Yara Shahidi’s Hairstylist Reveals The Secret Behind Her Enviable Braids

When it comes to taming our tresses, it seems we can never get enough words from the wise.  This week, TLLC’s beauty wisdom is brought to us by the sensational celeb hairstylist, Nai’Vasha Johnson, who styles celebs like Storm Reid, Alexandra Shipp, and, most recently, the braid-envy look spotted on Yara Shahidi. We had the privilege of sitting down with this mane master to gather up some of her celeb secrets so that you, too, can upgrade your ‘do like a star.

TLLC: What is your secret to achieving those perfect curls on Yara Shahidi time after time?  Is there a must-have product or specific prep process?

Nai’Vasha Johnson: The key to Yara’s perfect curls is moisture. Having a consistent deep conditioning regimen is paramount to shiny, bouncy curls. My prep process is a leave-in conditioner and my favorite paddle brush.

TLLC: What can you tell us about Yara’s new hairstyle?

Johnson: Yara’s new hairstyle was a homage and fun twist to old school braids and beads, which is perfect for spring break and vacation season. Stevie Wonder was my inspiration.

TLLC: What products did you use to create the look, and why are braids are such a great go-to? 

Johnson: I used leave-in conditioner and a bit of edge control to create this look while accenting it with simple beads. Braids are such a great go to because they are effortless. You can look amazing without hassle.

TLLC: You’ve been doing Storm Reid’s hair for the A Wrinkle In Time press. What’s your process when working with a celeb for a press tour, when several looks are needed? How do you collaborate and decide on the look?

Johnson: Storm, my Storm. She’s such a perfect little human. Saying her name makes me smile. When we’re doing a press tour, collaborative planning is so important. I assess the wardrobe looks and create a cohesive storyboard.

TLLC: What are three of your current favorite protective styles?

Johnson:  1. Wigs! I’m an absolute wiggie. You can change your look every day of the week, and your natural hair is never disturbed.
2. Wash-and-go. When done with love, a wash-and-go can be beyond beautiful on any curl.
3. Braids! Braids are super fun and versatile. Your scalp is exposed, so the opportunity to condition is easier.

TLLC: What do you like best about working with natural hair?

Johnson: The room for creative freedom is endless. There are so many beautiful ways that natural hair can be styled.

TLLC: We all have horror stories from our days of chemically relaxed hair. What are some important do’s and don’ts for managing natural hair?

Johnson: An important “don’t” when managing natural hair is overexposure to heat, even with a diffuser.  An important “do” when managing natural hair is moisturize and protect your coils with satin.

TLLC: What reliable resources of information do you recommend for sisters who are beginning a natural hair journey?

Johnson: For my curl queens who are beginning their natural hair journey, I say “stick to the basics.” A plethora of products are not necessary. Keep it simple.