November 2003: Kienji's colossal curls
Has "The Urge" ever overtaken you, when it comes to great hair? You see a style that seems too perfect, too awesome, too good to be true -- and you long to get your fingers on it? We've talked to a young woman who meets people with that urge all the time.
KIENJI HAKEEM is a soul singer who sprang to fame with the group "LovHer," and now is preparing to make her solo debut (going by her first name only). When we saw a photo of her thick, full curls, we admit The Urge overtook us -- and when we did online research and saw how well all that hair stayed out of her eyes, we raced to put her on our Hot List.
Apparently Kienji, who has her own web site (click here for it) did some online research of her own - because she surprised us with an e-mail, thanking us for her 2002 Crown Award nomination for Best Curls. Those nice words led to this conversation, which we had by phone on a Sunday afternoon from her home in Los Angeles:
SUPER-HAIR: How would you describe your hair and your style?
KIENJI: Wow, that's a good question. I would say natural, free.... springy curls.
S-H: How long have you had your hair in this current long, full style?
K: I've been wearing my hair like this, strangely enough, for about five years....
S-H: How old are you? If you don't mind our asking?
K: I'm 26 years old.
S-H: What sort of style did you have before this one?
K: I've always done different things to my hair, but I got tired of living under a blow dryer and a flat iron. The natural look is easier for getting up and going, and not have to get to worry about it -- especially if you're always on the go, especially with very thick hair.
S-H: How long did it take you to prepare your hair before?
K: With a flat iron and blow dry, it takes two to three hours. My hair is long, curly and very thick.
S-H: Have you ever tried straightening your hair?
K: I used to do it, but it was very time consuming.
S-H: How did that look?
K: It looked good on me, but I had not as much attention.
S-H: What do you like about your style?
K: I love freedom, so having my hair like this allowed me to have freedom to just get up and go. And there's not too much maintenance.
S-H: Is there anything you dislike about it?
K: In the summertime, it can get kind of hot, and it can get in the way sometimes. It can get stuck in my lipstick if the wind is blowing.
S-H: We read an interview recently with Mya, where she says she "defines her curl" instead of extending it. Is that what you try to do -- and can you explain what the difference is, for those who might not know?
K: A lot of people do. A lot of people tend to get frizzy at times, so most people texturize it for shinier curl, so it looks softer. What I do is, while some texturize their hair with chemicals, I use a lead-in conditioner -- something with moisturizer in it.
S-H: Do you have a favorite conditioner that you use?
K: I use so many, I use whatever's available! I'll use cheaper, generic brands, but I look for something that has lead-in conditioners with moisturizer. I like to try different things with my hair.
S-H: What's the biggest problem you face in keeping your hair in place?
K: My hair is in long layers, so I don't have a whole lot of headaches. If it's windy, I'll take a headband and pull it off my face a bit - but most of the time, I don't have too many problems with it.
S-H: From the pictures we saw, it looked like you have bangs in the style....
K: There were bangs. They're kind of growing in now. They kind of look like bangs, because hair was blowing in that particular picture. Usually I wear my hair kind of parted down the middle, so it's shorter in the middle from the layers.
S-H: When was the last time your hair fell into your eyes in public? How did it happen?
K: I don't have that much of a problem with it. If I do, it's usually if I go to the beach and the wind is blowing like crazy. Most of the time, it's blowing away, which is kind of crazy.
S-H: In one picture, there's wind blowing from the back -- and it's like your curls act as a shock absorber for it....
K: It does blow, but it kind of moves with the wind. It doesn't go crazy, so it's like all over the place....
S-H: Do you use any specific treatments, like spray or gel, to keep the hair in place?
K: I use gel sometimes.
S-H: Any particular brand, or is that another case of whatever's on special?
K: That's another, yeah.... I use Wet by Sebastian a lot.
I usually don't use spray, because I don't like my hair to feel hard. I like my hair to look soft.... You want the look, but you don't want to be, 'OK, this feels rock-hard.'
S-H: Are you married, by chance?
K: I have a fiancee.
S-H: Would you like to name him? Maybe break some news here?
K: I prefer not to, because he might kill me (laughing).
S-H: Have you set a wedding date yet?
K: There's no set date. We're both in the music industry, so it's hard for us to find any dates in common! But we're hoping sometime next year.
S-H: We ask that, because we figure men who date you have to be tempted to touch your hair....
K: Men and women touch my hair, and that' s so funny! Most of the time when they see it, they think it's fake. They can't believe there's so much of it. So they're staring at it, then ask, "Do you mind if I touch it?" So I'm used to it now.
S-H: What's your routine to prepare your hair for a performance? Or a tour?
K: My hair's the easiest thing, because I just wake up, wash it, put some product in it and blow-dry it so it's really shaky and full. There's not much to do unless I'm changing it completely.
S-H: What sort of changes would you make?
K: I had it braided this summer. It's twisted occasionally. Occasionally I'll straighten it, and sometimes totally pull it off my face in a ponytail or bun, or something like that.
S-H: What advice would you give someone who wanted to develop Super-Hair?
K: Try to stay away from as many chemicals as possible! (Laughs) They're the main thing that damages. Most of us have to do some color, but if you are doing it, try to condition it. If you are coloring, you can have it chemically treated, but not to put too much heat on it....
S-H: We like to ask women who has the best head of hair you've seen out there....
K: That is a good question. Let me give it some thought -- I love Halle Berry's hair....
S-H: Someone whose hair is almost totally opposite yours!? Interesting!
K: But she has beautiful hair -- like it always looks soft, always looks natural. I like beautiful hair, short or long.
SUMMARY: Her own words say it all: Natural. Free. Very thick. Soft. Yet hardly ever getting in her face. What is there not for Hair Fans to like in this woman, and her style? This is a head of curls that almost defies belief, yet is amazingly strong and beautiful. Our only regret is that this interview wasn't in person -- so we could touch the hair for ourselves and report on how it feels.
When hair is well-conditioned and well-cut, such as with protective layers, it seems virtually unstoppable and unbeatable. This woman has it, immensely. We wish Keinji well in her music career -- and believe her husband-to-be should be a very thankful man.
(Concert photo courtesy Soul Train.com.)
Super-Hair Q&A Archive:
September 2003 -- Aimee Myer, Aspiring Teen Model
June 2003 -- Deborah Gianoulis, Jacksonville Journalist
May 2003 -- Allison Curran, Best Hairstyle in Athletics
February 2003 -- Danae DeMasi, 2001 Newcomer of the Year
December 2002 -- Shannon Oliver of "The Bachelor"
October 2002 - Carolyn Hughes
August 2002 - Lynne Russell
June 2002 -- Eva Chavela, Rock Singer
April 2002 - Susan McGinnis, Best Bangs/Best Short Hair 2002
December 2001 - Rachael Nama and the "Locklear Look"
November 2001 - Onnie Willis, Gymnastics Champion
August 2001 - Yolanda Davis and The Flip
July 2001 - Miss Georgia 2001, Emily Foster
April 2001 - Cindy Hernandez's Cut of Controversy
November 2000 - Gina Tognoni and the Swing*
July 2000 - Britney Spears "FAQ's"
May 2000 - Shania Twain*
March 2000 - Jessica Simpson*
* Interviews with expert stylists about the woman's hair.
Do you know a woman who's willing to share her secrets of hair success? Is there a particular woman you'd like us to interview? Do you have a question we should ask? Simply e-mail us: firstname.lastname@example.org .
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