May 2015: College Student/Dancer Taya Thonen's Super-Curls

One fun thing about the search for Super-Hair is that nice surprises can hide in unexpected places. For instance, a trip to a sports bar to watch one thing could lead to something marvelous – and even a bit distracting.

TAYA THONEN is one recent example for us. We discovered this member of the University of Kansas “Rock Chalk Dancers” while attending another event. Her short curled style was unique and a bit large, yet so flawless – almost too perfect to be believed. We simply had to know more about how she kept her curls, as she puts it, “poppin'.”

So after making Thonen a Best Manes on Campus entry from Kansas, a Twitter contact began – and that led to a phone discussion, which may have distracted this sociology major away from an NCAA tournament game.

SUPER-HAIR: When I think of dance squad members, especially in college, I think of women with long hair. Are you the only one whose hair is that short?

TAYA THONEN: There's a few girls that have short hair. There's a girl that has short straight blonde hair.... I'm definitely the only one with curly, Afro-type hair.

S-H: I was going to ask how you would describe your hair and the style you have. Would you call it an Afro, or something different?

TT: I don't really call it an Afro. Everybody else does. But I would just say.... it's kind of shaggy. Like it's really shaggy, curly hair. It's not pouffy, because Afros are really pouffy. Mine's... still has a pouf to it, but it's super, super curly. The curls are really, really tight.

S-H: The Afros that I think people remember from the 1970s – they look very stiff. Your hair doesn't look that stiff.

TT: Yeah, it's really soft. It's really curly. The thing is, I can pick it out and make it look like an Afro. But that's just not how my hair is naturally. It grows curly, naturally in tight curls.

S-H: Have you always kept your hair that short, and looking like that?

TT: No. When I was in sixth grade, I cut ten inches off. So that's kind of how I got the short hairstyle. I used to have a lot longer hair.... It was probably down to the middle of my back or so.

S-H: Wow...

TT: And then I cut ten inches off, and it just went up into this little short-haired curly.... I don't know style. I don't even know what to call it.

S-H: That was a Locks of Love cut, it sound like. Ten inches, wow....

TT: Oh, that's exactly! Locks of Love. That's exactly what I did.

S-H: Is that the longest it's ever been – when you had it down there?

TT: Yup. I grew it ever since I was little until sixth grade. Then I decided to give it to Locks of Love. So they braided it, and then just cut the braid off, and that was that.

But.... a few years ago I went to Europe and I had my hair up. I had my hair pulled back, the whole entire time I was there. I was there for 20 days.... My blow dryer kind of blew up, because of the fuses. And so I couldn't really do my hair. So I just left it pulled back. And I got back, and when I went to get my hair cut, my hair lady was, “Well, your hair basically is in a tangle, and so I'm not going to be able to cut it.”

So she had to basically cut it all off.... It was kind of shaved in the back, and the top was very short.... So my hair was super-short about three years ago. So this is me, kind of growing out my hair – and I kind of want to grow it out to where it was before. But you know, it's getting there.

S-H: In your usual “perfect” world, how often do you get it trimmed?

TT: I would say every 8 to 10 weeks.

S-H: What do you like most about your hair – and is there anything you dislike about it?

TT: What I like most about it: it's super-unique. The color is all-natural. People ask me all the time how I get this color. I'm like, “I don't know!”... I can wake up, if I'm on the go, if I'm in a big rush, I can just wash it and then I can just leave and let it air-dry. But also, if I want to dry it right then and there, I can put some leave-in conditioner in it, wait about 10 minutes, then blow-dry it, and then it's good to go.

So it's really quick and easy. I'm not out here trying to straighten my hair, or do anything else. It's already sort of cute, how it is, when it dries, which is awesome.

S-H: Have you ever considered going straight?

TT: No, I haven't. I don't want to go straight, but I've straightened it before. For graduation, I straightened it... It's fun to straighten it, but it's kind of a waste of time, because literally 10 minutes later it'll just pouf back up. You know, it's like the curls want to escape the straightness.

S-H: I understand, yeah.

TT: And what I like least about it?!... I could say when it gets tangly. And then I comb it, and I get really frustrated because it gets really tangly... Usually that's my fault if it gets too tangly, because that means I haven't been combing it. I comb my hair like every week, about once a week.

S-H: That's not very often.

TT: Yeah.... if I comb it every day, the curls won't be up-tight. But.... it'll get locked up. I try to comb it at least once a week, once every two weeks. But I wash it every single day. Condition it, put it a little bit of hair product. It's really fun to have. And I like how a lot of people love it. That's the biggest thing. Everywhere I go, people are like, “Oh, I love your hair.” “Thank you....” (laughs)

S-H: Do you have the problem I understand some curly-haired women do? People come up to you and say, “I want to touch it. Can I touch it?”

TT: Oh yeah. Everyone wants to touch it. And I'm totally there for it. I don't have a problem with that. I say, “Yeah, touch it. It's super-soft....”

S-H: You talked about using some product. Do you have any favorite special products you use, to keep your hair poppin'?

TT: Yes, it's actually awesome. I ran into this lady at Target, and.... all three of her kids, they almost have identical hair to me. Their hair is so curly, and I recommended this conditioner for her, and she ended up loving it.... It's called “Au Naturale,”... It's just anti-shrinkage. The brand is Dark 'n Lovely, and it has mango oil, bamboo milk. And it's great, it smells great. It's orange – yes, its awesome.

And the girl on the front, the picture on the front of the conditioner, it looks nothing like my hair. So since I started using it, I'm, like, “Oh well, this is not like my hair. This should probably be perfect.” And it is. I love it.

S-H: Is this one of those products made especially for curly-haired girls?

TT: Yeah.... It says, “Tight curls and coils.”

S-H: Do you really think there's a difference between the products for curls and products in general?

TT: I totally do, because.... I used to use Pantene's leave-in conditioner. It's made more for my mom's hair. My mom has hair that's wavy and curly.... Her hair is straight hair, but it's wavy.... So that's more for her.

But this one I have, I got it in the mixed-chicks section. And it's really thick. And what's in it, with the mango oil and the bamboo milk, it's super-moisturizing. And I think for girls that have super-curly hair like mine, they need something thick and something that's going to really get into the roots, to make sure that they're getting the most moisturizer that they need for their hair.

S-H: From what we've seen, I can't imagine your hair would move around much when you're doing routines. Or does it?

TT: It does. It bounces. It's not much moving around, but yeah, it bounces. (Laughs)

S-H: It's not going to bounce into your eyes or anything. It's not that long, so....

TT: Um-hmm. Not that long.

S-H: That's one thing we love about great hairstyles. They can keep it out of their eyes and keep it out of their face and keep it in place forever. And it looks like you can do that. So that's good.

TT: Yeah, it's great. The girls on the team, they're always like: “Taya, you're so lucky, 'cause our hair is flying in our face.” And I can.... do everything, and it will go right back to where it was.

S-H: Sure. What advice would you give someone who wanted to develop great hair like yours? Especially those who might be cheerleaders or dance squad members – that sort of thing?

TT: Make sure they keep up with it, and take care of it. It's really important that... the moisturizer is really important. Make sure you're getting those trims, because the ends can get really out of control.... I didn't get a haircut for, maybe, five months, and my ends were out of control. So I just got a trim, and everything's back lined up, and everything's more bouncy.

You really have to keep up with it. It's really easy to keep up with.... Finding the right product that works for you. Everyone's hair is different.... It took me a while to find that conditioner. But once I found it, I knew it was the one for my hair, because of the way it makes it look.

S-H: We like to ask women when we do these interviews: who do you consider to have the best head of hair out there? Maybe at K.U., maybe a celebrity.... who do you think is best?

TT: Let me think.... There's this model, and her name is Jadah.... Her name is Jadah Doll, and she has the most beautiful, beautiful curls. It looks like she curls her hair, but she doesn't. It's all natural, and I admire her curls so much. They're long and it's.... it's not like an Afro style. It's just like really, really curly. And her hair's super-easy to straighten.

And then this girl on my dance team, Sophie [left]. She's a white girl, but she has the curliest... I mean, if I didn't have my hair, I would want her hair. Her hair is awesome. And then.... Amber Rose, she rocks a bald head, clean bald head. And I admire her, too, because she pulls it off. And it's not like her hair is bald; she still has a hairstyle, and she totally rocks it.

CONCLUSION: The “naturally curly” movement can't find many women more impressive than Taya. That's because to us, Super-Hair is a combination of attractiveness and strength. Her hair has it – and the amazing thing about her style is that she doesn't apparently need to do much to keep it that way. It's truly natural, yet seemingly indestructible when she makes quick moves. Her look may not be exactly what every Hair Fan likes, but it offers everything a true Hair Fan desires.


Read more than 40 additional interviews, in the Super-Hair Q&A Archive!

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