May 2009: Ayesha Faines, Jacksonville Diva

Several years ago we introduced you to Jacksonville TV news anchor Deborah Gianoulis, and praised her short styles for being a "local legend." But Gianoulis is now doing other projects -- and when we began a City League tournament for the best hair in Jacksonville, she was stunningly eliminated in the first week. So which woman might be in line to take her place?

AYESHA K. FAINES staked her claim, by jumping out to big early leads in weekly voting -- then holding on to win the final round by one vote. Faines is a news and traffic reporter at Gianoulis's old station. But her journalistic background is in CNBC's web site -- and she also has a beauty background, from winning the Miss Black Connecticut title in 2007 while attending Yale University.

Unlike many women posted in our polls, Faines took a personal interest in the City League vote. We caught her stumping for support on her Twitter page, and used that "gotcha" moment to ask if the self-proclaimed "Fly Funky Diva" would answer some style questions. Faines (whose background includes freelance writing) agreed, so we swapped e-mails:

SUPER-HAIR: How would you describe your current style? How long have you had your hair in this style?

AYESHA K. FAINES: Currently I wear my hair in long layers with chestnut brown highlights. I've had this style since I started working on television in October of 2008.

S-H: From checking your blog, it appears you've tried longer and wavier styles. Do you have one that was your particular favorite?

AF: Absolutely. I love hair! Big hair. It's an extension of my big, glamorous personality. When a woman's hair looks great it enhances her natural beauty, and she moves with greater confidence.

During college I must have had 10+ (no exaggeration) hair styles. I was figuring out my who I was, and my personal style. I wore it in longer layers, shorter bobs, wavy and natural styles. I experimented with different shades of brown and blonde highlights. I even sported a golden brown head of ringlets (it was surprisingly a hit). I have two styles that I prefer the most. I love the way I have my hair is now. My stylist (AMG Uptown Salon in Downtown JAX) is wonderful and I like the way I have a side swoop of hair in the front that hits my cheekbone. It's flattering. I also loved the full wavy style that you saw on my blog.

S-H: From what we've seen, you sometimes have plenty of waves or curls in your hair. Is your naturally straight or curly?

AF: My hair is naturally curly and I've never had any chemical relaxer. To get my hair straight, I use heat. Unfortunately this curly look is not accepted on mainstream television news. However before my career began I wore it curly often. With my natural hair, I would set the curl pattern with small rollers. It involved sitting under a hood dryer for quite some time. Other times, for a longer, looser curl (a la Diana Ross) I used hair extension to achieve the look.

S-H: We read that you attended college at Yale. Are women at Ivy League schools more concerned about grades and academics, than beauty issues such as hair?

AF: Yale women are an ambitious group so I would say that they, for the most part, prioritize academics and career first. But truthfully, Yale is a vain campus. The same goes for Harvard and Princeton. And this is a great thing. I think the majority of women, including myself, put considerable effort toward shining in all facets of life. We want to win at everything! That means we study hard and work hard to look our best. The gym is always packed. Most students take great care of their hair and skin. Many women are also quite fashionable. I think we all realize that determination and intelligence can get you far, but a woman that is confident, intelligent, and alluring is a force to be reckoned with! And any woman can be beautiful. As Coco Chanel said, "There are no ugly women. Only lazy ones."

S-H: Do African-American women face different hair issues, compared with other ethnic communities? If so, what are they?

AF: Absolutely. Curlier hair is naturally drier and more fragile than other hair types and unfortunately we put our hair through the most trauma in order to alter it's appearance. It's unfortunate that African hair in it's natural state is still not considered mainstream. For example, if I had the Afro I occasionally wore in college, not only would we not be having this Q&A, but I would not be on television news! I think it's fabulous that we can wear our hair both curly and straight, I love my hair style, but a lot of popular styles worn by Black women are highly damaging due to the excessive use of heat, hair color, and chemical relaxers.

It's difficult for Black women to keep their hair in a healthy state. It's also very difficult for many Black women to maintain their hairstyles while being physically active. This is a major dilemma. Water, in the form of moisture and perspiration, is like kryptonite to us! It's the reason that I began wearing hair extensions. They allowed me to wear my hair straight, while not relaxing the bulk of my actual hair, and I can look good and work out every day. No hairstyle is worth your health.

S-H: What sort of routine do you go through, to get your hair ready for a newscast?

AF: I come into the studio in the morning and I usually use a straightening comb to touch up my natural hair around the edges (My natural hair has to be perfectly straight in order to blend with the hair extensions). Every few days I use large electric curlers, because it gives my hair curl and body. Volume is a must. I brush my hair, maybe go over a few strands with the flat iron (the curling iron if I slept wildly). I use an generous amount of hair spray and some shine serum. The process really takes about five minutes.

S-H: What's the biggest challenge you face keeping your hair in place and looking good?

AF: Jacksonville is known for it's humidity. So if I'm reporting in the field and moisture gets to my hair, my natural hair starts to get wavy while the hair extensions are straight! The situation has the potential to look a horrific mess. I have to apply a great pomade and use plenty of hair spray to minimize this effect. This doesn't happen often though. I always have a brush with me.

S-H: Has your hair ever dropped in your eyes in public -- on camera or otherwise? If so, how did it happen?

AF: This question is funny to me. For a little while I had my stylist cut a blunt, cheek-bone length, layer in my hair. It didn't cover my eye, but it came daringly close. Think Diana Ross, in the sixties, when she was with the Supremes. I love how she elegantly stroked the hair out of her face. It was almost a part of her act. Diana would bug her eyes and then stroke her hair! For the news, it became annoying and difficult to keep in place, so I got rid of the blunt layer for something more controllable. But I can't promise you it won't come back post news career!

S-H: What advice would you give women who wanted to copy your look, or develop Super-Hair in general?

AF: Well my style is pretty easy to maintain but you have to keep it combed well and curled. So, it's not for the lazy. There's nothing cute about long, stringy, flat hair. In terms of hair extensions, the stigma over the years has vanished. I think they're a convenient (pricey) hair option as long as you have an incredible stylist that you trust and who understands your needs. They also must look natural!

S-H: We like to ask women who they consider to have the best head of hair they've seen. Who do you think is best -- in Jacksonville, or overall?

AF: Best head of hair? That's easy. Diana Ross. I love her long, lush, full body wave. It's apart of her persona. If I could, I'd wear my hair just like her.

JUNE 2009 UPDATE: Ayesha's revelation that she wears extensions called for us to submit a few follow-up questions:

S-H: How long have you been wearing extensions? And how long are those extensions?

AF: I've been wearing hair extensions off and on since I was about 15 years old. I studied ballet intensively and performed often, so I needed the versatile hairstyle.

S-H: How easy is it to blend your extensions with your natural hair, so no one can tell?

AF: Very. It just depends on having a skilled stylist, a great cut, and a superior grade of hair that matches your own. Often times it is the cost of the hair that drives up the price of getting hair extensions. When consulting with your stylist about hair extensions you should be very specific about what you need. You know how much effort you're capable of putting into your hair daily and ultimately you know what looks best.

SUMMARY: We can relate to Ayesha's admiration for the Ross look at its best. We also appreciate the effort she makes to keep her styles looking sharp. (Could you tell she wears extensions? We couldn't.)

When you appeal to people to vote for your hair, it indeed shows confidence - both in the hair and you. We suspect the women with the best heads of Super-Hair have confidence the styles can hold with good control. Faines clearly knows what to do, if things start going out of control. Perhaps her tips will help others deal with challenging situations - whether outside in humidity, or preparing for work at 5:00 a.m.


More Interviews, in the Super-Hair Q&A Archive

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