Advice From The Queens Of Natural Hair

Photo: Courtesy of & Other Stories/Charlotte Wales.
Even if you're not familiar with identical twins Cipriana Quann and TK Wonder, you've probably seen them at one point or another. This year alone, they've been featured on ASOS, in W magazine, and campaigns for & Other Stories and Gap. You can also spot them in basically every street style roundup from the past couple of seasons. (Naturally, we've already documented their appeal, too.)
While the sisters (TK, left; Cipriana, right) have stunning features and killer style, it's their show-stopping natural hair that has caught (and held) our attention. We first found out about the Baltimore-born ladies after stumbling across Cipriana's online publication Urban Bush Babes — she's the cofounder and EIC — which serves as a resource for all things natural hair, fashion, lifestyle, and more. Once we realized she has a twin (and that no, we weren't seeing double), who happens to be a trendy musician, we knew we had to get the dish on their larger-than-life tresses.
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Click through to read what we learned from the duo. In proper Damian fashion, there's a reason their hair is so big — it's full of secrets! (The good kind.)
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Photo: Courtesy of Jason Jean/Citizen Couture.
What’s the earliest memory you have of your hair?
Cipriana Quann: “For me, probably our mother doing our hair. She was very patient and constantly taking care of [it]. Sitting down and watching Fame, and [her] combing and brushing our hair. I really enjoyed the process.”

TK Wonder: “I also remember playing with my doll’s hair and trying to mimic how our mom did our hair, which is how I actually learned to braid and cornrow.”

Why did you decide to go natural?
CQ: “I think we both did it the first time because our father decided it was getting too expensive, so it was kind of yanked from us. We were constantly getting leisure curls, which are like relaxers, but not quite a perm. So, it wasn’t like, ‘Oh, I want to have natural hair,’ it was more about economics... My sister and I are a little different, though. I’ve been natural for seven years [the sisters are 28] and [TK’s] been natural for 12. I went back to a relaxer twice after the initial time.”

What were your journeys of going natural like?
TKW: “For me, after I chopped all of my hair off, I had actually grown my natural hair out and then cut off the chemical part. It was very, very short. I rocked it in cornrows for a while, until it became longer… I was a tomboy back then, and I didn’t really think much about it. I only started REALLY paying attention to my hair a few years ago, when Cipriana started her site. I was like, 'This is amazing. I’m learning from my twin.'"

Was it love at first sight when you did a big chop? Cipriana, I know you talk openly about your struggles accepting your natural hair. TK, did you have a similar experience?
TKW: “Yes, and no. (laughs) I was 16 and very much a tomboy back then. I didn’t pay attention to fashion. I was mostly just like, ‘Oh, well, it’s gone.'”

CQ: “I also think our environments had a lot to do with it. That’s why I always say who you surround yourself with is so important… I was in the modeling industry, and people were constantly saying things about my hair, while my sister, who’s a musician and artist, [had that] kind of creative freedom of expressing [herself] through looks."
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Photo: Courtesy of Jason Jean/Citizen Couture.
How does your actual hair differ from one another's?
CQ: “Her hair is longer than mine, because she’s been natural longer; that’s the only difference, really. And, the way we decide to wear it.”

TKW: “It looks different because I always wear my hair in a braid-out. The texture may look different, from the pattern in the braid-out, but it’s the same hair type.”

How did you guys settle on your go-to hairstyles? TK, you mention you often wear yours in braid-outs. Cipriana, I always see you with a bunned updo. Would you ever stray from these styles?
TKW: “I wear my hair up as well. But, mostly I wear it down. It’s just a preference thing... With all the hair I have, and the maintenance it takes, if I can find a style that’s low-maintenance, I’ll stick to it.”

CQ: “I’m the exact same way. Some people are like, ‘Why don’t you ever wear your hair down or change your hairstyle?’ and...I wear my certain updos that I’ll switch up every six months or so. I take it down every night, braid it, and then redo it every morning. It’s about convenience and preference. I don’t like anything on my shoulders... Our mother also used to always put our hair in these funky hairstyles when we were younger, a lot of updos, so that’s just something I’ve always felt more comfortable with.”
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Photo: Courtesy of & Other Stories/Charlotte Wales.
What are your hair regimens? Which products do you use?
CQ: “I’m not a big product person at all. I have my oils: jojoba, coconut, avocado, tea tree — all extra virgin, 100% organic. I use the same conditioner [to cowash] that I’ve used for years, which is V05 Tea Therapy… I also like Shea Moisture's Reconstructive Elixir.

“My regimen’s pretty easy. Now that my hair’s gotten longer, I wash it every three weeks... I’ll do my braids at night, to stretch my hair — because it makes it easier to detangle — in three firm braids, and then I take them out in the morning and do my updo style. I would probably skip that process if it made a difference in detangling, but it’s just easier to keep my hair stretched and manageable because of the length.”

TKW: “What she said for products; that’s exactly what I use. As far as my regimen, I only cowash as well, and I braid my hair in about 30 braids and then wash it. It’s much easier...because of the density, and it doesn’t tangle. It would just be a hot mess if we washed our hair loose. I let it air-dry, if I have time, and if I do have to use a blowdryer, I always use the cool levels. Then, I unbraid it when it’s usually about 80 to 85% dry so it still has a fluffy, thicker effect to it. I use the oils to lock in the moisture and keep the water in. Which is something I learned from your site, Cipriana." (laughs)

CQ: “I used to wear my hair in 150 loose twists. Now, I have my hair in about 20 loose twists. My hair has gotten longer, and the smaller twists I used to do easily 'loc my hair because of my texture. If we’re going by the hair-texture scale, I’m definitely a 4C... The bigger twists were also easier to detangle. My detangling time went down by hours... I stopped cooling my scalp, so after I wash my hair now, I don’t put any oil on my scalp; I just let the natural sebum lubricate my strands and scalp. I realized that [the oils] didn’t really help anything; [they] actually caused more dandruff. Diet is a big one for my hair regimen as well — [it] also affects dandruff problems. When I changed to a healthier diet, I could tell my hair started shedding less.”

TKW: “My secret, well, it’s not a secret really. But, wash-and-gos are not for every woman. I certainly can't do a wash-and-go. I can’t just roll into the shower, wet my hair, and jump out and walk out the door. It’s not going to work...for my texture. I used to make a joke, like, ‘Oh, I can wash my hair but I certainly ain’t goin’ nowhere.’"
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Photo: Courtesy of Joey Rosado/Hard Headed Media.
What’s some of the best hair advice you guys have received?
TKW: “Patience. I learned that from our mom. That’s the big reason why, if we have shoots, I always do my own hair — because nobody’s going to have the patience to do my hair but me. Also, I only finger-detangle; I never use combs.”

CQ: “That’s a big one for me too, finger-detangling. I used to comb my hair and I would experience a lot of breakage. Sometimes, people get confused because they wonder if you're actually getting all of the tangles out. Once you get more experienced, you can actually take a comb and run it straight through your hair [once you’re done]. It’s been a huge savior.

“My advice would probably be that no one’s hair is alike. Even though we’re twins and our texture is a lot alike, my sister’s hair is a little more loosely coiled than mine... These slight differences...can mean the world when it comes to your regimen."

How does your mom feel about the conversation you're opening up about hair?
Both: “She loves it.”

CQ: “She’s been so supportive, and she’s always been that way. My sister and I are best friends and that’s our triplet, our mom.”

Do you have any hair idols other than your mom?
TKW: "Lisa Bonet...the way she wears her hair now in 'locs."

CQ: “Hm... My mother. (laughs) I mean, there are so many natural hairstyles I like, and so many actresses I could name, but idol-wise it’s always been my mother.”
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Photo: Courtesy of Joey Rosado/Hard Headed Media.
Why do you think there’s so much judgment among women about what we do to our hair?
TKW: “Insecurity, that’s what I think. Whenever people pass judgment...it’s because they’re insecure about something that’s going on inside themselves...and it affects the way they view others.”

CQ: “I completely agree with that. I think people need to understand that everybody thinks differently, so we can’t place judgment. [We can't] think that just because someone relaxes their hair, they’re trying to be someone other than themselves. There’s this stigma that they’re trying to emulate this Eurocentric standard of beauty and, to be honest, not every woman thinks that. Some women relax their hair because they want easier management. It might not be the healthiest choice...but who am I to judge? For me, [going natural] meant more than hair — it was a psyche thing where it was affecting my well-being mentally. I was in an insecure place and, for me, transitioning to natural helped evoke all these things that helped me become who I was meant to be today.”

TKW: “I’m purely speaking about women who are judgmental toward other women for being natural. I’ve had a lot of experience with that. I do have to say that women tend to admire longer natural hair and find it more [acceptable] than they do the shorter, Afro styles... I’ve had a lot of negative reactions to my hair when it was shorter and in its Afro’d state… I used to be called Macy Gray — and there’s nothing wrong with Macy Gray, I think her hair is beautiful — but it was said in a negative connotation... Natural hair, then, was not cool like it is now, and I was teased mercilessly for it... For me, personally, if you wear your hair relaxed, I’ll never be the person who’s like, ‘You should be natural because you’re not accepting your true self.’ At the end of the day, it’s only hair.”

The natural hair movement is huge right now, and has been for the past couple of years. Where do you see it going?
CQ: “There’s this whole thing about it being a trend, but it’s not a trend because it’s what naturally grows from our heads. It’s always been here; it’s just that now more people are embracing it. I’m 200% sure that this is not going to fade out. I feel the movement getting stronger and stronger. The more women [come] out and [showcase] their natural beauty...it only inspires other women who might be hesitant to take that first step.”

TKW: “What she said! What more can I say? I see it expanding. I don’t think it’s a trend, and I think more women are catching on to the idea of natural hair. I know, for a lot of women, the workplace is a main concern… I’ve read countless stories about women in the workplace who wore their hair natural and got either positive or negative responses, so I know that’s a big [reason] some women...choose not to go natural. Also, I think there are a lot of hairstyles you can wear in the workplace... In the next few years, more women are going to be more comfortable in deciding whether they want to go natural and actually taking the steps to do so."

CQ: “I want to add that women who want to take the first step in going natural; it’s definitely not a rush... It took me over a decade to finally become comfortable wearing my natural hair... I went natural, but then I didn’t love the texture of my hair. I think women just need to know there’s no guilt in not loving their hair automatically... Like TK said, it takes patience — just give it some time."
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Photo: Courtesy of Joey Rosado/Hard Headed Media.
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