When did you start thinking about hair and makeup?
I think I started to dye my hair in like ’97. It wasn’t a bright red. It was kind of like a burgundy color. And nobody really had that color. My hairstylist at the time kept saying, “We should try something different.” Back then, nobody really had any wild colored hair unless you were, like, in punk rock or something like that. When I would go outside, people thought I was a hooker. Somebody literally asked me was I a prostitute one day. I was like, “Wow. That’s very ignorant.”
What inspired that color though?
Tracy Riggs was my hairstylist in Philly. She suggested it and just wanted to make it lighter and lighter. And we just kept doing it, and a lot of people were liking it. And I started to get into rap, and it kind of just became a signature color.
Were you always into fashion and beauty?
Yes. A lot of my fashion sense just came from seeing different magazines like the Vogues and the Elles. And I would just look at all of that stuff and I guess combine it with hood stuff and what I could do or afford at the time. Because it’s not like I had a lot of money. So me and my girlfriend, we used to go out all the time and were considered like the flyest girls.
When you came into the music industry, did you feel a certain type of pressure to look a certain way? Did people have opinions about your red hair?
I mean, that was my look. I know they get artists, and then they make them into what they wanna make them into. But I pretty much came like I came. I came with the red hair. That was pretty much just my look.The only time I ever had a problem was when we shot the “Foolish” video for Ashanti and the hairstylist at the time made my hair a really bright pinkish color. And Irv [Gotti] was like, “Oh my god. It looks pink, and it’s washing you out.” So we went back to red. But I used to play around with colors a lot. Like, I had blonde hair, which makes all of your hair fall out, but I used to love it anyway. I’ve had purple in my hair, blue too, but the red was always like my signature color. I had it for about probably, what, 12 years?
But you also don’t seem very attached to your hair. You’re fine with cutting it and shaving the sides.
That was another thing. I shaved one side of my head and I tattooed it. And at the time, nobody was doing that. And it was like a whole thing. It was all over the blogs. Like, I guess they thought I was having a mental health crisis. I’m German and Black so it was just small words written in German. But then everybody started doing stuff like that. Right. I was just kinda like the first person who did it.
What’s your philosophy with makeup? Are you a big makeup girl?
I used to be. I used to, like, really have tons and tons and tons and tons of makeup, but the older I got, the less I started wanting to put more and more on. It used to take me like an hour and a half to put makeup on. Now I just throw some foundation on and some lip gloss and eye stuff, and I’m good. My younger daughter is a makeup artist, and she’s really, really good. But as you get older, you just get tired of putting on all that makeup all the time. It’s a lot of work. And then you gotta take it all off. That’s even harder than putting it all on. So I kind of try to keep it simple. But I mean, of course, everyone loves to be glammed up from time to time. I love when Rebecca Martin does my makeup.
Who was your makeup artist in the past?
Her name was JJ, and she was awesome. She did a lot of people’s makeup, but she was great. She started doing Ashanti’s as well.
Your hair is long and black now. Do you ever think of going back to red?
I was wearing a lot of weaves. When I was little, I could actually sit on my hair. My hair was that long. And I started wondering, “Wow, if I take this weave out and leave it out for a while and just, take good care of my hair, I wonder how long it’ll get.” And like last September, it was probably to my shoulders, and now it’s almost to my waist. So I’m just waiting to see how long it’ll grow.
What is your maintenance routine for your hair?
I only go to the hairdresser to get my ends clipped. I don’t really have a crazy regimen. I use Tracy Riggs products. They are called Bye Bye Parabens. She has great products that work for her hair. I use a Kérastase conditioner. I use Olaplex. But you can’t really use it a lot.
What’s your skincare routine?
I use Jurlique’s skin cleanser. I’ve been using it for years, and it’s just like my favorite product. I use an exfoliator from Kate Somerville. It’s called ExfoliKate. You use it like twice a week and it just makes your skin feel awesome. But I don’t do anything, like, you know, extra crazy to my skin. I don’t have like 50 products. I just use moisturizer and exfoliate. And as far as my moisturizer, I use Embryolisse. And my makeup artist Rebecca put me on to hyaluronic acid and that works great. And it could be all a genetic thing. I know my mom and all of my kids have good skin.
I want to talk about a few looks. There are pics of you all over the internet and you look so fly.
This was from a Chanel boutique opening. And it actually sent me the clothes, but that was a Roberto Cavalli coat that I had that I just thought would be cute with that. So I just threw that on over the top of it.
Did you have a stylist? I saw that Misa Hylton styled some of your earlier videos, but were you always working with her?
When I first came into the game, I didn’t know anything about stylists or any of that. So yes, in the early stages she styled a lot of my videos. But on a day-to-day basis, I dressed myself. A lot of people used to think that I had people like a team or something that dressed me or put me together or whatever. But I was like, “Nah, I came like this. This is, this is just me.” I was always into clothes and dressing.
When I started working with Murder Inc., I had a stylist named Rachel Johnson, who was awesome. And we got along so well and just collaborated on a lot of stuff. Like, she would have ideas and I would have ideas, and then we would come up with some really crazy looks together.
What about this look?
I think that was at the BET Awards. That was an Iceberg dress. The stylist wanted me to wear it as a dress. And I was like, I wanna wear jeans under that. And she was like, “Girl, what?” But then when it all came together, I thought it was really cute. It was the early 2000s. Everything was about low-cut jeans, and it’s the BET Awards. I wanted it to be fly but also look hip-hoppy. So I decided to put some jeans under it. And it came out well. I never thought I would be in any of the magazines for that look, but yeah, people seemed to like it.
This look was so cute.
I was always into high fashion brands. That was my shirt that I just wore with some jeans. I was wearing Christian Louboutins back in like 2001 or 2002 when no one knew what they were. I don’t know if it’s a Philly thing. I don’t know what it is, but like, I just always knew what was fly and what worked for me. A lot of girls in Philly, you know, that’s just their style. I’ve been called “label whore,” but I don’t feel like everything has to be a label. I’m just attracted to things, and then I wind up realizing it’s like $1,500 for a shirt.
What about this look?
I can’t remember who did my hair. But the shoot was at a tattoo parlor. I forget what magazine this was. And, um, I don’t even know, I don’t even remember who did my hair. Yeah. But I just kinda let them do something different. I usually would have way more fun when I would go overseas to, like, London because of their fashion. They just appreciate, like, different looks. I tried a lot of different, crazy stuff over there that I probably couldn’t get away with over here.
You’ve been in two serious car accidents. Those are things that could really mess with your vanity. How did you deal with that?
Well, the thing about the car accident I was in with BIG was that I went through the windshield, and the whole top of my head was basically split open. And if it was a few inches down, it would’ve been my whole face. I was very lucky that didn’t happen. But I guess if I shaved my whole head bald, you would see the scar from the stitches. The other car accident wasn’t as bad. I mean as far as like, you know, physically. Yeah. But that one was crazy.
Hair: Veronica Johnson; Makeup: Rebbeca Martin