Ask Afrobella: Naturally Beautiful at the Prom!

Got a frantic Ask Afrobella question to answer, and time is of the essence!

Prom hair

Dear Afrobella,
I love your blog! It’s so refreshing compared to other blogs that just write about products! I never know what to expect when I visit your site but I know it’s gonna be good! I’m a teenage transitioning bella with prom coming around the corner. I usually wear my hair in a wash n go style and I want to do something special for prom! My mom recommended a press n curl =(
But I want to keep my natural texture! Any advice on natural hairstyles for the biggest night of a teenager’s life???
Yours Truly
Michelle-a-bella

OMG, Michelle-a-bella! You took me back to the days when there were important! Events! I! Had! To! Look! Special! At!

Haven’t been to one of those since my wedding. LOL – no, I kid, I kid. I get dolled up for the office Christmas parties, and to go out to dinner. But yes, I remember all too well the pressure of high school graduation festivities, I can empathize with the burning need to look promtastic.

The ideal prom look is timeless. Beautiful, alluring, grown-up and modern — so I implore you to steer clear of going over the top with your look. Many prom trends can date your photos in an instant. Do you want to look back on these photos and be proud that your look could work ten, fifteen, twenty years from now, or do you want to immediately notice hmmm, that must have been the season where everyone wore asymmetrical one-shoulder cavewoman dresses with ruching on the side and big poufy Bumpits-assisted hairstyles? The choice is yours. I hope you make a wise one.

This is my advice to you, one bella to another. Figure out your look from head to toe well before prom. Try it out, figure out your makeup situation, know how you want to look. Is your dress going to be the star of the show? Great, then maybe go a little restrained with the makeup and hair. If you’re rocking a simple, chic frock, then amp up your look with accessories and makeup to die for. Often we think we need to go overboard when attending a special event. The truth is, your natural beauty is going to shine through anyway, so don’t worry about going super crazy fancy trying to learn a new hairstyle. Unless you really, really want to.

Two of your best bets for step-by-step guides for pretty natural hairstyles are Going Natural and of course, Motown Girl. She can school you on everything from braid outs to palm rolls, so if you’ve seen a particular style you want and need a how-to guide, she’s your girl.

Janelle Monae

In my opinion, special occasions call for bangin’ jewelry and stunning makeup. Sometimes an overdone hairdo can detract from the rest of your look. A feminine updo is always a great way to call attention to your features and show off your makeup and earrings.
You could consider an avant garde updo ala Janelle Monae, which could be achieved with practice, a product like Devacurl An’gell and lots of bobby pins. Again, see Motown Girl and don’t wait until the day of prom to try to pull a look like this off. Try it out beforehand to make sure this is what you want. Nothing is worse than waiting till the day of your prom-wedding-biggest-day-ever to try out some new look only to realize that a. it sucks and b. you’re now stuck with it because you didn’t come up with an alternative option or try the look out ahead of time. Don’t be that bella!

You might want to consider wearing your hair swept back in a gorgeous, highly textured bun ala Curly Nikki, who did a bantu knot-out and used her trademark floral hairpin to accent the look. I love the flowers of Ododo Designs — they’re perfect for prom, and they can jazz up hair of any length, whether you’ve got a TWA or a big bushy mane.

If bobby pins seem like too much hassle, I can’t overstate the elegance of a simple, fluffed out afro puff, especially set off with a pretty metal or glittering headband or two. Or three — why not, this is your night! France Luxe makes some pretty ones that are available on Amazon.com.

Afro puff

There are also some truly awesome natural hair accessories up for grabs on Etsy, so you could literally buy an item to match your dress and set your look off in inimitable style. The hairties of Naturally Sophia are just gorgeous –that safari hair tie is a show stopper! The painted copper is my favorite — so funky! And wow, that white turquoise would be pretty for a windswept wedding on the beach.

Erama’s Hair Ties are gorgeous — the peace sign and heart shaped tie are classic and the cheetah face hair tie is fly, fierce, and unforgettable.

And of course there’s Tomoka’s Twists, which were designed with a high afro puff in mind!

Michelle-a-bella, I hope that helps. I hope your prom is as lovely and bubbly as you are. Wear your natural hair with pride, take my advice and go to a professional makeup artist for a truly remarkable look (think Bobbi Brown, MAC, or Prescriptives!) and let your natural beauty shine. Oh, and take lots of photos — you’ll want to remember this night!

** afro puff photo by Bruce Talbot

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Comments

  1. I had micro braids for my prom, got them styled in an updo

  2. LOVE the picture at the bottom! My hair looks exactly like that. And bless you for recommending a timeless look (you were so in my head when to gave the nay-no to one-shoulder gowns).

    Michelle-a-bella said she is transitioning. Does this mean her hair is mostly natural or still mostly relaxed? That could mean two *very* different options. If I think of something beyond what you’ve recommended, I’ll chime in later.

  3. I had a formal event last week and wore a twistout accessorized with a red flower headband. I got compliments all night! Please do not believe people who say that natural hair can’t be formal! I’m going to a wedding this summer and will probably wear a twistout or try Curly Nikki’s twist and curl.

  4. I work My hair in a mohawk for my senior prom. It was braided on the sides and a cury twistout in the middle. It turned out really nice.

  5. I second the motion on the twistout. Fabulous when accessorized the right way!

  6. I’m thirding the twist out or bantu knot out, esp. for transitioning hair. That way the curls can be uniform and then she can do an updo, or sweep the curls all over to the side.

  7. I just had my prom last weekend and I’m transitioning as well! I’m mostly relaxed at this point but I had my hair cut into a bob in December and wanted something long and pretty. I had my hair micro braided around the outside and the middle of my hair was sewn in with the same deep wave hair. My mom then pinned it into a pretty half up/half down do. I was the only girl to have micros at prom but I got a ton of compliments! All the other girls had their hair pressed and coifed but I wanted something different. I was also going for a tropical theme with my patterned dress and corsage. Plus, when we went to the beach the next day I was the only one of my girlfriends who could get in the water without a plastic bonnet on my head. I’m still rockin them now!

  8. I had my natural hair set on flexirods for my wedding last summer. After they were dry, I pinned up the back with a flower and the updo turned out really nice! Compliments galore!

  9. Michelle-a-bella,

    I completely know what you are going through. For my wedding, and for the first time in my life, I had a teeny weeny afro. I just kept it natural and I am happy I did when I look back at my pictures. I almost did the press and curl.

    But listen, I specialize in custom jewelry for special events like prom and I work within your budgetm even if that means 10 dollars. Doesn’t matter. I would be happy to make you some really fly and dramatic earrings to match youtr dress with a hair tie made special for your natural updo and you will sparkle honey!!! Shoot me an email and I will be happy to talk to with you and get some designs laid out!!!

    Amber
    eramacustoms@gmail.com

  10. Michelle-a-bella, please be sure to check out some of the natural hair blogs Afrobella shouted out a few weeks ago. There are some ladies that have lots of styles posted and a few even demonstrate the styles on video. A few of my favorites are:

    Youtube:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/PRETTYDIMPLES01
    http://www.youtube.com/user/KinkyHairBlog

    Fotki:
    http://public.fotki.com/okorolina40/cg_technique_year_1/year-5–hair-topia–/
    http://public.fotki.com/EbonyPrincessH/november-06-2008–n/

  11. Hi There,
    Thank you for the mention. I appreciate your blog and recommendation.

    Thanks,
    Sophia

  12. Valerie Johnson says:

    Hello,
    I just watched Oprah and loved your success story and have a question for you. My hair is thinning and I have resorted to wearing wigs because I’m too embarrassed to go to a salon. I want to stay away from chemicals and like the idea of natural products. What would you suggest as far as your products go?

    want your advice
    Valerie

  13. The afro puff image on this page should be credited to photographer Bruce Talbot. Otherwise, it should be removed from commercial use as it has not been released to the public domain. Future use of any images should be properly licensed. Thank you.

  14. Bruce, just amended my post to add your photo credit and a link. Sincere apologies for this – I believe I first saw the photo on Fokti as natural hair inspiration, so I honestly had no idea who to credit. Thanks for letting me know and I promise this won’t happen again!

  15. dear afrobella your website really inspied me and seeing my role model janelle monea also made me go natural and i had a up hair do wich gave a a very beautiful unique look

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