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How Skai Jackson's Acting Career Has Impacted Her Hair Journey

Skai Jackson is no stranger to showing up on set and flawlessly embodying the lines of her character. Yet, behind the scenes, the star has been on a hair journey that's been years in the making. Jackson showing up in her natural curls and braids is not only a means of representing young Black girls, but also the result of a beauty battle that's often left her in tears on set, or leaning on her mother to save her strands. As Jackson reflects on her hair journey and finding a team of trusted stylists, she acknowledges that the trials she's faced have given her a stronger voice to stand up for herself and her fans.

That journey has now come full circle with her appointment as brand ambassador for Cantu. Jackson's partnership "aims to nurture the voices and aspirations of young women leaders worldwide," while helping the brand relaunch the organic shea butter reformulation of their most beloved products. Below, Jackson dishes on her teaming up with Cantu, the complex relationship she’s had with her hair due to her career, and how she fights for authenticity and representation through her hairstyles.

For more on celebrities' hair journeys, check out our coverage of Keith Powers push for men to take their beauty routines seriously.

Haircare, Skai Jackson, Cantu,
Haircare, Skai Jackson, Cantu,

On Skai Jackson's earliest beauty memories

I would say some of my earliest beauty memories are from when my mom would do my hair. I used to wear my hair in two-strand twist-outs to make it curly. Every two days, she would re-moisturize my hair, especially after school. I was working a lot as a kid, always doing modeling jobs. The big, curly hair is something that they love to see. So my mom always had to twist my hair up.

On how Skai Jackson's hair journey is affected by being on-set

It's been really hard for me. I was on a TV show [Jessie] for so many years. It was really hard for me to accept that it took me seven years to find a stylist who understood my hair. I went through so many stylists on that show and my hair was breaking off. I was crying.  It got to the point where I was like, "You know what? I don't even want anyone in my hair." Let me wear braids. I wore braids for the last three seasons of the show because I just couldn't deal with it. I also wanted to give Black girls that representation on TV.

Haircare, Skai Jackson, Cantu,
Haircare, Skai Jackson, Cantu,

My mom was still having to rush home on a Friday night or Monday night and retwist my hair. So my mom was doing the majority of the work and it was really hard. Everyone just thinks while watching me on TV that someone else did that; it was really my mom the whole time. The only thing someone [on set] was doing was just throwing it up in a ponytail.

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I think it's super important to fight for the hair stylist that you work with. That's why whenever I'm doing campaign shoots or acting roles, I need my person there because hair is such a fragile thing. I'm not going to risk my hair, whether it's a one-shot day or a year of shooting. It's been a long, hard journey, but I'm always fighting for my people. They need to be on set with me.

On working with Cantu

I'm from New York, and I'd always go to the beauty supply store from a young age and see Cantu there. My hair is so thick, and it either likes the product or hates it. When I first started to do my own hair, I used Cantu to see what it was about. I really liked it for my hair texture. Even now with the partnership, I'm really happy because Cantu is a brand that not only puts out great products, but also listens to what people want and truly delivers.

Haircare, Skai Jackson, Cantu,
Haircare, Skai Jackson, Cantu,

Three words that describe Skai Jackson's current hair journey

Happy to a certain extent, a little angry and patient. I'm angry because I did have to cut it off and I'm starting from scratch again. I'm happy because my hair is actually benefiting from it and I'm learning that length is not everything. So I'm happy with the state my hair is in right now.

On staying true to herself when portraying various characters 

I always want to be authentic with myself whenever I'm on camera. Anytime I've ever really worn my hair on camera, it's always been a style that I really loved. That's why I pushed so hard to do the braids because, at one point in the show, we're in summer camp. So I asked, "Can we change my hair?" I had to make them understand that when Black women or Black children go on vacation we wear braids. We do different styles that’s protective for our hair. So it was just important for me to show that on camera. No one can ever make me wear a style that I'm not comfortable in or that wouldn't fully represent me.