Taraji P. Henson Details Horrific Sew-In Weave Experience That Left Her Hair Smelling Like ‘Mildew’ After She Couldn't Clean It Properly

Taraji P. Henson

Taraji P. Henson Details Horrific Sew-In Weave Experience That Left Her Hair Smelling Like ‘Mildew’ After She Couldn't Clean It Properly

The Empire actress also dished on the trials and tribulations she's experienced with hairstylists on set.

Published March 5, 2020

Written by Tweety Elitou

The launch of Taraji P. Henson's haircare line, TPH by Taraji, proves to be a pivotal moment in the actresses’ career—especially after dedicating 10 years in the kitchen to perfect her formula “like a mad scientist.”

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JANUARY 24: Taraji P. Henson poses as the actress surprises guests at Herald Square Target Store on January 24, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty Images for Target)
(Photo: Craig Barritt/Getty Images for Target)

Successfully launching her scalp-friendly and super affordable hair products in January, the solution-oriented collection has seen amazing success, even securing shelf space in your local Target. 

RELATED | Taraji P. Henson’s Natural Hair Care Line Is Coming To Target Stores

Aimed to cater to your natural hair routine—with heavy focus on the scalp—the line that features 18 products was inspired by Taraji’s goal to keep her natural hair healthy while constantly wearing protective styles (wigs, braids, etc). You know, as we all do! 

Now, the 49-year-old Empire star is detailing her horrific experience getting a sew-in weave for the first time that left her hair smelling like “mildew" and pretty much kickstarted her hair journey to finding the perfect product to care for her natural hair during protective styles. 

“Once I got into the acting business, I started wearing weaves because I wanted to protect my hair,” Taraji told Allure Magazine. “I really didn't like them at first. I'd heard so many horror stories about people losing their edges and the wear and tear [weaves put] on their hair.”

Learning that natural hair on-set can be extremely overwhelming, the famed actress soon came to terms with getting a weave. 

“When I had to wear my hair straight for movies, it became stressful to keep straightening and putting heat on it to match whatever scene I was in. So I started weaving my hair,” she shared.

Little did she know, the experience would serve as a huge learning curve!

“The first time I went to get the weave taken out, it smelled like mildew. I was so embarrassed. I was washing my hair, but what I wasn't doing was drying the weft,” she said. Tragic move!

She continued, “When you have a weave or an install, your hair is braided down and then sometimes they sew a [hair] net down on top of that and then they sew the hair tracks on top of that. So my dilemma was, how do I get to my scalp? How do I clean it? I didn't ever want that mildew smell again.”

Eager to remove the stench and get relief, Taraji searched for a product to help with the ordeal. 

“The first thing I used was Sea Breeze [a skin and scalp astringent]. I needed some relief! I found a little bottle, like the ones they put the dye in with the nozzle on top and put the Sea Breeze in it. It helped, but it dries your hair out,” she revealed.

Explaining her hair became “brittle,” Taraji embarked on a journey to “get moisture down to my braids and clean my scalp.”

The rest is her-story! “That’s what the TPH hair-care line is about. It’s about scalp care — and serving looks. TPH was born out of my ‘Master Cleanse’ hair product I made for myself. For me, hair is nothing if you don’t have a clean scalp,” she proclaimed.

RELATED | Taraji P. Henson Is Following Her Passions To Launch Her Own Haircare Line With Products Starting At $5

Hopefully, this serves as a cautionary tale of the importance of caring for your natural hair. 

While her line caters to natural hair, Taraji wants to be sure the people know her line is also for wigs. “I don’t want people to think that this is a line that is just targeted at natural hair. This line is also for wigs. It’s for installs, braids, locs, straight hair, curly hair — hair needs moisture.” 

As far as how she handles her hair on set today, Taraji made it clear she’s all about speaking up for herself—especially after an on-set hairstylist ruined her hair.

“At this point in my career, I don’t have to always show up to set with my hair already done,” she shared before recalling, “When nobody knew who I was, I had to take whatever [hairstylist] they gave me. I remember one time the stylist decided to put a root booster in my pressed hair. My roots looked like they were rising from the dead, honey. The rest of my head was bone-straight with a curl at the end, like a helmet head, and I had to do a whole photoshoot like that. I tried to explain it to him, and he tried to fix it, but he just didn’t know how to. And once you get that kink, man.... See, you did it. And I came in with it nice and straight.”

She continued, “Once I figured out [the hair thing] was an issue and I started rising in my career, I realized that I was just going to have to start fighting for the stylists I want. And that’s what I started doing. The bigger my name got, the more people were like, ‘Just give her what she wants.’”

She cautioned, “But you’ve got to grow to that.”

Sadly, Taraji knows that other Black women struggle with being silenced while their hair needs are overlooked.

“A lot of times, we as Black women have to wear a mask, or swallow how we really feel, or take whatever is given to us,” she said. “It just drives me nuts because you can’t tell me or our culture what’s best for us. We live this stuff every day. I can never go home and take my Black off. This is my experience.”

She brought up this valuable point, “How are you going to tell me about being Black? How are you going to tell me about Black hair?”

We often wonder the same.

(Photo: Rich Fury/Getty Images)

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