Natural Belle: An Interview and Editorial Shoot with Natural Hair Beauty Maven Ebony Clark

YouTube and social media beauty maven Ebony Clark, (known on Instagram as @eclark6) has been wowing thousands of followers with her gorgeous locs and effortless elegance for years.  If you follow this stunning naturalista on Instagram, then you already know 2015 was a big year for her.  She got married this past spring and graduated from the Aveda Institute this past summer.  Luckily, we were able to sit down with this humble spirit to discuss what she's learned this past year about beauty and being a true Munaluchi Bride.  Read on as Ebony shares how looking and feeling flawless on your wedding day starts from the inside out.

You can also view this story in the current Fall/Winter 2015 issue on sale now.

Floral Headpiece: Bloomin’ Bouquets // Dress: Lu Raquel- Ivory Bridal and Formal // Earrings:  Perfect Details

You have an abundance of long natural hair? Tells us about your natural hair journey? Were you always natural?

I have been natural a couple of times, but I haven’t been natural since birth. The first time I decided to go on a natural journey was around 1999-2000, but it didn’t last too long because I did not know what to do with my hair. There wasn’t a lot of support out there. YouTube wasn’t big. So I got discouraged, and I relaxed it again. I immediately regretted it.  The second time was in 2005, and I transitioned for a year that time. I cut the relaxed part of my hair off after a year of growing my natural hair, and I’ve been natural since.

So you’ve been letting your natural hair grow for about 10 years now?

Yeah I’ve had a few haircuts in between.

Dress worn by Ebony:  Hayley Paige- Wedding Angels Bridal Boutique // Dresses on mannequins from left to Right:  Hayley Paige- Wedding Angels Bridal Boutique; Eugenia Couture-Wedding Angels Bridal Boutique;  Blue by Enzoani- Ivory Bridal and Formal; Hayley Paige- Wedding Angels Bridal Boutique

Do you suggest people get a trim every 4 months?

I think trimming is very relative to the individual because some people may style a lot more and their hair may be more prone to breakage. But if you have a very moderate to low maintenance, low manipulation type of hair care, I would suggest about every 3 months or as the seasons change.

People are amazed at how long and heathy your hair is. When it comes to achieving length, do you think it is a mixture of genetics and haircare?

I definitely think it is a mixture of genetics, haircare, stress factors and diet and nutrition. It is a mixture of a lot of different things.

Floral Headpiece: Bloomin’ Bouquets // Dress: Lu Raquel- Ivory Bridal and Formal // Earrings:  Perfect Details

How would you describe your haircare system?

My haircare is pretty low maintenance, low manipulation. I try not to do too much handling with my hair because it can cause it to possibly break off.  At night I sleep with a satin bonnet and for double protection just in case that slides off,  I also have a satin pillow case. [laughs] Cause there are plenty of times I wake and my scarf or bonnet is on the floor.  But I also try to monitor what I eat.  I try to get lean proteins into my diet, and I try to make sure I intake nutritious foods so that I don’t have to do much to my hair topically. A lot of people just add products topically to their hair, when they are lacking the internal nutrients to make their hair strong.  I wash my hair every 5 to 7 days. Sometimes in between, I might wet it and put conditioner on it or as some people say co-wash my hair.  If my hair is not in a protective style, which it is most of the time, I’ll spritz the ends of my hair with my favorite leave in conditioner and add a light oil to my ends.

What are your favorite hair care products?

I don’t have any favorite hair care products, but I have favorite hair care lines. My favorite brands are Aveda, Camille Rose Naturals, the Mane Choice and Qhemet Biologics.

Are there any chemicals that we should not put on our hair?

Definitely stay away from too many alcohol and silicone based products. Stay away from products with formaldehyde in them.  A lot of women want to do hair treatments to make their hair more manageable such as Keratin Treatments or Brazilian blowouts, and those have loads of formaldehyde in them. Terrible!

Headpiece: Twigs and Honey // Dress: Hayley Paige - Wedding Angels Bridal Boutique // Earrings: Erin Cole- Perfect Details

Floral Headpiece: Bloomin’ Bouquets // Dress:  Casablanca- Wedding Angels Bridal Boutique // Accessories:  Earrings - Regina B for Perfect Details; Bracelet: Haute Bride- Perfect Details

Can you share a little bit of your journey into becoming a social media influencer?

Around the second time I went natural, I had my own Fotki and I started my own little album to keep up with my hair progress.  I began posting pictures, and interacting with other people. I started liking their photos and they started liking my photos and people started keeping up with me.  Then I ventured into YouTube. I did a review for the hair care line Jane Carter Solution, and it was just so crazy how people were following me.  Then I started getting contacted from people who ran online publications or blogs and they were asking me for interviews.  I was still surprised, that people cared about my hair [laughs]. So that’s how it came about.

Any tips for women trying to break into the beauty industry, who want to start their own social media page?

It very important to start building relationships with people so they know that you even exist.  For me with social media, I tried to make sure that it wasn’t all about me. When I posted things on my page I made sure to genuinely like and be concerned about other people.  If I found something on their page that I liked, I would share it. For my own photos, I would make sure that I was consistent in posting, and that I had great lighting. Even the caption that you write for your posts is important. Make sure that it is something that is encouraging and inspiring. Make sure that it is clean, no profanity, just pure lighthearted content.  Then your followers will like you not just for your pictures, but they will like you because of your personality or because they feel you are genuine and they like your spirit. I’ve gotten comments on social media where people have told me, “I really like your spirit.”  That means a lot to me. It means your personality and your true beauty is shining through and connecting with people.

Headpiece:  Elisha Caplan  // Earrings: Deepa Gurnani- Perfect Details // Dress:  La Sposa- Sweet Elegance Bridal

Headpiece: Twigs and Honey // Dress:   Casablanca- Wedding Angels Bridal Boutique // Earrings:  Perfect Details

Headpieces:  Olivia Headpieces- Rose Gold Collection // Earrings and Bracelet: Laura Jayne Bridal Jewelry- Perfect Details // Dress: Badgley Mischka Rose Gold Floral Sequin Gown

So you got married not too long ago on April 9th! Congratulations. Did you have a wedding planner or were you really hands on with planning your wedding?

Thank you. We planned everything ourselves, me and my husband.  My sisters helped quite a bit too.

Was that stressful?

It was simply because I was still in school. [Ebony was taking classes at the Aveda Institute].

Any advice you want to give to people who may be planning a small wedding without a planner?

I would say be very, very true to yourself.  Stick to your budget. There are a lot of resources out there were you can find very good inspiration. MunaLuchi Bride, Theknot.com, and Thumbtack.com were all very helpful.  Also we found tons of inspiration on Instagram and Facebook. That’s where found our photographer Elle Danielle.  She has a soft spot for weddings and love. She has this special gift of capturing the essence of a couple and the dynamic of their relationship.

Floral Headpiece and Bouquet: Bloomin’ Bouquets // Dress: Badgley Mischka Rose Gold Floral Sequin Gown // Accessories:  Perfect Details

Any advice on wedding dress shopping?

At first, my wedding dress vision was very lofty. [laughs] So I had to scale back and realize I was having a small wedding.  So you have to pair your expectations for  your dress to the type of wedding or theme you are having. Because we were having such a small wedding I was like okay “I don’t need to have a grandiose dress.” So that helped a lot in narrowing down my options.

What beauty tips do you have for brides getting ready for their wedding? Let’s start with hair.

When considering a hairstyle you want to think about your dress, your venue, and you want to think about the environment and the climate.  On my wedding day I wore my hair down. I dry styled my hair. When you dry style your hair, the style does not set as well as when you style your hair with a moisturizing product. So you have to take that into consideration on your wedding day because dry styles will give you hair stretch and length, but they may not hold a curl as long.

I thought the hairstyle that I choose was perfect, but I did not realize how hot it would get just taking pictures. It seemed like I had steam coming off my body.  Once I started getting hot, the steam just swelled up my hair. So make sure you choose styles that will hold up in the heat. That means selecting the right products, and the right combination of products, and doing hair trials months before your big day.  You might find out that the style you thought you might like, doesn’t work with your dress or veil.

Floral Headpiece: Bloomin’ Bouquets // Dress:  Casablanca- Wedding Angels Bridal Boutique // Accessories:  Earrings- Regina B for Perfect Details; Bracelet: Haute Bride - Perfect Details

What about skin care? How can we achieve that bridal glow?

Great skin starts in advance. So you want to make sure you are drinking plenty of water, preferably squeeze a lemon or two in your water. That will help to flush out your kidneys and your liver, which will help to make your skin clear, achieving that beautiful natural glow.  A couple of months before your wedding get a facial or two, and incorporate exfoliation into your skin care regimen no more than two times a week. You want to find the proper hydration: topical hydrating moisturizer as well as water. You want to make sure your skin is clean, toned, exfoliated and moisturized.

Makeup tips?

Keep it light, because you may have sweaty moments [laughs] and your makeup may run, you may cry, you might get makeup on someone else like your groom or something else such as your dress.  So you want to keep it light.  I found for me, even though I was a little misty and steamy, I found that using a primer helped to keep my makeup in place. I made sure to wear waterproof mascara, because even though I am not really a crier I knew that there was a chance that it would happen. Everything needs a primer, when you put on an eyeshadow you are going to need a primer for your lids.  Especially if you have greasy eyelids; you don’t want your makeup to be collected in your crease [laughs]. Same thing for your face. Before you put on your foundation or your powder you definitely need to put on a primer. Before you put on your lipstick, you need a primer whether it is Chapstick, Vaseline or coconut oil. You need to prime first.

And schedule your makeup trial at least a month before you wedding. Even if you are going to do your own make up, it’s good to go to a makeup artist and have them show you how to apply bridal makeup and get tips from them.

Do you have a favorite primer?

My favorite liquid primer is Smashbox’s Photo Finish Primer Water, and my favorite silicone based primer is Sephora’s Ultimate Smoothing Primer.

Headpiece:  Twigs and Honey // Jewelry:  Perfect Details // Dillon Floral Jacket:  Enozani- Sweet Elegance Bridal // Dress:  La Sposa- Sweet Elegance Bridal

What was the most memorable moment of your wedding?

The most memorable moment was when Ken, my husband, surprised me with one of my favorite local artist, her name is Robin Herbert-Latimore and she sang “Love is You” by Chrisette Michele.  I did not know he had gotten a vocalist.  I heard the music before the doors opened and my eyes got so big.  We got married at the DeKalb History Center or what most people call “The Old Courthouse on the Square.”  It was a small courthouse wedding, and this beautiful venue was perfect.

Any relationship advice you’d like to share with our readers?

Always know exactly what you want. Take the time to really know the person you are dating or marrying. Try not to rush things.  Let your relationship evolve naturally and always start off as friends. People get so caught up in the physical, and my mother use to always tell me, “Let your spirit met another person’s spirit first,” because if you focus on the physical relationship first, it can cloud your judgement.  You might end up in a relationship you regret dealing with someone you can’t stand. It’s important to be friends, because at the end of the day you have to be able to talk to that person and converse with them and be companions.  If you are physically enamored with someone and don’t build true friendship and communication skills first, you might not know how to have intimate conversations or have an adult disagreement without swinging low blows and screaming at each other at the top of your lungs.  I read this book by Michelle Mckinney Hammond and she said, “Dating is not for mating; it’s for collecting data.” I think where a lot of relationships take the wrong turn is that people are dating but they are mating too. I have run across many people looking for something long term, but they are not collecting enough data, they are just mating.  Collect your data.

Headpiece: Twigs and Honey // Bracelet: Perfect Details // Dress: La Sposa via Sweet Elegance Bridal

Venue: The Wimbush House
Creative Director/Stylist: Angela Conner
Photography: Sophia Barrett Studios  
Hairstylist: Danielle Carrington- Hair- The Loop Salon 
Hairstylist Assistant: Lindsay Thompson- The Loop Salon
Florist: JoAnn Jones and Sarah Provow of Bloomin’ Bouquets 
Wardrobe/Stylist: Chawincia Bythwood of Blue Lace Atlanta
Makeup Artist: Ashley Grey   
Videographer: Joel Harris
Bridal Salons:  Sweet Elegance Bridal  //Wedding Angels Bridal Boutique // Ivory Bridal and Formal
Headpieces: Twigs and Honey   // Olivia Headpieces  // Elisha Caplan 
Accessories: Perfect Details 

Enjoy this behind-the-scenes video from Joel Harris

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