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Words on Beauty, with TT Amen-Asia

Recently, I sent this email out to my VAIN coworkers.

‘I’m working on an article about beauty rules that are meant to be broken and I would love to involve any of you in the conversation, and add your quotes and names…

I’m looking for examples of out-dated beauty rules, or beliefs that people have about ‘beauty‘ or style that don’t serve them. An example I can think of is when a client has always wanted a short haircut but thinks they are ‘too fat faced to pull it off.’ But you know it would look fabulous on them.

Please let me know if you can think of more, and tell me why they are and why they no longer serve.’

I got some great responses. Like Really Great. Here is one of them, from stylist TT Amen-Asia20141205_202426

‘These questions just brought back a flood of childhood memories and self reflection. There are soooo many things with the beauty rules that still go on for African American women, dark-skinned vs. light-skinned, good hair vs. bad hair, relaxers vs. natural…it’s all so old school and convoluted, it makes me want to scream sometimes.

There are 2 major things happening right now, in my opinion, in the Black beauty community, that weren’t happening when I was younger.

1: Seeing more and more women of color in main stream media, Hollywood, print, etc.  The standard of Black beauty when I was growing up was non-existent.  You had to be tall, thin, long hair that blew in the wind, white or light skinned…that is what we saw in the media and that is what we based our standards of beauty on. But now…you have these beautiful Black women playing leading characters in movies and on tv, modeling…embracing their skin in every shade of blackness from darkest dark to albino…it’s beautiful!  And not just in media, women all over the country loving skin their in. 

2. The natural hair boom. More and more Black women are embracing their natural curls, some loving it, some not, which has been amazing because this was also unheard of when I was younger or even 10yrs ago.

But on the flip side of this it’s also created more labels and division within the natural hair community.  Team natural vs. Team straight, your hair is not considered natural if you color it or aren’t using a completely all natural homemade hair product. If you have a big ‘fro or TWA, long vs. short and the always good hair vs. nappy hair. 

To many women are still comparing themselves and their hair to their favorite beauty blogger or someone on IG or Facebook. They follow all these people on YouTube in hopes of their hair looking like the other persons, spending endless amounts of money on the products they use, just to be disappointed when it doesn’t look the same. 

It doesn’t look the same because it’s not the same…It’s your hair on your head, not hers/his.  You need to find your own routine, what products work for you, love and nurture it your way, not someone else’s way.That saying ‘the grass is always greener on the other side’ is total malarkey.  Your grass could be just as green if you spend the same amount of time nurturing it your way like your neighbor does their way. 

When I first went natural (or stopped relaxing my hair) was about 13 or 14yrs ago.  There wasn’t all this information that was out now, it was all trial and error for me. And when I did my first set of locs 12yrs ago there were a few people I could ask questions about my loc journey but it was still trial and error on figuring out what worked best for me. I’ll admit I did get pulled in and started comparing my hair to others and wondered why it wasn’t growing as fast as this persons or why my curls didn’t look like that persons. Then I had to take a step back and ask myself ‘why do I care? I didn’t care when I did it 13yrs ago, so why do I care now?’

weaveOnce I stopped doing that and started having fun with my hair again it became easier. In another words, figure out what works best for you and stop comparing yourself and your hair journey to others.  Some other beauty rules:  Being a dark-skinned woman and wearing bright colors or patterns, be it makeup or clothing. 

I feel like any woman, any color, can wear whatever the hell she wants.  You find the right shade that works with your skin tone and rock the hell out of it.  It’s all about confidence…if you think you look good, you feel good and other people will notice that as well. I love wearing bright clothing, it makes me happy! And after years of believing I wouldn’t look good in red lipstick I finally bought my first tube last year and it’s amazing on me.

All women in general being afraid to have fun with their hair.  I’ve had so many women of all ethnicities tell me they could never pull off a short cut, funky colors, certain reds, etc., etc., which is not true.  I tell them, “you can pull off whatever you’re willing to pull off.”  If you want short hair get a short cut, if you don’t like it it’ll grow back.  You want to do a fun color start off with a hidden streak in the back or side of your hair.  You want a red color, we just have to find the right shade of red for you.

My 2 favorite motto’s have always been “Have fun with your hair while you can.  It’s just hair and it will grow back!” and “Don’t be afraid to shake the box up a bit!” The last one meaning, it’s ok to go against the status quo, it’s ok to wear a little color or put patterns together that you wouldn’t have thought of doing before, wear a bright lip or eye color, add a fun print scarf to your all black ensemble, dye your hair bright blue or shave it off.  Just have fun!’

These words are so wonderful. I asked TT if she would let me publish and share them here, and she was down. I decided to also ask her about her current hair routine, and get the scoop on her favorite hair products, while on the topic of her hair. Here is what she said….

‘My current routine is wash about every 3-4wks with either Kevin Murphy Maxi Wash or Dollylocks dreadlock shampoo, then putting in a tiny bit of Dollylocks Tightening Gel all over and re-twisting with a whipped Shea Butter concoction that I’ve made and also applying that to my shaved sides. And about every 3 days I will spray my shaved sides with a leave in conditioner that I made and applying the Shamphree Liquid Gold. 

My previous go to products were Kevin Murphy Hydrate Me Wash and Rinse, and MoroccanOil Intense Curl Creme.


And a bit of hair knowledge: always moisturize no matter your hair type or texture and in the winter switch to a heavier conditioner.’


Thanks for all of this, TT. To see more of TT’s hair and styling photos, check out her Instagram.

xo, HTHG

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