When we read celebrity stylist Monae Everett’s thoughtful, informed advice about why you should never dry your hair with a regular towel in the Huffington Post, we knew we’d found a kindred spirit. And when we discovered the Brooklyn-based Everett’s YouTube channel, we realized she’s brimming with helpful hair care information after 14 years of working with clients of every hair type imaginable.
We recently caught up with Everett, who has styled celebs from Mariah Carey to Chris Rock and fashion spreads for magazines from Harper’s Bazaar to Glamour, to find out her top tips for taking excellent care of your hair. Read on to find out the one thing she can’t believe people skip in their beauty routine — and why she believes the world is becoming a more welcoming place for women who rock their natural texture.
We’re ultra-passionate about the importance of drying hair quickly and naturally, but it's not exactly common knowledge (yet!). How did you find out how important it is?
I found out through dealing with clients, as well as my own hair. My hair naturally is very fine and curly, and frizz is a big problem. When I realized that frizz is a major indicator of damaged, dry hair, I did a little research and discovered that using dry cotton towels and drying the hair too roughly can be a big cause of that damage.
Are there other big hair "no-no's" like this that you wish more people knew about?
Definitely the importance of conditioning. I’m always shocked when people tell me they sometimes skip conditioner! You really need to pay attention to what your hair is telling you, and if your hair is frizzy it means you need moisture—from within and without. Drink a lot of water daily, and apply conditioner after every shampoo, alternating with a hair mask every few shampoos.
Do you have any tips for figuring out what kind of conditioner is best for someone’s particular hair type?
If you have thick hair, I find that thinner conditioners work best and if you have thin hair, you’ll want something thicker. Hair masks are extra important for thin hair, as are protein treatments, which really help strengthen hair. If you’re not sure which kind of hair you have, gather it all into a ponytail—if the ponytail is smaller than, say, a quarter, you probably have thin hair. If you have a lot of frizz, that also probably means you have thin hair.
Even though it’s damaging, most of us have a hard time giving up heat styling altogether. What tips and tricks do you use to help protect hair from hot tools?
My advice: Always use a heat protectant and stay away from really hot tools. Most tools today go up to 450 degrees but If you can stay under 400 degrees you’re doing your hair a favor. If you’re trying to minimize heat styling, it’s also a good idea to learn to style your hair when it’s damp and let it set overnight. For example, you can pull your hair up into a ponytail and twist into a bun or braid your hair at night, or even do a series of little buns. Then, when you wake up, just style with your fingers. And go as long as you can between shampoos!
Your book, Stunning Braids, is full of gorgeous hairstyling inspiration. What style trends are you most excited about this season?
I am huge on easy updos for winter. We’re starting to go back to a time when people want to look like they tried to look nice, and simple updos really look lovely in pictures. I’m also always in love with braids. They have really proved to have staying power where trends are concerned.
Any trends you wish would just die already?
I think ombre color has definitely taken a nose-dive in terms of popularity, and I’m fine with that. And I’m over loose, flowing curls with a side part. Can’t we come with something else already?
Ha. You mean, like, Victoria’s Secret hair?
Yes, but even Victoria’s Secret is moving away from that! In the fashion show this year, they really started to allow women to work with their natural hair texture, whether that means straight or curls or even short. It used to be that everyone got a handful of hair extensions and that was that.
Last but not least, will you tell us a little bit about your relationship with your own hair? Has it evolved over the years? And are there tried-and-true tricks or products that you can't live without?
I have to come to realize I do not have hair like everybody else. I can appreciate that now because it helped me get into the beauty industry, but it really was a journey to learn how to deal with my very fine and curly hair. Even when I first started professionally styling, I would work with clients and make their hair look beautiful, but still hadn’t figured out how to make mine look very good. My hair is too fine for relaxers, so I’ve learned to integrate a few hair extensions in a way that looks really natural. I’m also a big fan of DevaCurl products. I’ve learned which moisturizers really work for me. Oh, and I love coconut oil—there’s nothing better for my hair or skin!