So, I am LOVING all the Swarthmore College love BGLH is receiving! This is the fourth time in six months that a Swarthmore student has been featured on BGLH (to see the others just type “Swarthmore” into the search box)!
Sunny is the daughter of jazz pianist Stanley Cowell.
Where do you live?
S: I was born in DC and have lived in Prince George’s County Maryland for most of my life, but I went to high school in Burlington Township, New Jersey. My family has moved around a lot on the East coast. But I tend to rep Maryland and DC.
I just graduated from Swarthmore College (liberal arts college right outside of Philly) in May, where I majored in Sociology and minored in Film and Media Studies. I am a singer, songwriter, violinist, and violist. I also recently started playing the guitar to accompany myself singing.
This fall, I will be a law student at the University of Maryland. So far, I am primarily interested in Intellectual Property Law and Entertainment/ Sports Law.
Why did you go natural?
S: I only had one relaxer in my lifetime, but that was enough to ruin my hair for several years. In the 6th grade, I begged my mother to let me have a relaxer until she finally agreed. My hair was mid-back length before I got the relaxer, but within two years it was so damaged from the breakage that it was only shoulder length. When I looked back at my before-relaxer hair, I decided that I wanted my strong, healthy hair back, so I did a mini big chop, cutting it into a bob when straightened and a medium sized-fro when curly.
I don’t think I really transitioned the correct way. It was more like watching most of my hair break off over the years and finally deciding that I needed to cut all the damage off so my hair could thrive.
Staying natural for the past six years has taught me how to take care of my hair, styling, trimming, and deep conditioning it myself. I don’t have to rely on a hairstylist, which saves me a ton of money. I also feel the most attractive and even receive more attention from both women and men when I’m wearing my natural hair. There is a certain confidence that comes with embracing my true texture.
What’s your regimen?
S: Over the past few years, I have found a regimen and staple products that are inexpensive (because let’s face it, I’m a poor law student for the time being). I use shampoo just on my scalp once a month, but co-wash and deep condition twice a week (I used to only deep condition once a week, but I decided my hair needed the extra moisture).
-I start my full regimen by co-washing with Suave Naturals Coconut Conditioner
‑Next, I apply a Cholesterol conditioning cream by either Queen Helene or LustraSilk to my hair in four sections and detangle. I add coconut oil to it before I sit under a heated dryer for 20–30 minutes.
‑After rinsing out the conditioner, I apply a leave-in: either Hollywood Beauty Carrot Creme or Shea Moisture Organic Coconut and Hibiscus Curl and Style Milk
‑I seal with RA Cosmetics Lemongrass Scented 100% Pure Shea Butter and coconut oil
‑Then using my Denman brush, I smooth my hair and put it into 8–10 big twists. I extract the water out of the twists by squeezing them with a towel. Next, I pin the twists in different directions making a cute style that I will wear for a day or two, accessorizing with scarfs and headbands or even making a pompadour in the front.
‑After a day or two of wearing the twists, I take them out and I have shiny and defined curls that last for about 3 days
‑Once my curls get old or frizzy, I choose to either do a bantu-knot out using Paul Mitchell’s Hair Sculpting Lotion for sophisticated spirals that last for another 3–4 days or repeat my regimen again (deep condition, pin twist again, etc).
‑At night when I’m not re-styling, I put my hair in a loose bun and sleep on a satin pillow
‑Every morning, I just fluff with coconut oil
‑This regimen ensures keeping my hair moisturized and styled without having to manipulate it every day.
What mistakes have you made with your hair that you’ve learned from?
S: I have found that my hair hates wash and gos. Once my curls are wet, they take forever to dry and they hang down without any fullness. My hair is much healthier when it is styled in wet-sets. Recently, I made the mistake of not trimming at all when my hair had split ends and not moisturizing and wearing protective styles to keep my ends moisturized. Even while natural, I have had to keep cutting inches off after developing unsightly split ends from not properly moisturizing and protecting my hair.
I have also learned not to over-manipulate my hair. Unfortunately, I definitely have “hand-in-fro syndrome”, which has contributed to damaging my ends in the long run. Right now, I’m working on keeping my hands out of my curls, deep conditioning more, and wearing protective styles more often. After doing my last trim a few months ago, I already see progress and growth from taking better care of my hair.
What’s the best/most effective thing you do for your hair?
S: Deep conditioning and wearing my pinned twists. Its a great protective style.
Is there a blog/webpage where we can find you?
S: You can see me singing with Essence of Soul (Swarthmore’s a capella group) on YouTube. I will also have my first joint album with my father, Stanley Cowell, a jazz pianist, out in November on iTunes. So please check that out!