Photography by Stephen Lovekin/Shutterstock

Cardi B’s Hair Stylist Kahh Spence On Wig Maintenance And How Not All Curls Are Equal

The rising Brooklynite credits social media for the high profile clients he's been able to land.

At just 24 years old, Kahh Spence already counts superstars Kehlani, Cardi B, Ella Mai, and Yara Shahidi as regular clients. Known mainly for his custom wigs, the Brooklyn-born, self-taught hairstylist and OGX Beauty brand ambassador is behind many of Cardi B’s ever changing looks, and shares that his first encounter with the female rapper was the year before the juggernaut’s meteoric rise to fame with the release of her single “Bodak Yellow.”

But his real break came a few months later when R&B singer Kehlani asked him to join her on tour. “Probably the second time I worked with her she asked me to go on tour, and I’ve been working with her ever since,” he says. Spence credits the clout of social media for gaining him his celeb visibility; it is the way Cardi’s publicist reached out to him, after all, he reveals.

“I feel like it’s opened over 70,000 peoples eyes to me,” he says of his amassed following. “They get to see me, what I do, who I work with — they get to experience everything.” Since December, Spence has been posting self-shot hair tutorials that have been racking up thousands of views — reactive proof that people are hungry for hair diversity. Playing with all types of hair textures and hairstyles, the pro can basically do any style imaginable — all while showcasing Black hair in its full glory.

At the Governors Ball Music Festival in New York last weekend, we spoke to Spence about wigs and natural hair maintenance, plus all his favourite products.

FAKE HAIR, DON’T CARE

Thanks to a slew of female celebs who wear faux locks proudly, and hair masterminds like Spence who are pushing the hair conversation forward with informative tutorials, wig-life is no longer merely hush-hush gossip among Black women anymore. But contrary to what many believe, wigs aren’t simply a grab-n-wear deal. “You definitely want to treat your natural hair under your wigs,” says Spence. “I think the misconception with wearing [them] is that you can go months without touching your protective style, but you want to make sure that you keep conditioning it every so often [and] trimming your ends — doing everything you can to treat your natural hair.” As for what to do with your own hair under the wig to avoid daily manipulation and breakage (aka the protective style mentioned by Spence): “Just cornrows,” he recommends. “Straight back, super simple.” Lastly, a hairpiece isn’t something you can just toss around and expect to stay looking on fleek. “Treat them like your natural hair,” says Spence. “You need to wash them, store them, and make sure the hair has some air and moisture.”

The Product Heroes
When wigs are the game, Spence reaches for OGX’s Argan Oil of Morocco Conditioner for a double-duty boost of hydration, he says. “I use [it] as a conditioner for extensions and to treat natural hair.” As for a go-to finishing spray that gives wigs a natural, lived-in feel without weighing strands down, he loves the Natural Finish Aspen Extract Dry Texture Spray. “Say you’re doing some type of curl style or even a straight style, just spray a bit of [it] to keep the hold a little longer.” When you’ve put the time into styling your mane to perfection, there’s nothing worse than creepy crawlies that break away. Spence’s secret to keeping flyaways at bay is a good control paste. “My ultimate fave is the Natural Finish + Aspen Texture Molding Paste,” he says. “It serves multiple purposes: flyaways, styled edges, baby hairs — every little thing.”

 

 

The Tools To Use
In the world of human-hair wigs, the heat tools you reach for to style your hairpiece are just as important as your products. Considering how much of an investment some of them can be, the last thing you want to do is ruin the strands. Opt for professional-quality tools, preferably with temperature-control dials. “I love, love, my flat iron from Theorie. I’ve been using it for the past three years and it hasn’t given out on me,” raves Spence. The pro is also a huge fan of the Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer, plus the unique tapered barrel of GHD’s Curve Creative Curl Wand for flawless curls. And note: a good heat protectant is a must. “It helps hold [the look] a little longer and it protects the hair.”

 

TEXTURE TEASE

Natural hair isn’t just one big coily category. “Some people think everyone’s curl pattern is exactly the same,” says Spence. “I’ve had situations where I’ve worked with girls who have 4C curl types, and they’ll tell me they like to use a certain product. I’ll be like, ‘I’m not sure if this works on your hair because you have a lot of buildup, or your curls aren’t as defined as they could be.’ It’s about knowing where your curl stands and finding products that work for your texture.”

The Product Heroes:
Decoding your own curl and its unique characteristics takes a bit of exploration (and some trial and error with products, tbh). A go-to curl definer for Spence is OGX’s Locking + Coconut Curls Creamy Mousse. “That helps, especially when wanting to add moisture at the root but also giving the rest of the hair a [hydrated] feel,” he says. It’s also a favourite to layer over a curl cream for extra definition and bounce. “It doesn’t weigh heavy on the hair,” he adds. “I think that’s been a problem for people; they don’t have products that are lightweight.”

The Tools To Use:
Finding a friendly hairbrush for thick curls that won’t rip out massive clumps isn’t the easiest feat. Spence’s go-to is trusted Denman brush, he says — a tried-and-true tool for a wicked wash-and-go style. “I usually section the hair in fours and then use my Denman to brush through [damp] hair. I’ll then apply some conditioner, a bit of curl defining cream and then brush through it again.” Certain highly-textured curls and coils can take, like, FOREVER to air-dry so for a faster drying time (bonus: and a little more bounce), Spence reaches for his handy Dyson Supersonic magnetic diffuser attachment. “I love every piece the blow-dryer comes with.”