“I am Resilient. I am Shy. I am Confident. I am Abena.”
Hailing from Ghana, this powerhouse mama and hairstylist to the stars is a force of positivity for her children and her clientele. Living in Los Angeles, she works with some of the biggest names in the business and glitz and glam are the name of the game. One thing is for sure, Abena makes everyone around her look and feel beautiful—on the inside and out. An avid wearer of wigs, she loves to experiment and have fun with her style while exuding confidence in her own skin.
How would you describe your current relationship with your hair?
I’m a bit of a “cheater”. I have a lot of hair and a lot of styles… I often wear wigs. However, underneath the wigs I do have a great relationship with my natural hair.
Growing up, how did you feel about your hair? How has this evolved?
Growing up, I really hated the way my mother did my hair. For this reason, I became a hairstylist...motivated to help people look and feel good. Back in middle school, I gave myself a ‘mushroom cut’. I always had a lot of hair and enjoyed cutting it off and styling as I wanted.
How did your family/the media shape your views about hair?
My mother always taught me to love my natural hair and love myself exactly as I am. Even though I often wear wigs, I love what's underneath.
Growing up, I felt that the media did not accurately reflect natural African American hair. It was always shown styled and had to be straightened.
What was your a-ha moment when it came to understanding and identifying society’s unrealistic beauty standards?
Being in the beauty industry has taught me to love myself 100%. My a-ha moment was when I met celebrities who were just like me...meeting them and realizing we all have ‘flaws’ and bad breath… essentially, we’re all the same (despite the paychecks).
Also, when it comes to my clients, I’ve never met a woman who was 100% happy with their hair. The curly gals want the opposite and the same is true of straight-haired gals. I always tell my clients to own it and work with what they have.
What makes you feel confident?
I’ve never been asked this question. Though I can't say exactly, loving myself from within makes me feel confident. Self-love, being happy with myself. my achievements, helping others, my success, being a mother, being able to smile through everything, and being a strong woman.
What do you love most about your hair?
It’s funny because it was just last year that I realized how curly my natural hair is. I love my curls and I love that I can turn my curls into cornrows, or simply put a wig on and change it up.
Which is your favorite L’ange product? What do you love most about it?
Posh is my #1 go-to. I love how all textures can use and benefit from it. It’s even great on my blonde clients. Typically, a lot of products that take away flyaways also make hair greasy and Posh does not.
Dream Creme is another product I love. I was able to test it before its launch and I think it’s an amazing ‘10-in-1 product’. It can be used for so many things and I love that it feels like lotion and is not sticky. It adds amazing texture to curly hair.
How do you express your individuality through your hair?
Honestly, my hair depends on my outfit. If I’m wearing a suit jacket, I’ll wear my bob wig, if I’m running errands without makeup, I’ll sport my natural hair. The hair always matches the outfit.
What is the nicest compliment you’ve received about your hair?
“Your hair looks so natural.” And, from another African American girl, I was told that I push my style to the limit and wear things that are uncommon for dark-skinned girls to wear. I was told that, “Because of you, I feel comfortable wearing pink hair or a blonde wig.”
What is a negative remark about your hair that’s stuck with you to this day?
I don’t hold on to negative remarks.
What would you like to share with the next generation that you wish you had known growing up?
I make it a priority to teach my kids about self-love. I ask them, do you like what you see in the mirror? See, your’s is the only opinion that matters. Not everybody is gonna like you, what matters is that you like you. I praise my kids, tell them they're beautiful and handsome and build them up so they’re not as affected by what others say. If they’re being made fun of, it only lasts briefly. I want to give them a foundation so that they realize they are amazing in their own skin.
Watch the video here.