'Excuse me if I'm emotional,' Vernon Francois, the man behind some of the best heads of hair in Hollywood, says. We're talking about his recently launched eponymous range of luxury haircare (now available on Net-a-Porter) and its significance in an age when women of all backgrounds are skipping the hair straighteners and embracing their natural textures from the runways to red carpet to everyday life.
On the Hollywood front, Francois has been instrumental in this movement, with a client roster that includes practically every posterwoman for kinky and curly hair goals. The looks Lupita Nyong'o has been wearing on the Queen of Katwe promotional tour? That's all Vernon, who has worked with the Oscar winner since the earliest days of her film career. He has worked with Uzo Aduba, Kerry Washington, Tracee Ellis Ross and a long list of others.
'I'm happy that I've been in a position to launch a range that helps a woman truly embrace her curl pattern. My parents are Caribbean but I have red hair. I've always stood out, but as a young child when you stand out you never feel included,' he says. 'So I think the bigger conversations we're seeing around textured hair is about inclusivity for all.' He talks us through the best ways to get the most out of your curls this autumn/winter.
Know what you are working with
'I identified in my early days that hair has many different personalities and with that comes loads of different DNAs. When you look at the iconography around textured hair, there is always a hair chart that that goes from A, B, C to 123. And I'm always like, "What does that mean?",' he says. 'Sometimes the talk around hair can get too technical. So I was like, "How can we make this universal and make it easy for people to understand in a split second." So I put visual iconography on my packaging to tell you what your hair is and where it's at.'
Try A Bantu Knot
'If you have kinky hair, put your hair into bantu knots for two strand twists. It's a great way to prep the hair overnight and will help to give definition to your natural curl pattern. This method generally works all year long, depending on the weather. And to promote growth: mix castor oil with equal parts water and apply to the scalp and the ends of the hair.
Curl patterns change according to the individual, but there's one universal rule when it comes to nighttime prep. If you wrap or tie your hair in a scarf, use silk not cotton. 'The silk will maintain moisture and prevent breakage,' Francois says.
'I think the biggest myth people have when managing curly hair is that it tangles too easily. I always say use your fingers to detangle, rather than a comb, because your fingers are your best tool. They'll yield a different look, especially when it comes to curl definition. And you can manage your expectations better with them. Just use your fingers to politely separate the curls. I say politely because you want to always approach your hair when you're in a good mood.'
Spray the waves
'If you have wavy hair, use lots of moisturizing sprays and two- or four-strand twists. Section the hair and twist away from the face. This will create a nice amount of bounce.'