Words By Chimere Norris
Online she is known as BeautifulBrwnBabyDol, but that’s what she is inside and out. Nina Ellis-Hervey, Ph. D., has more than 100,000 subscribers, and more than seven million video views, on her YouTube channel (http://www.youtube.com/user/BeautifulBrwnBabyDol). There are almost 30,000 followers on her Facebook fan page touting her message of holistic health, weight loss, natural hair, and the natural lifestyle. She has been on CNN’s HLN network and featured in People magazine — and she was our cover choice for the very first issue of Naturally Happy Hair Magazine.
She began a vigorous workout regimen six years ago, but managing it became a challenge. While researching more ways to make better lifestyle choices for her weight loss, she discovered how harmful relaxers could be to her overall health. Armed with this information, she used protective styling such as braids and updos, to transition away from relaxers, until she was comfortable enough for her big chop. Back then, there weren’t as many support forums as there are now, and at times the societal pressures made things rough. Six years and several haircuts later, her signature kinky afro and creative braided styles have motivated thousands of women as they embark on their own natural hair journey.
Nina is a college professor in a structured, scholarly environment. And while some say that natural hair is not fit for women in the workforce, Nina proves that theory wrong. She’s always been one to “play” with her hair, and she prides herself in creating her own hairstyles one strand at a time. “Nobody knows your hair like you do,” she said. From puffs, buns, fro-outs, twist-outs, braid-outs, roller sets, and braided or twisted updos, Nina has managed to make those styles look effortless. She uses her own brand of styling products, partnered with some affordable staples like Trader Joe’s Tea Tree Tingle shampoo and conditioner, and Ampro Pro Styl styling gel, to create them.
On any given day, you can find her on her YouTube channel sharing her candid and passionate product reviews. One of the things I admire most about her is the genuine conversation you get from her on just about any topic. She’s got the “it” that they talk about, and a humbleness that will carry her a long way.
Not being concerned with length, Nina cuts and trims her hair often, especially to keep her signature shape. She warns about comparing your hair to someone else’s. “The best thing you can do is learn your own hair. You need to experiment and create your own regimen in order to have the most healthy hair journey possible,” she said. Nina has seen many people go back to relaxers because they never took the time to learn their own hair. Many get frustrated because their hair doesn’t look the same as other people’s hair. “It’s not supposed to,” she said.
Because she works out daily, Nina has to wash, condition, and deep condition her hair every week. Her hair can become dry because of the sweat from her frequent workouts. Nina relies on creamy moisturizers and oils to care for her hair when it’s in a protective style. She likes to use different products, and recognizes that you need to use them depending on the day and the style you are trying to achieve.
One of the most interesting things she shared with me during our interview is that she noticed that what she eats has a major impact on the moisture levels and shine of her hair. In addition to hair vitamins, she recommends eating healthier foods such as green beans, broccoli, spinach, carrots, and other green leafy vegetables to promote healthier hair. When she eats “crappy foods” her hair feels dryer, brittle, and she’s even experienced breakage in the past. “When I’m not eating well, I can tell from the new growth of my hair that something is not balanced in my diet,” she said. Poor diet choices and low water intake will affect the texture and overall health of your hair.