Real Girl, Real Beauty: Melissa Burgos & Her Life-Affirming Locks

Government analyst Melissa Burgos is a testament to embracing your natural beauty. The U.S. Navy veteran and hair blogger has a signature 'do that stops us in our tracks, and her no-fuss beauty regimen is more than a little inspiring. But, she's taking her status as a curly-hair guru a step further: As part of her work as a government program analyst, she's helping to educate adoptive parents about how to care for natural hair.
Some of Burgos' best beauty secrets come straight from her Puerto Rican grandmother — you know they really work, to be passed down through the generations — and we committed them all to memory during a recent afternoon. We dove into her hair and skincare regimen, scoped out the amazing vintage pieces she acquired while stationed in Japan, and admired her collection of insane shoes. Click through to meet Mel, get a glimpse of her bold personal style, and find out why she keeps her face cream between the eggs and the salsa ...
Photographed by Kate Warren.
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Photographed by Kate Warren.
First off, your hair is amazing. How long have you worn it like this?
"Thank you! It has been about three and a half years."

How did you get into the natural-hair blogging world?
"It actually started on Instagram! I was posting pictures of my hair and hair regimen, and it kind of took off from there. I knew I was on to something — [the fact that I'm] Latina shocked a lot of people, so I felt like it was a great platform to create a discussion and awareness that we Latinos wear our hair in braids, dreadlocks, and, of course, afros."

Vintage suit from Japan; Louis Vuitton heels.
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Photographed by Kate Warren.
What has been the coolest thing that has happened to you through blogging?
"I have received tons of haircare products, so I sample what is out there and can speak with more authority. An unanticipated bonus that I get from blogging is hearing from my readers. The questions, comments, and even critiques make a lively conversation, [which I realized] is the real goal of my blog."
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Photographed by Kate Warren.
Tell us a bit about the natural-hair program you're working on for adoptive parents.
"I am in the beginning stages of contributing to the blog of the Administration on Children, Youth & Families under the Department of Health & Human Services in assisting transracial adoptive parents on creating haircare regimens for their children. Hopefully it will lead into a potential program."
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Photographed by Kate Warren.
You mentioned that your beauty routine is pretty minimalist. What are the products you use most often?
"It is. The products I use most often are my Maybelline Age Rewind concealer — it doubles as a nude lip base when I misplace my lip gloss —my BareMinerals bronzer, and my Revlon eyelash curler."
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Photographed by Kate Warren.
Walk us through your morning skin/hair/makeup routine — what do you do each morning to get ready?
"I wash my face with L'Oréal Go 360 Clean Deep Facial Cleanser and rinse with cold water. I use Pond's Rich Hydrating Facial Moisturizer and Lancôme Genifique Yeux Eye Illuminating Serum.

I try to wash my hair at least every five days. I [shampoo with] Dark & Lovely Au Naturale Beyond Gentle & Sulfate-Free Wash and condition with Dark & Lovely Au Naturale Knot Out Conditioner. My styling combo is Sebastian Potion 9 Wearable Treatment and Eco Styler gel. I diffuse my hair under low heat for no more than 15 minutes, and I seal the ends with either argan, jojoba, or grapeseed oil."
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Photographed by Kate Warren.
"For makeup, I start by applying Maybelline Instant Age Rewind concealer in Honey. Then I apply BareMinerals bronzer in Warmth with my powder brush. I lightly fill in my eyebrows with MAC Spiked Eyebrow Pencil and brush on MAC Brow Set in Girl Boy. I curl my eyelashes with my trusty Revlon eyelash curler and use Maybelline The Falsies Volum' Express Mascara or Benefit They're Real! Mascara," Burgos says. "I finish off with Sephora Cream Blush in Coral Rose or Josie Maran Argan Color Stick. My favorite lip glosses are MAC Myth and Almay Cantaloupe mixed together, and my favorite lipsticks are MAC Ruby Woo and Morange mixed together, as well."
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Photographed by Kate Warren.
You mentioned your secret weapon for nails is gel manicures. How often do you get them done? Do you have a go-to salon?
"I get them done every two to three weeks because if I don't, I will bite my nails off. Yep, I'm a nail-biter. I go to LA Nails in Arlington, and Trang is my manicurist."
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Photographed by Kate Warren.
Any hair horror stories?
"I went super-short — I shaved my head once."

You shaved your head?! Why?
"I went to a hairdresser just to get highlights, and she put a light relaxer on my hair without me knowing it. So when I went to wash my hair and wear it curly, all my hair fell out on one side. Like, a handful of hair. I freaked out because I thought I was sick, and my mom, who's a hairdresser, said to smell the hair and see if it smelled like egg — it did. She told me the stylist had double-processed my hair. When I went to the salon the next day to find the stylist, she had quit. I went to a new stylist just to try and get it fixed, and when he saw the bald spot, he flinched. So I grabbed the clippers and said 'Just shave it. Get your manager, get whoever, and just shave it.' That was 2010, so this is three years' of growth."

Vintage dress.
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Photographed by Kate Warren.
Have you always embraced your hair type? Or did it take time?
"When I was younger, I wore it in braids and tried to hide it. But now, I love it. It took me two months to wear my hair out at work, because it's so conservative. One day I was like, 'I have an event tonight, I don't have time to go home and wash my hair, I'm just gonna do it.' And the reaction was astounding. I walked in and my boss was like, 'Wow! Why have you not worn your hair out before?' So now, I'm known for the hair. It's like 'There goes Mel!'"
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Photographed by Kate Warren.
Okay, explain the face creams in the fridge!
"Okay, so my grandmother has amazing skin for an 86 year old, and I asked her what I should do to maintain my skin like hers. She simply replied 'Put your face and eye cream in the fridge. The cold lotion will tighten your skin.' I didn't even bother to research her claim — I have been doing that for the past four years. I've received compliments on my skin, so she must be right."
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Photographed by Kate Warren.
Your closet is pretty awesome, too! How would you describe your sense of style in a few words?
"I would describe my style as eclectic and edgy with a timeless twist."

Any favorite pieces in your closet?
"Yikes! That's a hard question, but if I had to narrow it down, it would be my AllSaints parachute dress, Gap denim overalls, and the baby blue skirt suit that I scored at a sidewalk sale in Okinawa, Japan, for like $2."

Vintage jersey from Japan; layered MAC lipsticks in Ruby Woo and Morange.
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Photographed by Kate Warren.
What was the last fashion purchase you made? And what will be the next?
"The last fashion purchase I made was an Isabel Marant for H&M sweater. Okay, okay — I actually bought two sweaters, a T-shirt, and leather pants from her line, so I won't be shopping for a while."

Zara jeans and heels.