It is no exaggeration that at Ensemble we are big fans of Saraid de Silva. The Sri Lankan Pākehā writer and creative, based in Tāmaki Makaurau, is currently working on her debut novel after winning the inaugural Crystal Arts Trust Prize in 2021, and co-hosts the podcast and video series Conversations With My Immigrant Parents with Julie Zhu (they're currently looking for guests to feature on season three). Furthermore, Saraid also acts for stage and television. Is there nothing this woman cannot do? Yet, we are here today to celebrate her incredible head of hair and learn her haircare secrets - as part of our semi-regular I Like Your Hair series. She spills the beans below...
How is your hair so great?!
I got it from my Mama!
Is it high maintenance?
It’s not too bad, I don’t dye it and I very rarely use heat on it. I have learnt these things through trial and error. These days my hair is very much a wash and go situation but that wasn’t always the case.
What do you do to take care of it, and to define your incredible curls?
I get regular haircuts, I don’t straighten it, and I try to change up my products often.
I look for shampoo and conditioner that says loudly what it doesn’t have in it. Not because I actually know what SLS and parabens are or how they’re bad for my hair, but other people with curly hair seem to avoid them and I do know that the thicker and oilier and more “natural” a product is the more my hair likes it.
At the moment I’m using Briogeo Don’t Despair, Repair! Shampoo and the Briogeo Farewell Frizz. It’s marketed as a heat protectant but I use it like a leave-in conditioner and I find it’s really good for my hair type. I was also using their hair mask as a conditioner but I have run out (because I drown my hair in it) so right now I am using the Hask hair masks you can get at most supermarkets. If my hair looks a little frizzy or sad, I’ll wash it, put the hair mask on, tie a silk scarf around my head and sleep with my hair full of conditioner.
What is your hair’s greatest nemesis and what do you do to combat this?
Eurocentric beauty standards! I didn’t grow up enjoying my hair or knowing how to take care of it and I distinctly remember the first time I straightened it at high school and the way people reacted. For maybe 10 years I really only felt pretty if my hair was straight so there was a bit of un-learning to do.
Now I think that straightening my hair makes it look so much worse, and I don’t actually think it suits my face either.
What's your approach for events versus day-to-day?
For events I’ll try to wash it hours beforehand so that it has time to completely air dry. I think my hair looks best when it is 100% dry and freshly washed. Or I have a really nice ponytail from Superior Hair that I occasionally wear to change things up a bit.
Day-to-day I don’t think too much about it. I exercise each day and I don’t think sweat makes my hair look good, but then I also don’t love to wash it more than twice or maybe three times a week.
If I’m just working from home it’s just up in a bun, looking average, or if I’m going out and don’t have time to wash it I’ll slick it down using Bumble and Bumble Curl Defining Cream - which is actually too thick for my hair if it’s out, but very good for flyaways - and I’ll spray some hair oil on top of it. (I’m so sorry I don’t know the name of the product and I transferred it to a spray bottle so it doesn’t have a label - but it has rosemary oil in it and I get it from I.E. Produce.)
Who ‘does’ it?
Paige at Dry & Tea in City Works gave me my last haircut and she did an amazing job, I’m 100% going back to her.
Where - or who - do you look to for inspiration when it comes to styling and looking after your hair?
I see a lot of amazing hair on TikTok. Truly most of the looks are not anything I could ever achieve but I love to see it.
How would you describe your relationship with your hair - today, and in the past?
I have chemically straightened it, shaved it all off but been too insecure to ever display it, spent hundreds or maybe even thousands on straightening irons and hot brushes and blow waves.
I have ached for dead straight hair, softly waving hair, thicker, less temperamental hair, shiny black hair like so many of my South Asian sisters have, basically anything that wasn’t my own felt like something that would get me closer to feeling beautiful.
Nowadays I feel like my hair and I are friends, and maybe it’s too much of a leap but when I like my hair more I think I like myself more.
Who else do you think has great hair?
Roxie Mohebbi, Ava Diakhaby, Rose Matafeo, JessB, Jahra Wasasala, Angella Dravid and Aaradhna!
Any current hair trends you’d be keen to try?
I am always, always teetering on the knife edge of a wee pixie cut but I kind of think I’m enjoying my hair too much at the moment to commit.
Any other good hair tips?
Get regular haircuts! Don’t trust anyone who has to straighten your hair in order to cut it!