Texture Talk: Makeup Artist Tracy Peart on Embracing Her Natural Hair During Quarantine

Welcome to Texture Talk, a weekly column that celebrates and deep dives into the dynamic world of curly hair, from crowns of curls that are free flowing to strands that are tucked away in a protective style.

Tracy Peart
Image courtesy of TRACY PEART. Design by Danielle Campbell.

The Covid lockdown and stay-at-home orders have no doubt effected our relationships with our go-to beauty routines. Here, Tracy Peart, a body positivity advocate and the resident makeup artist for CityTV’s Breakfast Television Toronto and Cityline, shares how months of quarantine life has shifted her hair routine from a long-standing love affair with protective braids to fully embracing her natural coils and hopscotching between hairstyles. Read on for her hair journey and what she’s learned along the way.

Pre-Covid hair journey:

“I always had somebody else doing my hair basically my whole life. Of course, I styled my hair and things like that, but I’ve never really dealt with my natural hair from beginning to end on my own. I started wearing braid extensions about 13 years ago. I relaxed my hair before that and I hated the process. I hated the burning and all of that, and just felt like my hair wasn’t healthy. Eventually, I decided to cut my hair very short, but it was still relaxed. My hair felt like too much work and I just didn’t want to go through the chemical straightening process anymore, so that’s when I started my braid journey. I wanted something that was going to protect my hair: braids are a lot less stress on natural hair and my hair felt much healthier.

For me, everybody should find a style that works for their lifestyle. I didn’t start wearing braids because I didn’t like the way my natural hair looked. It came down to time for me. I’ve been waking up at 4:00 AM for work for, like, 15 years, and I don’t have time to give attention to my natural hair in the morning. Protective styles like braids are just so much easier and faster for me. Yes, braids take a lot of time when you’re putting them in and taking them out: my go-to braiding technique takes four hours to put in (I don’t just do straight single braids) and roughly two hours to take out, which I undo myself. But there are weeks in between where you don’t really have to do much. I would go see my hairstylist every six to eight weeks, and in between I wash and condition my hair and run product along the scalp to keep it moisturized. That was my routine. My hair was pretty much done in 10 minutes and I mostly let it air dry. Sometimes I would scrunch it and use a diffuser for curl definition or put it all up, but I didn’t find my hair was a lot of maintenance. It was very simple. Transferring to braids from relaxed hair just made sense for me.”

Hair under quarantine:

“Honestly, I’m glad this all happened because I wasn’t very educated on my own hair before this. And I don’t pretend that this was my choice: This pandemic forced me to embrace my curls with salons being closed, and I didn’t want to go the route of going into hiding and not wanting to be seen. I know a lot of women who are hiding right now because they feel like their hair doesn’t look good. Many people are going through the same thing right now. And it doesn’t matter what race you are: There are so many women who are dependent upon salons, whether to get their hair done, their eyebrows waxed or nails done. We all have to learn everything by ourselves right now.

It’s been quite the hair journey with everything shut down. I’ve learned so much about my natural hair and so much about the styles I can do. I’ve been playing around with side parts, Afro puffs, Bantu knots, braids and twist outs to figure out which curl pattern I like the most. I also do wash-n-gos. I’ve been going on YouTube and watching all these video tutorials to learn, and even embrace the techniques that fail. It’s been fun, but, at the same time, the more I’m getting familiar with my hair, the more I’m realizing just how much time and love natural hair takes. Some hair techniques can take me two to three hours. And that’s the main reason why I didn’t wear it like this before. It wasn’t because of how it looked — I love my hair — a lot of it was time. I also was not aware of how much constant moisture free-flowing natural hair needs, with oils and products, to keep it looking soft and healthy. With protective styles like braids, you moisturize your hair, yes, but not in the same way as you would with hair worn in its natural state.”

Post-quarantine plans:

“I know that I will go back to braids — they’re just much easier for my lifestyle — but not right away. Before, my routine was to take my braids out that night and the next morning I was at the hairdresser. I didn’t expose my hair to anybody because I didn’t know what to do with it. But now, I’m glad I have relief moving forward: I feel like I can go a week or even a month in between my braids because I now know how to handle it. I won’t be so regimented. That’s what I love about what I’ve experienced within this quarantine journey. I’m more open to and have the freedom now to experiment with different hairstyles.”

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