I remember well the age I was when I demanded to take over the maintenance of my own hair. I was 8 and a soon-to-be latchkey kid (with minor supervision from our landlords upstairs), and felt it was high time that I graduate into doing my own hair since my TV journalist mother rarely had patience for more than two braids or, more often, twisting my super-thick, almost waist-length hair into a ballerina-style bun atop my head each morning before school—my signature look between ages 4 through 8. Already fascinated with the transformative magic of hair, makeup and fashion, I dreamt of more sophisticated styles I could surely pull off by myself if given the tools, and save for the curling iron and blow dryer, my mother gladly handed them over.
My signature look between ages 8 through 12? A ballerina-style bun atop my head.
According to Halle Berry, her 12-year-old daughter Nahla has also been on an independent streak when it comes to her hair—and has subsequently learned some hard lessons about hair maintenance. When the Oscar-winning actress appeared on the at-home edition of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon earlier this week, she recounted a recent development in her household, where she’s been quarantining with Nahla and 6-year-old son Maceo and their two dogs.
As you’d expect from a Hollywood heavyweight like Berry, her home has a pool she and her family have been using daily as they shelter in place (a privilege the ever-gracious actress expresses gratitude for). After their frequent swims—which notoriously take a toll on hair textures of all types—Berry’s motherly instinct was to tend to her daughter’s hair, but Nahla was having none of it.
“No, don’t touch me; I can handle it! I’m a tween, I don’t need you to brush my hair,” Berry recounted—and like my mom, she conceded.
We don’t know what detangling method, if any, Nahla opted for. But her independence ended up costing her when she fearfully asked her mother to feel the back of her head a few days later.
“All her hair, which is past her shoulders, has shrunken up into a tight ball that feels like matted fur,” Berry told Fallon. “Like, I can’t even get my finger in it. And I’m pulling, and it’s like (makes strangled sound) and she’s screaming...”
Trying to keep the situation calm, Berry put Nahla in the shower for what would hopefully be a detangling deep conditioning session. A half-hour later?
“It’s getting tighter,” Berry laughs before adding, “I had to shave it off.”
Talk about a “quarantine cut.” While many of us have been struggling to manage our own tresses during this time away from our regularly scheduled appointments, Nahla learned the hard way that “wash and go” has a few more steps than the phrase implies, as, according to her mother, the tween is now “bald in the back.”
“Is she cool with it?” asked Fallon, who had his own young daughter on hand during the conversation.
“She was not cool with that, but it was our only option,” answered Berry, who has been known to sport an undercut of her own. “But now she gets it. I was like, ‘First of all, maybe you’ll let your mother help you. And second of all, you learned you gotta brush your hair. Every day, you gotta brush your hair.’”
Yep, sounds like a teachable moment to me. You can watch the full clip—in which Berry also discusses D-Nice’s virtual nightclub, her upcoming directorial debut and doing her own stunts—below.