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Interview with Paul Mitchell Educator LaDonna Dryer

by Michelle Breyer on Friday, November 2, 2012

Paul Mitchell educator LaDonna Dryer knows a little about working with coilier hair textures. She’s a 4c herself, and her Savannah, Ga. salon, he Said…she Said Salon in Savannah, Ga., has a large clientele of women who have transitioned from relaxers to natural hair. So she brought a unique perspective to “The Truth About Curls” campaign to launch the Paul Mitchell Curls line.

LaDonna believes it’s an exciting time for natural women.

“I see a lot of people making the transition,” says Dryer, who transitioned herself. “I didn’t think I would be natural. I cut it really short and wondered what would happen if I never put a relaxer in again.”

These days, Dryer fully embraces her natural hair, wearing it in a 2-strand twist one day or an afro puff the next.

NaturallyCurly’s own Michelle Breyer asked Dryer to provide her top tips for natural women.

Michelle Breyer: What are some of your top tips to help women who are transitioning?

LaDonna Dryer: One of the biggest challenges when you go natural is to retain the moisture in your hair. Using sulfate-free shampoos is key. They help a lot in terms of keeping the cuticle calm and retaining that moisture. I really like the new Paul Mitchell Curls Spring Loaded Shampoo, which is ultra moisturizing and sulfate free.

The second most important thing is to condition. There are different kinds of moisturizing conditioners, and one size doesn’t fit all. Even baby fine hair may need some type of moisture, but maybe not something as heavy as you’d use on tight coils. I like that Paul Mitchell offers several moisturizing conditioners to choose from. There’s The Rinse, a light conditioner designed to deposit moisture where it’s needed; the Tea Trea Lavender Mint Conditioner, a heavier conditioner; and the Super-Charged Moisturizer, an intense hydrating treatment. You have to find the right moisturizing plan for your hair.

MB: What are some tips for natural hair styles?

LD: Obviously you let it be free. We do something in the salon called the Mo ‘Fro (Modern ‘Fro). Other options are 2-strand twists and coils. When people come into the salon and want something more intricate, I may do a 2-strand twist or coils in the salon, but I show them how they can do it themselves at home.

I like to use Paul Mitchell Full Circle Leave-In Treatment to soften up the hair, and sometimes I’ll use it as a styling product. For coarser textures with a tighter curl, I may use the Paul Mitchell Curl Ultimate Wave to get some stretch. If I don’t want to manipulate the curl and just want to enhance what’s there, I use the Twirl Around Crunch-Free Curl Definer.

Another one of my secrets is to use the Paul Mitchell Awapuhi Styling Treatment Oil to prep the hair. It gives a good sheen to the hair without making it too heavy.

Other good options for added definition are Paul Mitchell Foaming Pommade and Paul Mitchell Super Sculpt. I find that I can use a lot of Foaming Pommade — about an ounce all over the head. Let it air dry, and you get a nice defined curl.

MB: What other options do you offer for clients transitioning to natural hair?

LD: Blowouts are still big. The client may like the look of relaxers but they don’t want to use chemicals. But I do warn them if you use a flat iron or blowdryer all the time, you will lose your curl pattern. It doesn’t always take a chemical to straighten the hair. If you are natural and like your natural curl, you need to take a break from heat styling so your hair doesn’t lose the curly texture it has.

MB: What are your favorite product cocktails?

LD: There’s a difference between cocktailing and layering products. I may prep the hair with the Awapuhi Styling Treatment Oil and then layer the Ultimate Wave and/or Twirl Around on top of it. It depends on the texture, the style and the degree of dryness.

One guest could come in with extremely dry hair and it’s necessary to cocktail with more shine-inducing and moisture-inducing products. I’ll put her on a treatment program, with regular deep conditioning. The more I do that, the less I need to cocktail styling products.

MB: There are some people with coilier hair textures who wonder whether the new Paul Mitchell products are made for their hair?

LD: I think there are a lot of misconceptions that it’s not for type 4s. I have to admit that before I came to the company, I wondered whether they had products that would work for my type 4c hair. Education opened up my eyes to what Paul Mitchell products can do for hair like mine. Paul Mitchell has had products for a long time that work well for my hair. I think the new Paul Mitchell Curl product made it easier for people with all textures to identify with the products.

MB: Any tips on how best to use the new Paul Mitchell Curl products for type 4 hair textures?

LD: You have to properly emulsify the styling products in your hands and work them through the hair.

For my natural looks, I’ll use Full Circle first. I also use Ultimate Wave and occasionally Gloss Drops. Then, I’ll add the Awapuhi Styling Treatment Oil because I like the way it feels.

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Business Building Techniques

Begin having frequent staff meetings and collaborate on business building techniques used by others that you work with. Every salon has success right inside. Get the top booker to explain how they do it. Pair the weakest with the strongest and let them work next to each other. They can learn from what they hear and see. Do the same with retail sales. Share the ways that the top stay on top.

With cross marketing other services, know who the salon leaders are and copy them. Your staff becomes a resource to each other and by sharing dialouge that works, we all win.

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