thandie © 2012 . All rights reserved.

Thandie Newton’s ‘Good Hair’.

Bafta winning actress Thandie Newton and I first met on a Vogue shoot about 6 years ago. It didn’t take long before I felt that I’d always known her.  She is one of the most inspiring women I’ve ever met and I’ve been fortunate enough to make-up, wax lyrical and travel with her ever since. I have made her up more than anyone else in my whole career, in an entirely different way each time.                                                                 We often discuss what it is like to be mixed race, our experiences, what it means to us, what we continue to discover and most importantly perhaps, find ways of celebrating it. Our hair is not easy hair. It frizzes, it tangles and it knots and takes a lot to understand. There is still much stigma with a large ‘hair culture’ surrounding it, plus a multi-million dollar industry supplying women with ways of taming it.                                                  

Thandie has been growing out her hair relaxer for the last year and she’s now 100% Lye-free, (the controversial chemical in black hair straightening products) and is finding that wearing it big and natural is extremely liberating.                        


Your hair looks so different, what made you decide to go natural?

Its taken about 2 years to fully grow out my relaxer. I always thought I would go back to curly, because I didn’t want my daughters to judge their beautiful curls. I assumed they’d want to be like their Mum, and they’ve only ever known me with straight hair. However, it turns out they’re so secure in who they are as individuals that I don’t think it occurs to them to be like anyone else, and that includes me.
What inspired you to allow your hair return to it’s natural state?
So, the ultimate personal wake up call was when I saw Chris Rock’s documentary Good Hair, and saw how the active ingredient-Lye (that’s in all black hair relaxing products)- can melt a Coke can. Also the fact that the FDA take no responsibility with harmful chemicals when it comes to beauty products. Scary.

Thandie in Alexander McQueen at one of the many Bafta’s we’ve done together

How does having wilder looking, bigger hair make you feel as opposed to the elegantly-on-trend hairstyles we’re used to seeing you with on the red carpet?

I have to feel comfortable with having ‘all eyes on me‘, which I do when I work, less so in life. Ironically I don’t want to draw attention to myself because of celeb spotting, but my big hair, for a time will work as a disguise! Straight hair has been ‘on trend’ for years and years, so having big-ass curly hair means “I’m stepping outside the mould, outside what’s accepted and applauded”. It takes a little courage to do that.
Mainly, I want to wear it natural because it looks amazing!

Do you think cultural  attitudes within the black community are changing with regards their hair?


The kinky-haired Afro has been practically ironed out (pun intended!) within the mainstream black community. Now, black women have silkier, smoother longer hair than any other women. And there’s no stigma attached to black women and false hair (weaves, extension, wigs) whereas if a white woman wore false hair they’d seem more of a phony and inadequate. That’s changing a lot, but men certainly don’t expect white women to have false hair, whereas black boys know that there’s  ‘No touching above the neck!’ And there’s no embarrassment about it.

Being mixed race myself, know that there is a lot of stigma steeped in history surrounding black hair and it still exists today. Tell me a bit about your experiences.

The stigma with some black women seems to be that ‘nappy hair’ is almost as bad as loo roll trailing from your shoe. I have always let my daughter’s hair be wild and scruffy. I love the shapes and fluffy halo. But when they were ‘papped‘ in the States I had remarks about how I don’t take care of their hair. The truth is I choose to keep it that way. When I see hair that’s been pulled, stretched, brushed till bullet smooth I just think ‘ouch‘. I have my limits mind, sometimes I have to beg Nico to let me tidy it up for fear of her looking like she’s been neglected!

It was relatively easy for me growing up in West London amongst all colours and cultures, but how was it for you, growing up in Penzance, Cornwall?

Well for a start I only visited a hairdressers once in my entire childhood. It was a nightmare. They washed it and then (drumroll…) blowdried and BRUSHED it. It was like a huge candy floss – no curl definition. It looked ridiculous. And it cost my Mum 20 quid – that was the thing I hated most, that my Mum had to say thank you, pretend she was pleased and pay all that money. The truth is the salon had no idea – we were a loooong way from London. A long way from any other black person. I don’t think you could even buy a decent conditioner. Vitapoint was the only product, I bloody loved Vitapoint. The smell meant ‘friend’.

Thandie’s mother Nyasha in Zimbabwe in the 70′s

 

Without the support of a black ‘hair culture’ around you, how did you learn to manage your hair?

I think the closest thing I had to long, straight tangle-free hair was when I had it braided into ‘singles’ during the Summer holidays. By the time I was 13 I could do it myself. That’s one huge plus, I’m REALLY good at doing hair – I HAD to learn, and I did and I can do it all. I can braid, fit extensions, do my own weave, cut it, blow dry it bone straight, make hair pieces, fit wigs, style it beehive, forties, Afro, you name it. I started young and then from 16 when I started acting, I learned from the best of the best.

Thandie at the premieres for left ‘Run Fat Boy Run’ & right, ‘W’. m-up km

How was it for your Mum, coming to a culture where her ‘normal hair’ was suddenly non-’normal’, then having children, and approaching their hair in this alien place. What was her approach to your hair?

Mum wanted me to fit in, and I don’t blame her. My hair hampered that. Poor Mum. I remember when I was 7 at my convent school, it was school photo day so all the kids came looking their best. Mum did my hair in 20 or so ‘corn rows’ with green wooden beads on each end to match my school uniform. The nuns were appalled, they wouldn’t let me have my picture taken. I felt embarrassed, disappointed, ashamed. Can you imagine how my Mum must have felt? There was a mild rukus and the next day I had my picture taken. But then I read this year a piece in The Independent about a student who appealed against not being able to wear his hair in (what the school felt was a hoodlum style) braids, and he won. That’s 30 years since the Nun’s dissed me… This shit keeps going round and round.
Apart from the school photo incident it was 1 or 2 plaits every single day, and a bun when I was doing ballet. Never, ever, ever loose. Never.
So when did you discover hair products designed for black hair?
There wasn’t any ‘Dark & Lovely’ in Cornwall but I can say it was like Christmas when we discovered that a ‘home perm’ has the effect of loosening curls. I was around 14 then.

So what is your experience of modern hairdressers today-are they all clued up about how to manage your hair?
To be honest I do struggle with hairdressers, even now. The main problem is that hairdressers (and some at the top of their game) don’t understand how my type of hair changes dramatically depending on what climate, substance, effects it. Water in any form is like a cheeky magic wand – even mist! But with the correct tools, my kind of hair can do ANYTHING, which is brilliant! So hairdressers like the genius Kerry Warn, or Maarit Niemela, are leagues better than others because they can work black hair from wet to dry in any style.
I’m surprised that more people don’t understand this (even though hair salons still seems to be culturally divided between ‘black’ hairdressing or ‘caucasian’ hairdressing), there are many black models and actresses around that they work with.
I think a problem for top hairdressers is that most black models and high end clients have weaves (Indian hair), so the technicians never work on authentic black hair. Whether black, white, blonde, brunette, I’d head to a local black hairdressers any day of the week- because if a technician can work black hair, you can work ANY hair.

So tell me about products. You’ve been an international actress all of your adult life, you must have tried everything!
My favourite shampoos, conditioner, serums and sprays etc are from John Masters Organics and the ‘Brilliant’ range by Aveda.     

 I have lots of ‘beauty icons’ that, to my mind, represent a more diverse attitude to beauty, that hopefully represent a wider scope of womanhood. Do you have any ‘hair icons’?

I just watched Flashdance with my girls. Jennifer Beales hair! (below left)

In the same breath I get a total wide on for my friend Laura Bailey‘s hair (right). It’s unreal. Thick, shiny, heavy swinging blanket of the good stuff.
Who doesn’t love Rihanna’s red? Or Stevie Wonder’s braids?

What would you say to young girls and women of colour who struggle with hair ‘issues’?

Ultimately the goal is to be free to do whatever you want with your hair. But what we ‘want’ is influenced by so many factors. When I was little I insisted my parents stopped calling me Thandie because it was so ‘different‘, my desire was influenced by a community where the way I looked was not celebrated, where my uniqueness was seen as suspect. Whatever we are repelled by, or don’t want – right there is the bud to a root we need to dig up and investigate.

Once we’re conscious of the story behind our discomfort, we can reject that story and be free.  And then we can have it all, and love it all.

Watch a trailer of Thandie’s next movie, GOOD DEEDS (out in US Feb 14th) HERE

Watch Thandie’s talk on ‘Embracing Otherness, Embracing Myself’ at TED HERE

Watch the trailer to Chris Rock’s insightful documentary GOOD HAIR HERE

Read writer Funmi Fetto’s honest account of her hair from British VOGUE HERE

See my Pinterest board full of work that Thandie & I have done together HERE

Share The Love

50 Comments

  1. What a great interview! I saw Thandie in the flesh years ago when I was working at Universal Pictures on Oxford St and just walking past her was struck by how beautiful she was!

    The good hair discussion is a good one – particularly if you are mixed race. I don’t know what I’d call myself – with parents from JA I have a bit of Arawak Indian, Scottish and Aborigine in me and it’s all reflected in my hair. Because my skin is dark people are always asking if my bra strap length hair is real (it is) and I’m always told how lucky I am to have ‘good hair’ (esp with dark skin apparently!)

    It’s sad the closer our hair resembles Caucasian hair, the better it is considered within in our own community. I do think people like Solange, Janelle Monae and now Thandie and the rise of natural hair blogs will go some way to redressing this balance.

    Brava ladies – great questions and great answers!

  2. Lena

    It’s always great to see women embrace their natural beauty and I think her hair looks fantastic natural. Plus no longer having a relaxer is so much more versatile and the hair looks so much healthier, she can switch between natural and flat ironed for completely different looks. Can’t beat that.

    http://www.lenasblend.blogspot.com

  3. Gabriella

    My hair is relaxed. I would like to leave the natural hair, but my hair looks really dry when I leave him the way that he is.
    I really don`t know how to deal with that, because I relax my hair since I was 15 y/o.
    Thandie`s hair looks beautiful

    • Kay

      Thanks for your comment-yes it’s not easy hair! Rich conditioning treatments are a must but needn’t be expensive. Coconut oil, for instance, is great left on the hair. Also, try and use a shampoo without frizz-making detergent. Try a natural one from a health food store (I use Jasons). There’s also a lot of great black beauty blogs out there especially for hair. Nicki on the essence.com blog has been posting about hair issues..Good luck!

    • Hey Gabriella,

      There are so many online resources that are a great help if you are thinking of going natural. Two that spring to mind immediately are http://www.curlynikki.com and http://blackgirllonghair.com/ (which was actually how I found this article). Both have an unbelievable amount of information, if you take some time out to read.

      Back to the article at hand, Thandie’s hair is beautiful! I am so glad she decided to go natural!

  4. imaginative

    yessss natural hair is the best

    • Depends on the receiver. Basic reipar for antennas typically is cracking the case and soldering on a new to the same length as the old. However, if your antenna is not directly soldered on or is a coax then installation is a little harder.

    • Claude / Thanks a lot for providing indiaiduvls with an extremely pleasant chance to check tips from this website. It is usually very superb and also full of fun for me personally and my office acquaintances to visit the blog minimum 3 times weekly to read through the new secrets you have. Of course, I am just always contented for the fabulous tips and hints served by you. Some two points in this article are undeniably the most beneficial we have all ever had.

  5. I love this post, beautiful piece. Thank you !

    Amber

  6. Julia

    What a wonderful interview; I am such a fan of Thandie! I too am bi-racial and my mom tells me that I have “good” hair as I can straighten it with only an iron or leave it curly. I’m proud of my curls and my nappy kitchen, though, and my hair likes to be left alone. There are some wonderful products out there for black hair…and it’s awesome that more women are willing to embrace their natural hair.

    • i think that you should uaolpd the negative review videos to rapidshare or something, because to tell you the truth even if it is a negative people should still know why.could you please post a comment or PM explaining why you don’t like it?thanks, your videos are very informative, but personally i would like to hear the truth about a car even if you dont like it.

  7. Kia

    What an insightful interview. Thandie looks great with her natural curls and continue to be impressed at how down to earth Thandie is on top of her outstanding thespian talent. Look forward to reading more your blog pieces. Cheers!

  8. Jc

    As a UK natural hair and hair science blogger, I would like to say thank you to both Kay and Thandie! This is a wonderfully candid interview on so many levels. I actually read it a few days back and did not leave a comment. I considered that to be rude given just how good this interview is……..so here is a huge thankyou from me.

  9. Lia

    I have been such a fan of Thandie’s from the first I saw her, and this refreshing candor from her about her hair journey — and really, the journey of having her brand of beauty recognized and accepted — is tremendous. I’ve walked that journey myself, and finally came to a point where I too said “this is how I was made, why am I spending so much time fighting it?” The freedom is tremendous. From one mixed race woman of color to another, good on you, Thandie, and thank you. And thank you, Kay, for sharing this with us!

    • lanigt / Thanks for giving your ideas in this acilrte. The other factor is that when a problem develops with a pc motherboard, people should not take the risk involving repairing that themselves because if it is not done right it can lead to permanent damage to the entire laptop. It is almost always safe to approach any dealer of any laptop for any repair of its motherboard. They’ve technicians who may have an skills in dealing with laptop motherboard troubles and can have the right analysis and perform repairs.

    • Moh

      Hey!I’ve had vanished from the onilne world for a while..but I’m back! I think you would look great with a fringe!!! the biggest decisions we have to make usually end up being the best ones, as they were risks we were afraid to take!!! SO DO IT!!! :) anyways…if you get the chance come through and check out my fashion photography! :)

  10. Awesome interview – Love her as an actress, now she seems awesome as a person too!

    -C&C

  11. sei

    Great article! I have very “nappy hair” but I wear a curly wig (because I’m lazy in the morning), my daughter has “good hair”, ( I still don’t know where she got that from). I put corn rows in her hair with beads on the ends or let her where her fro. On special occaisions I flat iron it. I want her to love her hair and all the variety of styles it can give her. All her classmates and teachers compliment how beautiful her hair styles are and that makes her really proud. I will never put chemicals in her hair, chemicals ruined my hair years ago and it still hasn’t recovered.

  12. Avi

    Thank you so much for this interview. I saw that film Good hair on HBO a little over a year ago and the soda can demonstration did it for me as well. This was my second attempt at going natural and the melting of that can has deterred me once and for all.
    xo

  13. This was such a great interview!

    Wearing her hair natural suits her. I’ve debated about going natural again (last year I shaved it all off and loved how my hair felt those few weeks I kept it that way but it was too much maintenance for my lifestyle at the time) but who knows – hair is just hair to me and I style it based on how I feel at the moment. I have been jonesing for some wild curls like her’s though so it’s time to try to something new!

  14. Abigail

    What is it with nuns and private schools. My sister and I returned to school from a trip to Nigeria wearing our hair in braids with beads on (I felt great my hair was all ‘swishy’ and made noises) to be promptly asked to have the plaits removed as were a distraction to the other pupils. My headmistress said ‘wasn’t it a shame that we didn’t have lovely blonde hair like our mummy’. I was 7. So this interview resonates many levels! But I still am a slave to the relaxer…

  15. Abigail

    What is it with nuns and private schools. My sister and I returned to school from a trip to Nigeria wearing our hair in braids with beads on (I felt great my hair was all ‘swishy’ and made noises) to be promptly asked to have the plaits removed as were a distraction to the other pupils. My headmistress said ‘wasn’t it a shame that we didn’t have lovely blonde hair like our mummy’. I was 7. So this interview resonates many levels! But I’m still am a slave to the relaxer…

  16. Karen

    This was truly interesting. As a Latina with curly hair I totally appreciate to learn how others live the “hair experience”. Thanks for sharing this story. Loved it!

  17. Seline

    I think mixed race people have beautiful natural hair. BUT those 4b-type hair textures and above are not attractive natural in my opinion. I mean it’s one thing when you have beautiful curls, but when you look like you just stepped out of the 70′s… I just can’t get with that. Good thing I’m also mixed race, I think if I was all black I would not do the whole natural thing.

    • Kay

      The 70′s is my favourite era! I think the piece is not about how everyone should or shouldn’t wear their hair.. It’s more about acceptance and loving the skin you’re in.

    • Seline, it’s definitely possible to have type 4 (Afro) hair that looks great, chic and modern. It’s all about styling and healthy hair care practice. This is something that I always encourage my customers to know.

      Kay, this is a fantastic interview! Thandie is not just beautiful but intelligent and wise. This interview highlighted s o many issues facing the black + mixed race community. I look forward too reading your blog more.

    • Anon

      I found your comment ignorant beyond measure and part of the problem as to why some people are not comfortable in wearing their own beauty. Now, see if you can figure out why {you are so ignorant} because you completely missed the theme and message of the article.

  18. thank you so much for your dedication, it makes us readers come to your website everyday.http://www.frasesparacelular.com

  19. I’m another “naturally curly” girly and love to see the direction that Thandie is taking with her beautiful hair! Good hair is a real eye opener and it made me laugh & cry in equal measures. Thank you also for the lovely comment about Kerry Warn, I will share the piece with him….
    Mandi x

  20. Its a great piece. I’ve spent years working with naturally curly hair and it’s great that famous people and potential role models are now embracing their curls.

    I have to add though that some of the advice with oils is not always the best way. Frizz is a curl wanting attention. Condition, condition condition. Give it the moisture it needs it won’t frizz. Oils are a bit like silicones. The sit on the hair rather than being absorbed. Forming a barrier and stoping the moisture and nutrients from reaching the hair. Oil and water don’t mix. It’s far better adding oils like Shea butter, avacado or a table spoon of olive oil into your existing conditioner and leaving it in for longer.

  21. Anon

    Seline, you should really re-read the words of Thandie Newton and get your mind right. We live in a world that is starting to accept a wide variety of beauties.. you should join in.. it’s a beautiful thing.

  22. It is always good to see women embracing their natural curls…Curls if styled properly can bring out desired looks. Proper styling of curls is what brings the most out of curls..

  23. It’s funny because I have naturally straight and thick hair (I’m Asian) but whenever I see hair like Thandie’s I get major hair envy! I think that type of hair is just so beautiful, so zingy and natural and fun.. and so happy-looking (for want of a better term)! Lovely interview. X

  24. I really like what you guys are up too. This kind of clever work and reporting!
    Keep up the superb works guys I’ve added you guys to my blogroll.

  25. It’s really very difficult in this active life to listen news on TV, thus I only use world wide web for that reason, and take the most recent information.

  26. Hi everyone, it’s my first go to see at this site, and post is genuinely fruitful designed for me, keep up posting such articles or reviews.

  27. Tina

    I know, Thandie’s white father helped her out in the hair department. She can rock her natural tresses and look very pretty. Most full black women’s hair, like the one in the photo, needs a blow dry and flat iron treatment (not a relaxer) because it does not look flattering or lady like on its own. Just looks a mess, plain and simple but easily fixable.

  28. We’re a incorporate of of nature hair and online experts but above all we’re consumers like you and penetrate how overwhelming and confusing it is to cruise the immeasurable greatness of naturally curly hair products on the emporium. Despite the immense call over of products it is still hard to meet with characteristic products for the woman with naturally curly hair.
    natural hair

    • kony / I do like the manner in which you have freamd this matter and it does indeed give me personally some fodder for consideration. However, from just what I have personally seen, I really hope as the feed-back pack on that people today stay on point and not get started upon a soap box involving the news of the day. Anyway, thank you for this excellent point and although I can not concur with the idea in totality, I value your point of view.

    • Thank you Annie, we have sent the package to you aledray, if you have any question with the package terms, please feel free to raise. We will be happy to explain further. Cheers~

  29. Wow, the picture shows some character wigs, so nice,and from the point, i think that no matter the men”s wigs or women’s wigs ,choose the comfortable and right one is a challenging

  30. I just want to tell you that I am just new to blogging and truly loved you’re web blog. Almost certainly I’m planning to bookmark your site . You surely have wonderful posts. Thank you for sharing with us your website.

    • Ram

      ignacio perez de vargas espenota / I still don’t get it. All nuts have around the same fat content per serving. To say the pistachio has half the calories of other nuts based on the paistachio is half the size of other nuts. So, 30 pistachio = 28 almonds = 22 cashews = 100 calories. I can eat pistachios in a gulp, almonds on the other hand would take a lot longer and be more filling. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE stachios, but this info is misleading.

  31. Hi, I do think this is a great website.
    I stumbledupon it ;) I will come back once again since I saved as a favorite it.
    Money and freedom is the best way to change, may you be rich and continue to help others.

  32. I always used to read piece of writing in news papers but now as I am a user of web so from now
    I am using net for articles, thanks to web.

  33. It’s an remarkable article in support of all the online
    visitors; they will obtain advantage from it I am sure.

  34. Je suis aussi exactement dans la même situation et ce fut un soulagement de trouver quelqu’un avec des expériences similaires.

  35. xbox 360 emulator nds emulator for ios no jailbreak

    • natural male enlargement / An iespmrsive share, I just given this onto a colleague who was doing a little bit evaluation on this. And he in fact purchased me breakfast as a result of I discovered it for him.. smile. So let me reword that: Thnx for the treat! But yeah Thnkx for spending the time to discuss this, I really feel strongly about it and love studying more on this topic. If doable, as you turn out to be experience, would you mind updating your weblog with extra details? It is extremely useful for me. Large thumb up for this weblog post!

  36. There is a storage area where pool supplies and equipment is kept.
    The walls were cracked and had some stucco like
    covering on them in the shape of alternating blocks.

    Along with a strict code of ethics the remodeler must abide by,
    there are educational programs and certifications that the remodeler can obtain.

8 Trackbacks

  1. By Thandie Newton has Good Deeds in Good Hair | MyCoolHair.com 19 Jun ’12 at 1:52 am

  2. By Thandie Newton Goes Natural 3 Jul ’12 at 2:51 am

  3. By L’actrice Thandie Newton se confie sur son retour au naturel 7 Oct ’12 at 2:07 pm

  4. By Actress Thandie Newton Talks About her Transition to Natural Hair | Black Girl with Long Hair 21 Dec ’12 at 2:37 am

  5. By Thandie Newton’s 2012 style file | Thandie Newton 30 Dec ’12 at 9:09 am

  6. By tumblr backups 20 May ’13 at 11:51 am

  7. By Thandie Newton's new beauty website: who is it for? 17 Sep ’13 at 12:08 am

  8. By Thandie Newton's new beauty website: who is it for? - DIGIZZLE 18 Sep ’13 at 5:49 am

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.
Required fields are marked:*

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>