Ursula Stephen has a list of celebrity clients long enough to make your mouth drop. She styles hair for red carpet events, international commercial campaigns, and the everyday girl at her self-titled Brooklyn-based salon. But her down-to-earth energy and ease make her feel like a best friend you’ve known for years.
A 1-on-1 Conversation with Ursula Stephen
We sat down with Stephen to discuss natural hair trends for 2021 and beyond, her top product recommendations, and what has been inspiring her lately.
What do you see as the top natural hair trends coming up?
One of the big trends coming would be micro links. A lot of the natural girls have found their balance; in the past, they’ve been told that you go natural and wear your hair natural and don’t do any type of color or chemical treatment. But you have some girls who really want to embrace the versatility and figure out how to be chemical-free while still being fabulous with long, flowing shiny hair. They still want length! One of the biggest trends I see is micro links. It’s another extension option that’s a little more natural than other options. It gives the natural girls a chance to play with length while still being natural and not wearing a wig or a weave.
I think another trend is that people aren’t really following trends anymore. We’re in a new decade and there’s nothing we haven’t done before when it comes to color and style and people are really finding individualism within a trend now. They’re really finding what works for them and not getting stuck in something because they have to—people are really embracing their own texture and figuring out what is fabulous for their texture. People are really finding what works for them. To me, that’s a big trend—individualism.
To me, that’s a big trend — individualism.
Can you wear micro links with any texture?
You can wear them with any texture! That’s the amazing part about it. It’s something that came up a while ago, but it’s just now getting a resurgence and becoming popular. You know, girls are always looking for the next best thing and something else. We do so many non-natural things to look natural. And I love that about the business I’m in—I feel like my job is to make extensions look real and real hair look like extensions, right? We’re always trying to find that balance.
Do you find yourself recommending products geared specifically to natural hair, or do you find that your recommendations aren’t limited that way?
I have always looked at hair as a texture and not a race. I know it’s a big movement now, and I love it because we have the Suave Naturals and it’s amazing and I’m always recommending that because it’s my go-to. But I have always recommended great product for great hair. I’m not a trendy person… I recommend what I think works. To me, it’s about having a great product—it doesn’t matter if you have natural hair or other hair [textures]. It needs love and it needs to be combed properly. I’m combining new products with the old remedies that I know always work—love and care.
Do you have a favorite product in the Suave Naturals line?
My favorite is the Suave Nourish & Strengthen Leave-in Conditioner. Leave-in conditioner is my favorite—period. I love leave-in conditioner because you get the best of both worlds. It’s the kind of product you can interchange and use it in a number of ways. It helps detangle and really get through thick coarse hair, you can use it instead of a deep conditioner…and you can reapply it during the week. If you have really dry hair that you don’t want to have to start over with the whole wash process, just rewet with some leave-in conditioner to get it back to what it was.
What has been inspiring you lately?
It’s so funny that you ask that because I’ve been trying to figure that out too! It’s a weird and interesting time. I have always taken my inspiration from so many different places. From cartoons and just life and music and fashion… It’s always the same for me, but I’m also in a place where I kind of want to be still and kind of let things come at me and not look. Sometimes when I’m not looking, I find so much inspiration. I’m in a place where I’m being a little still and waiting to be inspired a little bit.