Down to the Root: Priscilla Quaye on Leaning Into Her Loc Journey

Go beyond surface level with some of our favorite creators, innovators, and beauty gurus in our Down to the Root interview series. They let us in as we find out who they are, what drives them, and how beauty and hair ties in.

Priscilla Quaye says she can “talk about hair for days.” Well, we here at Prose share that same enthusiasm. However, Quaye’s love of beauty doesn’t stop there. In fact, she spends her days as the Brand Director of Ami Colé, a Black-owned beauty brand featuring clean beauty formulas made for melanin-rich skin. Their mission is to carve out space for women of color in the world of beauty. Here we chat about hair loc  journey and what it means to be making her mark on the beauty world one creative vision at a time.

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    I’d love for you to share a little about your hair journey with us. You recently hit one year of having locs. What made you start your loc journey?

    Hair has always been such a big part of my life and something that has meant so much to me. Starting with the more pivotal memories, I got my first relaxer [in the] 7th grade. Growing up, my older sister always did my hair first just as a hobby because she personally just enjoyed it [and] eventually got her cosmetology license. 

    Because she took care of it, she was so attached to my hair and tried to sway me from getting [a relaxer] for as long as she could, but everyone else in my life had one, including her, so it was only a matter of time. Because I had my sister and all her knowledge, she was able to keep my hair healthy throughout the relaxed days and super long—not to say that long equals healthy as it certainly doesn’t always. 

    Priscilla’s hair transitioning out of her relaxer.

    She eventually taught me to do my own hair. I would wash and give myself a roller set every few weeks instead of flat-ironing to put less heat on my hair as another way to keep it healthy. I enjoyed the ritual of doing it, and I think being able to do it myself contributed to the attachment I have with my hair.

    Towards the end of college, I slowly just started to wonder, “What is my hair texture like?” I also slowly started getting into the early, OG natural hair YouTubers like Naptural85 and MahoganyCurls. Eventually, I decided to transition and grow out my relaxer for a year before eventually chopping off my relaxed ends. My family and many friends were naysayers about my decision. I got the whole “but your hair is so long and pretty” rebuttal many times. But was headstrong and didn’t waver. My journey was about self-discovery and health versus length, which was so often focused on in the Black community.

    Priscilla with her hair loose natural.

    Fast-forward, and I was a loose natural for 10+ years and loved every minute of it! It was so exciting to learn about my hair in its natural state. I truly enjoyed taking care of it and styling it. When I first went natural, I actually always saw myself with locs as I just admired the journey and how unique they were to each person. But I told myself locs would be my “older, motherhood, later in life” style.  

    However, for the last three years, I just wasn’t feeling my hair even though it was healthy and looked great. I eventually asked myself what I was waiting for and took the plunge after doing tons of research and taking the time to know I was certain I wanted to do it.

    What have you learned about your hair and yourself along the way?

    I knew this in the back of my mind when I was a loose natural, but having locs really solidified this for me: you really do not need 95% of the hair products you own for your hair to thrive. Less is truly more, and routine and consistency are the actual keys. Another surprising thing that I think gets lost on people sometimes is that your hair is still your hair when loc’d!

    Priscilla loving her new locs.

    I know that sounds silly, but I think people think their hair will go through this big transformation. For example, my hair was low porosity as a loose natural and still is now, so I have to behave accordingly with how I moisturize, or some sections of my hair shrank more than others when loose, and still do now in this locing stage. I also feel the most me I’ve ever felt in my life. When you start your locs, you truly don’t know how they’re going to turn out, and that’s been so exciting and exhilarating to experience. And though I felt “free” when I transitioned from my relaxer, I didn’t anticipate that feeling to go even deeper when locing my hair. 

    Do you have any advice for anyone reading this considering locs?

    A lot of people who I’ve spoken to who are considering locs are scared of the transition stage and how their hair will look during this time. Some call it “the ugly stage,” which I really don’t like. So even though I was sure I wanted them, I was also nervous about how this portion of the journey would play out. 

    My advice would be if you’re sure you want them, don’t let the fear of that part of the journey scare you. Just do it! I didn’t experience one minute where I didn’t love what my hair was doing or how it looked because I was so consumed in the journey itself and watching my hair transform. Another point of advice: don’t overdo it. Less is more for a lot of things. But this is especially true with locs. In the early days, doing too much can interfere with their progress.

    What’s your hair routine like these days?

    SO, so simple, and I couldn’t be happier. I wash my hair every two to three weeks. I do two washes with a clarifying shampoo, then a third with a more moisturizing shampoo to add some moisture back in. Following my shampoo, I always separate or “pop” my locs at the root to ensure they don’t join together.

    Priscilla’s loc length check.

    The more mature my locs get, the less difficult this process is, as my new growth now tends to grow within the loc it belongs to. Next, I moisturize my hair with a super light, rose water-based leave-in once a week or sometimes twice a week if it’s drier, which it tends to be in the first week following my shampoo before my natural oils have had a chance to do their thing. For maintenance, I was initially visiting my loctician for a retwist every two months just to ensure things were on track, but as my locs mature, I’ve now extended this to four months.

     Are there any products or rituals you love to lean into?

    The pillars of my skincare routine are my consistent exfoliation with Biologique Recherche’s P50 1970 V, masking twice a week, and quarterly facials at Rescue Spa. There’s definitely more than that, but those are the most important for me. I am also huge on nails. I do them every Sunday night. No matter what. You truly will never catch me out in the world with bare nails! OPI polishes are my favorite, paired with Seche Vite’s topcoat. I also swear by Olive & June’s nail serum and use it every night. It’s SO nice because it sinks in right away.

    Priscilla plays around with her locs in an updo.

    You’ve had a really great career in the world of beauty so far. Tell us a little about your background.

    Thank you! I always joke that my background doesn’t make any sense on paper until I speak to it. But, I’ve come to realize over the years that that’s what makes my perspective and journey so unique – that it hasn’t been linear. I started off wanting to be in the fashion space. 

    During my undergraduate years, I’d come to NYC for the summer and intern wherever I was lucky enough to. My favorites were the fashion closet at Glamour Magazine and in PR at BCBG. After college, I moved to the city determined to land a job at a luxury magazine and worked on the sales floor at Jeffrey in the Meatpacking District selling men’s shoes—RIP to such a trailblazing store—as a way to network and support myself. 

    Priscilla’s locs are the perfect accessory to any outfit.

    Friendships I’d made with some of my clients while working there ultimately led me to a job in the industry, first doing PR at a lifestyle agency, then [moving] to The Outnet in marketing. When leaving The Outnet, I wanted my next gig to be something I was really passionate about, so I focused on looking at companies I personally was inspired by versus just the role itself and landed a job as an Executive Assistant to the VP of Marketing at Glossier in 2017. 

    I learned so much in that role as I got to see how a fast-growing beauty business is run from a bird’s eye view. It was almost like a real-world business school. After that role, I knew I wanted to either get back into the marketing space or into creative, and I spent a few months in a Creative Operations role to round out my time at Glossier before joining Ami Colé. I was full-time employee #2 and joined pre-launch. I definitely had a good amount of startup experience from Glossier under my belt, but joining a company pre-launch and building from scratch is a unique experience unmatched to other stages of the startup journey.

    I know this is probably a tough question to answer. But what is your favorite part of working in the DTC beauty world?

    This is a tough one! Maybe that what works is always changing? Meaning you always have an opportunity to learn new things. I also appreciate how nimble you can be. Nothing is set in stone, so you can always try things and see how they work and then pivot. 

    As brand director of Ami Colé, what impact do you hope to make on the ever-changing world of beauty?

    This is an even tougher one! My hope is for the many, many versions of Blackness to be highlighted and seen. You can look at the beauty industry and very easily think, “Wow, look how much Black women or women of color representation there is,” but a lot of what’s out there is the same kind of archetypal Black woman, but we’re not a monolith. I hope this is resonating and coming across to our audience through our distinct creative, our copy, and how we communicate.

    I imagine you have a busy work life. Are there any self-care moments you take to find work-life balance?

    Honestly, my consistent skincare and nail routine helps me zone out and decompress after a super busy day. And of course, good TV and the couch will also do it. I also don’t have email notifications set up on my phone, and I have to actively refresh to load them, which helps limit my time spent thinking about work after work hours.