Lacy Redway, Hairstylist to Alicia Keys and Solange, On Styling Natural Hair: Exclusive

Taylor Jewell/Invision/AP
Alicia Keys photographed in New York City on Nov. 2, 2016.

"It feels amazing that women are embracing what their hair can naturally do."

Lacy Redway began her career in hair styling at 14 years old when she took up apprenticeship in an African-American hair salon in New Jersey. The Jamaican-native later moved to New York to study at The Aveda Institute in Manhattan, and it didn’t take long for Redway to catch the eye of several famed hairstylists, including Guido Palau and Eugene Souleiman, earning spots on their teams for fashion shows and editorial photo shoots.

Now Redway works closely with celebrities, and thanks to being well-versed in all hair textures, from Alicia Keys, to SZALion Babe to Solange, the hairstylist is responsible for some of the music industry’s most famous natural hair influencers. Redway talks to Billboard about the most underrated natural hair products, having fun with natural hair without damaging it, and what styling natural hair means to her.

How did you start your work with natural hair?

It’s kind of a natural — no pun intended — thing for me considering that I’ve grown up with this hair type all of my life. As a child, my mother gave me a relaxer, so I never quite knew my hair type until deciding to go natural in 2004, while still wearing protective styles like braids and weave hair extensions. 

How do you typically style natural hair?

No one curly girl is alike and there are really different hair types within the natural hair spectrum. For that reason, I am constantly trying out new products and customizing based on my clients’ needs. All hair types vary [in time it takes to style it], especially depending on what hairstyles you’re trying to achieve. A lot of women with natural hair prep styles overnight and let them down the next day, so natural hair can take minutes or hours.

What are some of your favorite protective styles to use for natural hair?

Deva Curl Deva B'Leave-In Curl Boost and Volumizer — it’s lightweight, but still helps define curls. Carols Daughter Mimosa Honey Calming Tension Spray is also great, especially for natural hair girls that wear protective hairstyles, from braids, to twists, to hair extensions, because it helps get to areas of your scalp that may be difficult while sporting those natural styles. It has ingredients like peppermint in it to help sooth the scalp. Cantu Shea Butter for Natural Hair Coil Calm Detangler really helps detangle your hair before washing or after removing a protective style. Vernon Francois Lightweight Styling Serum is not too heavy, so it can be used on most hair types and is small enough to pack in the tiniest hair kits . 

A great drugstore score is Pantene's Truly Natural Hair Co-Wash Conditioner. Co-washing is great for natural hair because shampoos can sometimes be too harsh. Co-washing is cleansing the hair without stripping it of its natural oils. A new favorite of mine is Jane Carter Solution Curls to Go Mist Me Over Spray. This is great when in the morning after waking up, your hair is flat and needs a boost to come back to life.

What’s your biggest natural hair tip?

This tip is not exclusive to natural hair women, but purchase a silk or satin pillowcase — I love the Kim Kimble Silk Pillowcase. Cotton can be drying on the hair and strip your hair of its natural oils.

What’s a big natural hair don’t?

Don't use too many products with alcohol in them. This dries out your hair. 

What’s an underrated natural hair tool or product?

Jane Carter Solution Nourish and Shine. I have used this product for over a decade. It leaves your hair soft and adds shine. I recommend this in small amounts and mostly on coarser hair types like type 4 hair. For stubborn baby hairs when you want a sleeker finish, use R-Session Root Control Iron. When you plan on heat styling your hair or just stretching your curls a bit, Conair Silver Bird Hair Dryer’s comb attachment has worked wonders on stretching natural hair.

How can you have fun with natural hair without damaging it?

Try heat-free hairstyles and allow your hair to dry naturally. 

How does it feel to help women embrace their natural hair textures?

It feels amazing that women are embracing what their hair can naturally do, and there are so many more products now to help maintain your curls and styles. It's such blessing to be able to work on so many different textures with my clientele.