It’s not often a hairstyle makes history, but in the 2017 Miss Universe Pageant, Davina Bennett did just that. When she walked out with her natural hair in an afro representing her hometown, the Miss Jamaica winner didn’t even realize the impact of her history-making moment until she stepped off the stage, went on social media, and saw so many positive reactions. "I wanted to break the standard of beauty that they had in beauty pageants. I wanted to be domino. I wanted to be the first person to rock her natural hair and do so effortlessly and just be myself, be natural," she says.
Unknowingly, this one move inspired so many women and girls to embrace their natural hair with confidence. "That was a moment that I think will carry like a badge on my heart for the rest of my life because of how it was appreciated," she says. "I know that it has changed the standards of how pageants are now because I've seen so many women just rock their Afro in pageants since then, which is something that you've never seen before. Now we have a Miss Universe with natural hair. So it's a ripple effect that I hope just keeps going."
There was some pushback before that big moment. "People didn't affiliate afros with being elegant or being classy or beauty pageants." she explains, "Even when I was going into the pageant, I faced hair discrimination left, right, and center even up until the day. People were just like, 'Where are you going with that hair? You're not going to make it through the top 16, They can't fit a crown on your head.'"
Finally, she had to take a break from social media and have a friend of hers run her page for her because it was becoming too much. Negative comments poured in, telling her she should’ve worn a wig or straightened her natural hair because she wouldn’t get far in the competition. That was, until the big moment—and the reception became positive.
"Someone had to be the first and now it's the norm," she says, "I’m very proud to be the person that that ran that race, and now I am passing the baton to many others around the world."
Her Haircare and Skincare Routine
So how does she care for her Miss Universe-worthy hair? A lot of moisture to deal with the heat in warm climates like Miami and Jamaica, where she spends her time. "I literally have to spray my hair every morning with water and moisturize with different oils, vitamins, all of that," she says.
She washes her hair once or twice a week, shampooing detangling and sometimes doing a leave-in mask. "I do the whole 'power routine' so my hair stays moist hydrated and it looks good," she says. "I like when my hair is redefining the laws of gravity. I like it up. I have to keep getting it groomed a particular way, so I do that at least once a month just to make sure everything looks good."
Her go-to hair saviors are from Shea Moisture and Camille Rose Naturals, though she does like to try new products and switch things up.
Her skincare routine is minimalistic. Some of her staples include Biore Witch Hazel Acne Clearing and Pore Clarifying Toner ($7) and Simple moisturizers, like the Simple Kind To Skin Replenishing Rich Moisturizer ($10). She loves a good DIY, swearing by a brown sugar scrub for her lips and a of baking soda, sugar, and honey mask for any acne that pops up.
Making Her Music Video Debut
Making her music video debut as Maluma’s love interest in his new music-video-slash-short-film was a nerve-wracking experience, but turned into another opportunity for her to make a hair statement. "Maluma made it very easy for me," she says. "He was very sweet very genuine and we had very good chemistry. It really just flowed naturally, to be honest."
"It was a combination of Latin and reggae and dancehall, it was bringing two cultures together," she continues. "Two people from different parts of the world, different skin colors just combining on a project and just creating magic, I think it's quite an accomplishment for me." She says of the music video meets short film that takes place in Jamaica.
Her hair takes center stage again in the video as she wears dreadlocks and she’s proud of that moment as well. "To be able to be on another platform presenting natural hair again to show that this can be styled this can be elegant, this is beautiful, is another milestone for me," she notes. "I'm really appreciative of the opportunity and the experience that I gained from from from this project."
You can watch the full video on YouTube.