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Ama Lou Is Bringing Back Cool, Crimped Waves


Much like Ama Lou is wise beyond her years, her debut EP, DDD, stretches far beyond its 10-minute run time. At the ripe age of 20, and in just three tracks, the London-born singer, who counts Drake and tour mate Jorja Smith as fans, not only takes listeners on a jazz-and-synth–laden journey with her silky-smooth vocals and evocative lyrics (“I love you more but better when the sun is down,” she croons on “Wire”), but a visual one, too. In collaboration with her sister, Mahalia John, Lou wrote and directed an accompanying triptych of music videos depicting a day in the life of her character—through dawn, day, and dusk—running around with a Los Angeles crime ring in the sun-soaked desert to wild and free effect. While the criminal activity may be make-believe, her fictional persona’s unadulterated freewill, swagger, and tumble of waves are all Lou.

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“My curls are unruly and extremely frizzy no matter what I do,” says Lou, laughing. “But I’m proud of them.” Because she didn’t always see the beauty in her born-with-it crimped texture (“I totally went through that straight-hair-is-the-best-thing phase and burned it all off,” she admits), leaving her spiral mane alone and embracing the fuzz was, in a word, liberating. “With YouTube and Instagram, you see every hair type represented, and that exposure is impacting the social constructs of our society in an extremely positive way,” she says, thankful the Internet-born natural hair movement emerged at the same time she began expressing herself as an artist. To keep her ringlets shiny and sprightly, Lou slicks a deep conditioning macadamia treatment into her hair once a week, leaving it in for a day or overnight before washing it with Australian natural brand Sukin’s Protein Shampoo. Afterward, her hair is so soft “you can finger detangle after you wash it, which [for me] is really cool,” she says. With her hair damp and detangled out of the shower, she smooths R+Co’s High Dive Moisture + Shine Crème and then Texture ID’s Multi-Styling Foam through with a fine-tooth comb and lets her lengths air-dry.

And though Lou prefers her curl pattern free-flowing, she often frames her face with a stack of bobby pins and shower-fresh finger waves. “I started [wearing pins] because I have an extremely small forehead, and when I wear my hair loose, it’s always in my face,” she explains. “But I began noticing that when I did it while my hair was wet, I could use the pins to secure these 1920s waves at the front. Now it’s my go-to.” And that’s not the only old-fashioned style the self-proclaimed “archivist” is recalibrating. On a recent test shoot with hairstylist Dylan Chavles, Lou, a fan of vintage menswear, took matters into her own hands and got creative with a pigtail plait style, wrapping each braid around her neck like a choker. “It reminded me of those Victorian portraits, where they used to make pendants out of real human hair,” she says.

Lauren Valenti