Issa Rae Gets Real About Her Hair Journey In New Sienna Naturals Campaign


Photo: Courtesy of Sienna Naturals.

If there’s one thing Issa Rae is going to do, it’s keep it real. She’s proved this countless times; whether she’s “rooting for everybody Black,” bringing relatable characters to life, or being honest about how Black stories are becoming less of a priority. But she’s not stopping there. Today, Rae opens up about her hair journey with a new campaign for the natural hair care brand, Sienna Naturals, which she co-owns alongside founder Hannah Diop. 

The campaign, entitled Rooted In Real, is reminiscent of Rae’s mirror rapping days in Insecure, as the star discusses her hair woes while gazing at her reflection. “Can I be real with y’all?” Rae says as the campaign begins. “I’m a dry a** b*tch,” she continues, referring to her hair’s brittle past. Rae also goes on to describe how the physical pain of wash day is the reason for her toned arms, right before sharing that many products on the market include toxic ingredients.

But nevertheless, the light at the end of her tunnel was finding refuge in non-toxic, coil-defining products like Sienna Naturals.  “I’m a storyteller. I always communicate in this way when I want to introduce people to things that I stand behind,” she shares with ESSENCE via Zoom. “I just wanted to be honest about how dryness has been such a huge part of my hair journey. I know other people have felt this way, and I wanted to help others in a non intimidating way. These products have helped me so much.”

Below, Rae opens up about her current hair care routine, finding self-confidence, what’s next for her, and more. 

Issa Rae Gets Real About Her Hair Journey In New  Campaign
Photo: Courtesy of Sienna Naturals.

ESSENCE: What does “rooted in real” mean to you?

Issa Rae: In the literal sense, it means our products are clean and their ingredients are from the earth. And also just from a messaging level, I want people to know that Sienna Naturals is very transparent about the often difficult journey of taking care of our hair and how intentional you have to be in that process and how, at times, ugly it can be. That said, it was important to me to also candidly discuss my own hair journey and the way my hair gets on my nerves. 

In the campaign, you mentioned how wash day can at times be a chore, but have you found ways to make it more enjoyable throughout your journey?

Rae: Absolutely. The products just feel good– especially the H.A.P.I shampoo and the Dew Magic cream. I got my hair done this morning and my hair stylist, Felicia Leatherwood, was like, “your hair feels so soft.” Knowing that I am actively taking care of my hair, whereas in the past I wouldn’t be sure, makes it more enjoyable. It used to be stressful finding out I was allergic to certain products, or when certain products didn’t work. Some of them, years down the road, you’d find out there were cancer causing ingredients in it, too. But now, with Sienna, I can finally trust products and I know that it works on my hair, so that alone makes it more enjoyable.

What’s your current hair routine?

Rae: My routine from start to finish, if it is a wash day, I use the H.A.P.I Shampoo. I also use the Untangled Conditioner on a light day and the mask when I feel like I’ve really neglected my hair for a while. Then, I immediately use Dew Magic. I feel proud of having introduced this curl cream to the product line because it’s something that’s so easy to use right out of the shower. I shake it out and the curls will define themselves, and then I can just put a little band over it and let it dry.

Issa Rae Gets Real About Her Hair Journey In New  Campaign
Photo: Courtesy of Sienna Naturals.

What are the current wellness practices that keep you grounded amidst busy times?

Rae: I have a really great bathtub and I recognized, I think after the pandemic, that was the first time that I used it. I don’t use this enough, and so I made it more of a practice to listen to music, light a candle, and soak. That has been extremely relaxing. But other than that, being with friends and family and doing absolutely nothing with them. Those moments of joy where we can just sit and enjoy each other’s company and talk shit… that’s my self-care for sure.

What makes you feel most confident these days?

Rae: I always remind myself to embrace what makes you different. I used to be ashamed of those things. Even down to having moles on my face… but later I realized that my mom and my aunt all have it and it runs in the family. It’s become part of my identity. It’s all about learning to love the things about you that make you, you. That’s the first step to confidence.

What’s next for you that you’re excited about?

Rae: I definitely want to see more styling products with Sienna Naturals because, again, there’s so much that I have to still use that I’m not certain about. I’m definitely using products that I know work on my hair, but I’m not certain that they’re good for me and I don’t want to find out later. I also want to see the brand do more collaborations with people, to be honest. Hair and beauty are such big spaces and there’s such an opportunity for, especially in the Black business space, more collaborations. And then with me, I’m just writing, working on shows, and trying to see what’s next.

Issa Rae Gets Real About Her Hair Journey In New  Campaign
Photo: Courtesy of Sienna Naturals.


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