A few months back, we announced our Expert Curl Council—a team of dermatologists, trichologists, and stylists who are going to be sharing their expertise on hair and scalp health. Today, we want you to meet Expert Curl Council member, Yene Damtew who is an independent stylist and salon owner. Keep reading to learn why she joined DevaCurl’s Expert Curl Council, a few of her best curl tips, and more!
Q: What’s your name and your specialty?
A: My name is Yene and I am an independent hairstylist and a salon owner based in Arlington, Virginia. But I am originally from La Palma, California.
Q: What is a beauty product you can’t live without?
A: This is going to be a funny one, but probably a wig. That’s a product for me. Throwing on a wig is easy for me. If you want to know a product specifically, it would probably be a good conditioner.
Q: What are three things you can’t live without?
A: First and foremost, it would probably be my phone, which is kind of sad, but it allows me to connect with people. I have family all over. And as I said, I’m not from Virginia so it’s the only way to connect with my family. The other thing would probably be water. I love water. My newfound love of running and being able to run and listen to music and kind of zone out. So, if I have those, I’m a happy camper.
Q: Aside from your family, who would you want to be quarantined with?
A: Confession, I love my family, but I don’t know if I want to be quarantined with them! I made an active choice not to go back to California during quarantine. I was quarantined with my boyfriend, which was great. But maybe if I had like one other friend, like one of my best friends or one of my cousins, that would have been great.
Q: What are your quarantine care tips for curls?
A: Just let your curls be. This is the best time to give your hair a break and to give it some extra TLC. So deep conditioners, flat twists, braid outs, protective styles. You don’t always have to think about washing those because you shouldn’t be going anywhere aside from your bedroom to your living room or your other bedroom. So just embracing it and kind of letting it go and just trying out different styles that you probably wouldn’t have tried out if we weren’t quarantined. Also, moisture, moisture, moisture, moisture– the key to beautiful curls is moisture. So deep conditioners, moisturizing products, and hydration steam treatments. There’s a lot of DIY things that you could do at home to protect and moisturize your curls.
Q: Who is your hair icon?
A: My hair icon is probably a combination of Tracee Ellis Ross and Kelly Rowland. I love big, full curls and another signature style that I love is a classic sleek bob. I go back and forth between both of them that I’m just like, “Oh, they just always have great hair and I want to have hair that looks like theirs.”
Q: What is your hidden talent?
A: Back in the day I used to sing, I don’t do that much anymore, but I do think that I’ve recognized that I have this talent of organization. So that is something that I’m learning and leaning into and recognizing that’s not a skillset that everybody has.
Q: What is your favorite food?
A: My favorite food is salad, as crazy as it sounds. You could always spruce up a salad. You could have it with or without protein and there’s so many different dressings. You can put whatever you want in it. I just love, love, love, a good salad.
Q: What is your guilty pleasure?
A: My guilty pleasure without a doubt is sweets, but I have a very strange sweet tooth. I like ice cream, bread pudding, and flan, but I don’t like anything that’s too rich.
Q: A favorite question here at Deva, Beyoncé or Rihanna?
A: I’m going to have to go with Ri-Ri. That’s my girl. She’s an activist and she’s young. She’s just a chameleon. She’s in every single sector. So yeah, I’m going to have to go with Ri-Ri.
Q: Why did you decide to become a member of the DevaCurl Expert Curl Council?
A: I decided to join the DevaCurl Expert Curl Council for so many reasons. For starters, I believe in standing with brands who believe in the stylist. It’s important to get the perspective of consumers and professionals and the best way to do that is for hairstylists to be the liaison to bridge that gap. When the opportunity arose, I was like, absolutely, count me in, because it’s rooted in education more than anything. And that is something that I am an advocate for.
Q: What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
A: The best advice that I ever received was from my father and it was, you always have to leave room for people for disappointment. What I learned once I was older is that he was just preparing me to not have expectations of people. Because when you have expectations of people, it just leads to disappointment and they may not live up to whatever expectations you have in your head. So, you just have to leave room.
Q: What is your best expert advice that you can give to the curl community?
A: The best advice that I could give the curl community is to understand that your curl journey is not like anyone else’s. I like to think of hair like your DNA. I have curly hair and you may have curly hair, but we may not have the same type of curly hair. It may look the same, but it may not feel the same. There’s so many things that affect the way our curls look. So, when you go through a curl journey, you just have to know that your curl journey is going to be unique and you have to figure out what works for you. And just because you saw something and it was beautiful and you tried it out and you didn’t get the same results, it doesn’t mean that you should give up. Just try again. Keep going. Try a different product, figure it out. Understand what your curls really are like and then you’ll be successful.
Click here to learn more about Yene Damtew and the rest of the DevaCurl Expert Curl Council!