If Fenty Hair Works on Black Hair Textures, It Will Work On Yours, Too


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Let’s talk Black hair. It’s beautiful, but also suffers from dryness and breakage, leading to dull, lifeless curls and split ends. My hair needs moisture to thrive—something that all hair needs. So, if Rihanna created a hair care line based on her hair type and texture, you can believe it will be great for all hair textures. Who doesn’t want hydrated hair? “She has a lot going on. If it works for us [Black people], it will work for everybody. Our textures and our hair are different, but it’s all the same in the end. You just want healthy hair. It’s one of those lines that will take care of your hair,” Yusef, Rihanna’s longtime hairstylist, tells ELLE.com.

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Fenty Hair

Rihanna is a style chameleon—and her hair is no exception. She’s known for her array of looks, whether she’s rocking braids in a doobie wrap while strolling through Manhattan or her natural curls at the launch of Fenty Hair—and that’s just in the past two weeks. Her hair experiences color, braids, wigs, blowouts, and even two back-to-back pregnancies—all while using this line; how could it not work on the everyday woman? And with Rihanna being a diversity queen, it’s no surprise that the makeup and skin care mogul set her eyes on the hair scene with an inclusive collection that has been years in the making. “We’ve been playing with this for over two years now. Before I even knew. [I asked], ‘What is this? What are you doing?’” reveals Yusef. For her current blonde era, she’s exclusively using Fenty Hair. The line was incredibly secretive before launch. We had to sign NDAs! Only a few editors received lab samples.

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But now, Fenty Hair is here and available to everyone. It comes in bright pastels that draw in your eye, and the jars have textured tops. The collection has nine products, including shampoo, conditioners, stylers, and even an edge brush! The line targets repair because healthy hair is happy hair. The Rich One Moisture Repair Shampoo and Conditioner have proteins, amino acids, and antioxidants to help rehab split ends, reduce breakage, and leave your hair soft and smooth. The Richer One Moisture Repair Deep Conditioner is perfect for dry, damaged hair and when you need extra conditioning. The Comeback Kid Instant Damage Repair Treatment contains bond-building technology to support damaged keratin structures and strengthen your strands. Yusef reveals it’s also Rihanna’s favorite. “It gives her the security to play with different hairstyles, which we do every time she sits down. We’re blonde one day, the next day we’re this color, the next day we’re short. The Comeback Kid gives her the perfect foundation to be—Rihanna—just try different hairstyles and do new looks,” he says. The Comeback Kid can be a leave-in conditioner if your hair needs extra love, or you can rinse it out.

To me, the real highlight of the collection is the stylers. The Protective Type 5-in-1 Heat Protectant Styler will protect your tresses up to 450 degrees and detangle, defrizz, smooth, and hydrate your hair. For curly girls, she included The Homecurl Curl Defining Cream to leave you with the best twist-outs all year long. The Gelly Type Strong Hold Gel is great for slick-backed looks, while The Controlling Type Hair-Thickening Edge Control Gel will lay and smooth your edges sans any product build-up or flakes. “As a professional working with celebrities, I think she really took her time and made sure it not only worked for her, but she was involved with everybody—[including] labs. I would have to bring her pictures of people I used the products on. She was super involved from beginning to end,” reveals Yusef. This line was created to take care of your hair, no matter what style or condition it is in, and is for all textures and types—really!

Beauty director Kathleen Hou and I both tested Fenty Hair. Ahead, our reviews that are based on hair types and textures.

Soft, zig-zag curls

I don’t really like to give my hair a “type,” but I understand it’s helpful for others. I have 4B/4C, zig zag curls. My hair is soft and fine but thick, as I have a lot of strands. I don’t put much heat on it—a few silk presses a year (more recently as I’ve been testing more hair products) and I wear many twist outs and braid outs. Right now, I’m focused on hair health and hair growth. In addition to hydrating shampoos and conditioners, I use the CurrentBody Skin LED hair growth helmet.

yusef and danielle james for fenty hair

Courtesy of Danielle James

Yusef and digital beauty director Danielle James with her hair halfway styled with Fenty Hair.

When Yusef put his hands in my hair, it was semi-dirty. I had some product build-up on my strands from back-to-back twist outs. I was ready for wash day after a week of traveling. It looked a little dull and my hair was dehydrated from the plane. The shampoo and deep conditioner blew me away—my curls instantly got this beautiful definition and my hair was hydrated. Yusef suggested I skip the regular conditioner to give my hair extra love and hydration. The deep conditioner stayed in for about five minutes but left my hair incredibly soft and easy to detangle. My hair felt good. It felt clean but not stripped. “Less is more for me—it’s not a hundred steps to do, and the products are very efficient and good for all textures and hair types,” said Yusef.

a person with a tattoo on the chest

Courtesy of Danielle James

While I usually wear my hair curly, there was no way I wasn’t letting Yusef use his magic hands for a silk press. We used The Protective Type 5-in-1 Heat Protectant and let me tell you—I’m not afraid to straighten my hair with this product. Not only did it protect my hair, but it also left it so smooth and shiny. When I washed my hair a week later, my curls instantly bounced back. I’m not big on smoothing my edges, mainly because of product build-up and weakening them with alcohol, but this edge control boasts thickening properties, and Yusef warned, “a little goes a long way, that includes the conditioners,” as he applied the product to my edges with the rose gold brush. When I redid my hair a few days later, you could not even tell that I had edge control days before. No product build-up!

Because the line works so well on Black hair, I’m confident it will work on everyone. This is why I wasn’t surprised at how fabulous and voluminous Kathleen’s hair looked when she walked into the office. She had that Fenty finish!

Straight hair, occasionally wavy and frizzy

Rihanna is a known hair chameleon: Pixie cuts, buzz cuts, natural curls, mullets, flame-red bobs. She can do it all. In comparison, I’m a hair tortoise. I cycle through a hair change every few years, varying a little with bangs and length. My strongest hair moves were reluctant childhood perms which made me look like an Asian Orphan Annie (my mom has always loved curly hair and used to have us get annual mother/daughter perms as a bonding ritual). Now, my hair is decidedly straight, occasionally wavy and frizzy with humidity (a textbook 1C). But just as with makeup, Rihanna formulates for us all, including the hair un-gutsy!

kathleen hou for fenty hair

Courtesy of Kathleen Hou

What I look for in shampoo is something that gives my hair a clean-yet-moisturized feeling, and doesn’t leave it looking lank and wilted. My roots tend to be a little oilier while my ends are dry, so it’s a fine balance. I like that the Richer One Moisture Repair Shampoo has a lather that true to the name, is fluffy, airy, and feels very luxurious, the stuff of haircare commercial dreams. It and the conditioner both come in a convenient pump, and you don’t need much. I tend to do a double-wash when my hair feels particularly grimy, and I liked how the shampoo/conditioner combo worked to keep it looking fluffy and healthy (the brand uses a specially developed complex called Replenicore-5, which contains amino acids, proteins, and antioxidants) even when I used it consecutively. Although Yusef gave me a silky blowout, my hair still looked really full and vibrant and felt soft, even on my own wash nights.

I really like that the screw-on tops for products like the deep conditioner (The Richer One Moisture Repair Deep Conditioner) have special patterning to help the vision impaired. And if you know two things about Rihanna, you know that she’s tired of being asked about a new album and that she loves gourmand scents. True to that, the most sensorial aspect of the haircare line is the specially developed amber/vanilla scent. The fragrance load is pretty strong, and smells pretty yummy—edible and rich like some sort of savory-based dessert. I like that my hair had a little cloud of scents for days, giving my hair flips an extra boost.

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