Unlike her P-Valley character Autumn Night, a stripper turned part owner of The Pynk who loves to mix up her look, Elarica Johnson says she’s always favored wearing her hair naturally.
Growing up, she was told she couldn’t blow dry or straighten her hair—so she didn’t. Not until a photo shoot at age 18. Like so many other women of color, Johnson says it took her a long time to feel comfortable with her hair, though she started gaining more confidence after she started her modeling career. Now, she’s come to view and love her hair as a beautiful part of herself—while remembering that it’s still just one part of herself.
“I learned to love it, but I also learned that it doesn’t define me,” Johnson says. And something she remembers any time she sees hair texture like hers spoken of as a trend. “There was this kind of love for this kind of mixed-race texture, and I never wanted that to rub off on me. I started to think about it and was like, ‘Look, if I have this hair, or any other hair, if I straighten it, if it’s curly—whichever way, it doesn’t matter. It’s just a part of me.’”
On her Starz show P-Valley, which premiered its second season on June 3, Elarica loves the freedom she gets to play with Autumn’s hairstyle, in particular “the way Autumn feels comfortable with throwing on different types of wigs.” It was a hallmark of the character last season, and Elarica promises that you’ll see even more this time. Beauty routines are a key part of The Pynk crew’s journeys, and Autumn’s hair is no different. “Part of her changing her identity was changing the texture of her hair; at the very beginning, she had to be relaxed so it becomes straight,” Johnson says.
As for Johnson, learning to appreciate her own hair also meant learning to take care of it. She realized the importance of the products for her thinner strands and has developed a routine that keeps her love for them showing. “It grows out of my head,” Johnson says of her hair. “How can I not love it?”
Below, Elarica Johnson spills the secret to her gorgeous curls for Glamour‘s Wash Day Diaries.
The majority of the products I use now don’t have what I call “the -ates”—all the sulfate nonsense—in them. At first, I thought that would stop how well the product works, but I found it really doesn’t if you find the right collection.
I start off with warm-ish water and the shampoo. With the Olaplex, I do two washes. The first one is just to get the gunk off, all of the edge control and that stuff. The second one is to go in and really scrub my scalp. I put hair grease, oil and all of that to make sure the scalp is moisturized. I do not need any dry scalp in my life. It’s frustrating. I just want to clean it up so I can apply some new stuff.
After that, I go in with the Olaplex conditioner. This conditioner is really great for softening the hair. It makes it feel really silky. The detangling side of it, for me, is better with Mielle. They don’t use all the icky stuff; they don’t have all those sulfates and all of that nonsense in it, so you can be sure that your hair is in good hands. I go in with their leave-in conditioner. I then detangle and use a wider tooth comb. I put the first lot in and comb it out. Then I rinse, put in more leave-in conditioner, and then I put my fingers through my hair.
Most months, I do two main washes. One is the cleansing and conditioning wash and the second one is the same routine, except instead of the leave-in conditioner, I use KeraCare Avlon. They have an intensive restorative masque. It’s the most incredible product. It’s my favorite. I can’t go anywhere without it. It’s in a little tub; every time I find it in any store, I buy five of them. I put that on and leave that for about 30 minutes, before washing it out and then applying the leave-in conditioner.