Fresh off Unbothered’s The Glow Up, the vertical’s first large-scale, in-person event in Atlanta, the hosts of the Go Off, Sis podcast are talking all things hair. Why? Because the ATL girls were giving everything from knotless braids to green wigs to butterfly locs to 36-inch bundles at the two-day event. The options were proudly on display, no matter if they DIY-ed that quick weave or booked a pro to pay the equivalent of a studio in Buckhead.
It only makes sense that celebrity hair stylist Shelby Swain pulled up a seat at the (round)table to chat with the ladies about curl patterns, Blue Magic products, porosity and the billion-dollar business that is Black hair. There’s a reason why she’s known as the Beyoncé of baby hair; Swain’s list of high profile clientele includes Saweetie, Amber Rose, Zendaya, and Miss Thick Thirty herself, Lizzo. (Oh, and let’s not forget that Swain is also an artist in her own right. “Rich Bitch on Vacation” is the anthem for this summer!)
The Black hair convo, as it often does, led to some Usher-like confessions. Co-host and Unbothered Vice President Chelsea Sanders admitted that she used to hate her hair, and Deputy Director,Global Kathleen Newman-Bremang revealed that she’d kept a weave in for six months during the pandemic simply because she “had no idea what she was doing.” Safe space, ladies. Safe space.
Swain had some hair horror stories of her own, letting us in on the origins of her complicated relationship with her locks. “Unfortunately, I had a perm young as hell. My mom has always had long hair and she always had a perm. So, she knew how to take care of it… I stopped getting a perm when I was like 10, 11,” Swain shared. “It kinda always made me just feel like my hair wasn't good enough, especially in its natural state.” At some point, she just ended up with a fade. (Don’t ask her how it happened — years later, she still doesn’t know.) Swain was into the cropped cut, but not everyone was a fan of the look. When she was a flower girl at her grandmother’s 50th anniversary celebration, someone suggested that she wear a wig. Her mother rejected the idea, but the damage was done; Swain developed even more of a complex about the hair (or lack thereof) on her head.
These days, the criticism fortunately doesn't bother her much. “I love my hair,” says the stylist, who’s known for rocking pink box braids on a whim. “Even if my hair isn’t the longest, or the straightest. I might not even have a 2C, 3A situation. I just need people to know we don’t need everybody’s opinion about our hair.”
To hear more about Blackity Black hair styles, brides rocking natural hair and celebrating the diversity of Black hair, listen to the full episode below.