Eight years ago, Cipriana Quann—co-founder of the online lifestyle publication Urban Bush Babes—made a decision that would forever change her outlook on beauty: She was going natural. The change, a result of too many years spent trying to fit the industry’s mold of the ideal look, would not only inspire her to encourage others to be comfortable and confident in their own skin, but also become her signature. We’re talking about the model’s showstopping natural tresses, which have amassed many admirers over the years, including us here at Byrdie. We caught up with the hair pro on a recent trip to New York and asked her to give us the scoop on everything from her routine to the products she swears by. Keep reading for our exclusive interview.
You're a hair inspiration to many. Where do you get YOUR hair inspiration?
Thank you!!! Well, my inspiration in everything has and will always be my beautiful mother.
How long have you had your hair natural and the way it is now? Would love to hear about your hair journey.
I have been natural for almost eight years now. The journey was a long one, but to keep it short, I just became more comfortable in my natural identity. After years and years of modeling and struggling with my physical image regarding my hair of trying to mold it into someone else's idea of their "ideal beauty," I’d just had enough! I wanted to represent the kind of beauty I felt most comfortable with and idolized when I was younger, which was my mother's image. I was done with masking my identity to represent a false beauty to please the standards of others. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and at the end of the day, I realized the most important beholder was me.
Can you describe your nighttime hair routine? What about morning?
My hair continually stays in loose twists no matter what the style, so I will take down my loose twists at night from whatever style I am wearing at the moment and braid it into six or seven large braids or Bantu knots, placing a little extra-virgin coconut and olive oil on the strands as I braid. Then I wrap it with a silk scarf. In the morning it just consists of undoing my nighttime routine and placing back into my updo style.
Would love to hear the specific products you swear by.
When it comes to hair products, I am very minimalistic, but I love all-natural oils like Nature's Way Extra Virgin Organic Coconut Oil ($12), extra-virgin cold-pressed olive oil, jojoba oil, Jamaican Black Castor Oil ($10), Shea Moisture's Reconstructive Elixir Oil ($13), VO5 Tea Therapy Conditioner ($11), and Dr. Bronner's Liquid Soap ($11).
How did you discover the hair products you swear by?
Absolutely through my own trial and error, as well as educating myself on the science of hair. Everything in this world has a scientific chemistry, and hair is no exception! Understanding the capabilities of natural and synthetic ingredients, the physical makeup of your hair, degrees of porosity, etc. Learning what works and what doesn't by understanding the science of anything can help tremendously in finding what products work for you, and a successful hair regimen.
What's the best piece of hair advice you've ever gotten? Or worst?
No matter how similar your hair may seem to another, it is not! Your hair is like a fingerprint. Even though I have an identical twin sister, I mean born from the same egg, our hair is slightly different.
What do you think is the biggest struggle for girls with natural hair? Have you found any ways to remedy it?
I think one of the biggest struggles is when a woman is contemplating going natural but is still hesitant in expressing that change in fear of judgment from others. Over time you realize those who want to stifle any form or expression that is positive and harmless know no other way than to live a life of limitations and are only projecting their own fears and insecurities onto you.
How is your beauty style different from and similar to your sister's?
Well, we both have very similar beauty rituals in where we both adore a bold lip, but my sister does play more with color than I do.
What's the best beauty tip you’ve picked up from your sister?
Not to be afraid to experiment. I tend to be a one-trick pony and stick to my basic look, which is really clean, focus on my brows, and a nude or bold lip. My sister has taught me how fun it can be to play with other elements, like contouring cheekbones or highlighting your eyes with a black top lid liner.
What’s your go-to lipstick color these days?
Yes, a bold lip is definitely one of my beauty staples. I love fuchsia or mauve-pink neutral tones. Red is a nighttime favorite.
Can you walk us through your skincare routine?
Diet and exercise are quintessential to my skincare. My gym opens at 6 a.m., so I get up a 5 a.m. every morning to work out, sometimes 4 a.m. if I need to write something. Exercise is so great because it releases endorphins and helps to detox the body, while food really does translate to "you are what you eat," which is fundamental to beauty. When washing my face, I use Dr. Bronner's All-Natural Multi-Purpose Almond Liquid Soap ($13) then use Nature's Way Extra Virgin Organic Coconut Oil ($12) to moisturize.
Photographer: Sunny Shokrae
Makeup: Sophie Haig
Styling: Alex Sweterlitsch
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