Hair Care Tips From Michelle Obama’s Hairstylist Johnny Wright

April 5, 2010

Johnny Wright, Michelle Obama’s hairstylist, offered his best healthy hair care tips and answered Kmart customers questions about all things hair. Wright’s appearance was part of Kmart’s Share the Word Beauty and Wellness program to celebrate the individual and unique beauty of African Americans and encourage women to nurture their beauty, inside and out.

Below is a short video of what was presented. He’s a huge advocate of trimming hair and mentions that for some Black women our hair will only reach a certain hair length and “to get over it” because it’s simply a part of genetics. According to Wright, you should just add a few pieces of track if you want longer hair. And that’s where I disagree… simply because many Black women CAN and DO grow their hair to longer lengths. The key to reaching your maximum hair growth potential is learning about healthy hair care. I don’t believe that anyone’s maximum hair growth is shoulder length hair!

On another note, the video was funny and I really love his personality. Shedding and how often you should shampoo your hair was also mentioned. Check it out and let me know what you think about Johnny Wright’s hair care tips.

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

MyssReceB April 14, 2010 at 3:49 pm

I also agree hair does not just genetically stop growing unless you have a certain condition that stops hair growth (like balding or hair loss) or you are coming to an old age. A lot of black women can not attain long hair because of the misuse of heat, chemicals, the wrong products and tools, and just not taking care of their hair properly. Our hair is growing but if you continue to abuse and improperly take care of your hair then your hair will break off as fast as it grows and you will never attain the length you want. The comment he made about your hair shedding being bad and how you have to get that checked out is ridiculous. Hair shedding is normal! Hair sheds everyday (averagely 50-100 strands) unless your hair is shedding obsessively to the point were your nearly bald then you got a problem! Mr. Wright is very entertaining but he needs to rethink his hair logic.

fawn April 21, 2010 at 9:48 pm

he was funny…but i believe that everything he said was wrong lol how can that be possible for the “professional hair stylist to the first lady?!” especially the part about shedding, you are supposed to shed btw 50-100 strands a day, so what is he talking about?!

nappyheadedblackgirl April 24, 2010 at 5:13 pm

lol This dude is hilarious! Does anyone know where I can find the full video?

And I do agree that not everyone has the ability to grow long hair.

True, the issue with many black women’s hair is neglect, dryness, abuse, heat, etc

But even if everyone had great hair practices and excellent regimes, we wouldn’t all have long hair. Just like our hair grows at different rates, I believe it also has a predetermined maximum length.

This doesn’t mean everyone cant have HEALTHY hair, but I don’t believe it’s in everyone dna to have flowing locks.

*Personal opinion*

nicola May 4, 2010 at 9:57 pm

He may be good at styling hair but his information is completly incorrect on hair shedding and hair length i majored in biology and studied genetics and i am currently getting my masters in the subject and I have yet to come across the section of genetics where maximum hair length is determined by genetics. As far as i can see based off what i have learned and other women’s hair growth journeys long hair IS possible for all who wish to obtain it, it may be harder and longer for some but it is possible. If your hair was meant to go to a certain length then why does it continuously grow, women with relaxers get touch ups because their hair is growing now how long it gets depends on their hair care but those 6-8 week touch ups are from hair growth. So if you want long hair take care of it and work at it but don’t get discouraged from those who have incorrect information. Sorry for the rant he just shouldnt say things that may discourage those from continuing their growth journeys.



Whitney June 7, 2010 at 12:00 pm

Johnny Wright is not a great advocate for black hair. I interviewed him once while writing a story for a national black magazine and he made some disparaging remarks about natural hair, even though Michelle Obama is supposed to be natural. I think he’s in that category of caring more about how hair looks than the health of it, which is disappointing since people are looking to him as inspiration these days.

And I totally agree with you: black women have been lied to with this “certain length” garbage. Relaxed/constantly pressed hair doesn’t grow as long because it’s constantly manipulated beyond any point that a non-black person’s hair would be subjected to. Since going natural (my BC was spring 2009), I’ve met some inspiring ladies who have grown hair waaaaaay past that shoulder length level they were relegated to before.

Great blog :-)

Stacy June 13, 2010 at 9:29 pm

I’m sorry, but as a professional Freelance Writer, I feel urged to make note of nappyheadedblackgirl’s post on 4/24…it’s regimen (routine, schedule) not regime(s) (group, organization, like the Taliban, they’re a regime).

NubianPrize June 23, 2010 at 2:55 pm

I agree with Nicola & Nappy/ girl but there’s one thing about this predetermined length thing that hasn’t been stated & that is the length of a person’s growth cycle. There are 3 stages of growth : anagen,catagen & telogen. Anagen is the active growing phase & can last from 2-7 years.THE AMOUNT OF TIME THE HAIR STAYS IN THE ANAGEN PHASE IS GENETICALLY DETERMINED . At the end of the anagen phase an unknown signal causes the follicle to go into the catagen phase.The catagen phase is a short transition stage that occurs at the end of the anagen phase.It signals the end of the active growth of a hair. This phase lasts for about 2–3 weeks while a club hair is formed.The telogen phase is the resting phase of the hair follicle. The club hair is the final product of a hair follicle in the telogen stage, and is a dead, fully keratinized hair. Fifty to one-hundred club hairs are shed daily from a normal scalp. Since hair grows 1/2″ per month or 6″/year, if you have a 2 year anagen phase then your hair will grow to a max of 12″ before that phase ends & catagen starts. If the anagen phase is 7 years,then you’ll get a max of 42″ long hair.This means that because of the variations in the length of people’s growth cycles,some people’s hair will grow very long while others will grow to a shorter length. Since no one knows what their genetically determined anagen cycle is,the best you can do is to take the very best possible care of your hair. Afro hair is very fragile & since it’s often attacked with chemicals, blow dryers,hot combs,flat irons,pore clogging grease,etc, you can see how the “kinky black hair won’t grow long “, “You have to be mixed to have long hair” ,”only good hair grows long” myths got started. All that abuse causes the hair to break off as fast as it grows.I’m a teacher & I see kinky haired little black girls with well cared for nice long hair every day. It’s usually worn in braided or twisted protective styles & NOT PERMED,just pressed.

nicole June 26, 2010 at 5:47 pm

this is a great site!! and nubian prize — thank you for that informative post!

i am a black-american woman with very dry, frizzy, thin, fragile hair. i can certainly testify that johnny wright’s opinion isn’t gospel truth. for the majority of my life, i have worn my hair natural and long, at or just above my waist.

my hair is very fragile, too fragile for a perm (i’ve had two perms in my life, and both caused significant breakage and devastating loss of length), but also too fragile for excessive styling. if you would like to know how i maintain my hair/ what i use:

i wash my hair when i feel like it (it takes a very long time), and first use dawn or neutrogena t-gel on my scalp. i only wash once, and then use a moisture mask (not shampoo! my hair is too fragile) to wash the length. i part and twist my hair in knots to air dry but always blow dry as well with a good balm, to make sure my scalp and roots are dry. everyday, i use a moisturizing conditioner (anything, it doesn’t even matter what brand but i’ve recently switched to the new suave humectant because it’s really cheap) and an oil pomade (don’t use vaseline or dax!!! use a good quality oil like coconut or flaxseed) on my hair and then braid and wrap it. if i want to wear my hair super straight, i cornrow my hair and wear a wig. when i do wear my own hair, i wear it in loose crimps from braiding or in big ringlets (i use moisturizer and bobby pins to create these) but rarely straightened. if i straighten, i only use a gold-plated hot comb or curling iron — **never** ceramics (i think they are very drying), never silicone based serums (these can “clog” the porous follicles of black hair), and never a flat iron (the comb is best for me, but i have difficulty reaching the full length of my hair. the curling iron is also good because it loosens my natural curl instead of just crushing and pulling it). finally, i only cut my hair if it is the final straw: usually, split ends can be fixed and knots can be unworked one strand at a time.

of course everyone’s hair is different, but i hope this entry helps any women who would like to grow and maintain longer hair. the main things hair needs, imho, is patience and time. johnny wright is funny, but he’s not the final authority on the potential for your hair’s growth: only you and time can figure that one out.

Sancha November 22, 2010 at 3:37 pm

Funny video, but like he said, if you don’t have it, attach it. Genetics does make a difference in your hair, but proper care goes a long way. Just try to take care of it.

Mona February 17, 2011 at 10:55 pm

There are many things said here that I find true and helpful but the 50 to 100 strands of hair loss a day sounds preposterous to me. If I saw anything like 10 strands on my comb I would be very worried indeed. I agree that great care should be taken with not only removing but also avoiding tangled ends because this is where breakage and hair loss happens unless as the man says, there is something wrong that you should see the Doctor about. I have stopped going to the ‘hair dresser’ because I found them short on hair care, and to be the worst thing that happened to my hair. Their imperatives and mine are so different that I would be paying to lose hair and be vexed. They use whatever product is at hand and the finest combs. Their idea of ‘leaving it alone’ is a trim, and their trim is a cut, and their cut is a bald wish. Now I take the time to care for my hair and people are asking if it is all my hair.

Lyree April 19, 2011 at 7:16 am

Hi I have very thin fragile relaxed hair too. Because i exercise i sweat and need to wash my hair twice a week. I use Joico moisture restore shampoo and conditioner ( mix with castor oil). Then every second week give it a treatment with aromas intensive treatment. I then rinse and useJoico K-PAK Reconstruct , KMS moisturiser and Argan morrocon oil or OLIVE OIL . I comb and leave to air dry. I always get shedding of hair when i shampoo and everytime i comb. My ends are very thin even so i have tried rubbing olive oil to the ends. Is what I’m doing correct for my hair care? I live in Cairns, Australia and it is hard to get good hair products for afro relaxed hair . Can someone please help me with my hair.

Nanette May 4, 2011 at 9:45 pm

Ive listened to Johnny Wright on the Steve Havey morning show and I disagree with his advice about telling women to go to the beauty supply store to buy their own “no-lye relaxer” and the info about shedding hair is not what ive learned in my years of hairstyling, shedding hair doesnt mean something is wrong, it is normal to shed hair, because as it sheds it grows!!

blanche May 16, 2011 at 3:11 pm

This is the problem? It’s like, the top chefs are mostly MEN cooking and serving pretty/feminine style dishes – so the top women hairdressers are mostly MEN (I may be wrong). Most top black women, all wear false hair, of differing colours, GOOD LUCK to them, but ME I will not follow their style, I will look after my own hair, style it to suit me, not the photographers/press/friends. I do not envy them, God created us and he knows the genetics behind hair, not JOHNNY WRIGHT. I have no faith in some hairdressers, they pull/tug/rough handle clients hair with not compassion, I think if I was to leave the salon with dripping wet hair, they would just say…next please.

Denna August 5, 2011 at 11:44 am

Hello, I am really in need of some 911 for my hair! I’ve always had somewhat thin hair, but now as I’m getting older, it seems to be getting thinner and I’m at a stand still with it. I’ve been experiencing a lot of shedding as well. I’ve tried different products like Aphogee, Dr. Miracles etc., but nothing seems to be working to stop the shedding I’ve been having lately. I’ve tried putting it in styles where I wouldn’t have to mess with my hair like weaves or braids. I’m contemplating on just cutting it to a short style, but don’t know if that is really the best option for me. Please I need your advice. Thanks, Denna

Gemini October 4, 2011 at 9:00 am

Since we are in a forum for healthy hair, can someone tell me how I can get my hair back healthy. I had long hair to about my shoulders, it started thinning, so I started wearing weaves and then to wigs. I have been wearing wigs now for 3 years that I create myself with the help of Youtube. Well I want to wear my hair natural tired of the the wigs, but my have is thinning in certain spots, and I don’t look sexy at all with the natural right now. What can I do to get my hair healthy while still wearing my wig until I can go fully natural. What regement should I do. To embarassed to go to the Hair Salon…

sally August 21, 2012 at 8:29 am


DeAndrea Muhammad October 16, 2012 at 5:47 am

I think Black women can grow long hair if we took better care of our bodies in general. If we ate better and took better care of our hair/scalp, the hair will grow. Too many black women damage their hai on a daily basis and wonder my it won’t grow.

FMF January 15, 2014 at 12:37 pm

I’ve been perm free now for almost 2 years. My hair is so healthy looking that it’s amazing. It hardly sheds. Sometimes a little on the ends. The shedding from the perms was horrible. Also, using hot irons really does the job too. Stopping the perms and the heating elements did the trick for me.

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