The Interview: Emmy-winning hairstylist and Conscious Curls founder Angela Stevens
Angela Stevens is a US-based, Emmy-winning hairstylist and TV personality. She has worked with Beyoncé, Rihanna, Eve and Rita Ora to name a few. Angela is also the CEO and Founder of Conscious Curls, a premium range of hair extensions and wigs. With her experience as a much sought-after hairstylist and her passion for healthy hair and education, she is launching an exciting new collection called Protective Styles By Angela in collaboration with leading textured hair care brand Cantu Beauty.
Stevens is a Chicago native who has always been obsessed with hair. She taught herself how to braid and has always been fascinated with extensions. “My natural hair was damaged from relaxers and improper care, so extensions were a means of building my hair confidence,” she says. When she became a professional stylist, Stevens understood the importance of product knowledge and how it could be used to promote hair care and that was when she made it her mission to offer extension services that wouldn’t compromise hair health. It’s this passion that has made her a sought-after stylist that has worked with celebrities, everyday women and brands alike who align with her core values as a stylist.
Cantu’s partnership with Stevens is created specifically for WoC who wear protective styles like wigs, weaves, braids and locs. The range, which is now available from Lookfantastic, comprises six multi-use products that are designed to maintain hair health while promoting growth for those who wear protective styles on a regular basis. Each product in the range is infused with a blend of tea tree oil, peppermint and apple cider vinegar – the latter of which is a powerful ingredient that balances the pH balance of the scalp and clarifies the hair. All ingredients help to eradicate the grime and build-up that often occurs when wearing protective styles.
Cantu Beauty is the number 1 textured hair care brand in the UK. It has a wide range of affordable products for textured hair and Stevens found a great deal of opportunity in partnering with the brand to bring something new to their assortment of products. “With over 16 years of styling experience and a clear perspective on the needs of people who wear extensions, I pitched the idea of a protective styles collection. I knew there would be so much for me to learn through this process as well as what I could bring with my vision. It was a no brainer,” she says.
The range was curated for almost two years and Stevens personally tested each product herself. She was committed to creating a collection that helped people maintain their protective styles while nourishing their hair and not compromising its health. “We started by discussing what products would be the most effective for not just one demographic of protective styles but all four (weaves, wigs, braids and locs). I wrote up the main ingredients I wanted to see in the line and from there, I started testing products with Cantu’s team of chemists,” she says. The testing and signing off on formulas were the longest part of the process. It took at least five to six rounds of testing before she was happy with each product. Once she was happy with the range, it was time to design the packaging, write product descriptions and pitch meetings to retailers, with each step taking at least three to four months.
Cantu Protective Styles by Angela is for anyone who wears styles that are considered protective like weaves, wigs, braids and locs (natural and faux). “The line is also for the diverse needs of families, braiders and hair stylists who frequently do protective styling and maintenance,” she says.
The collection includes the Hair and Bath Cleanser, Hair Freshener, Conditioning Detangler, Daily Oil Drops, Set and Refresh Foam, Braiding and Twisting Gel. The Hair and Bath Cleanser has an ultra-clarifying formula that deeply cleanses hair, eradicating excess oil and product build-up. The Hair Freshener is a light mist that refreshes and revitalises the hair and scalp when wearing protective styles. The Conditioning Detangler aids the removal of tangles from wigs and hair extensions. It’s infused with aloe vera and marula oil to soften, smooth and moisturise hair and facilitate the take-down process.
The Set and Refresh Foam is a powerful refresher for curls, coils and protective styles. It provides medium hold without crunch, residue or build-up, leading to a softer, natural-looking finish. The Daily Oil Drops feature a blend of natural oils including safflower, avocado, peppermint and tea tree oil to soothe the scalp and reduce flaking. The Braiding and Twisting Gel is a firm, long-lasting and non-greasy gel that helps keep protective styles in place for longer. It has an alcohol-free formula and can also be used to smooth edges and roots for a sleek finish.
While it’s too soon to reveal which products in the range are best sellers, Stevens tells us that the Braiding and Twisting Gel and the Set and Refresh Foam are quickly becoming fan favourites. “The gel is incredible because it has amazing hold but leaves NO build-up or flaking and the foam is awesome because it’s weightless and helps to clear the scalp while adding shine to the hair due to the inclusion of apple cider vinegar and aloe vera in the formula,” she says. Stevens’s favourite product is the Hair Bath and Cleanser because “clean hair is everything”. “As a stylist, cleaning the hair and scalp is the most important part of the service, so I created a product that cleans the hair with little effort – it’s literally self-care for your hair,” she says.
Historically, Black consumers have struggled to find the right hair care products and even though beauty aisles are finally starting to reflect the diversity of customers, there are some areas of the textured hair care market that remain untapped. “I felt like there was a wide-open space for products that satisfied the needs of protective style wearers. As a stylist, I was always trying to piece together the products I needed to keep hair healthy while wearing extensions and styling wigs. From experience, I haven’t found a complete range that has taken me from start to finish with the protective styles I apply, or wear,” she says.
Stevens has confirmed that there are plans to expand the range. “There’s still so much ground to cover and I want to make sure we are listening to customers and creating products that make life easier when getting and removing protective styles. I can’t wait to introduce more products,” she says. Her advice to anyone who wants to get into the hair industry is to learn as much as possible and take pride in being a student. “Be observant, ask questions and be open to learning more and not just the fun stuff like cuts, colour and styling simple things. The not so flashy parts of the process are the things that really develop longevity,” she says. Stevens also highlights the importance of product knowledge and financial management as they are all parts of growing as an artist and entrepreneur. “I would also say let your passions pave the way for your success. Do what you love and master it."
Cantu Protective Styles by Angela is available from Lookfantastic.