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Keisha Knight-Pulliam Talks Natural Hair & Curls

When I think of nice hair on the red carpet, I generally think of Keisha Knight-Pulliam. Keisha’s hair always has a nice shine, and it looks thick and healthy. Imagine my surprise when I found out today, that Keisha does not use any chemicals in her hair. We all remember Rudy Huxtable with the big thick blown-out fro on The Cosby Show, and I assumed she later used chemicals to straighten her hair. Well, she straightens her hair with a flat iron, and when the cameras are not rolling she rocks the kinky curly look.

Keisha Knight-Pulliam discussed her hair routine with Curly Nikki, and I thought I would share some excerpts with you. BTW, my hair is natural. Is your hair natural? Have you thought about going natural? Did you do the big chop or transitioned out?


Word on the street is that you’re natural. Is this true?

I am natural and have been my entire life, except for a short time in college, when I experimented with a perm. I have always had lots of long, thick hair. Everyone remembers me from ‘The Cosby Show’, with my big, puffy braids. Sometimes I look back and think, “y’all did me so dirty…you didn’t even blow dry my hair right… just slapped it back!” [Laughter] It was funny because I had never embraced the fact that my hair was very, very curly. Whenever they’d style it on set, they’d brush through it and pull it back. And every one knows if your goal is to keep your curls, you never ever brush or comb through them!Frizz city. That’s why my hair was always so big.

It was like a whole new world for me the first time I got my hair really straight. I think I was 13 years old and had never been introduced to the pressing comb. I loved it. At that time, I didn’t like wearing my hair curly. I grew up in the ‘80s when the Jheri Curl was king. So I would get teased a lot because my hair was ringlety curly and really dark, jet black. Even now, on ‘The House of Payne’, Lance will tease me when I’m washing my hair, saying, ‘uh oh, Jheri Curl in full effect!’ So I had this whole complex around that, and never wanted to wear my naturally curly texture.

But as I got older and went to college, things changed. There is nothing like that Atlanta heat! My freshmen year at Spelman, I lived in Apex and we didn’t have any AC. I would straighten my hair and wake up the next morning to a sweated out mess.


What products are you using?

Pantene makes my favorite shampoo and conditioner. They work really well with my hair- I just pick up whatever bottles of Pantene are on sale at Tarjay. No real preference. I also like Kim Kimble’s products. She has a Deep Conditioning Honey Oatmeal Shampoo and Conditioner. Love, love that line. I’ll leave a little Pantene conditioner on and I’ll put the Honey Oatmeal Conditioner on top of that, and sit under my heat cap for like 30 minutes while I watch TV or get on the computer. Then I’ll rinse it out and apply a little bit of KMS’ Bounce Back… it works really well. I have sensitive skin and have to avoid greasy, heavy products, or my face will break out. I like Bounce Back because it’s light and it holds the curl without making it hard or crunchy. Sometimes I’ll add a little bit of JAM to smooth my edges… that’s old school.

You frequently wear your hair straight. Do you style it yourself? How do you protect your curls?

I do my own hair most of the time, unless I’m working. What I do is wash and condition it, detangling my hair in the shower while the conditioner is still in, and then rinse it out completely. I think a lot of the problems people have is that they don’t rinse their hair good enough… but if you can run your hair across it and it squeaks… literally… then it’s clean. I then blot dry with a towel until the majority of the moisture is gone. Next, I divide my hair in sections and lightly blow dry with an air concentrator attachment and a brush. Finally, I apply a little Aveda Brilliant Emollient Gloss as I flat iron it. That’s all I do. I’ve learned that less is more- – it keeps my skin clear and the overall result is much sleeker.

Another thing to be mindful of is how often you’re heat styling. I don’t put a lot of heat on my hair. Once I wash it and flat iron it, I rarely touch up. I don’t flat iron it again until I wash it again. As I’ve gotten older, I believe the heat has tamed my curl a little. {Read More}

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