If you’ve been following Longing 4 Length for any period of time, you know I am a huge fan of the Braxtons and their reality show on We TV. I watch religiously and prior to recently having cable re-installed, I would find the shows posted online each week – that’s how much of a fan I am! For those who are unfamiliar, the show revolves around Grammy Award winner Toni Braxton and her four sisters – Towanda, Trina, Traci and Tamar along with their mother, Evelyn. All of the ladies have fun with their hair, wearing different wigs and extensions, but Traci is the most adventurous, often wearing short funky cuts with splashes of color. During Season 2, Traci’s storyline revolved around her plans to return to cosmetology school and open a hair salon. So aside from being a fan, I was curious about her experience and of course her real hair beneath her fabulous wigs.
We opened the interview with Traci telling me about her background in hair. Their mother, Ms. Evelyn Braxton, was a hairstylist and ran a salon in the basement of their Maryland home when the girls were growing up. In addition Evelyn was a licensed cosmetology instructor. Traci began following in her mother’s footsets in high school, taking vocational cosmetology courses. As an adult, Traci re-enrolled in beauty school just before the Braxton Family Values began taping. Around that time her son, Kevin, was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA) and between doctor’s visits and frequent flare ups, Traci chose to discontinue school. But she definitely has plans to return and finish.
Check out my interview below:
Ebony of Longing 4 Length (L4L): Why do you gravitate towards short hair?
Traci: It’s easy and you can do a lot with it, shorter hair has more play with it.
L4L: Who is your dream client?
Traci: India Arie because she is natural and I like messing with natural hair. When dealing with chemicals, you have to be cautious. You can’t put too much tension on processed hair.
L4L: How are you wearing your real hair, relaxed, natural, texturized?
Traci: It is natural and actually it is blonde.
L4L: Why do you rely on wigs for styling?
Traci: The reason why is because I sweat like a slaughtering pig! It makes no sense! You can press or flat iron my hair and when I step outside…I sweat in my hair. You know some people sweat other places – under their arms, back or stomach or over their lip? I sweat in my head.
L4L: How long have you been natural?
Traci: About four years. Actually before being natural, I had locs. I wore locs for 5 years and before the show I cut them.
L4L: Wow, okay. I notice your husband and son both wear locs also:
Traci: Yes, my son has worn locs since he was 6 months old – he doesn’t know anything else.
L4L: Okay and who does the maintenance on their hair, do you retwist [their locs]?
Traci: I do!
L4L: So you have a lot of experience with styling different textures of hair?
Traci: Yes, I had no choice. My mother was a teacher. And I had no choice – if you want to go into doing hair – you have to know how to do and dabble in all different kinds of hair.
L4L: What are some of the Braxton beauty secrets and favorite hair and skin products?
Traci: First of all you have to have good genes! We use a lot of Dove products. Laila Ali products, they are really good! Right now my natural hair is blonde so I can’t put a lot of heat to it. So I use the Laila Ali [curl product] – its nice and thick and it keeps your curls looking really nice.
L4L: I’ve seen Laila’s products in the store but never tried them so now you have me ready to go out and buy them!
Traci: Oh my gosh, that’s my stuff! Also, Carol’s Daughter, the Chocolat Shampoo. I love that! I like using different kinds of products, for when I get that urge to change my hairstyles. Because when you use different products it changes the texture of your hair when you have natural hair and you can do your hair differently in different styles. That’s what I do!. My hair is naturally curly
L4L: I notice on the show you place different colors in your bang area – purple and red for example. What is the inspiration for the color?
Traci: It depends on my mood that day. I love color! When I was younger I had almost every color you can name, I was like a box of Crayola crayons. Every week when I would go to church, the women would come (besides to hear my father preach), just to see what color hair I had. Every week it would change – short hair, long hair, every week it was different. I just did different colors – red, green, blue, yellow, orange – it didn’t matter.
Do you still plan to incorporate both singing and hair into your career?
Traci: Yes! Yes! If the schedule fits, yes! The sky is the limit. These are the things I want to do – they are on my bucket list! And if I open my salon – WHEN I open my salon – I don’t want to have a fly by night salon. I want to make sure I have my salon for a long time so I can sit back and say “This is all yours. This empire is all yours Traci.” I’m really excited about opening my salon and also working on my singing career.
L4L: What is the WORST experience you’ve had with your hair?
One day I relaxed it and bleached in the same day…and four days later I went to sleep and my hair was in the pillow. I had to cut all my hair off and I still had spots like I was a leopard– RAHWRRRR! And I had to go to school! So I would wear a bandana on my head everyday until my hair grew back.
L4L: Who does your hair for the show?
I have two stylists, Diamond and Dawn Wright. It depends, if Toni has Dawn – because she’s a stylist snatcher! – then I use Diamond. And if they are both busy with my other sisters, I just do my own.
L4L: People who do hair are usually the hardest to please. Are you a difficult client, always telling the stylist how and what to do to your hair?
Traci: I’m in the mirror a lot. They normally turn my head away from the mirror and I always turn it right back and I point [laughing] and they say “I got this, I got this” and I’m like okay, okay. I have to sit back and say ‘Traci, you can’t be this control freak. You have to let people do their job and do their work and show their creative side.’ But if I don’t like it…I’ll let you know! This ain’t for me, I don’t like it, you made me look 45 years older – change it!
L4L: How do you care for your wigs when you remove them?
Traci: When I take my hair pieces off, I do have my mannequin stands. I make sure [the wigs] are on the heads 24-7; if I am not using it – it is on the mannequin, point blank period. Then I shampoo and mold it once per week just in case I am going to use it.
L4L: Do you shampoo your real hair once per week also?
Traci: Do I? YES! Sometimes my mom says “Traci you know you should not shampoo your hair almost everyday honey, you are going to strip your hair of its natural oils.” And I’m like uh uh, my hair feels better when it is clean and fresh. Mommy and I we always fuss at each other about that.
L4L: Yes, my mother is the same way about washing my hair all the time – she always says “Ebony, you’re washing your hair again?” That is definitely old school versus new.
Traci: See I sweat in my head, so I have to shampoo my hair! I will start smelling like a sour hair rag. I don’t want to put a flat iron through stankin, sweaty hair – that’s nasty! People would say “Who’s smelling like a sour rag? Oh…that’s Traci! [laughs] Traci’s smelling like a sour rag!”
L4L: What advice would you give women about their hair?
Traci: Take chances – if you feel like you want to wear color in your hair. Take changes, it is okay to play with color. You know most African American women don’t like playing in color, we always go with a base color like honey blonde or a little bit of red. We never go outside the box with color, so have fun and play with your hair! I would like to thank all my viewers and fan for supporting me and liking all the colors and styles that I wear.
This interview was an absolute pleasure to conduct. As big a Braxton’s fan as I am, Traci is so down to earth, I felt like I could have been talking to one of my girlfriends. I loved the story about how she and her mother battle over how often is healthy to wash your hair…sound familiar? How many of us have to hear a bunch of feedback from our mothers about all we do to take care of our hair?! The audio is below for your listening pleasure; Traci and I were chatting it up like old friends so I did a bit of editing to help it flow better, pardon any quality inconsistencies!
Thank you Ms. Traci Braxton for your time and pleasant conversation! Hopefully I will have an opportunity to visit your salon one day and I’ll be sure to not peek in the mirror until you finish! I look forward to seeing more of you and your lovely sisters on Season 3 of Braxton Family Values. Ladies, don’t forget to check out the season finale of season 2.5 tonight at 8 pm EST on We TV and the premiere of Tamar & Vince at 9!