Whether you know her as Dawn or Coco, Teyonah Parris is someone you should definitely add to your dream celeb squad. Perhaps it's the depth and intrigue of her on-screen characters or her own personality-filled Instagram, but Teyonah has that fabulous ability to make you feel like you're already her BFF. And that's exactly how we felt earlier this summer when we got the chance to sit down with the Mad Men and Dear White People star.
When we chatted with Teyonah, she had just landed a major role as ambassador to Dark and Lovely—a brand that she's been loyal to for ages. Amidst our beauty talk about dads who questioned our teenage hair color choices, Teyonah opened up about what it meant for her to make the transition from relaxed to natural hair, the advice she'd give her younger self, and the $10 beauty find she's simply obsessed with.
"I'm very excited to be partnering with Dark and lovely! The brand has been around for a very long time—I grew up with the brand. I actually was using their relaxers when I was younger, so it's so funny now that the brand is actually growing and expanding as their consumer base does because many women, like myself, are no longer using relaxers. They're expanding, trying different things, and this now works perfectly for me and for my natural hair journey. It's really cool to see them growing and to be able to grow with them, and I never in a million years expected to be partnering with them and speaking about my experience and my journey!"
I noticed from your Instagram that you're quite adventurous with your hair and beauty looks. Have you always been that way?
"Yes! The short answer is yes—so much so to the point that my dad would be like, 'OK, you need to go back into the room and change this hair. There's too much happening here.' But I always loved to experiment and try different things. I mean it's hair! The way you style your hair—just like your clothes—is an extension of your personality and the story you have to tell and what you want to say for that day, for that moment. It's not permanent. It changes. It can grow as you do. So yeah, I've always loved to try new things!"
Amazing! So how what does how you wear and style your hair mean to you in terms of self expression?
"When I started to transition to natural hair from a relaxer, I didn't feel like I saw a lot of women in the media who reflected what I was doing, who looked like me, who had the same texture hair as me, who were on red carpets or magazines or billboards who had natural big curly hair. So I said, 'I need to be that image that I'm yearning for!' For me, it's really been fun. It's not been easy, per say, the entire time. And I don't want it to seem like it's such a dark deep thing, but when you're so used to being told you have to look a certain way in order to be beautiful or in order to be considered glamorous, then it takes time for you to recondition your mind that 'I am born like this, this is how God made me, and it is also beautiful.'
It may not be reflected in the media or wherever right now, but I can be that image that I want to see. And that's been my mission for myself, and [I'm] hoping that young women, older women will be inspired by it as well. So partnering with Dark and Lovely was a perfect match because they were doing that. They were one of the few brands that was saying, 'This too is beautiful and we want to highlight it and put it in the world for others to see.'"
Excellent point. So what would you say to young women who are struggling with finding that self confidence?
"I could sit here and talk for hours about it, and I say that because I know the things I needed to hear over the years—the way God made you is valid, valued, beautiful, and to just own. I know so many people say, 'Well, how do you just own it?' You look at yourself in the mirror and you say, 'You are beautiful. I am beautiful.' And you walk out into the world until you believe it! With your head held high, with your twist out poppin' that day—or maybe not, but if you use the Moisturizing Souffle, that twist out will be popping and you don't have to worry about it! But it's really just reminding yourself and having people around you who also remind you that you are beautiful and you don't have to look like the next person by any means."
I love that!
"Thank you! It's true though. It's really true. I fought with myself to really get to a place where I really believed it, so I understand. I understand that journey and what that means for women and for young women going through that."
Since you're adventurous, has there ever been a look that you loved at the time, but looking back you're like, 'What the heck was I thinking?'
"Yes! Absolutely! I don't know what [hair] color it was, my friends say it was just orange, but I thought it was like honey, bronde copperish—somewhere in there—but I look back and yeah, it was orange. So they called me Ronald McDonald. Those were my Ronald McDonald days! But yeah, you know I was growing out a bob, a short haircut where it was faded in the back, so I said, 'This is a crazy in between stage so let me try some color!' And it didn't work out. That color was like three different colors of orange, but I thought it was cute at the time. It was like 'I am killing the game. Killing it!'"
When you're in public and find a great background for a bangin' selfie but someone walks by clowning you!! 🤣 . 💚💜#TeyonahTip for a Fluffy Fro 💜💚 . For this fluffy fro I used 2 @DarkandLovely products that I really love from the Au Naturale line- Slick Slip Leave In Conditioner and Curl Defining Crème Glaze! After co-washing and detangling I used the #AuNaturale Slick Slip Leave In Conditioner to keep my coils hydrated and followed that with the Curl Defining Crème Glaze for coil definition! . I sectioned my hair and finger raked the Crème Glaze through each. After raking, I put hair sections into chunky twists while I moved through the entire head. Once finished (and predominantly dry) I unraveled the twists, picked out my roots a bit, and was #BigHairDontCare outchea in these streets!! . Side note: Use your blow dryer on the low setting if you don't have time to let it all completely dry! While you're at it you can also use the blow dryer to stretch hair from the root if you want a bit more volume! . Have Fun and TAG me in ya result pics witchall #DarkandLovely selves!!!💚💜
What is the one piece of beauty advice you would give your teenage or younger self?
"I think the one piece of advice I would give my younger self would be take care of your skin. Your face and what you put in is going to come out. It's going to show itself on the outside. What you put in your body will manifest itself outwardly, externally—and that goes for hair, skin, all of that.
I think we're so young, and we fill ourselves with very bad things and then go through those stages of crazy acne, dry hair, things like that. So really understanding that you're going to want that skin to be clear and that hair to be soft and supple in a few years. so you should be mindful of what you're in taking there!"
You're on set a lot working with different pros. What are good make up or hair tips you've picked up along the way?
"For makeup, I would say [use] a primer. I'm on set so I'm in makeup for 17 hours sometimes, and you have to look camera-ready and cute like you just woke up two hours ago—and most times it's impossible—but having a great primer is essential. It helps [foundation] stay smooth and last longer, so that certainly would be my makeup tip.
For hair, it's so crazy because being a woman of color in the industry, a lot of times you come up against people who are not familiar with how to do your hair. And particularly being a woman who wears her hair natural, they're just lost. So I'm actually giving them tips! I come in with my big bag of products, my Dark and Lovely like "So, this what we gonna do!" and I have to show them really what I need and what works best for me.
It's certainly more protective styles. So I'll have them use one of the Dark and Lovely butters to braid it down, and I use the Refresher Spray to keep the braids moist while it's under my wig. A lot of times I'm wigged because everybody's not natural. Not everybody's got the cute afro! But I have them keep my hair protected and moisturized by using my Dark and Lovely products."
What was the last five-star product that you've used?
"Oh I'd have to say the Refresher because you can use it on your hair when it's wet, you can use it when it's dry. I can use it when I'm in my afro, when I have my hair like this or in braids. It just keeps it moisturized and shiny but not oily or slippery. So for me it definitely would be the Refresher. That's my go-to for whatever style I have!"
I love that you have a product that can tackle everything!
"You need that one because they have so many that tailor to so many specific things—'Oh I need my twist out to be extra defined, oh I just need a wash and go'—but this one you can use no matter what the hairstyle is.
Let's play a shopping game. You've got $20 to spend at the drugstore. What do you buy?
"Well obviously my Refresher! It's $9.99, so I've got ten more dollars! I would get some [false] eyelashes because you need eyelashes. So what's that, about $5. OK, so I have five more dollars. I would get some Icebreakers mints and some Starbursts. My hair's popping, my lashes are fly, and I'm gonna get some mints and Starbursts!"
You've got your beauty products and your sweetooth fulfilled. I couldn't agree more!
Have you tried Dark and Lovely, Influesnters? What's your favorite product? Tell us what's your go to below!