basis as well. Contrary to popular belief, your hair doesn’t always require a trim every 6-8 weeks. If you trim your hair more often than needed, you’re cutting off healthy hair.
RB: What are your favorite products (brand or homemade) to use on your clients during the fall/winter?
CK: I absolutely LOVE Taliah Waajid’s hair care line. The products can be purchased at any local beauty supply stores. My favorite [product] is the black shampoo. It serves as both a shampoo or body wash and their conditioner can be used as conditioner or body moisturizer. My motto is: If it’s good enough for your hair, it should be good enough for other parts of your body. I also love Crème of Nature. It was one of the first brands I started using when I was transitioning to natural. I love their “Puralicious Co-wash” which is made specifically for co-washing.
RB: What styles do you suggest your clients wear during the fall/winter seasons?
CK: I always recommend any protective style, something that’s braided, locked or crocheted. The winter months range in harshness of not just cold temperatures, but also wind, and let’s not forget those crazy snowstorms we often experience [on the east coast]. All of that harsh cold and heavy wind affects the hair tremendously and causes uneven textures and dryness. With your hair protected in braids, locks or crochet, you avoid the potential damage.
RB: Braids and twists are worn during the warmer months out of convenience from the heat whereas they are worn during the winter months to protect your hair from the cold. You use the knotless root method for your braids and twists. Why? Does it last as long?
CK: I use the knotless root method because it creates a lot less tension when installed. I’ve had tons of clients express to me that they’ve tried braiding styles before but the install was painful. What some stylists don’t realize is that once you start to install a style one way, switching it up it adjusts the tension on the hair. The style should be a consistent install from root to tip to eliminate tension, breakage and overall long-term pain. It also looks more natural. With the knotless root method, as the hair gets older it creates a more natural look and lasts the same amount of time [as the traditional method], if not longer.
RB: How long do you suggest a client keep their braids and twists in during the fall/winter? Weaves?
CK: That answer depends on the size of the braid and ratio of hair to weave. If you have large braids in, the hair to weave ratio is smaller so you are able to keep your braids in longer. Without a touch up and with smaller braids, six weeks is the maximum amount of time I suggest for clients. Once the new growth comes in, your natural hair will be too thick to blend with the smaller braids causing the hair to pull. This is the main reason that so many women are walking around with full heads of hair and thinned edges. The hair growing out of the smaller braid isn't thick enough and has nothing to attach itself too.
RB: What advice do you give clients to protect their hair from breakage due to the bitter cold months?
CK: That they really have to understand the ingredients that are in the products used and understand how each ingredient works alone and with other products combined. Coconut oil is a product I often see clients running to for multipurpose use but coconut oil is tricky. Coconut oil gives you the false feeling that you are moisturizing your hair when you are actually only filling in the dryness and you are missing in the key part of your hair: the shaft. Your shaft needs to be penetrated. I always advise my clients that it’s okay to use coconut oil, but it gives the maximum benefit when combined with other nutrients. One ingredient that I recommend to pair coconut oil with is avocado or tea tree oil because those products combined will moisturize without making your hair too oily. It’s best to use a combination of products, especially in the winter months because the hair is more inclined to breakage.
RB: There are so many different opinions out there about using heat on your hair. How do you advise your clients when it comes to using heat on their hair during the fall/winter?
CK: I don’t discriminate against using heat, but that’s something I can’t help with. Heat damage is the hardest hair damage to come back from. Often times, clients are flat ironing their entire head from root to endwhich results in a full head of heat damage. This is why when most people transition they have to do the “big chop” because it’s so much damage. There is no amount of shampoo and deep conditioning treatments that can reverse [it]. As long as you keep both the blow dryer and the flat iron on minimal heat and not high, your hair should be fine. I stress to all that it’s not worth the headache of trying to “fix” heat damage later on.