For Black men and women, our hair reflects the inner essence of who we are at our core. It's our history, our culture, our way of life that defines how we choose to present ourselves to the world. Today, hair in Black culture has revolutionized the entire hair care and beauty industries to symbolize our strength and creativity. It's all thanks to the hairstylists who are pushing the envelope as our generation's trendsetters.
Celebrity hairstylists, in particular, are at the helm of the movement as they're the ones at the forefront, showcasing the beauty of Black hair on the hottest actors, singers, rappers, entertainers, and everyone in between. Because of them, we are the standard that mainstream media fawns over, despite not always receiving our credit.
In honor of National hairstylist appreciation day and to celebrate these talented hair artists' work, check out these eight Black celebrity hairstylists creating iconic looks for the stars of today.
Brooklyn-native hairstylist Ursula Stephen has been one of the leading ladies in the industry, creating looks for some of our favorite celebrities, including Rihanna, Zendaya, Laverne Cox, Mary J. Blige, and Serena Williams, just to name a few. She also opened a salon in her hometown in 2013 that employs some of the best stylists Brooklyn has to offer.
Dionte Gray – better known as Arrogant Tae – is one of the hottest celebrity hairstylists that's become a viral sensation on social media. In addition to once being Nicki Minaj's go-to stylist, the Chicago native has made a name for himself as Black Hollywood's top wig maker. He has created looks for people like Love & Hip-Hop star DreamDoll, actress Lala Anthony, and his longtime friend, model Ari Fletcher. Most recently, Tae launched a virtual MasterClass with Lala to exclusively share his hair expertise.
Omaha, Nebraska native Mia Jackson – professionally known as Tokyo Stylez – became widely known across the entertainment industry as Kylie Jenner's personal hairstylist on E!'s Keeping Up With the Kardashians. From there, the wigmaker built a strong brand on social media and within the hair space that has allowed her to work with other stars such as Cardi B., Paris Hilton, Ciara, Nicki Minaj, and many more. Her knack for creating unique looks has turned her Instagram into a hair inspiration page.
Johnny Wright is most known for working as former First Lady Michelle Obama's personal hairstylist during her time in the White House. But he's also lent his talents to cater to stars like Kerry Washington, Tamron Hall, June Ambrose, and the list goes on. Most recently, he teamed up with famed-singer Tamar Braxton to serve as a judge on VH1's To Catch a Beautician.
As one of Hollywood's most sought-after hairstylists, Jamaican native Lacy Redway has worked with everyone from Yara Shahidi to Tracee Ellis Ross to Tessa Thompson and more. Her versatility in the hair care space has made her a force to be reckoned with. And her mission to change the industry one style at a time hasn't faltered. Last summer – alongside fashion stylist Jason Rembert – Redway helped launch the Black Fashion & Beauty Collective. This nonprofit organization aims to move the needle on industry representation for Black beauty and fashion professionals.
Though he's worked in the hair industry for roughly ten years, Kellon Deryck is a new face on the scene that's becoming known for being Megan Thee Stallion's stylist. The two have been seen together quite a bit lately, and Deryck is even responsible for creating her chic center-parted updo for this year's Grammy Awards red carpet. He has his own self-named salon based in Atlanta and even launched his own premium hair extension line, Flawless Illusion Hair.
Nikki Nelms is the St. Petersburg, Florida–born hairstylist responsible for creating Singer Solange's masterful beaded hairstyle for her iconic song, "Don't Touch My Hair." Nelms is a beloved figure among all the Hollywood It girls like Janelle Monáe, Zoë Kravitz, Yara Shahidi, and others. Her work is best known for elevating conversations around hair but rooting her styles in cultural relevance.
For those who are just getting familiar with Yene Damtew, you'll probably remember her for creating former First Lady Michelle Obama's famous bouncy curls during this year's inauguration for President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. Mrs. Obama's look instantly went viral, prompting online users to hunt down the stylist responsible for it. The DC-based stylist shared with ELLE that she was overwhelmed with the amazing response she received from people worldwide. In case you didn't know, Damtew has been working on Mrs. Obama's glam team since 2009.